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FIRST PERSON: Why we must back the marriage amendment

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–I would be very surprised if, just a few decades ago, there were many of us who thought we’d see the day when the very institution of the family would be called into question by the prospect of same-sex “marriage.”

But that day has come, and the biggest shock of all may be that this development has prompted little more than a minor outcry from most Americans. A small percentage of Christians have awakened to this threat, however, and I am encouraged by their energy and the efforts that they have poured into this fight.

It is heartening to see that within the Southern Baptist Convention, there is a high degree of commitment to this battle, which was evidenced at the annual SBC meeting in Indianapolis by the passage of a resolution in support of a Federal Marriage Amendment. Still, this will remain an uphill battle unless the church as a whole rallies together.

Among believers, there should be no doubt about God’s prohibition against homosexuality. Scripture clearly forbids it, and even those who do not subscribe to biblical teaching are offered many evidences that sexual deviancy goes against the grain of nature’s design. Ignoring the Lord’s warnings in this regard invites a host of ills, for both the individual and society at large.

Volumes could be written about the ramifications for a culture that embraces homosexuality, and even more could be said about what can happen when same-sex “marriage” is given a nod by the powers that be. Not only will the traditional family as it has been defined for millennia go by the wayside -– which I see as the gravest danger facing us –- but a number of other byproducts will logically follow.

To name just a few, the homosexual lifestyle will gain universal acceptance; anyone daring to speak out against it, including the church, will be silenced and even penalized; Scripture will be utterly rejected as a relevant guide to behavior; laws forbidding pedophilia and polygamy will be overturned; the public schools will be forced to teach our children that homosexuality is a viable lifestyle; and more and more special rights will be offered to anyone claiming homosexual tendencies. Obviously, the impact of such radical reforms cannot be overstated -– and the most devastating result will be the complete and final destruction of the family as it has been known since the dawn of time.

We’re already seeing the homosexual movement accomplish many of its objectives, and those not yet fully realized are just over the horizon. If we are to have any hope of thwarting these attempts, it’s time for the American people to take action.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of apathy among our fellow citizens — even as we’ve watched the U.S. Supreme Court overturn anti-sodomy laws and the Massachusetts high court legalize same-sex “marriage.” Among those skeptical about the real dangers facing us, the common thread of belief goes something like this: “Why should my family be threatened by what homosexuals do?”

The answer is straightforward: If the benefits and privileges of marriage are granted to anyone who wants them, this foundational unit of human society will come to signify nothing. And that, I’m convinced, is the ultimate goal of those working toward the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” Most don’t want the freedom to enter into monogamous, lifelong relationships; they want liberation from such bonds, while still enjoying all the perks formerly reserved solely for married couples. And the only way to achieve that is to nullify marriage itself. Of course, heterosexual couples entering into a legitimate union sanctioned by Scripture -– and, until now, our government –- will be the ones to lose out, since the exclusive nature of biblical marriage will have been rejected.

Nonetheless, there is a glimmer of hope. Even as I write this, a coalition of folks dedicated to saving marriage is laboring toward the passage of a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). Such legislation, if it succeeds, essentially amends the U.S. Constitution to state that marriage shall consist only of the union between one man and one woman.

The FMA is not perfect, to be sure, but it is the strongest chance we have of stopping the rapid advance of same-sex “marriage” dead in its tracks. Some critics of the FMA claim that amendments to state constitutions are adequate to combat homosexual marriage. However, leaving this matter to the states invites chaos of an unprecedented kind. Rather than a uniform definition of marriage that would hold true throughout the country, we’ll have fifty different definitions. How will this play out practically? Couples who are married legally in one state could travel to another state and demand their status be acknowledged. Imagine the litigation and confusion that would be created!

What’s more, allowing the states to define marriage leaves a loophole by which the Supreme Court, or even lower courts, simply could override the will of the people. If there’s any doubt about this, we need only recall that fateful day in 1973 when abortion was legalized by the “Supremes” without regard for the states’ objections. So while state constitutional amendments are to be encouraged as a powerful expression of support for traditional marriage, we must realize their limitations. The Federal Marriage Amendment presents the only sure solution.

Unfortunately, Congress has shown itself unwilling to bridle the courts’ power. This leaves it up to the American people to fight for an amendment designed toward that end. Thankfully, polls have consistently shown the vast majority of the population to be adamantly opposed to homosexual “marriage.” This tells me there should be more than enough momentum behind the FMA.

I pray millions of Americans will flood our congressmen with phone calls, letters, e-mails, and visits. (The Capitol Hill switchboard number is 202-224-3121.) It’s time to let our elected representatives in Washington know where we stand. Most importantly, if those in office won’t respond to our concerns, we need to support candidates who will. This move on our parts presents the most effective means of getting the attention of incumbents –- when their positions are threatened, they tend to listen more closely.

This is a critical juncture for our nation; we cannot choose to sit on the sidelines this time. The God-ordained institution of the family is hanging in the balance, and if we fail to rescue it, there will be no turning back. Western civilization –- not to mention the future of our children and grandchildren -– will have been changed forever.

May the Lord strengthen us to win this battle.
James Dobson is founder and chairman of the board of Focus on the Family. He has written a book, “Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle,” that deals solely with the topic of same-sex “marriage.” It can be preordered at www.lifewaystores.com.

For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • James Dobson