Cover Story

Countercultural warriors

"Countercultural warriors" Continued...

Issue: "Unstoppable?," April 20, 2013

That teaching should not ignore contemporary tools like web films and social media. “We have no excuse,” Teetsel said. “Even if we can’t be on CBS, we can reach people in a thousand different ways.”

While Teetsel and Howard spoke at the rally on the first day of the Supreme Court’s marriage hearings, Anderson, the author and a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, defended his views in the lion’s den of the mainstream media.

“I think marriage exists to bring a man and woman together as husband and wife to be mother and father to any children their union produces,” said Anderson during a live appearance that night on Piers Morgan Live on CNN. Anderson didn’t get invited to the studio’s table where Morgan sat with Suze Orman, the best-selling author, financial guru, and aggressive advocate for gay marriage. They looked down on Anderson from an elevated stage as he sat in the audience. The lecture they gave included calling the young conservative and his ideas bizarre, odd, offensive, and uneducated.

“It’s interesting to me that someone of your age still maintains this kind of view,” Morgan told Anderson. “It’s not fair, it’s not tolerant, it’s not American.”

The studio audience applauded, but Anderson is far from uneducated. The Princeton graduate postponed finishing his doctoral dissertation on ethics and economics at Notre Dame so he could take a post on the firing lines of the marriage debate. “We don’t do a good enough job articulating that there are civil society solutions to government programs, and the key institution of civil society is the family,” said Anderson, citing a study from the left-leaning Brookings Institution that $229 billion in welfare payments between 1970 and 1996 could be attributed to the breakdown of marriage.

Anderson, one of five brothers, brushed off the criticism and attacks: “I had three older brothers who would pick on me, and if I picked on the younger brother then I’d have three older brothers who would defend the baby. So I was placed in just the right birth order to have this temperament.”

Hours before Anderson’s televised showdown, Owen Strachan had positioned himself for his own marriage clash. The 31-year-old father of two had flown into Washington the day before the rally from Louisville, Ky., where he is a professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College. He maneuvered his way to the second row of marchers headed past the U.S. Capitol toward the Supreme Court. Hispanics, Asians, and African-Americans strode alongside him.

“This reflects the diversity of the body of Christ,” he thought.

When they turned onto the street that runs past the court, they ran into a blockade of gay marriage supporters trying to halt the march. The counter-protestors refused to move. A man in fishnet stockings, devil horns, and a rainbow-colored tutu danced and taunted the marchers. In the midst of the chaos, Strachan and the others offered a unified response: They knelt where they stood and prayed aloud.

Strachan grew comfortable being countercultural while growing up as a Baptist in Maine. As an undergraduate at a liberal Maine college, he stood up during a school-wide assembly memorializing the Sept. 11 attacks and, with legs shaking, shared how the gospel can provide hope during tragedy. His academic studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago on gender roles led him to realize that defending traditional marriage had to be a touchstone issue for his ministry.

“Many of us have drafted off the importance of marriage for years. We’ve known at a subconscious level that this institution is important. Now that it is threatening to be undone culturally, we are waking up. It seems unthinkable even five years ago that this issue would be vaulted into the cultural mainstream.”

Now that the future of marriage is center stage, Kellie Fiedorek hopes that the Supreme Court does not offer a radical ruling that cuts short the debate. A lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, Fiedorek, 29, sat in the courtroom as the justices heard the arguments. She’s been to seven states this year testifying before legislatures about the ways redefining marriage would interfere with religious freedom. She’s learned that many citizens have never had to think about the meaning of marriage and why it matters. Now that people are alert, social conservatives have the opportunity to make their case to a young generation that has both rallied for life and dealt with the aftereffects of divorce.

“I think that, as more young people engage in the issue, we will see more of them eager to defend marriage, recognizing how important it is to parents and children,” Fiedorek said.

—with reporting by J.C. Derrick in Washington

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