It’s no secret that, state after state, advocates of “traditional marriage” are losing to advocates of “marriage equality.” This comes with great public support. Christians seeking to preserve the institution of marriage are coming to understand that they are losing to the culture. Those who oppose “marriage equality” are seen largely as homophobic, as bigots, as intolerant. People call the rejection of same-sex-marriage the “last socially acceptable form of discrimination.”
I suspect that, in my lifetime, same-sex-marriage will be legalized in most, if not all, states in the US. This is not promising for those who maintain the Christian understanding of what marriage is and what it is for. Nor is it promising for those who understand that children ought to be raised by a biological mother and father. Nonetheless, the fight for marriage is a fight that Christians in many areas are losing and continue to lose. So is it over? I think not.
In January, Time Magazine released a rather shocking magazine cover. It read “40 years ago, abortion-rights activists won an epic victory with Roe v. Wade. They’ve been losing ever since.” The story focused on the fact that, while abortion is now legal, getting an abortion today may be more difficult than ever, due to various legal restrictions. Given the national legality of abortion, those who identify as pro-life have been forced to seek creative ways to restrict abortion, and these restrictions may be even more successful in many ways than the previous all-out ban.
Those opposing same-sex-marriage fight vociferously against its legalization, believing that losing this fight will be the total loss of marriage. But, it seems to me that losing this fight may be inevitable. This fight, however, may not be the entire war. It may only be one battle, and those seeking to preserve the institution of marriage may still be able to take up the fight even after the entire country legalizes same-sex-marriage. Those seeking to preserve the institution of marriage will only have to think of more creative ways to do so.
One way may be to abandon the “fighting imagery” altogether. Those in the pro-life movement have realized that, one way to end abortion, is both to end the need for abortion and to end the resources for abortion. One ends the “need” for abortion by ensuring that every pregnant woman feels that she has the resources and support to raise a child. Thus, pro-lifers have started crisis pregnancy centers all over the country to remove this “need.” Past generations may have viewed such centers as “promoting promiscuous behavior,” but this generation understands the need to reach out to women in crisis pregnancies, even if these pregnancies have come out of bad decisions.
One can also end abortion by ending the abortion industry. Abby Johnson, a former director of Planned Parenthood, saw that many working in the abortion industry really wished that they didn’t. So she started a ministry, And Then There Were None, to provide resources and support for men and women wishing to leave the industry. To date, she has helped more than 40 men and women leave their jobs at Planned Parenthood. Her philosophy: end abortion by removing everyone working in the abortion industry.
If advocates of traditional marriage lose the national battle (and they very well might), they’re going to have to look to more creative ways to preserve the institution of marriage. One way would be to make LGBTQ men and women actually feel like they belong in Christian communities, and that these communities can offer them a very real happiness that same-sex-marriage cannot. End same-sex-marriage by reducing the “need” for it. Thus far, Christians have been very bad at this. We’re still really bad at this. But, as we see ourselves continue to lose this battle, we’re going to have to make some changes if we want to continue our work.
One thing we can learn from the pro-life movement: even if it’s over, it’s not over, but we’re going to have to get really creative and make some real changes.