The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is about traditional marriage and how it is essential for freedom in America. Traditional marriage and the nuclear family consisting of a father, a mother, and children are essential for strong communities and nations and the foundation for a strong society. America and other nations are currently undergoing a revolution where well-meaning people want to bring justice and equality into the marriage relationship.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, five unelected justices redefined marriage, the oldest institution in the history of the world. Ryan T. Anderson, a strong defender of traditional marriage, claimed that this decision teaches a false narrative about marriage. He wrote the following in his book titled Truth Overruled – The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom:
If the law teaches a falsehood about marriage, it will make it harder for people to live out the truth of marriage. Marital norms make no sense, as a matter of principle, if what makes a marriage is merely intense emotional feeling, an idea captured in the bumper-sticker slogan “Love makes a family.” There is no reason that mere consenting adult love as to be permanent or limited to two persons, much less sexually exclusive. And so, as people internalize this new vision of marriage, marriage will be less and less a stabilizing force.
But if fewer people live out the norms of marriage, then fewer people will reap the benefits of the institution of marriage – not only spouses, but also children. Preserving the man-woman definition of marriage is the only way to preserve the benefits of marriage and avoid the enormous societal risks accompanying a genderless marriage regime. How can the law teach that fathers are essential, for instance, when it has officially made them optional?
The essence of marriage as a male-female union, however, has become an unwelcome truth. Indeed, a serious attempt is well under way to define opposition to same-sex marriage as nothing more than irrational bigotry. If that attempt succeeds, it will pose the most serious threat to the rights of conscience and religious freedom in American history (2015, p. 2).
According to Anderson, defenders of traditional marriage are not bigots and should be respected for and supported in their efforts. The same people who are defending marriage are also standing up for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience – both of which are being attacked by big business, big media, and big government. In the fight to bring respect for same-sex marriage, opponents of traditional (Biblical) marriage are pressuring churches to stop teaching that homosexuality is a sin.
Anderson argued that defenders of marriage should take a lesson from the pro-life community. When the right to abortion was created in January 1973 by Roe v. Wade, the pro-life community did not roll over and accept it. They kept fighting for the lives of unborn children, and their efforts brought the overturning of Roe in June 2022. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision did not make abortion legal or illegal, but it sent the debate back to the states for resolution. Even though abortion and same-sex marriage are different in nature, Anderson believes there are three lessons that can be learned from the pro-life movement.
1. We must call the court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges what it is: judicial activism.
Just as the pro-life movement successfully rejected Roe v. Wade and exposed its lies about unborn life and about the U.S. Constitution, we must make it clear to our fellow citizens that Obergefell v. Hodges does not tell the truth about marriage or about our Constitution.
2. We must protect our freedom to speak and live according to the truth.
The pro-life movement accomplished this on at least three fronts. First, it ensured that pro-life doctors and nurses and pharmacists and hospitals would never have to perform abortions or dispense abortion-causing drugs. Second, it won the battle – through the Hyde Amendment – to prevent taxpayer money from paying for abortions. And third, it made sure that pro-lifers and pro-life organizations could not be discriminated against by the government. Pro-marriage forces need to do the same: Ensure that we have freedom from government coercion to lead our lives, rear our children, and operate our business and our charities in accord with our beliefs – the truth – about marriage. Likewise, we must ensure that the government does not discriminate against citizens or organizations because of their belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife.
3. We have to bear witness to the truth in a winsome and compelling way.
The pro-life movement accomplished this on different levels. Specialists in science, law, philosophy, and theology laid the foundation of the pro-life case with research and writing in their disciplines, while advocacy groups tirelessly appealed to the hearts of the American people. Pro-lifers did much more than preach, launching a multitude of initiatives to help mothers in crisis pregnancies make the right choice.
Like the pro-lifers, Anderson encouraged proponents for traditional marriage to “make the case for the truth about marriage.” To retain the truth about marriage, we must share it with our neighbors and other families and communities. We can “find the social science on marriage and parenting,” and we can amplify the “voices of the victims of the sexual revolution.” By doing so, we can become more effective in defending traditional marriage and religious freedom.