John Stonestreet’s new book, Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, is due out at the end of the month. Early on in the book, he and co-author Sean McDowell note, “The speed at which same-sex marriage went from unthinkable to unquestioned is unparalleled in modern memory. A shift of these proportions leaves an enormous cultural wake. Given what is at stake, we can stay silent no longer.” Stonestreet is a culture expert from the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
Do you say that bit about silence on this issue because you’re worried about a tendency among some in this generation to be silent where same-sex marriage is concerned? We do look around and see a lot of people being tentative in saying anything about this issue. A lot of people are trying to stay out of it, from megachurches to Christian organizations to relatives at holidays and Christmas. We don’t want to bring it up. But also it’s extremely difficult to answer this question … in a sound bite sort of way. This is a long treatment.
I think a lot of people, particularly young people, want to know: Given so many people reject the Bible, is there a non-religious argument against same-sex marriage, an imperative from history or culture or law that will appeal to people who don’t accept biblical arguments. You can, but there’s two parts to this. Initially, you said, can we appeal to an argument that’s not part of the Bible and will people accept it? Those are two different things. This is one of the most important parts of the book, is shaping the historical context. We know ideas have consequences, but they also have context. In some cultural context, the best arguments, they’re not heard. They’re not able to be heard. That’s really where we’re at now. That said, the effectiveness of arguments doesn’t reduce our reason to give them. To go through this point-by-point, I would start here: We haven’t proven that marriage is a fundamental right. When I went to get a marriage license at the county courthouse in Tennessee, they didn’t ask me if I really, really loved my wife. They asked me if I was married and she was of age. It’s not something that the state creates as a fundamental right. It’s something that’s part of the human experience and is the best way to produce and perpetuate the civilization through protecting children. …
Of all the research that’s been proven, it’s been proven that children function best in homes where there’s a mom and a dad, a biological mom and a dad. If we do have adoptive situations, it’s already a situation where we’re trying to make the best out of something that is not the ideal. We don’t want to make normal what the state already recognizes as being something to accommodate for something that’s less than ideal. … No society in the history of the world, and this evidenced at every level, has treated same-sex couples at the same level as marriage. Even societies that had a pretty licentious view of sexuality still set aside the man-woman relationship as different, as separate, as unique. If we’re going, for example, to those countries which have had same-sex marriage for a while, what we’ve seen is that countries that have same-sex marriage, they call everything marriage. Then the thing that actually is marriage loses its luster. It’s not unique at all, and so the marriage rate dramatically drops. That’s what we see in Norwegian countries, for example, where same-sex marriage has been legal for a while, is people just don’t get married because there’s nothing to it. It’s no different from co-habitation, so why use the time and the effort?
Listen to Nick Eicher’s full conversation about same-sex marriage with John Stonestreet on The World and Everything in It: