Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Blaming Heterosexuals

Russell Moore of Touchstone's Mere Comments blog links to an op-ed by Stephanie Coontz who points out that at least part of the blame for the current movement to redefine marriage to include gays belongs to ... religious conservatives:

Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, argues that homosexuals didn't start the revolution. Heterosexuals did, a long time ago. Writes Coontz:

Heterosexuals were the upstarts who turned marriage into a voluntary love relationship rather than a mandatory economic and political institution. Heterosexuals were the ones who made procreation voluntary, so that some couples could choose childlessness, and who adopted assisted reproduction so that even couples who could not conceive could become parents. And heterosexuals subverted the long-standing rule that every marriage had to have a husband who played one role in the family and a wife who played a completely different one. Gays and lesbians simply looked and the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that with its new norms, marriage could work for them, too.

[...] Coontz is precisely right that the redefinition of marriage didn't begin with social revolutionaries in Massachusetts and San Francisco. This is why it will never work for Christian churches to stand against same-sex "marriage," while remaining silent about working mothers, daycare, the contraceptive culture, and egalitarian marriage roles.


Coontz diagnosis is on target, while her antidote, surrender to a malleable definition of marriage, is deadly. The answer is for counter-cultural churches and families to model something alien to both Ozzie and Harriet and Will and Grace: marriage that points to the mystery of Christ and his church.
Forgive me for feeling somewhat vindicated by this acknowledgement of a point I have made previously (see here and here) from such a bastion of orthodoxy and conservatism as Touchstone. It has been rather lonely trying to point out that the "defense of marriage" theme is a two-edged sword that really points out the shame of our own sorry performance. In fact, in one off-line debate I remember an oponent specifically citing Touchstone as an authority that I ought to respect in considering a change in my position. I am glad to see Touchstone and I are now making the same point.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I must admit that the debate was about the Federal Marriage Ammendment and as far as I know Touchstone has not rescinded its support of that proposal (moribund though it may be). Also, I would not like to be understood as supporting either gay marriage or civil unions. But if we are to defeat either of those ideas, we must have a more robust rallying cry than "defending traditional marriage" when we really have no intention of doing anything of the sort.

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