After the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling about same-sex marriages, a friend asked me if I thought the institution of marriage was threatened in the United States.
“Most definitely,” I said, “but it is not because of men marrying men and women marrying women. The problem with marriage in this country is too many heterosexual couples not taking their marriage vows seriously.”
My wife and I will soon celebrate our 37th anniversary, and for the life of me, I can’t see how the government allowing same-sex marriages threatens my marriage one iota. I do have serious biblical and theological problems with the church marrying couples of the same sex, and I would not be a member of any church that recognizes a same-sex marriage as a holy union. But I make a distinction between church weddings and civil weddings. In a church wedding, a couple is making a promise before God and, in my view, only a man and a woman can make that promise.
But God has no role in most civil weddings. The couple simply are making a promise to each other, and the state is recognizing they are legally married. The gender of the bride and groom should be of little interest to the state. As long as neither person getting married is not already married, it doesn’t bother me if the state recognizes that marriage — or if it does not. Some people — particularly Libertarians — contend states have no business requiring couples to purchase a license — in essence to pay a tax — to marry.
If gay marriages were suddenly legal in all 50 states, I don’t think we would see a sharp increase in the number of gay couples living together. Whether male or female, homosexuals have always been a small percentage of the population and having states recognize gay marriages is not going to change that.
One thing I have learned over the years is homosexuality is not contagious. If it were, I would have caught it years ago when I was a speech and theater major at Morehead State University. While I knew a lot of homosexuals while at MSU, they all knew I was “straight” and never bothered me. The same can be said about the homosexuals I have worked with since college.
A number of years ago, there was a gay couple living in our neighborhood in Ashland. At the time, my two youngest children were in grade school, and they both knew the two men were gay. They were less bothered about their living arrangement than a lot of adults in the neighborhood were. As far as I was concerned, the two gay men were good neighbors. They most kept to themselves, kept the house and yard neat and did not flaunt their sexuality in any way. We have had a few problem neighbors over the years, but they are not among them.
There are two men in my wife’s family who have been living together for the past 33 years. I like them both. I do not approve of their lifesyle, but the country would be a whole lot better off if more heterosexual couples were as committed to each other as these two gay men are.
The problem with marriage in this country is way too many men and women are ignoring their marriage vows. While I know of two couples whose marriage fell apart because one of the partners left their spouse for someone of the same gender, that’s rare. But I know of dozens of couples whose marriages have collapsed because of infidelity on the part of one or both of the spouses. While I have heard of couples who have so-called open marriages and are supposedly happy with the arrangement, I think the best way for couples to stay married is to remain faithful to one another.
We live in a country where divorce has almost become the norm instead of the exception, where nearly half of all children are living in households with only one parent present. The family is the most basic social unit of soecity, and when families begin to cumble, society crumbles. That, in my view, is the biggest problem in America today.
As a Christian, I am far more concerned about the Christian marriages that are falling apart than about same-sex couples living together and minding their own business.
CONFESSION: Both my wife and I were previously married. Because of that, I know there are some churches where we could not be members, but I also know God forgave me of all my previous sins when I became a Christian soon after my wife and I married. I am confident God recognizes our marriage even if some churches do not.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2649.