FRC dictates “The Meaning of Marriage.”
Colin Stewart, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, pens a comparison between marriage and Humpty Dumpty. However, some might argue that reducing marriage to a children’s fable poses a greater threat to marriage than allowing gays simply to live without fear of imprisonment.
Everybody knows what the meaning of marriage “is” (ala Bill
Clinton). It is written in our hearts and consciences. In
short, marriage is a “self-evident truth” derived from the
“laws of nature and nature’s God,” which human governments
are required to recognize and protect if they are to retain
their legitimacy, according to the Declaration of
All individuals have always defined marriage somewhat differently, and prioritized marital values differently. FRC, however, argues that it speaks for God and that everyone is obligated to define marriage beginning with FRC’s overriding preoccupation with the presence of a penis and vagina — never mind fidelity, commitment, relationship, and children.
As such, marriage predates and supercedes
the Constitution of the United States, and may not be
abridged by any branch of the United States government. A
self-evident truth may be denied, but its essence cannot be
FRC wages an implicit attack on civil marriage, declaring a conservative Christian hegemony over marriage. FRC also suggests that anything determined by the religious right to be a “self-evident truth” must be exempted from accountability to the Constitution, civil law, and the voters.
Marriage also predates the fountainhead of the democratic
legal system, the Ten Commandments, which specifically
affirm and protect marriage in both the fifth commandment
(“Honor your father and your mother”), and the seventh
commandment (“You shall not commit adultery”).
There are many ironies here.
- I do not believe the Ten Commandments have ever been widely recognized as the root of British or American common law;
- the religious right dishonors parents in attempting to take children away from their gay parents and in mandating antigay educational programs and encouraging antigay harassment in schools, against the wishes of parents;
- the fact, perhaps too often cited on this blog, that the social and religious milieu of the Bible Belt results in the nation’s highest divorce rates.
marriage goes back to the real “cradle of civilization,”
where the first two humans were a man (Hebrew adam) and his
wife, whom the man named Eve (i.e. “Life” or “Living”),
“because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).
FRC seems to replace legitimate human anthropological history with a tale of six-day creation, a 6,000-year-old Earth, and a wife who was the man’s named property. FRC ignores that Adam and Eve were never formally married, neglects to explain where their offspring obtained their spouses, and neglects to spell out the slow development of marital rituals.
Although marriage predates any written law, it has been
affirmed and protected in the laws and society of every
civilization throughout human history.
The history of civilizations does not appear to substantiate this claim. In any event, the religious right is attempting (through the Federal Marriage Amendment) to reduce marriage to a trite written contract of no particular longevity. FRC’s concern for marriage being larger than a written contract appears to be disingenuous.
No human culture,
however barbaric or pagan, has ever succeeded in redefining
the essence of marriage.
Conservative Christians have redefined marriage several times since the Industrial Revolution. What was once a pre-arranged agrarian contract of labor and reproduction evolved into a voluntary urban pact of household management and reproduction, accompanied to varying degrees by love and, much less often, fidelity on the part of the husband. Conservatives added mutual sexual gratification to the implied contract when the sexual revolution demanded it.
The concept of marriage is
ingrained in the human psyche: it is a “natural law.”
“Natural law” is generally held in disrepute in Western Christian civilization. It is an outgrowth, in part, of theocratic philosophies.
It is the natural crucible within which human beings are born,
nurtured, taught and protected, until they are old enough
to function as independent adults. Marriage is the
foundation of the natural family, and the source of the
universal bond of kinship which exists between father,
mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent, uncle,
aunt, nephew, niece and cousin.
Under this reasoning, gay marriage would strengthen the sacrament and institution. The religious right, in contrast, seeks to exclude gay parents, sons, daughters, grandparents and nieces from the family.
As everybody knows, “blood
runs thicker than water.” Atypical family structures, such
as single-parent households, are simply exceptions which
prove the general rule.
Census data continue to indicate that two-parent heterosexual-monogamous-first-marriage households are the exception, not the norm. It is unclear where FRC’s obtains its perception of U.S. households.
Why are we human beings “wired” this way? It is because we
are made in the image of God. As Moses wrote in the book
FRC’s following argument is a literalist religious one.
Gay marriage poses no threat to religious marriage. Churches remain free to marry, or not marry, according to their values.
FRC wishes to impose its selective interpretations of the Bible upon the entire American legal system. It is not constitutionally entitled to do so.
Which brings us back to Humpty Dumpty.
In 2003, a vocal group of radical activists, claiming to
represent a tiny proportion of the population (less than
2%) who self-identify themselves as practicing homosexuals,
are demanding that the people of the United States, through
one or another of the branches of their government, agree
to “change” the meaning of marriage to comply with their
Most people know of marriages that they disapprove of. Hollywood produces many inappropriate marriages, as do the leaders of the religious right and our major political parties.
Civil marriage does not imply that America “approves” of a given couple. Nor is there a request that marriage be radically redefined; marriage continues to adapt to society’s needs.
The fact that FRC bases much of its defense of antigay marriage on the words of Humpty Dumpty suggests FRC cannot think of a thoughtful case to make on its own behalf.
And the immediate question is whether, in this hour of
destiny, the American people will rise to defend the
essence of marriage as a “self-evident truth,” or whether
we will capitulate to the demands of a small band of
radical activists who, having hijacked the political
system, are now holding marriage hostage in pursuit of
their ultimate objective – the deconstruction of the
Judeo-Christian principles which undergird the American
This blog has documented anti-Semitism and un-Christian joyous secularism among groups like FRC that appeal to “Judeo-Christian” principles.
Additional FRC Resources:
Ken Connor’s USA Today op-ed against Americans’ right to privacy from an overbearing government.