Last week two major stories dominated the news outlets: the riots in Baltimore and the Supreme Court considering the issue of gay marriage. It occurred to me as these stories unfolded that there is a connection between the two. Let me explain.
During the riots one video clip went viral in which a mother, seeing her son involved as she watched a newscast on TV, courageously went out and literally ‘smacked him upside the head’ as they say. It was one of the few bright moments in an otherwise depressing scene. Would to God there were more parents like her willing to confront their wayward children. But as courageous and proper as her actions were, it also raises a disturbing question: Where was the boy’s father? Why was it the boy’s mother that had to administer discipline? I do not know the answer but if statistics are any clue, the boy likely grew up without the presence of a father in the home. Chances are, the father was out on the streets too, engaged in criminal activity. Statistics indicate that a child raised in the home with his/her own parents is far less likely to commit such crimes. Had this boy had a father willing to administer discipline – and yes, I mean proper (not abusive) corporal discipline as the Bible repeatedly advocates (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15; Heb. 12:5-11) – I doubt the boy would have been out on the streets contributing to the mayhem. I had a father who administered such discipline to me at an early age and I thank God for it every day. It instilled in me a proper fear of the Lord which the Bible indicates is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10).
And this is where the story of the riots intersects with something happening in a venue far different from the chaos of the streets of Baltimore - in the staid, orderly and thoughtful halls of the Supreme Court. This boy needed a father and a mother. He needed a dad to teach him what godly masculinity looks like. Yet the court is considering legitimizing unions where no father (or no mother) is present at all by design – unions that in essence deny any distinction between the sexes. The Bible is clear that God created humanity male and female – that is, He created the gender distinction for a purpose and we tinker with His design to our own folly and destruction.
Rather than eroding traditional marriage we should be doing everything in our power to shore it up. Marriage is not ultimately about a right to our own personal happiness. It serves purposes far higher than our own selfish whims, not the least of which is to provide children with a stable environment in which both a mother and father are present. Statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that such an environment is ideally suited for the psychological and emotional well-being of children, the kind of children who grow up to be good citizens. The preservation of traditional marriage is therefore very much in interest of the civil authority - as the riots in Baltimore so vividly illustrate. Where the nuclear family erodes, civilization itself is in peril. No culture can long endure when law and order break down and no institution has demonstrated any success in civilizing the little barbarians born each year in our midst as the traditional family.
If marriage did not serve this profoundly important function of contributing to civil order, then civil authority would have no interest in regulating it. In other words, if the advocates of gay marriage are correct, then the logical move would not be to establish gay marriage, but to abolish marriage altogether – or at least any interest of the civil authority in it – and allow people to forge sexual unions of any type, duration, and number of partners they prefer. The truth is however, that not only did this boy need a father, our society is desperately in need of intact nuclear families. The very future of our society itself rests upon it.
I have no animus toward those who wish to change traditional marriage nor should they be mistreated or abused. But I do believe that their ideas are shortsighted, selfish and detrimental to the long term prosperity of the social order and as such their ideas ought to be opposed. As the Bible in its wisdom declares “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov. 14:12) Let us pray that our leaders will have the humility and courage to follow God’s wisdom and not shortsighted human folly. And may we in the church likewise learn to allow God’s Word to shape our thinking and attitudes rather than fleeting cultural fads – whether it be in the meaning of marriage or how to discipline children.