Category Archives: Gay Marriage

#10 Post of 2015 – Gay Marriage Is Forcing Us to Get Straight on the Old Testament

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Recently I wrote a blog post on why Christians don’t stone people to death. I then wrote a 4-part series on how Christians should apply the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament). What do these posts have to do with gay marriage?

In a nutshell, Christians are quoting from Leviticus to prove that homosexual behavior is sinful and gay marriage proponents are quoting from Leviticus and other books of the Torah to prove that those books contain outdated moral commands that nobody follows any more.

Both groups are confused about how the Old Testament (the Torah in particular) is supposed to be applied to Christians.

Christians cannot just quote from Leviticus to show that homosexual behavior is wrong and leave it at that. As I showed in this blog post, the Law (aka the Torah) does not apply to Christians. Jesus fulfilled the Law. We are no longer under the direction of the Law. The Law was written to the Israelites as they traveled to the Promised Land, not to us.

The only legitimate means for applying the Law to our lives today is by identifying the timeless truths that were taught in the Law and correlate with New Testament teachings. I covered that in the 4-part series entitled “How Should Christians Apply the Law?

So, we don’t say that homosexual behavior is wrong because Leviticus says so. We say it is wrong because the teachings in Leviticus on homosexual behavior are timeless truths that are reiterated in the New Testament. Then we point to the New Testament passages that speak to homosexual behavior.

Now, to address the proponents of gay marriage who quote from the Torah to show that its teachings are outdated. Your quotations have no force with Christians. We are not arguing that every single command found in the Torah is to be applied today. In fact, to say that the Law applies directly to Christians today is to flatly contradict the New Testament writers!

This approach by proponents of gay marriage only works on Christians who are arguing that the Law can be applied to us today, and who never offer any evidence showing that the teaching is timeless and reiterated in the New Testament.

I have had two Christian teenagers in the last week tell me that proponents of gay marriage in their schools constantly use this illegitimate argument to prove that the Christian position against gay marriage is wrong. Both of them were confused about how to answer these charges because they had never been taught why Christians don’t stone people to death, as is commanded in the Law.

Pastors, teachers, apologists – we need to get straight on the Old Testament. Our brothers and sisters are not prepared to defend the real Christian position.

Will Gay Marriage Weaken Monogamy?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, argues that the weakening of monogamy in modern America is cause for great concern. He goes to great lengths to show that monogamy is what makes us human, and is what has allowed western civilization to flourish.

Tucker explains:

From an evolutionary standpoint, gay marriage is a non-starter. It is only a few decades old and has played no part in evolutionary or human history. Whether it emerges as a symbol of a society’s respect for marriage or a symbol of its undoing remains to be seen.

Tucker is unsure of whether gay marriage will support or undo monogamy, but he asks gay marriage proponents to consider the following:

The important thing for supporters of same-sex marriage is to draw a stark line between acceptance of gay marriage and acceptance of an “anything-goes” attitude toward marriage, which says that it makes no difference whether people tie the knot or live in sin, whether they marry a man and a woman or marry two wives or three wives (because polygamy is always lurking at the edge of these discussions), or whether they marry their dog or their cat or a favorite lampshade.

Far more fundamental than the issue of same-sex marriage is that we arrive at a biological, anthropological, and historic understanding of the role that monogamy has played in the evolution of human society.

This is a real problem for gay marriage supporters. Most of them cannot articulate principled reasons why people should not live in sin, marry multiple spouses, or marry their dog or cat. In other words, they have been so busy arguing for gay marriage that they have made no effort to guard traditional marriage.

Tucker believes that this is a colossal mistake. His view, supported by plenty of evidence throughout his book, is that the loss of traditional monogamous marriages will be a catastrophe for human civilization. Without monogamy, violence and warfare become far more common. That is not a condition any of us want to live in.

Is It Hateful to Say that Homosexual Behavior Is Sinful?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

This whole Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) thing has me very confused. I see person after person claiming that what Phil Robertson said about homosexual behavior being sinful was hateful. Hateful? Really?

I used to think that hate was wishing evil upon another person. I am really struggling to understand how Phil Robertson wished evil upon anyone. I have read the GQ interview; it’s not there.

All I can conclude is to just say that homosexual behavior is sinful has now become equated with hatefulness in 2013 America.

Is this correct? Is it hateful to say that homosexual behavior is sinful? Please vote and leave comments.

What Questions Must Marriage Revisionists Answer? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

If marriage revisionists want to reject the conjugal view of marriage and decouple marriage completely from human biology and sexual reproduction, then they need to answer some questions about the revisionist view.

Robert George, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis, in their seminal paper on marriage, pose three challenges to marriage revisionists. In part 1 we dealt with the first two challenges. In part 2, we present the third and final challenge.

Third, on what principles can marriage revisionists deny marriage to three people at a time, or four people at a time, or more? The authors present yet another scenario:

Go back now to the example of Joe and Jim, and add a third man: John. To filter the second point out of this example, assume that the three men are in a romantic triad. Does anything change? If one dies, the other two are coheirs. If one is ill, either can visit or give directives. If Joe and Jim could have their romantic relationship recognized, why should not Joe, Jim, and John?

How might marriage revisionists respond?

Again, someone might object, everyone just knows that marriage is between only two people. It requires no explanation. But this again begs the question against Joe, Jim, and John, who want their shared benefits and legal recognition. After all, it is not that each wants benefits as an individual; marriage is a union. They want recognition of their polyamorous relationship and the shared benefits that come with that recognition.

Marriage traditionalists have a ready and principled response:

But if the conjugal conception of marriage is correct, it is clear why marriage is possible only between two people. Marriage is a comprehensive interpersonal union that is consummated and renewed by acts of organic bodily union and oriented to the bearing and rearing of children. Such a union can be achieved by two and only two because no single act can organically unite three or more people at the bodily level or, therefore, seal a comprehensive union of three or more lives at other levels.

Indeed, the very comprehensiveness of the union requires the marital commitment to be undivided—made to exactly one other person; but such comprehensiveness, and the exclusivity that its orientation to children demands, makes sense only on the conjugal view. Children, likewise, can have only two parents—a biological mother and father. There are two sexes, one of each type being necessary for reproduction. So marriage, a reproductive type of community, requires two—one of each sex. . . .

The goal of examining the criteria of monogamy and romance . . . is to make a simple but crucial conceptual point: Any principle that would justify the legal recognition of same‐sex relationships would also justify the legal recognition of polyamorous and non‐sexual ones. So if, as most people—including many revisionists—believe, true marriage is essentially a sexual union of exactly two persons, the revisionist conception of marriage must be unsound. Any revisionist who agrees that the state is justified in recognizing only real marriages must either reject traditional norms of monogamy and sexual consummation or adopt the conjugal view—which excludes same‐sex unions.

George, Anderson, and Girgis summarize their three challenges to marriage revisionists this way:

But we challenge the many revisionists who support norms, like monogamy, as a matter of moral principle to complete the following sentence: Polyamorous unions and nonsexual unions by nature cannot be marriages, and should not be recognized legally, because . . .

What Questions Must Marriage Revisionists Answer? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

If marriage revisionists want to reject the conjugal view of marriage and decouple marriage completely from human biology and sexual reproduction, then they need to answer some questions about the revisionist view.

Robert George, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis, in their seminal paper on marriage, pose three challenges to marriage revisionists.

First, if marriage revisionists want the state to sanction and regulate long-term and committed relationships between any two people, regardless of their intention or ability to sexually reproduce, then why does the state not set terms for ordinary friendships? The authors ask, “Why does it not create civil causes of action for neglecting or even betraying our friends? Why are there no civil ceremonies for forming friendships or legal obstacles to ending them?”

Proponents of the conjugal view can answer this question as follows:

It is simply because ordinary friendships do not affect the political common good in structured ways that justify or warrant legal regulation. Marriages, in contrast, are a matter of urgent public interest, as the record of almost every culture attests—worth legally recognizing and regulating. Societies rely on families, built on strong marriages, to produce what they need but cannot form on their own: upright, decent people who make for reasonably conscientious, law‐abiding citizens. As they mature, children benefit from the love and care of both mother and father, and from the committed and exclusive love of their parents for each other. . . .

This is why the state has an interest in marriages that is deeper than any interest it could have in ordinary friendships: Marriages bear a principled and practical connection to children. Strengthening the marriage culture improves children’s shot at becoming upright and productive members of society. In other words, our reasons for enshrining any conception of marriage, and our reasons for believing that the conjugal understanding of marriage is the correct one, are one and the same: the deep link between marriage and children. Sever that connection, and it becomes much harder to show why the state should take any interest in marriage at all. Any proposal for a policy, however, has to be able to account for why the state should enact it.

Second, marriage revisionists may want to rule out friendships as marriage because they are not romantic. But on the revisionist view, on what principled grounds can they deny people who want their long-term friendships to be sanctioned by the state? The authors offer the following scenario:

Take Joe and Jim. They live together, support each other, share domestic responsibilities, and have no dependents. Because Joe knows and trusts Jim more than anyone else, he would like Jim to be the one to visit him in the hospital if he is ill, give directives for his care if he is unconscious, inherit his assets if he dies first, and so on. The same goes for Jim.

So far, you may be assuming that Joe and Jim have a sexual relationship. But does it matter? What if they are bachelor brothers? What if they are best friends who never stopped rooming together after college, or who reunited after being widowed? Is there any reason that the benefits they receive should depend on whether their relationship is or even could be romantic? In fact, would it not be patently unjust if the state withheld benefits from them on the sole ground that they were not having sex?

What would marriage revisionists say to Joe and Jim, who want all the benefits of marriage that seem to be granted them under the revisionist view?

[They] might object that everyone just knows that marriage has some connection to romance. It requires no explanation. But that is question‐begging against Joe and Jim, who want their benefits. And it prematurely stops searching for an answer to why we tend to associate marriage with romance. The explanation brings us back to our central point: Romance is the kind of desire that aims at bodily union, and marriage has much to do with that.

Once this point is admitted, we return to the question of what counts as organic bodily union. Does hugging? Most think not. But then why is sex so important? What if someone derived more pleasure or felt intimacy from some other behavior (tennis, perhaps, as in our earlier example)? We must finally return to the fact that coitus, the generative act, uniquely unites human persons, as explained above. But that fact supports the conjugal view: The reason that marriage typically involves romance is that it necessarily involves bodily union, and romance is the sort of desire that seeks bodily union. But organic bodily union is possible only between a man and a woman.

In part 2, we will look at the third challenge that George, Anderson, and Girgis present to marriage revisionists.

What Are the Two Competing Views of Marriage?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Marriage traditionalists hold what might be called the conjugal view of marriage. As explained by Robert George, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis in their seminal paper on marriage, the conjugal view defines marriage as the

union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together. The spouses seal (consummate) and renew their union by conjugal acts—acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction, thus uniting them as a reproductive unit. Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.

Proponents of same-sex marriage reject the traditional, or conjugal, view of marriage. George, Anderson, and Girgis refer to the non-traditional view of marriage as the revisionist view. How does the revisionist view define marriage?

Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear.

Is the conjugal view simply based on religious traditions? I am often told this is the case by commenters on this blog. George, Anderson, and Girgis rightly reject this assertion.

It has sometimes been suggested that the conjugal understanding of marriage is based only on religious beliefs. This is false. Although the world’s major religious traditions have historically understood marriage as a union of man and woman that is by nature apt for procreation and child-rearing, this suggests merely that no one religion invented marriage. Instead, the demands of our common human nature have shaped (however imperfectly) all of our religious traditions to recognize this natural institution. As such, marriage is the type of social practice whose basic contours can be discerned by our common human reason, whatever our religious background.

Whenever I read someone who defines marriage in terms of the revisionist view, I immediately know that they have little to no understanding of why the institution of marriage ever became an institution in the first place.

Using G. K. Chesterton’s idea, they can’t tell me why the “fence” of marriage was built in the first place. They simply look at the fence and decide that it should be taken down to advance their particular agenda. The original purpose for why the fence was put there simply doesn’t matter to them. In fact, they are shocked that anyone is even bothering to guard the fence any more.

Are Christians Against Gay People?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

It seems that Christians are against gay people, based mostly on our responses to same-sex marriage proponents. Since many Christians are fighting same-sex marriage, then it is understandable that it seems that we are anti-gay. The truth, however, is that no Bible-believing Christian can be against gay people.

I myself have written several blog posts against same-sex marriage, but I thought it was time I step back and affirm some things about gay people outside the same-sex marriage issue. Here are my thoughts.

First and most important, Jesus died for gay people, which means their sins, just like mine, were atoned for on the cross. They, like me, only have to accept God’s unconditional gift of salvation.

Second, we should welcome gay people into our churches without demanding that they “stop being gay” before joining. The church is a hospital, so we should expect all kinds of patients, not just the kinds of patients we’re most comfortable treating.

Third, although gay sexual acts are sinful, they should not be singled out as being worse than all other sexual sins. Heterosexual sexual sins, being an order of magnitude more prevalent, have caused far more damage. Given that homosexuals constitute only 2-3% of the population, we have to say that heterosexuals are the dominant cause of the breakdown of the traditional family.

Fourth, we should support any legislation that addresses illegitimate discrimination against gay people.

Fifth, regardless of sexual orientation, monogamous relationships should always be promoted over promiscuity. Promiscuity is a powerful sin amplifier because it involves many people, whereas monogamy limits the damage of sexual sin to fewer people.

Sixth, there is a continuum of same-sex attraction among homosexuals. Some people feel the attraction very strongly and some feel it weakly. This is no different from heterosexuals, who also experience sexual attraction more or less strongly. Don’t think you know how all homosexuals feel because you happen to know one, or worse yet, because you’ve seen gay characters on TV shows.

In summary, although I will continue fighting against the legalization of same-sex marriage, I want gay people to understand that my views about homosexuals extend well beyond this one issue. I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want them to be treated unfairly. I recognize that their sins do not deserve to be singled out above all other sins. I want them to feel welcome in my church. I want them to come to faith in Christ.

Are You Progressive, Conservative, or Libertarian?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Arnold Kling, in his book The Three Languages of Politics, argues that there are three dominant political viewpoints: progressive, conservative, and libertarian. Each of these three view the world along completely different axes. Kling explained these three axes in an interview with economist Russ Roberts:

So what I claim is that Progressives organize the good and the bad in terms of oppression and the oppressed, and they think in terms of groups. So, certain groups of people are oppressed, and certain groups of people are oppressors. And so the good is to align yourself against oppression, and the historical figures that have improved the world have fought against oppression and overcome oppression.

The second axis is one I think Conservatives use, which is civilization and barbarism. The good is civilized values that have accumulated over time and have stood the test of time; and the bad is barbarians who try to strike out against those values and destroy civilization.

And the third axis is one I associate with Libertarians, which is freedom versus coercion, so that good is individuals making their own choices, contracting freely with each other; and the bad is coercion at gunpoint, particularly on the part of governments.

When I heard Kling say these things, it really resonated with me. The first thing that popped into my mind was the debate over gay marriage. Progressives see the entire debate in terms of gay people being oppressed. Conservatives see the debate in terms of millennia-old traditions being overturned. Libertarians see the debate in terms of gay people’s freedom to do what they wish.

The problem, says Kling, is that since each of these three groups are speaking a completely different language, they just talk past each other and fail to substantively engage. Coming from a conservative viewpoint, I can definitely see how progressives only want to talk about the oppression of gays, and libertarians only want to talk about the fact that gays should be able to freely do whatever they like, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

What’s interesting about the gay marriage debate in France is that a group of Progressives have stood up to denounce gay marriage. Why? Because they claim it will oppress children of gay couples, children who will be denied either a mother or father.

Do these three political languages resonate with you? How do you think the gay marriage debate is playing out among Americans? Vote in the poll and leave a comment.


Why Are French Citizens Protesting Same-Sex Marriage?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Several weeks ago some 800,000 French citizens took to the streets to protest the legalization of same-sex marriage. How can this be? Aren’t the French emblematic of secular, liberal, European values?

Why are so many of the French opposing same-sex marriage? According to Jim Daly, in his article which describes the protests, the French are arguing that same-sex marriage discriminates against children. Daly reports that the homosexual mayor of Paris has been repeating the popular mantra: “The rights of children trump the right to children.”

Daly adds:

France’s chief rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, and Louis-Georges Barret, Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party, have suggested that nobody has a right to children. If there was such a right, they argue, it would mean reclassifying children as objects, making them mere pawns.

Daly notes that Jean-Dominique Bunel, a French filmmaker, also opposes legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. Bunel, who was raised by two lesbians, deeply missed the presence of a father. Here are his comments:

I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that “the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration” (Article 3, section 1).

It is fascinating to realize that this very same argument has been repeatedly offered by conservative same-sex marriage opponents in the US. At last, liberals and conservatives can both rally around the common cause of children’s rights. Every child has the right to be raised by a father and a mother. Same-sex marriages guarantee that either a mother or a father will be absent in the home. Surely this is unjust.

What Are the Best Arguments for Traditional Marriage? #8 Post of 2012

Post Author: Bill Pratt

The citizens of North Carolina voted Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 61% to 39% in favor of adding an amendment to the state constitution that re-affirms the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman.  Even though this was an overwhelming victory, it still saddens me that so many people in our state have failed to understand what is at stake in this debate.

As I’ve researched this issue for the last several years I have read numerous excellent treatments on marriage.  Recently, though, I discovered, thanks to the Manhattan Project, the best concise, scholarly treatment I’ve ever read on marriage.  The article is entitled “What Is Marriage?” and it was originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.  The authors are Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan T. Anderson.

Below is the table of contents, to give you an idea of the ground that the authors cover in the paper:

I. ……………………………………………………………………..248

A. Equality, Justice, and the Heart of the Debate …………………………………………..248

B. Real Marriage Is—And Is Only—The Union of Husband and Wife…………………..252

1. Comprehensive Union ………………………253
2. Special Link to Children ……………………255
3. Marital Norms…………………………………..259

C. How Would Gay Civil Marriage Affect You or Your Marriage? ………………..260

1. Weakening Marriage …………………………260
2. Obscuring the Value of Opposite‐Sex Parenting As an Ideal ………………………..262
3. Threatening Moral and Religious Freedom ……………………………………………263

D. If Not Same‐Sex Couples, Why Infertile Ones? ………………………………..265

1. Still Real Marriages……………………………266
2. Still in the Public Interest…………………..268

E. Challenges for Revisionists ……………………..269

1. The State Has an Interest in Regulating Some Relationships? ……….269
2. Only if They Are Romantic?………………271
3. Only if They Are Monogamous? ……….272

F. Isn’t Marriage Just Whatever We Say It Is? ……………………………………………274

II . …………………………………………………………………….275

A. Why Not Spread Traditional Norms to the Gay Community? ………………………….275

B. What About Partners’ Concrete Needs? ……………………………………..280

C. Doesn’t the Conjugal Conception of Marriage Sacrifice Some People’s Fulfillment for Others’? …………….281

D. Isn’t It Only Natural? ………………………………284

E. Doesn’t Traditional Marriage Law Impose Controversial Moral and Religious Views on Everyone? …………………………………………..285


When you click on the link to the article, it will take you to the abstract.  All you have to do to get the complete article is click on the “Download This Paper” link on the same web page.  In order to entice you to read the whole paper, I quote the conclusion of the paper below:

A thought experiment might crystallize our central argument.  Almost every culture in every time and place has had some institution that resembles what we know as marriage. But imagine that human beings reproduced asexually and that human offspring were self‐sufficient. In that case, would any culture have developed an institution anything like what we know as marriage?  It seems clear that the answer is no.

And our view explains why not.  If human beings reproduced asexually, then organic bodily union—and thus comprehensive interpersonal union—would be impossible, no kind of union would have any special relationship to bearing and rearing children, and the norms that these two realities require would be at best optional features of any relationship. Thus, the essential features of marriage would be missing; there would be no human need that only marriage could fill.

The insight that pair bonds make little sense, and uniquely answer to no human need, apart from reproductive‐type union merely underscores the conclusions for which we have argued: Marriage is the kind of union that is shaped by its comprehensiveness and fulfilled by procreation and child‐rearing.  Only this can account for its essential features, which make less sense in other relationships.  Because marriage uniquely meets essential needs in such a structured way, it should be regulated for the common good, which can be understood apart from specifically religious arguments.  And the needs of those who cannot prudently or do not marry (even due to naturally occurring factors), and whose relationships are thus justifiably regarded as different in kind, can be met in other ways.

So the view laid out in this Article is not simply the most favorable or least damaging trade‐off between the good of a few adults, and that of children and other adults.  Nor are there “mere arguments” on the one hand squaring off against people’s “concrete needs” on the other.  We reject both of these dichotomies.  Marriage understood as the conjugal union of husband and wife really serves the good of children, the good of spouses, and the common good of society.  And when the arguments against this view fail, the arguments for it succeed, and the arguments against its alternative are decisive, we take this as evidence that it serves the common good.  For reason is not just a debater’s tool for idly refracting arguments into premises, but a lens for bringing into focus the features of human flourishing.

In addition to this paper, if you want to hear an outstanding podcast that features a traditional marriage advocate debating a gay marriage advocate, you cannot do better than listening to the Unbelievable? podcast entitled “The Gay Marriage Debate – Peter Tatchell vs Peter D Williams.”  Peter Williams verbally makes many of the same arguments you will read in the marriage paper, and he does a truly exceptional job of it.