EdWARD T. Mechmann
The most important lesson to take from the legalization of same-sex “marriage” is the opportunity it offers to our churches.
This law happened because people turned away from the values of authentic marriage, and embraced counterfeits — promiscuity, contraception, pornography. We Christians have some responsibility for this: Too often, we speak of marriage quietly and timidly, as if we’re embarrassed by it.
No more. We have to present God’s plan for love and marriage boldly — particularly chastity, fidelity, and self-giving love. When we do this with confidence, people find it compelling and worthy of trying. But talk isn’t enough — we need to get better at teaching couples practical skills and helping those who are struggling.
Pope Paul VI observed that modern people only listen to teachers if they are witnesses. The best witnesses to marriage are couples who can testify to the challenges and rewards of self-sacrificing love — especially those who remain faithful through all manner of difficulties. There are many such couples, and we need to call them forth.
This is our opportunity to rebuild a marriage culture, one heart at a time. We will be persecuted for this. Good. That will give us a chance to show that we really believe in God’s view of marriage.
— Edward T. Mechmann is assistant director of the Family Life/Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York.
When Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 by an 84 percent margin, it rightly recognized that the lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman is the fundamental building block of thriving societies. It knew then what we still know now, regardless of what is happening in New York: The union between husband and wife benefits society — especially children — in unique and special ways that cannot be duplicated by any other relationship. That’s why 62 percent of Americans want to protect traditional marriage, and not.because they are filled with “hate” for or “bias” against anyone.
“Simply put,” Congress wrote in DOMA, “government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.” There are many personal reasons why people choose to marry, but what has happened in New York and a handful of other places is a first: the wholesale replacement of the public purpose of marriage with various private purposes, which may be important to individuals, but are not the business of broad public policy.
Marriage laws have never before stemmed from the individual circumstances of participants. Instead, they stem from the fact that children are generally the product of the sexual relationships between men and women, and that both fathers and mothers are necessary and important for children. That explains the government’s interest and why it doesn’t issue licenses for just any relationship between two people.
But as Alliance Defense Fund senior legal counsel Austin R. Nimocks testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, those who want to redefine marriage into something it has never been “are asking the whole of society to ignore the unique and demonstrable differences between men and women in parenthood: no mothers, no fathers, just generic parents. But there are no generic people. We are composed of two complementary, but different, halves of humanity.” And that’s something that no piece of legislation can ever change.
— Alan Sears is a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan administration. He is president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance working to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.