Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 4

[G]ay marriage is simply not on par with the black civil rights struggle. Not even close.…I have gay friends who are married. The states in which they reside might not recognize their unions, but their friends and families do, and they generally live their lives in peace. No one is turning water hoses on them. They are not being attacked by police dogs. There is no Bull Connor or Ku Klux Klan. They are not being lynched en masse, drinking at separate fountains, or being ordered to the back of the bus. This is not to say that gay Americans who wish to have the full benefits of marriage afforded to heterosexual couples don’t face adversity. That’s a major part of the current debate. But it is to say that any hardship they face can’t compare to what black Americans faced 50 or 150 years ago.
Jack Hunter in 2013, who at that time personally favored same-sex marriage but believed it should be left to the states—

I resent having my race compared to what other people do in bed.
Janet Boynes (brief bio here), an African-American and author of Called Out: A Former Lesbian’s Discovery of Freedom


Key point: Homosexuals have not always been treated with the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings, but they cannot legitimately compare their quest for gay rights and same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement; nor can they draw any substantive parallels between their quest for recognition of same-sex marriage and the effort to end interracial marriage in the US.


Recently we have been exposing numerous myths that led to same-sex marriage in the United States. Keep in mind that a myth is a false idea that is widely accepted as true. In this post, we add two more myths to our list.


A myth is a false idea that is widely accepted as true.


Myth #10: The denial of marriage to same-sex couples is akin to the denial of civil rights to blacks during the Jim Crow era.

Fact: The civil rights movement sought genuine equality for blacks in the post-slavery, Jim Crow era. By contrast, the “equality” sought by advocates of same-sex “marriage” for gays is not true equality, but a manipulation of society’s most foundational institution to create advantages for a small fraction of society. This has occurred at an exceedingly high cost, however unintended, to society as a whole.

Some background information on Jim Crow laws is in order. Southern Democrats were largely responsible for them. As we noted in a previous post,

Racist Democrats in the South after the Civil War no longer had the institution of slavery to bring blacks down, so they found other ways. “Jim Crow laws” were widely used for this purpose. Jim Crow was a character created by Thomas “Daddy” Rice. In the 1830s, Rice wrote and performed for audiences in blackface and spoke in a black dialect. The name Jim Crow caught on, and by the late 1830s it had become a negative term people used to refer to a black man.  We’ve noted that during Reconstruction (a period lasting from 1855-1877), federal laws were passed that afforded certain basic civil rights to blacks. However, in

the 1870s, Democrats gradually regained power in the Southern legislatures, having used insurgent paramilitary groups, such as the White League and Red Shirts, to disrupt Republican organizing, run Republican officeholders out of town, and intimidate blacks to suppress their voting. Extensive voter fraud was also used. Gubernatorial elections were close and had been disputed in Louisiana for years, with increasing violence against blacks during campaigns from 1868 onward. In 1877, a national Democratic Party compromise to gain Southern support in the presidential election [an event we highlighted in our ninth point on this list] resulted in the government’s withdrawing the last of the federal troops from the South. White Democrats had regained political power in every Southern state. These Southern, white, Democratic Redeemer governments legislated Jim Crow laws, officially segregating black people from the white population.

Go here and here to read some examples of Jim Crow laws and to learn about the segregation and oppression they engendered. Jim Crow laws were enacted not just during the 19th century in the years following the Civil War, but also well into the 20th century.

at a streetcar terminal in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1939

These laws routinely put blacks at a disadvantage, as they were denied access to a great many opportunities readily available to whites—even things as simple and benign as the same public restrooms and seats at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s. Moreover, in this environment, racism often prevailed, and it gave way to overt cruelty, even lynchings. Blacks and other fair-minded citizens fought against this social climate, rightly demanding equal treatment for those the Jim Crow laws intentionally targeted.

Numerous Black Leaders Decry a Link Between Gay Rights and Civil Rights

Rev. William Owens, photo from campusa.org

Has the quest for recognition of same-sex marriage been similar to the civil rights movement of the 1960s? Not according to Rev. William Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors. In an interview at the March for Marriage in Washington, DC in late March of 2013, Pastor Owens, a veteran himself of the civil rights movement, declared,

I marched and many other thousands of people marched in this same location years ago on the claim that we were being discriminated against, and today the other community is trying to say that they are suffering the same thing that we suffered, but I tell you they are not. They are not suffering what we suffered, and I sympathize with people who face discrimination. Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, but what they’re going through does not compare to what we went through.

There is no comparison, and for many years, the African-American family and community have been under assault from all sides – abortion, single family households, poverty and a failing education system.

Changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, Owens added, would be “devastating to all of our families.” He went on to conclude,

Perhaps, you were not old enough to be with me in the civil rights movement in the late 50s or the early 60s, but I’m marching again, and this time I’m marching to defend marriage between a man and a woman.

Alveda King, photo by Gage Skidmore

Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a civil rights leader in her own right, spoke against the ruling that established recognition of same-sex marriage in the United States. Here is an excerpt from an article at WND highlighting King’s concerns.

“Love is not the problem. You can love who you want. It’s the sex that is the problem. Sex is not the same as love. People get that mixed up even in marriage,” King said in an interview with WND. “Sex should be part of that marriage union as that is where children come from. Of course all the models we have today are broken. But that was the design. We have people all confused. How it got mixed up is a long story I can’t go into here. It would take days, but we have a lot of teaching to do on this issue.”…

While still a member of the NAACP, she has said in the past that she believes it’s a mistake to place the LGBT community in the same category with blacks in the civil rights movement and that her uncle would never have approved of doing this.

Clarence Thomas also sees no link between the fight for gay rights and the struggle for equality among blacks:

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

Thomas—the court’s lone African-American justice, and only the second black jurist to serve in its 226-year history—unleashed a scathing dissent in the Obergefell vs. Hodges same-sex marriage case, rejecting the notion that gays, like African-Americans, had suffered from second-class citizenship. Unlike slaves, he argued, lacking the right to marry didn’t prevent gays from traveling freely across state lines, or subject them to overt discrimination.

At the same time, the justice argued, the 5-4 court majority that made same-sex marriage the law of the land Thursday was misguided in its attempt to grant government the power to bestow “dignity” on gays and lesbians, something they should have already had.

“The government cannot bestow dignity,” he writes, “and it cannot take it away.”

You can read excerpts from Justice Thomas’s dissent here.

Tony Evans, photo by The Urban Alternative

Black pastor Tony Evans also has warned against drawing parallels between the quest for same-sex marriage and the civil-rights movement that sought equality for blacks, saying, “The issue of race is not an issue of choice. It’s an issue of birth.”

Is homosexuality a choice? The right answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no, so we can’t say Dr. Evans is entirely wrong. It is undeniable that various choices are involved in living a homosexual lifestyle. Homosexuality, you see, is inseparably linked to behavior. Race is not. Skin color is irrefutably an innate, immutable characteristic. These differences prevail even when Dr. Evans’ assertion about homosexuality is qualified. In other words, his point remains valid.

Keeping this in mind, let’s cite a quote from civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King. A pivotal event in the quest for equal treatment of blacks was the March on Washington that took place on August 28, 1963. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King gave is immortal “I Have a Dream” speech.

You can read it in its entirety here, and you can watch it here. At the climax of his speech, Dr. King spoke of having a dream, and his dream included this:

I have a dream today.…

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

As we have indicated, skin color is an immutable characteristic over which people have no choice, but homosexuality is linked inseparably to behavior, behavior that is undeniably tied to deep impulses but also rooted in choices made. No one, at least no one with any credibility at all, has ever made the case that it is a sin to be black. Many decent people, however, including people who respect homosexuals’ right to live as they choose, do hold to the belief that engaging in homosexual sex is sinful and wrong, and that it is harmful to the people who engage in it. Accordingly, in good conscience they cannot approve of homosexuality, let alone celebrate it.

Ignoring and Silencing the Opposition—All in the Name of Tolerance

The idea of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle on par with heterosexuality is relatively new in American life. Anti-sodomy laws were still on the books in a number of states until the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas overturned them in 2003. While militant gay activists will point to this as evidence of unfairness and bigotry, I point to it as evidence of a societal consensus that homosexual activity has harmful consequences. Same-sex marriage, which also came to be recognized in the United States as a by court order, was implemented only as recently as 2015 through Obergefell v. Hodges. Furthermore, the Obergefell decision was the climax of a years-long process in which 32 state constitutional amendments limiting marriage to one man and one woman were overturned. Most of these amendments, which were adopted by due process, received overwhelming support at the ballot box. Yet in many court cases, defenders of natural marriage were left without due representation. Not only is this unfair, it is un-American.

The civil rights movement had its share of court rulings, of course; but that movement was broad in its scope, touching consciences and seeking to shape minds and hearts as well as working to enact laws through legislative bodies. Even as early as 2009, concern was raised that the road to same-sex marriage was becoming littered with judicial activism in ways the quest for civil rights for blacks never was.

As we have indicated, many people who could never be described hateful or bigoted still have legitimate objections to homosexuality and same-sex marriage on medical, social, developmental, and moral—and yes, religious—grounds. These individuals respect those who disagree with them but rightly believe they should receive respect as well. It is more than disconcerting that militant homosexual activists, some of the very same people who preached “tolerance,” said “live and let live,” and contended that same-sex marriage would harm no one, rush to accuse those who disagree with them of bigotry and hate. They adamantly demand that Christian bakers and other wedding service providers be forced out of business if they politely refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding, even when these business operators readily and happily serve gay customers in all other contexts.

It is significant that a group of black leaders spoke publicly in support of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who in 2012 politely turned down a same-sex couple’s request for a wedding cake (also go here). They sued Jack, and his case is currently before the US Supreme Court.


It is more than disconcerting that militant homosexual activists, some of the very same people who said “live and let live” and who contended that same-sex marriage would harm no one, are quick to accuse those who disagree with them of bigotry and hate.


There’s more. In an excellent piece entitled “Is America Running Out of Patience with LGBT Activism?” social researcher Glenn Stanton paints a vivid picture of militant LGBT advocates’ views.

If you don’t believe that Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, you’re the worst kind of hateful. If you think a child deserves a mother and a father, you are a bigot. If you think a gender-dysphoric boy should not be treated as a girl, you’re evil. If you think a man should use the men’s restroom, regardless of what sex he thinks he is, you are discriminatory. If you think parents’ desire to get their children counseling help for their same-sex attraction is okay, you’re very dangerous. If your church teaches that homosexual sexual activity is wrong, your church is bigoted. You must agree with every part of LGBT values or be slimed. This dictatorial absolutism is not sitting well with many Americans.

Nor should it. Take note! These are matters that relate directly to the content of one’s character! While many individual homosexuals do respect those who disagree with them, militant gay activists and the LGBT movement as a whole do not.


These are matters that relate directly to the content of one’s character! 


Myth #11 The denial of marriage to same-sex couples is akin to denying interracial couples marriage.

Fact: Limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman and banning interracial marriage are as different as night and day.

Marriage is about uniting one man and one woman, not uniting a man and a woman who are members of the same race. A marriage bringing together a heterosexual couple of different races still is a marriage, and advocates of interracial marriage bans knew it! They knew that such unions could and would produce children, which is one of the natural outcomes of heterosexual marriage. Thus, to abandon their prejudicial perspective, supporters of laws forbidding interracial marriage would have to move toward acknowledging what marriage really is: a member of each of the two sexes coming together in lifelong commitment to each other—irrespective of race. Much to the chagrin of those who supported interracial marriage bans, interracial marriage affirms the true meaning of marriage.

By contrast, same-sex marriage distorts—more accurately, destroys—the true meaning of marriage as an institution. Neither two men nor two women are the same thing as a man and a woman. So to demand that two men or two women can be married is to manipulate society’s most basic institution and reshape it according to the whims of adults.


Neither two men nor two women are the same thing as a man and a woman.


The consequences for the children involved are enormous!

“It’s a very different thing for a child to say that ‘I have a Caucasian mother and an Asian father” than “I have two dads and no mother.” There is no research saying biracial parents are developmentally harmful to children,. But there are thousands of definitive studies showing motherless and fatherless families limit every important measure of children’s physical, psychological, emotional and intellectual development.”1 [The authors cite these studies in a footnote in their book; to see the listing, go here.]

Many, many more considerations could be highlighted about these two myths, but these are among the most important. Here’s the bottom line. When someone tells you the quests for gay rights and gay marriage are a lot like the quest for equality sought by African-Americans  during the civil rights movement, set the record straight.

The two are light years apart.

 

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Note:

1Glenn T. Stanton and Dr. Bill Maier, Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 36-37.

image credits:

top image: outside a bus station in Durham, North Carolina, May, 1940
Rev. William Owens: www.caapusa.org
Alveda King: photo by Gage Skidmore
Tony Evans: photo by The Urban Alternative

 

Myths that Led to Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 3

Someone who wants to explain what marriage is has the difficult task of explaining something that every one of our grandparents simply took for granted, that everyone two generations ago thought was common knowledge—that marriage is a permanent, exclusive union of husband and wife. Much of human wisdom is tacit knowledge. Only when it is attacked does it need a formal, explicit defense. Explaining why marriage is the union of a man and a woman is like explaining why wheels are round, but it has to be done.
—Ryan T. Anderson1


Key point: Through the process of natural procreation, nature teaches that marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman committed to each other for life and to the well-being of their children. Ideally, through the sacrifice and commitment required to maintain a marriage and to rear children to become responsible adults, family relationships deepen and become richly rewarding and fulfilling for all. The ideal isn’t always the reality, but failures to reach the ideal never should keep us from upholding it; nor should these ever compel society to change the definition of marriage.


Having studied teething and other similar discomforts that make infants and toddlers restless and fussy, 19th-century midwife and children’s nurse Charlotte N. Winslow created a “medicine” that would calm any child. In 1844, she passed her formula along to Jeremiah Curtis, her son-in-law, who was a Maine druggist. He and his business partner, Benjamin A. Perkins, marketed and sold the potion under the name “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup.” During the 1850s, Curtis and Perkins moved their business to New York City.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was widely advertised. The company promoted its product through newspapers and other print media such as trading cards, cookbooks, and calendars. And it became quite popular. This letter, along with numerous other endorsements, appeared in the December 1, 1860 edition of the New York Times.

DEAR SIR:

I am happy to be able to certify to the efficiency of MRS. WINSLOW’S SOOTHING SYRUP, and to the truth of what it is represented to accomplish. Having a little boy suffering greatly from teething, who could not rest, and at night by his cries would not permit any of the family to do so, I purchased a bottle of the SOOTHING SYRUP, in order to test the remedy, and, when given to the boy according to directions, its effect upon him was like magic; he soon went to sleep, and all pain and nervousness disappeared. We have had no trouble with him since, and the little fellow will pass through with comfort the excruciating process of teething, by the sole aid of MRS. WINSLOW’S SOOTHING SYRUP Every mother who regards the health and life of her children should possess it.

LOWELL, Mass.
Mr. H.A. ALGER.

A youtube.com video purporting to be a “turn-of-the-century pharmaceutical ad” showcases how quickly parents could come to depend way too heavily on Mrs. Winslow’s formula. Even though the video’s title indicates Mrs. Winslow had created a cough syrup, the name of the product did not include the word cough.

The sad truth is that Mrs. Winslow’s formula was dangerous to kids to begin with!

The primary ingredients of the syrup were morphine and alcohol, with approximately 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce. A teaspoonful of the syrup, then, had the morphine content equal to that of approximately twenty drops of laudanum. Given that the 1873 edition of The Health Reformer suggested that babies six months of age receive no more than two to three drops of laudanum, the dosages listed on the bottles of Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup are alarming: For a child under one month old, the recommendation was 6 to 10 drops; children three months old were to be dosed half a teaspoon; and children six months old and up were to be given a teaspoonful three or four times a day! The recommended dosage for children with dysentery followed the amounts outlined above but was to be repeated every two hours until visual improvement was noticed. A teaspoonful of the syrup would have contained enough morphine to kill the average child, so it isn’t hard to understand why so many babies who were given Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup went to sleep only to never wake back up again…. There is no statistic of the number of children that died from the use of soothing syrup, as many caregivers did not link the death to the syrup or they chose not to reveal the use of the syrup, but thousands of children are believed to have died from overdoses or from morphine addiction and withdrawal.

A teaspoonful of the syrup would have contained enough morphine to kill the average child, so it isn’t hard to understand why so many babies who were given Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup went to sleep only to never wake back up again.
Museum of Health Care

Thankfully, The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 required manufactures of medicines to list ingredients on the packaging of their products. Moreover, it established standards of medicinal purity and forced drug companies to abide by them. As a result, producers of Mrs. Winslow’s no longer could include morphine in their product and had to remove the word “Soothing” from its name. In 1911, the American Medical Association condemned the potion as a baby killer—but it wasn’t taken off the market entirely until 1930.

To be fair, we should acknowledge that Mrs. Winslow’s Syrup was created in an era when labeling of ingredients in medicines was not common and when medical professionals, including druggists and doctors, didn’t adequately understand the effects those ingredients would have, both good and bad. This was true of procedures as well as medicines; on December 14, 1799, an ailing George Washington was treated with a procedure known as bloodletting. The loss of blood he experienced at the hands of his doctors is now believed to have contributed to his death three days later. Nearly a century would pass before bloodletting as a treatment would fall fully out of favor.

More to the point, parents and other family members, understandably, trusted trained physicians and pharmacists. Modern medicine was in its infancy at the time, however, and even with the “best information available,” sometimes led to dangerous and deadly myths that exacted a heavy price.

Myths About Marriage

While we can be glad we live in a day when medical professionals have a much more accurate understanding of diseases, treatments, and cures; we unfortunately have regressed in our understanding of marriage. Scientific discoveries have given way to great medical advances, but with regard to marriage, we have trashed to our own peril what the natural world and ancient wisdom teach us.

Sadly, with regard to marriage, we have trashed to our own peril what the natural world and ancient wisdom teach us.

In fact, a large number of dangerous and deadly myths about marriage led to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 that opened the door to recognition of same-sex marriage in the United States. That ruling, named for the plaintiff in the case, James Obergefell, doesn’t just rest on perilous myths; it also is reinforcing them. In turn, these myths also are reinforcing in people’s minds the perception that the Obergefell ruling is valid. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Like the parents who gave their children Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, multiplied millions today—many of whom are sincere and well-intentioned—are being led down a deadly path. It is the purpose of this series of articles to expose the myths that led to and that now are reinforcing Obergefell. 

We highlighted four myths in part 1 and four in part 2. All eight myths we have named thus far are listed here. In part 3 we will focus on just one, but a critically important one. We need to understand why this myth has such a strong grip on our culture, and even on the church.

Myth #9: Marriage has more to do with sexual pleasure and emotional ties than producing children.

Fact: An individual has to accept this idea to believe that a same-sex relationship really can be a marriage, because same-sex relationships cannot produce children. Thus, to call a same-sex relationship a marriage eliminates procreation from the marital equation.

Of course, we would not minimize the importance of sexual and emotional bonding between a man and his wife, but let’s make sure we don’t miss what nature tells us about the connections between their emotional bonds, the sex act, sexual pleasure, and children. The union of the man and his wife in the one-flesh act of sexual intercourse leads to conception and birth and the one-flesh expression of their union in the form of a child!

Reinforcing the idea of marriage as only about emotional ties and sexual pleasure has been the ceaseless mantra of same-sex marriage advocates who have repeatedly asked, “If two people love each other, then why can’t they marry?” Yet, as we said in an earlier post, “Marriage is about love, but it’s not about love exclusively.”

In his book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson calls this relatively new perspective on marriage the “consent-based” view of marriage. This point of view says

marriage is primarily about an intense emotional union—a romantic, caregiving union of consenting adults.… [According to this view, the thing that] sets marriage apart from other relationships is the priority of the relationship. It’s your most important relationship; the most intense emotional, romantic union; the caregiving relationship that takes priority over all others.…2

Yet, as Anderson goes on to say, this view of marriage actually fails to see the marriage relationship as unique or special. In other words, it views it as different from other relationships in terms of degree rather than as a different kind of relationship. This view

cannot explain or justify any of the distinctive commitments that marriage requires—monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence—nor can it explain what interest the government has in it.

Lightstock

If marriage is simply about consenting adult romance and caregiving, why should it be permanent? Emotions come and go; love waxes and wanes. Why would such a bond require a pledge of permanency. Might not someone find that the romance and caregiving of marriage are enhanced by a temporary commitment, in which no one is under a life sentence?3

Moreover, Anderson asks, why should such a relationship be exclusive? And why should it be limited to just two people?4

With regard to heterosexual marriage, the arrival of children answers these questions loudly and clearly. Marriage should be permanent, exclusive, and limited to the man and the woman alone for the sakes of the children involvedThis is what nature tells us. While same-sex couples can adopt and thereby “bypass” their infertility, we cannot afford to miss the message nature sends about their relationship in and through their innate infertility. It cannot be a marriage! This isn’t bigotry, but reality!

While same-sex couples can adopt children and thereby “bypass” their infertility, we cannot afford to miss the message nature sends about their relationship in and through their infertility. It cannot be a marriage! This sin’t bigotry, but reality!

Let’s return to the heterosexual couple and note that even if they have no children, permanency, exclusivity, and restricting their union to two and two alone still make perfect sense. First, two is the natural number because only two sexes—male and female—exist. Furthermore, just as male-female differences make procreation possible, they also work together to cement a heterosexual couple’s relationship in ways utterly impossible with two men or two women. Here is a part of the evidence.

The Culture

Unfortunately, today people overlook this evidence when they think about marriage. Why? Because in people’s minds, the “consent-based” view of marriage and the radical individualism that gave birth to it are deeply, deeply ingrained in the American psyche. John Stonestreet made this point a number of years ago in a very insightful BreakPoint commentary. The idea, he says, of marriage as “anything other than a private expression of mutual affection” is totally foreign to average citizens and even “unintelligible.” Yes, they may desire to have children, but to them, having kids isn’t what marriage is all about: “When someone speaks about the social dimension of marriage and the centrality of child-rearing, they may as well be invoking the idea of arranged marriages and dowries.” You see, in a world that values freedom as “liberation from constraints, especially institutional constraints,” marriage can’t be viewed as anything desirably special unless it is seen, as Ryan Anderson put it, as a “consent-based” relationship. The alternative is to see it as restrictive and constraining, and therefore undesirable.

The Church

In the church, especially among younger Christians, views on marriage are not a great deal different. While a great many churches acknowledge the biblical pattern of one man and one woman committed to each other for life, rarely, if ever, do they mine the rich relational jewels that marriage affords a couple deeply committed to God, each other, and the welfare of their children. Marriage, according to God’s plan, offers a deep intimacy and a strong security foreign to all other relationships. But to have these, sacrifice is essential. Writing in First Things, college professor Abigail Rine observes,

As I consider my own upbringing and the various “sex talks” I encountered in evangelical church settings over the past twenty years, I realize that the view of marital sex presented there was primarily revisionist [mainly “an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people” rather than both a demanding and richly rewarding relationship in which the couple sacrifices for each other and for the well-being of their children]. While the ideal of raising a family is ever-present in evangelical culture, discussions about sex itself focused almost exclusively on purity, as well as the intense spiritual bond that sexual intimacy brings to a married couple. Pregnancy was mentioned only in passing and often in negative terms, paraded alongside sexually transmitted diseases as a possible punishment for those who succumb to temptation. But for those who wait, ah! Pleasures abound!

Using Rine’s article as a backdrop, John Stonestreet explains in another BreakPoint commentary why young Christians have difficulty embracing a prohibition against same-sex marriage.

As Rine points out “the redefinition of marriage began decades ago” when “the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination.”

And if marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction,” then it seems mean-spirited to Rine’s students to argue that marriage by its very nature excludes same-sex couples.

Sadly, both the church and the culture are imprisoned by a myth, by a deadly, false idea! Again, the myth we’re highlighting is this: Marriage has more to do with sexual pleasure and emotional ties than producing children.

Lightstock

Changing the Culture’s Perception First Means Changing the Church’s

Here we see the results of the church’s failure to uphold marriage as an institution that mirrors God’s character and that reflects Christ’s relationship with the church. An emphasis on purity was and is needed, of course. But so is an emphasis on sacrifice and its rich rewards. Nothing can hold a candle to making a positive difference in the world beyond one’s own lifetime through one’s children!

Nothing can hold a candle to making a positive difference in the world beyond one’s own lifetime through one’s children!

Yes, it is difficult to sacrifice, but we have immeasurably benefitted from the One who sacrificed His all for us. In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul challenges us to emulate Him and His service to others,

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Keep in mind as well that Jesus Himself said,

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

The Key

Pastors and Bible study leaders, the key to loosening the grip of this myth on the culture is leading and guiding God’s people to break free of its grip on them and on the church at large. Christians cannot fight spiritual battles in the culture if they’re unfamiliar with the weaknesses of the myths Satan uses to entice people. On the other hand, when God’s people understand what marriage is, and why it is what it is, they’ll be far better equipped recognize and reject the myths that have led to cultural and government recognition of same-sex marriage.

Moreover, they’ll understand that such recognition is a lot like Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup—soothing to some, yes; but also dangerous…

…and potentially deadly.

 


Significantly, just four days after I posted this article, this BreakPoint commentary was released: America’s Reversal on Gay “Marriage”—What Really Happened?


Notes:

1Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2015), 17.

2,3,4Anderson, 15.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Links to all the articles in this series are available here.

top image: Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup promo picture—National Library of Medicine

Part 1: Myths Relating to the Courts, Government, Law, and the US Constitution

Part 2: Myths Relating to Male-Female Differences, Procreation, Parenting, and the Absence of a Mother or Father in Every Home Run by a Same-Sex Couple

America, Where Are You? Part 5

The State of the Church


Here is the great evangelical disaster—the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this—namely accommodation. The evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age.…This accommodation has been costly, first in destroying the power of the Scriptures to confront the spirit of our age; second, in allowing the further slide of our culture. Thus we must say with tears that it is the evangelical accommodation to the world spirit around us, to the wisdom of this age, which removes the evangelical church from standing against the breakdown of our culture.
Francis Schaeffer

Tell me what the world is saying today, and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years.
Francis Schaeffer


Key point: In its efforts to avoid offending people, will the church wind up offending the One it never would dream of offending—God Himself? Unless it makes a conscious decision to honor God in the environment of moral quicksand in which it finds itself, the church will indeed offend God. The good news is that through the church, God still can turn America back to Himself. God’s people however, must cooperate with Him for this to happen.


Summaries of all the articles in this series are available here.

Last time, we stated the following.

  1. Engel v. Vitale was an initial step in the process that effectively cut off a generation, and future generations, from voluntarily acknowledging God in a public environment.
  2. Having been cut off from God, America had no point of reference for recognizing the intrinsic value of human life. Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton therefore legitimized the practice within the human family of turning against one’s own and killing the most vulnerable and defenseless members.
  3. Obergefell went even further, denying what it actually means to be a human being. Natural man-woman marriage affirms what being being a human being is all about, but same-sex “marriage” effectively removes that affirmation from the institution of marriage, at least as far as public recognition is concerned.

This is not to malign anyone, especially homosexuals and those struggling with gender identity issues. The truth is, however, that telling them to “be who you are” actually will hinder them from being who they really are and finding fulfillment by reaching their God-given potential. Their struggles are real. We must be understanding and offer compassionate and loving help. Yet this does not mean telling anyone it’s OK to follow their base inclinations and desires. Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 are identical. They declare,

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

It doesn’t help that our country has lost a clear understanding of what is required to have and maintain genuine liberty. Liberty is not license—the freedom to do whatever our base desires urge us to do. Rather, it is freedom within the reasonable restraints set by morality, law, and respect for the rights and freedoms of others.


Authentic liberty is not license—the freedom to do whatever our base desires urge us to do. Rather, it is freedom within the reasonable restraints set by morality, law, and respect for the rights and freedoms of others.


Liberty, as Depicted at the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Massachusetts (see below)

Where is the church with regard to this cultural quicksand? To answer that question, let’s first recall that in Matthew 10:16, Jesus said to His disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Lightstock

I believe the church is following Jesus’ command to be as harmless as doves but unfortunately is failing to be as wise or as shrewd as serpents. Moreover, the church needs a shot of boldness.

The Pressure to Conform

In a very real sense, God’s people find their situation similar to that of a teen who is outnumbered by the crowd. Here is an excellent example. Researchers recruited several groups of ten young people to help them with a study of how well teens could see. The participants were told that they would be shown numerous sets of three lines, each of different lengths, and would be asked to indicate which was the longest line in each case: A, B, or C.

The researchers, however, weren’t really studying eyes or vision. They actually were investigating the effect of peer pressure on teenagers. Nine of the ten participants in each group were told privately to choose the second longest line rather than the longest one, while the tenth individual was allowed to keep on believing the study was all about teens’ ability to see.

In incident after incident, when the facilitator would introduce a set of lines and ask the group for a show of hands when the longest line was named, nine of the ten would, in unison, raise their hands for the second longest line, bewildering the tenth young person. Could I have misunderstood the instructions? They seemed so simple, the confused teen must have thought. Didn’t they say we are to indicate which line is the longest? The directions were repeated, and no, the student had not misunderstood them. All were to indicate which of the three lines was longest. The pressure to join the group was enormous—so much so that 75 percent of the teens studied raised their hands with the rest of the group, even though everything they were seeing was contrary to all the instructions they had been given and what they knew to be true!

Only 25 percent of the teens refused to go along with the crowd; just 1 in 4 was willing to take a stand for what he or she knew to be right, despite all his or her questions and the undeniable awkwardness of the situation. I can’t understand why no one else is choosing the right line, but I am certain which line is longest, and I’m going to raise my hand for it!1 Their courage and their actions are to be admired—and emulated!

Several lessons arise from this true story.

  • First, appearances can deceive. In terms of reality, the participants who were informed about the study actually were ignorant about the lengths of the lines. Moreover, even though the ones whose responses were being studied were not “in the know” about the real purpose of the study, these individuals actually were right about which lines were the longest. This is especially true when the student went against the consensus of the group. Let’s put it another way: The enlightened really were misinformed, and the misinformed were enlightened.

The enlightened really were misinformed, and the misinformed were, in fact, enlightened.

  • Second, the instructions were straightforward and simple, and in one sense, following them was simple. Still, following them was anything but easy! Even obvious realities can be hard to acknowledge in the face of a group consensus to the contrary.
  • Third, decisions to “go along with the crowd” were made based on emotions, including the understandable desire to be liked and the awkwardness of taking a singular stand.
  • Fourth, in real-life situations, the choice to follow the crowd brings only short-term benefits. By contrast, aligning oneself with reality, even though one is made to fell quite uncomfortable in the here and now, affords an individual or group a host of advantages in the long-term. Why? Reality is a friend to those who accept it and cooperate with it, but an enemy to everyone who denies and resists it.

The church is like each young person in the study who faced nine others with different opinions. What would he or she do—state the obvious, despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered, or go along with the crowd to avoid controversy?

Equipped with God’s Truth, the Church Is in Touch with Reality

Abortion advocates claiming to contend for women’s rights have loud voices and great influence, and in their eyes, to be pro-life is to be anti-woman. Nothing could be further from the truth (go here and here). On January 31, 2018, the following statement appeared on BreakPoint’s Facebook page:

Too many pastors soft-pedal their teaching on #abortion. Maybe they don’t want to be seen as getting “political.” Or perhaps they believe this subject is not their calling. They might even fear offending people. #Pray that God would grant the #pastors in your community #courage to teach the entire counsel of #Scripture, including commands to protect the innocent. Pray that they would have the #wisdom to speak accurately. Pray that they would also have the #compassion to speak kindly.

With regard to marriage, the situation is desperate, as evangelicals increasingly warm to the idea of same-sex marriage. If the church doesn’t understand what marriage is, then the real definition of marriage, including marriage as a picture of Christ and the church, and consequently marriage as a picture of the gospel, will forever be lost to society. We must realize people do not have to understand the theology to benefit from the model! Even atheists benefit from it! Natural man-woman marriage reflects and conveys divine realities even “under the radar,” even without people realizing they are recipients of divine truth. The natural world does the very same thing (see Psalm 19:1-4).

Remember the study on peer pressure. Do not forget that the enlightened actually were misinformed, while the misinformed were enlightened. Do not forget that God is truth and the source of truth, and He has revealed truth in His Word. Human life is His masterpiece, and to destroy it is to offend Him. Natural, man-woman marriage has God’s fingerprints all over it! For Christians to withhold the truth about marriage when society is so terribly misinformed on this issue is to fail to faithfully represent the God who established it, and the gospel.

One is reminded of Joshua and Caleb, who also were outnumbered when they gave their report on the land of Canaan. In their case, they were outvoted 10 to 2. Could the Israelites conquer the land? Joshua and Caleb said yes, but the other 10 spies said no! Because these two men remained faithful to God despite appearances and even against overwhelming odds, the Lord permitted Joshua and Caleb to enter the promised land, even as he He barred everyone else in their generation from doing so.

James Tissot, The Grapes of Canaan

Please know it is not my wish or intention to disparage or discourage the church or its leaders. Ministry, including evangelism, is very hard work, especially in this culture! Moreover, many pastors’ plates are so full they are overwhelmed! I sympathize, and I understand.

Even so, Jesus said,

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

A Place to Start

The church can begin speaking out for the truth by doing so within its own walls, educating its own people. It must talk about and defend those ideals and institutions that are under vicious attack. Start with marriage. Hebrews 13:4 declares, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral” (NIV). This article names twelve traits that must characterize the church’s case for natural marriage. Pastors and other leaders should explore and explain to God’s people the deep theological truths reflected in natural marriage, including ways that marriage is a picture of the gospel. Here and here some articles that will help you convey these ideas.

All is not lost, but much has slipped away. Much is slipping away even now. The situation is urgent!

All is not lost, but much has slipped away. Moreover, much is slipping away even now. I believe, and my friend Steve believes as well, that God wants to use His church to call America back to Himself. To do that, the church must repent of seeking to entertain people and once again endeavor first to please God. When it does, it will demonstrate not only that it loves God supremely, but also that it truly loves others.

What is life? What is marriage? What is the nature of God? What is the gospel? What is salvation? All these questions are tightly interwoven.

Which line is the longest?

Are we who have the truth willing to declare it?

Are you willing to do your part?

 

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Note:

1Dr. James Dobson, Preparing for Adolescence: How to Survive the Coming Years of Change, (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2006), 37-39.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Scripture passage marked NIV has been taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

About “Liberty” (see above; photo credit here)

At the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Faith stands atop the Monument, with Liberty and Morality seated at the base in front of her, and Law and Education seated at the base behind her. Genuine liberty isn’t possible without the other virtues portrayed—faith, law, education, and morality. The National Monument to the Forefathers was dedicated on August 1, 1889.