Since the election of President Obama, marriage has been under a relentless assault as proponents of same-sex marriage sense the tide of public opinion turning in their favor. The new White House website, which was posted on the day of President Obama’s inauguration, calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. In relatively quick succession, the Iowa and Connecticut state supreme courts declared same-sex marriage legal and Vermont became the first state to pass same-sex marriage through their legislature. The people of Iowa have yet to have their say in the matter and it is likely, if the legislature will allow it, there will be a constitutional amendment protecting marriage on a future Iowa ballot that will pass with plenty of votes to spare.
While it is true same-sex marriage activists suffered a major setback in California with the passage of Proposition 8, they haven’t lost heart because recent national poll numbers suggest traditional marriage may be on the way out. Two very biased polls, one conducted by CBS News and the other conducted by Newsweek, suggest that support for same-sex marriage is surging. The CBS poll reported forty-two percent believed same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry while only twenty-eight percent said they should have no legal recognition. The poll also revealed twenty-five percent would support civil unions. What CBS fails to mention is that those who favor no legal recognition and those who favor civil unions both agree that same-sex couples should not be allowed to legally marry. That means the split is actually forty-two percent in favor of same-sex marriage and fifty-three percent opposed. But of course the reader comes away from the presentation of the date believing the majority favor same-sex marriage.
The Newsweek poll skews the numbers in a similar way, combining those who approve of civil unions with those who approve full marriage benefits to create the illusion that a majority of Americans are now favor of full marriage rights for homosexual couples. But a close look at the numbers shows those who are in favor of civil unions oppose full marriage rights.
The latest and most extensive polling data comes from Quinnipiac University and offers some encouragement for those who believe in biblical marriage. The poll, released last Thursday, is based on a survey of 2,041 registered voters nationwide and claims to be one of the most comprehensive polls ever on the attitudes of Americans on a variety of gay-rights questions. The poll found strong support for the protection of traditional marriage with fifty-five percent favoring a ban on same-sex marriage in their state and only thirty-seven percent approving.
But other questions concerning homosexuals did not turn out so well for those who hold to traditional, biblical values. Fifty-six percent said the ban on gays in the military should be repealed while just thirty-seven percent supported the current ban. Perhaps the most disappointing result came in the form of the answer to the question about gay adoption. Fifty-three percent believed homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt while forty percent support a ban against same-sex adoptions.
How did we get to this point in our culture? Just twenty-five years ago almost eighty-percent of Americans were opposed to homosexual unions of any kind and homosexual couples adopting children was unthinkable. How have we strayed so far, so fast from God’s Word on homosexual behavior?
I believe there are two causes for this incredible shift in cultural attitudes toward sexual behavior. First, people are bombarded today with pro-homosexual images in the culture through movies, television, the Internet, and through the mainstream news media. The public school system is busy teaching future generations about Heather’s two mommies and what it means to have two dads. The end result is being gay is now cool to a whole generation of Americans.
The second fault for shifting values on sexuality falls squarely on the teaching of the local church. Many churches have abandoned their “watchman on the wall” roll in the culture leaving their leaders fearful of preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word concerning the sin of homosexuality. Many have abandoned the defense of the traditional family and therefore, the defense of marriage for fear of alienating the lost people they are trying to reach. While radical homosexual advocates continue to shout down those like Carrie Prejean, (Miss California) who dare to publically express their support for the traditional family, the pulpits of America barley speak above a whisper when it comes to a biblical defense of traditional marriage.
For now, a slim majority of Americans still believe biblical marriage should be protected by law. However, there is a strong and disturbing trend toward the acceptance of same-sex marriage. If that trend is going to be reversed, the reversal must begin with a powerful, Spirit-filled, and spirited defense of marriage from the churches. Christian pastors, teachers, and other church leaders need to find their prophetic voice, speaking the truth in love to a generation that is on the verge of embracing a lie.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.