| McManus -
Ethics & ReligionNov. 1, 2006
Advance for Nov. 4, 2006
Why Support for Traditional Marriage is Eroding
by Michael J. McManus
"After failing to defeat a single state constitutional marriage amendment in
2004, homosexual activists are increasingly optimistic they can post a landmark
victory in at least one state this year," reported the Baptist Press.
"It could be a watershed year," said Carrie Evans of the Human Rights Campaign,
the nation's largest homosexual activist group. In South Dakota a July poll
showed the amendment losing 49-41 percent. Arizona has mixed polls, one showing
passage, the other, defeat.
In Virginia opponents have raised $1 million to defeat the measure, three times
that of supporters. Opposition spending has whittled down the percentage
supporting the amendment from 56 to 52 percent.
Last week I predicted that all of the marriage amendments will pass, which I
stand by. But why is the support so shaky, when 20 states passed them by 71
Two factors are involved. First, many of the proposals are "hard marriage
amendments" that not only limit marriage to a man marrying a woman, but also
forbid "civil unions" of same- sex couples, giving all the rights of marriage,
except the name. To many, this step seems to be a harmless concession to gays.
Not true. As Virginia's Catholic bishops put it. "God Himself is author of
marriage. Therefore, marriage had a built-in design and purpose long before any
nation, religion or law was established...Governments therefore, have a duty to
preserve this institution. No other voluntary relationship can be regarded as
the equivalent of marriage, which is unique in its stability, the environment it
provides for the development of families, and the protection it accords spouses
Gays rightly point out that half of marriages are failing, creating instability
for children. Future columns will suggest reforms to lower divorce rates.
However, no state should sanction the creation of motherless and fatherless
families. A child deserves to be brought up by a mother and a father.
A poll by George Barna this week outlines another reason why support for
traditional marriage is weakening. For this, America's churches and synagogues
can only blame themselves, since two-thirds of Americans are members of a house
of worship. Congregations have access to most people, but have not used it well
to make a case for traditional marriage.
"Baby Busters" in their 20's and 30's, children of Baby Boomers, hold less moral
positions than their parents on 12 out of 16 issues.
Two-thirds of young adults say that cohabitation is morally acceptable vs. half
of older adults. "Most young adults contended that engaging in sex outside of
marriage and viewing pornography are not morally problematic, while only
one-third" of Boomers agreed, Barna reports.
"Almost half of Busters believed that sexual relationships between people of the
same sex are acceptable, compared with one-quarter of older adults...Young
adults were significantly more likely to accept gambling, profanity,
intoxication and illegal drug use as morally acceptable behaviors."
Clergy are likely to dismiss these differences as the normal rebellion of youth
and assert that what's needed is to persuade them to accept Jesus and be "born
Sorry, the data shows that doesn't work.
Just 33 percent of born-again Boomers think cohabitation is morally acceptable
compared to 59% of born-again Busters. "The research shows that people's moral
profile is more likely to resemble that of their peer group" than the "tenets of
one's faith," Barna asserts.
What does work is to provide secular evidence of scriptural wisdom. Consider a
study showing that only 14 percent of virgins who married 1980-83 had divorced
by 1988, but 24 percent of the sexually active had divorced. That's more than
When mentoring a premarital couple, my wife and I cite the data and say to a
couple, "You have a choice. You can't become a virgin again, but you can become
chaste from now till the wedding. If you do so, you reduce your odds of
divorce. If you want God's blessing, you need to consider playing by His rules.
"We are inviting you to sign an Optional Premarital Sexual Covenant in which you
agree to limit your sexuality to French kissing. If you go over the line the
male pledges call me within 24 hours or his fiance will call my wife. After
prayerful discussion, tell us your decision in two weeks."
Of 54 couples that we've mentored, only eight were chaste. But of 46 who were
sexually active, a encouraging 43 signed it, or 93 percent!
None who have done so have divorced.
30+ Years / 1700+ Columns
2017: Column 1860: Cohabitation: A Growing Problem - Part I
Texting While Driving - A Killer
Why Have "Religious Nones" Tripled?
Norma McCorvey Roe of Roe v. Wade
The Worst Valentine: Cohabitation
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Christianity Gives Women Equal Opportunity
Sextortion Kills Teens
Assisted Suicide Is Growing
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,