“Marriage is like the army,” actor James Garner once said. “Everyone complains, but you'd be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist.”
Garner himself never had to re-enlist; he just celebrated 54 years of his first “hitch” with wife, Lois. Their marriage has lasted an eternity by Hollywood standards, but like every other long and successful union, it’s testimony to something most people understand, intuitively: marriage is a good thing. It means something.
That something clearly eludes a sizable, risible minority of the population in Garner’s own state of California, where too many of that minority cheered a legally absurd ruling last month in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case that declared the standing definition of marriage “unconstitutional” and, if the decision is allowed to prevail, would overturn the electoral will of a solid majority of the state’s voters.
“You can’t legislate morality,” the old saying goes, although in truth you can hardly legislate anything else. In approving Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that maintained the definition of marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, Californians were not only acknowledging but affirming a moral truth people have understood and embraced since the Garden of Eden: that marriage is, or should be, a unique relationship with some highly specific intentions.
To say, as did the judge in the Perry case, that there is no rational basis for defining marriage as a man and a woman is to effectively diagnose almost every man and woman who ever lived as “irrational.” Not some men and women, mind you, like the gang that insists the world is flat. And not “mean,” like the men and women who for centuries inflicted slavery on other men and women. But irrational—every one of us—because, at some core level, everyone understands that marriage really is for a man and a woman.
It’s as simple as human anatomy…as the extraordinary, inexplicable, and undeniable compatibility of men’s and women’s psychological, physiological, and emotional makeups…as every child’s subtle, soul-deep need for the distinctive affirmations and examples of a mother and a father.
Of course, the court set aside that need as well, solemnly declaring that the state had no interest in protecting marriage as a stable environment for children. In making that declaration, the judge effectively eliminated any need for a legal tie to bind couples at all. If not for the sake of children, why should the government play any role in marriage? The state doesn’t require a permit for couples to date, or issue them a license to have intercourse, or live together. If marriage is nothing more than two people committing their emotions to each other, why should the state be consulted on that commitment?
But then, that’s the point. For all their homo-romantic effusions for the cameras, many of those pushing the same-sex “marriage” agenda have admitted, off-the-record, that they have little real interest in marriage, outside of the possible financial benefits it affords. Indeed, the real goal, often clearly stated, is not the annexation of marriage but the abolition of it, and of the morality it “legislates”: the historical ascendancy of family stability over sexual license; the priority of producing and raising healthy children; the deference of desire to responsibility, of the body to the soul, of the soul to God.
It is the resentment of that divine moral authority that ultimately fuels much of the homosexual legal agenda, just as reverence and respect for that authority—not bigotry—drives many of those who openly oppose that agenda. Resentment and rebellion against God began in that same garden where marriage was both first ordained and first assaulted, and the determination of mortal souls to embrace forbidden fruit at whatever cost to Paradise hasn’t changed across the millennia.
This is not to say, as the trial court wrongly concluded in the Perry case, that respect for a Higher Authority is the only reason anyone supports protecting marriage as the union of a husband and wife. That’s clearly not the case. But reduced to its fundamentals, the cultural war over demands to fabricate “rights” based on homosexual behavior is enflamed not by the refusal of “traditionalists” of all stripes to acknowledge new definitions of love and family, but by the confused hatred of homosexual partisans for a God who would limit their lusts.
Judges and politicians can ignore all the legal and constitutional standards they want to ram the homosexual political agenda down our throats. But they will never make the actions at the base of that agenda anything but a sin—and like any other sin, its indulgence brings only misery, for individuals, and for a nation.
Which is why, for all the complaints of those who would muster out of and even disband the moral structures of our society, in the end, most people want—deep down—to re-enlist. Right, in its way, sounds a clarion call as compelling as the siren song of sin.
For more information on this topic, check out Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas and available in our online bookstore. Or read "Defining Marriage Down," by Michael Novak.
Alan Sears is a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan Administration. He is president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org), which is defending the California marriage amendment in the federal lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger as part of the ProtectMarriage.com legal team.