by Barton Gingerich (@bjgingerich)
No Millennial memory of the March for Marriage would be complete without mention of internet activity, the plane of our alternate digital existence. Last Tuesday was no exception. Aside from the tremendous spate of opinion articles and Buzzfeed photo collections, Facebook gets plastered with profile pictures of the red and pink equal sign supporting “marriage equality.” Of course, young emergents and post-evangelicals participate—the usual suspects who have adopted just about every liberal trope on issues, except for maybe abortion and some economic niceties.
More engaging, of course, are the arguments with their Christian and/or conservative friends over the issue. I notice several trends. First, the older set on Facebook (say over 35 or so) bandy about the category of “unbiblical” to little or no effect. In fact, they get skewered. Marriage is for Christians AND heathens, the latter of which do not recognize the authority of Scripture.
Thankfully, the younger set see the real problem—the state is trying to square the circle by fiat. Marriage cannot be between two people of the same sex as much as south can be north or black be white. One might as well outlaw the laws of gravity (mysterious though they are in physics, they still exist). No good comes from the state trying to force metaphysical impossibilities. Yes, the law is didactic and thus teaching people about the nature of marriage is helpful, but anything besides heterosexual marriage is a definitional impossibility.
Nevertheless, the young liberal Christians cling to the same arguments of niceness, equality, individualism, and the supremacy of volition over nature. Throw in some insinuations of bigotry, racism, and hatred into the mix, and you get the picture. The self-loathing post-evangelicals want to be on the “right side of history.” Since their ancestors missed the boat on the civil rights movement, why not atone for their own sins by changing the definition of marriage? Plus, even though it feels good to save the babies, it feels icky to save marriage when public attitude works against you.
Another oddity is evangelical leftists’ apparent view of marriage. They seem to have bought hook, line, and sinker the progressive Western conception of marriage: the sign that a couple is “really really committed,” even after they’ve shacked up together for a while (and who knows with how many others beforehand). Indeed, in this world, weddings are but a display of wealth and economic security, as out-of-wedlock children serve as ringbearers and flower-girls. If marriage is but a mark of emotional intensity, why should we expect it to last a lifetime or be exclusive to heterosexual adults? Liberal evangelicals seem to have lost the notion that marriage is the founding of a new family with implications that illustrate God’s image, whether one is a Christian or not.
I also witness a particularly nihilistic view that asserts that, since marriage has already impoverished the institution, further redefinition will do no more harm. The same line of logic would plant dynamite to blow a gaping hole in the hull of a leaky ship. Why not devote energies to try to help recover marriage rather than driving it into the ground?
Others of a more libertarian bent urge that the government needs to get out of the marriage business altogether. This would be a great novelty since marriage and the state have generally shared a mutually-beneficial coexistence. People get married, have kids (citizens), and provide the best-known (best-tested) form of character formation for the next generation. Marriage is the main way that a nation—and humanity—perpetuates itself. We are not self-defining atoms in a national soup. As Joe Carter pointed out, evangelical deference to the devilish logic of “do what you will, so long as it harms none” over the Christian teaching of “love thy neighbor” has reached idolatrous levels.
Speaking of love, opposition to marriage redefinition is “unloving” and perpetuates the church’s homophobia, so I’ve discovered. At least that’s what my evangelical leftist friends seem to think. What kind of perception of love did their families form in them, anyway? That love tolerates any kind of behavior? Sometimes, love must prevent, limit, or punish for the good of the beloved.
All in all, attacks against marriage come from nearly all lines of popular argumentation. On the internet, at least, people seemed to push not so much for an expansion of marriage as much as its annihilation. Marriage has certain irremovable characteristics that, once removed, cause the institution to cease, at least in the realm of politics.
This, then, is what it was like to be a conservative and Christian Millennial that last Tuesday. These internet rumblings may be only slacktivism, but they signify poor thinking and a desperate escape attempt from reason. It is frustrating and sad, and the whole situation requires the mercy of God. Of course, it may have been quicker to understand the situation by simply reading the first two chapters of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans.