Worldview and Marriage Debates: Differences Run Deep


No wonder the debate is so difficult: When it comes to worldview and marriage, our differences run deep. See my most recent Worldview and You column at BreakPoint.

7 Responses

  1. bigbird says:

    I wonder whether it is time to rethink how the debate is approached. I’ve read the various arguments Christians have raised against SSM over the last few months, and without exception I’ve found them to be rather unconvincing. To someone with the opposite worldview that you have described very well in your post, they are just nonsensical.

    If Christians want to oppose SSM (and I’m not saying they should not), it might be time to be completely upfront, instead of continually casting around for yet another secular argument that might persuade (and surely won’t).

    What’s wrong with making the clear argument that Christians believe God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman, and that it is a matter of Christian conviction that SSM should not be permitted?

    There is a danger that if Christians base their opposition on secular arguments, their position is severely undermined if those secular arguments are invalidated, or seen to be invalidated. The consequence might be that Christians are legally required to perform SSM’s in churches, because they failed to make it clear their opposition was primarily on a religious basis.

  2. Tom Gilson says:

    I am starting to wonder something similar, bigbird. I have two caveats, however.

    The best secular arguments remain valid, and I do think it’s important to keep them before the public. I wouldn’t want to surrender ground to those who say there are no arguments against SSM but religious arguments. Part of the reason for that is because it’s not only giving up rhetorical/political field in the SSM debate, but also because it’s based on a confused understanding of what a “religious” reason is.

    For example: if I take the position as I have in this post, and if I say there is something that marriage is, is that a “religious” position? One might say so. It contradicts naturalistic evolutionary implications regarding is-ness. It corresponds more closely with the reality of God than with naturalism.

    But in reality I don’t know if we have a decent definition of a “religious” position. Maybe it’s a Christian or possibly Judeo-Christian position if you have to believe the Bible is true in order to hold that position. It shouldn’t be called “religious,” in my view, just because it tends to be held by more believers than non-believers.

    Maybe the courts in each country have defined it adequately. I don’t know.

    But here’s the real danger, the one Nancy Pearcey warned against in Total Truth: the attitude that if it’s religious then it’s neither true nor false, it’s only “belief.” This we must contest and combat, for it’s not true. If someone says, “You can’t push your belief on me,” my answer is, “I wouldn’t want to try. But I would like to express my position to you as one that is actually true, in my opinion, if you’ll take the time to hear it. And I’d like to explain why I think it’s true, and again, if you’re open to hearing it, I’d like you to consider the possibility that it’s true.”

    We can approach that by preaching the gospel and seeing people come to knowledge of Christ from that direction. But we could also approach it by demonstrating the goodness of the Christian position, and allowing people to move toward awareness of that goodness, from the direction of contentious social issues.

    That leads to my second caveat. The world is saying that the biblical position on marriage is bad, evil, discriminatory, unjust, unequal, and on and on. If we don’t answer those questions in terms of the demonstrable goodness and justice of the Christian position, then the world will have no reason to doubt that Christianity is just bad — which again is not true.

    And that, in fact, is what’s paramount to me. In my own mind this is not about winning the political battle for marriage. It’s about showing the world that the Bible is good, that Christ is good, that Christ’s way is good, and that they are wrong if they think that a contrary way is a better way.

    I’m not sure I would have put it that way a year or two ago, but that has become my stance now.

  3. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Tom Gilson:

    I do not know how important this point is, but in the interests of clarification, Girgis, Anderson, and George of “What is marriage?” fame are “new” natural law theorists, that either eschew or explicitly disown, the “old”, more metaphysical cum teleological natural law theory arguments in the tradition of Aquinas and his commentators. I think their objections do not hold water and this move is essentially wrong, but independently of that, and to preempt possible confusions, I thought I should point this out.

  4. SteveK says:

    What is a new natural law theorist?

  5. bigbird says:


    See this link.

  6. G. Rodrigues says:


    What is a new natural law theorist?

    See New Natural Law for a quick, largely historical, summary. The names of Grisez, Finnis, George (the same George of the book “What is marriage?” referenced by Tom), Chappell, Tollefsen, etc. should pop up in the article and answer your question, albeit in an ostensive way.

    For a brief intro to natural law see here. Retrace the links back to the start.

  7. SteveK says:

    Thanks. That’s definitely not light reading for me or for anyone I imagine. Tough to follow.