Thursday, September 1, 2016

The argument for Traditional Marriage

Earlier this year ABC Western Victoria Radio asked a local Same Sex Marriage activist and I to offer our opinions about the upcoming marriage plebiscite. The evening beforehand I checked Nathan Campbell's handy tips for talking to the media and decided to mention Jesus' name as early as possible and put my argument into an accessible nutshell. This is roughly what I said:
“Christians support traditional marriage because Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew that marriage is best for a man and a woman. The law should protect traditional marriage because men and women complement each other and marriage is a safe place for their sexual expression.”
It's public radio so you can't get into a detailed discussion about sex, but that's the essence of why traditional marriage benefits society. So while you can talk about how traditional marriage benefits kids or how one change to the marriage law will lead to future (possibly problematic) changes, it all comes back to creating a safe context for male-female sexual expression.

If I had time I would've gone on to say how lots of those ideal marriages make up a healthy society. That's why traditional marriage is best for everyone. I think Christians should frame their opposition to same sex marriage positively and philosophically. These debates offer in-direct evangelistic opportunities, mainly the chance to publicly identify as a Christian, but more importantly they are an opportunity to contribute to the wider well-being of society. I also got to answer a great question of what I would do if a homosexual person wanted to join our congregation. I answered something along the lines of  “we’d welcome them like everyone else and hope they’d come to love Jesus more than anything else.”

I thought the radio show host or same sex marriage activist would've challenged my claim about gender. If they had I think I would've said something along these lines:
“I believe the world has order and meaning, that some things are one way and other things are another way. Gender distinctions can be measured in most cases and the exceptions don't make a rule. Cultural expressions of gender reinforce these underlying biological differences.”  
Human flourishing isn't just a moral thing either, it's also aesthetic. Both gender and marriage (traditionally understood) form the basis of a vast cultural structure of archetypes and tropes. What I'm saying here is that ideas have consequences; marriage isn't a just thing in a corner. So firstly, as Christians speaking into society, we need to acknowledge that we are citizens making a philosophical argument that will benefit everyone. Not a Christian argument imposed on society. This is because good ideas which are worth their salt, will have a divine providence eventually anyway. Secondly as Christians speaking about marriage, we need to imaginatively help articulate how traditional marriage and gender ripples out into culture, both morally and aesthetically.