Marriage: Wedge Issue or Prelude to Disaster?

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
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Posted: Oct 06, 2008 8:54 PM
Marriage: Wedge Issue or Prelude to Disaster?

The last few weeks have been filled with political drama. The economic bailout, discussions about Sarah Palin, and the vice presidential debate have kept millions of Americans occupied with their own debates about America’s future.

While all this excitement is taking place nationally, there is a quiet tragedy brewing that can have just as much impact as the financial crisis. It is the battle to protect marriage. Three states have marriage amendments on the ballot this November - Arizona, California, and Florida. The California battle is especially significant because judges have made same sex marriage into law in that state. These battles have been relegated to the back pages of the national papers and hardly covered at all on national television because the protection of marriage is often called a “wedge issue.”

Due to the lack of media coverage, many people are unaware of how much is at stake in this battle. Same sex marriage could become the law of the land in three years or less. The only speed bump that could slow this process down (or derail it) is passing a constitutional amendment in these three states.

The problem with redefining marriage is that it is more than a civil rights issue concerning how gay people are treated. It has the potentially unintended effect of hastening the decline of traditional heterosexual marriage. It also may blur the lines of morality and sexual behavior for centuries to come. Studies have shown that in the nations that have legalized same sex marriage or other forms of “faux” marriage, the change has devalued the institution of marriage as a whole. This devaluation has resulted in heterosexuals waiting longer to marry, increases in single parent households, and an overall alienation of many children from their birth fathers.

Let me explain these findings in a different way. Once we redefine marriage, we automatically redefine the family. After the family is redefined, we must redefine how kids are educated and trained in our “brave new world.” For example, in the second grade in the State of Massachusetts, students in public schools are required to read books like The Prince and the Prince. This book lays out the romance and courtship of two gay men who become “the King and the King” and live happily ever after.

As appalling as it is to me that an 8-year-old is exposed to this process, it actually begins earlier. The dangers of primary school “re-education” of children are illustrated by the true story of David Parker who was outraged when he opened up the book Who's in a Family? This book was given to his 5-year-old son in 2005 at the Joseph Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Mass. Parker deemed that both the message and the method of the book were highly inappropriate. The book depicted different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.

As innocent as the title Who’s in a Family? may sound, it is the beginning of announcing an insidious change in the nature of families and marriage. By the time Massachusetts’ kids reach the 8th grade in some classrooms, they are hearing lessons about gay and lesbian sex complete with diagrams and charts.

These negatives of same sex marriage are not the only alarming trends. As an African-American preacher, I am convinced that traditional marriage in the black community is on the verge of becoming extinct.

Let’s take a look at a snapshot of the condition of black families. Over 50%+ of black marriages currently end in divorce. In addition, over 70% of black babies are born out of wedlock today. Moreover, as high as 40% of young black woman will never get married, if current trends continue. With marriage left in this kind of freefall, we could quickly reach a time when most black adults will grow up without the stabilizing influence of a father in the home.

It is no secret that fatherless homes contribute to increased poverty, educational underachievement, juvenile delinquency, and a host of other social problems. National legalization of same sex marriage will undoubtedly accelerate the decline of black families. Therefore, many leading pastors are speaking out about the need to protect the definition and legal status of marriage.

In conclusion, black and white Christians alike must recognize the slippery slope upon which we stand. Where the black community is today, the white community will be in just a few years. Let’s remember that our battle to reclaim biblical marriage has to consist of more than preventing the redefinition of marriage. It has to include American churches doing a better job of equipping our members to develop and maintain strong marriages.

The truth is…the battle begins with you and me. If we do not safeguard our own marriages and teach our children to do the same, we will not be able to argue against gay marriage with any authority. Let’s get help or counseling when we need it for our own marriages, let’s be advocates for family support within our communities and churches, and let’s draw a line in the sand and let our representatives know that we will not allow our families to erode from the inside out or the outside in. This battle is worth the fight!