STOP the War on Children

August 9, 2011

A Missing and Much-Needed Argument to Counter Same-Sex Marriage

by Karen Gushta

Even though 62 percent of Americans agree that “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman,” legislators and courts continue to act contrary to the majority will.

The latest case is the New York legislature, which passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. As Maggie Gallagher described it in the National Review, “the Republican party decided to help Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo pass one of his highest priorities, gay marriage.”

Gallagher points out that although just four Republicans voted for the measure, Republicans had the majority in the New York state senate and did not need to bring the bill up for a vote.

In her article, Gallagher also makes some astute observations concerning the status of the debate over marriage in America. “Gay-marriage advocates have successfully shut down most public avenues for opposition: in entertainment, media, and the academy, opposition to gay marriage is considered suicidal. Even Fox News avoids the issue, as do most talk-radio-show hosts in the conservative alternative media.”

As Mrs. Gallagher observes, there are only two forums left where ordinary Americans will hear arguments in support of marriage as the union between a man and a woman: in their churches or synagogues, or in political debates. “This fact is starting to affect national polling on the subject.”

According to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, the marriage debate is far from over on the political front. The 2012 elections will see a marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota, which approved it in the 2011 legislative session. Indiana could also have an amendment on its ballot along with Iowa. In addition New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming all considered marriage amendments protecting marriage between a man and a woman in their 2011 sessions and most likely will consider them again in 2012. Pro-homosexual marriage forces are also expected to push for approval of same-sex marriage in Maryland and Rhode Island.

The fact that media elites and others are attempting to silence the voices of those who support marriage as the union of a man and a woman should not discourage us.  We should continue to proclaim God’s marvelous plan for marriage, which Robert Knight eloquently describes in The Truth About Marriage (published by Coral Ridge Ministries, now Truth in Action Ministries). “A marriage commitment is profoundly mystical, transcending flesh and blood and worldly concerns. Weddings are a little bit of heaven on earth, because they reflect God’s eternal qualities of hope and love and even His ultimate sacrifice for humanity in the crucifixion of His Son for all of humanity’s sins.”

Every wedding between a man and a woman gives testimony to God’s plan for humanity. That plan is evidenced in both the union of Adam and Eve, who were given the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” and also God’s restoration of mankind to an Edenic relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. As it says in Isaiah 62:5, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”

Every wedding between a man and a woman exemplifies the great spiritual relationship that was established between Christ and His bride, the church, by His sacrificial love and death on the cross. As the Apostle Paul describes it in Ephesians 5, “for the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church….just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

When defending against so-called same-sex marriage, those who believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as their Savior and Lord should proclaim this truth about marriage.

There are a number of arguments against same-sex “marriage” that Christians can and are presenting to non-Christians; i.e., it is harmful to children, it runs counter to nature, it will contribute to the further weakening of society, which requires a strong family structure to remain healthy. All of these arguments are valid because they are true and the facts support them, regardless of how marriage opponents try to twist the evidence.

Nevertheless, within the church support for biblical marriage is rapidly weakening. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has been tracking changes in favor of same-sex marriage among all religious groups, including Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants and Catholics. In 2010, the percentage of weekly church attending Evangelicals who favor same-sex marriage moved up 4 percentage points.

Also, the Pew study found a clear generational difference in evangelical attitudes toward same-sex marriage. Whereas only 15 percent of those over 50 support it, 26 percent of those under 50 were in favor, and that number showed an increase of 4 points between 2009 and 2010.

As Maggie Gallagher pointed out, there are only two forums left where people are hearing arguments supporting marriage as the union between a man and a woman—in churches and political debates. It’s not surprising therefore, that the Pew study found that 62 percent of those who claim no religious affiliation of any kind are in favor of same-sex marriage.

While the culture at large continues to promote acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the church stands as the only social institution uniquely equipped with the moral authority to defend and proclaim the truth about marriage. But the prudential arguments against same-sex marriage (that it is harmful to children, runs counter to nature, and will contribute to the further weakening of society) are not enough.

The church must first of all convince its own flock of the sanctity of marriage—and the most powerful message we can bring is the message of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church as the Bride of Christ. This truth should be proclaimed in every Christian wedding ceremony—the truth that even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, “so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” God’s plan for marriage is that Christ’s love for His redeemed is to be exemplified in the union between a man and a woman. Just as Adam and Eve originally exemplified it in Eden, so too now it should be modeled here on earth until Christ returns to claim His Bride and take her to His heavenly home.

Those who see marriage as nothing more than an ethical union based in human affection and companionship will continue to argue that two people of the same sex can participate such unions. But believers in Jesus Christ should be ever mindful that God’s plan for marriage is a picture of Christ’s union with His church. And that picture only makes sense in the union of a man and woman—not a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

 

May 8, 2011

Easter Hope for Holiness

By Dr. Karen Gushta

Passion Week, culminating with Resurrection Sunday, has long been one of the high points of the church calendar. The word “Easter” comes from the Old English Eastre, which some claim is derived from the name of a German pagan goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre.

The Christian celebration of Easter, however, is not associated with fertility and fecundity, but rather with the new life and hope that we find in the resurrected Christ who sacrificed Himself to pay for our sins.

Thus, our celebration of Easter is also a celebration of the newness in Christ that we have as His “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are “His workmanship, created in Christ for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

This promise of a new beginning in Christ is especially poignant for all who have experienced the degradation and debasement of sexual promiscuity or sex outside of marriage. The message of the powerful risen Savior who has not only defeated death, but who has the power to restore virtue to the fallen is exactly the message of hope and healing that our nation needs to hear—both young and old alike.

Tragically, because of the “hook-up” culture that prevails, especially on college campuses, many youth are putting themselves at risk for sexual diseases. Approximately 25 percent of college youth have STDs. One of the most prevalent, HPV (human papillomavirus), causes cervical cancer. Another of the most common ones, chlamydia, can cause infertility.

Sex outside of marriage is risky business and can have profoundly harmful physical consequences. It can also have profound negative emotional consequences.

According to Drs. Joe McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush, authors of Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children, sex devoid of relationship “can actually inhibit the best kind of growth in intimacy.” This is especially true for youth, whose brains are not fully developed until their mid-twenties. As McIlhaney and Bush write, “When connectedness and bonding form [through sex] and then are quickly broken and replaced with another sexual relationship, it often actually causes damage to the brain’s natural connecting or bonding mechanism.” “Hooking up and breaking up” can have devastating long term consequences on a young person’s ultimate ability to bond in a meaningful way in marriage.

The long term consequences of repeated hooking up and breaking up may not yet be apparent to today’s youth. But, sadly, it is becoming increasingly apparent to many of the boomer generation who took that path themselves. Many of them are now facing the prospect of spending their final years alone and childless because they have been unable to sustain the commitment of monogamy in marriage.

The trend is already being tracked in England. “Baby boomers have become a generation of loners, with millions living without partners or children,” wrote Steve Doughty in the MailOnline, “The numbers of those in their late 40s to early 60s who live by themselves has risen by almost a third in a decade.” In the 2010 figures, no other age group had so many isolated people. Boomer men in particular are facing loneliness in their old age. The number increased by 43 percent among male boomers compared to an increase of 19 percent among baby boomer women.

Commenting on this trend, Robert Whelan, of the British think-tank, Civitas, said, “We are seeing some staggering statistics on people living isolated lives. The sexual revolution was not supposed to be like this. We were all supposed to become free and form lots of freewheeling relationships. But the reality is lots of people living lonely lives.”

Reality always has a way of forcing us to see our own brokenness—unless we are self-deluded or dishonest with ourselves—because all creation reflects God’s truth and His design for human wholeness. Even in relationships.

The solution for the lonely, for those hurt by multiple failed relationships, and for those suffering from the physical consequences of their previous sexual experiences, is—as I mentioned at the beginning—to turn to Christ for forgiveness and healing. He is willing to forgive our transgressions and to make us His “new creations.” And through the Holy Spirit even our consciences can be washed clean from the guilt of our past sins.

Jesus said, “…the one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37).  He is tender and gentle with those who are in pain and suffering. The prophet Isaiah prophesied of the character of the Messiah and Matthew quoted it in his gospel, referring to Jesus: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory,” (Matthew 12:20).

Until that day when Jesus returns to send forth “justice to victory” as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, there is still opportunity for repentance and a new beginning in Him.

That is the promise of Easter—the promise of the Resurrection.

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

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