The Case Against Homosexual
by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.
January 15, 2004
question of homosexual marriage presents the American people with
an inescapable moral challenge. The words homosexual and marriage
are inherently contradictory. The very fact that these terms are
in public conflict demonstrates the radical character of the social
revolutionaries that now demand the legalization of homosexual marriage.
For at least the last one hundred years, America
has experienced an unprecedented season of social transformation.
Now, this transformation has been extended to experimentation with
the most basic institutions and cherished principles of our common
life. A conversation about "homosexual marriage" is only
possible if the concept of marriage is completely redefined and
severed from its historic roots and organic meaning.
Civilization requires the regulation of human sexuality
and relationships. No society--ancient or modern--has survived by
advocating a laissez faire approach to sex and sexual relationships.
Every society, no matter how liberal, sanctions some sexual behaviors
and proscribes others. Every society establishes some form of sexual
Pitirim Sorokin, the founder of sociology at Harvard
University, pointed to the regulation of sexuality as the essential
first mark of civilization. According to Sorokin, civilization is
possible only when marriage is normative and sexual conduct is censured
outside of the marital relationship. Furthermore, Sorokin traced
the rise and fall of civilizations and concluded that the weakening
of marriage was a first sign of civilizational collapse.
We should note that Sorokin made these arguments
long before anything like homosexual marriage had been openly discussed.
Sorokin's insight was the realization that civilization requires
men to take responsibility for their offspring. This was possible,
he was convinced, only when marriage was held to be the unconditional
expectation for sexual activity and procreation. Once individuals--especially
males--are freed for sexual behavior outside of marriage, civilizational
collapse becomes an inevitability. The weakening of marriage--even
on heterosexual terms--has already brought a harvest of disaster
to mothers and children abandoned in the name of sexual liberation.
The regulation of sexuality is thus a primary responsibility
of any civilization. In their review of Western civilization, Will
and Ariel Durant noted that sex is "a river of fire that must
be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints." The primary
restraint has always been the institution of marriage itself--an
institution that is inescapably heterosexual and based in the monogamous
union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. In postmodern America,
the fires of sex are increasingly unbanked and uncooled.
In a very real sense, marriage becomes the civilizational
DNA of our social genetic structure. Beyond this, marriage serves
as the basic molecular structure for human social organization.
Though the family is extended through children and other bonds of
kinship, the basic "molecule" of human society is marriage.
This molecular reality implies that the structure cannot be changed
without destroying the molecule--and the organism--itself.
This is precisely the challenge we now face on the
issue of what is called homosexual marriage and the legalization
of same-sex relationships. The "molecule" of marriage
has always defined human relatedness, and this most venerable institution
is rooted in its inherent heterosexuality.
The family has undergone transformations throughout
time, but at the core of any enduring family structure stands the
integrity of marriage as an institution and the stability of marriage
as an expectation both within and without the marital unit. Marriage
is always both a private and a public matter, and in Western cultures,
it has stood as both a civil and religious institution. As such,
it has been recognized as inherently and indisputably heterosexual.
The unique role of marriage in civilization is rightly
attributed to the social value any culture must place on stable
long-term monogamous pairings of men and women. The institution
of marriage has been invested with both rights and responsibilities
directly tied to the social importance of long-term commitment.
The heterosexual union of a man and a woman in monogamous
marriage is the rightful context for procreation. When reproduction
is severed from marriage, the society reaps the breakdown of both
kinship and parental responsibility. Put most simply, even secular
historians are aware that marriage is what explains why a father
remains committed to the care of his own children. Societies that
devalue marriage provide an automatic incentive for young males
to act irresponsibly, fathering children without ever assuming responsibility
Marriage is indispensable for the successful nurture
and raising of children. Both boys and girls define themselves and
establish their own identity and expectations based upon their observation
of both father and mother, husband and wife--male and female.
The extension of the family through other kinship
relations links one marriage to another, with the entire family
finding its identity and security in the integrity of those marital
bonds. The breaking of these bonds leads to social dissolution as
well massive economic, legal, and psychological ills. The integrity
of marriage is essential for children to know the security necessary
for their own self-identity and sense of belonging.
The central function of marriage has been reflected
in law, custom, and an entire set of practices deeply embedded in
the structures of society. These range from implications in the
tax code to various legal supports and cultural expectations extended
to the married couple. Society invests both rights and responsibilities
in the institution of marriage and by its various incentives and
disincentives, points towards a cultural expectation. When that
expectation is something other than marriage, problems immediately
In its own interest, the government must value stability
and reward the healthy raising of children and fulfillment of parental
responsibility. To this end, the government does discriminate in
order to reward and to support marriage as the centerpiece of self-government
and the commonweal.
Government has within its power the ability to institutionalize
its own expectation in the form of laws, regulations, and a cultural
approach that either strengthens or weakens the institution of marriage.
Just as the tax code discriminates in favor of homeowners (because
the government rationally sees homeownership as a common social
interest), a set of financial and legal incentives is directed towards
a social preference for marriage. In the same way, even as the law
protects corporations in order to encourage financial activity,
the government also favors marriage (and thus married couples) in
order to encourage procreation, childrearing, and cultural stability.
Nevertheless, government does not have the right
to reorder this most basic institution of human organization. Marriage
predates the establishment of government, and any governmental authority
that would presume to redefine marriage apart from its inherently
heterosexual nature will do so at great peril. Furthermore, advances
toward legal recognition of same-sex relationships have been propelled
by the action of courts, rather than legislatures. This is another
example of the "judicial usurpation of politics" that
threatens the integrity of democracy itself. A government that would
claim the right to redefine marriage in this way demonstrates an
arrogance that would cause Rome to blush and Babylon to quiver.
Inevitably, once marriage is redefined as something
other than a heterosexual pair, there is nothing to stop further
redefinition but sheer arbitrariness. Once marriage is no longer
"one thing," but now "another thing" as well,
there is nothing to stop marriage from becoming virtually "everything."
Put simply, if marriage can be redefined so as to allow same-sex
pairings, there is nothing in the logic of this transformation that
could justify discrimination against those who would transform marriage
in other ways. Why just two people? If the consent of all partners
is all that is requisite, why laws against incest, polygamy, or
any number of other alternative arrangements? We can be certain
that proponents of these transformations will be waiting in line
for their turn to use the courts to reverse what they claim to be
Marriage has already been weakened to the point
of dire social peril. The acceptance of "no-fault" divorce
laws, the ethic of sexual liberation, and even the rise of new reproductive
technologies have weakened the foundation and superstructure of
marriage to the point that this most basic molecule is hanging together
by a thread. The redefinition of marriage in order to accommodate
same-sex relationships would not mean the mere transformation of
marriage--but its dissolution. The very concept of marriage cannot
survive such a denial of its inherent meaning and historic structure.
Of course, I speak as a Christian theologian. Based
upon divine revelation, I believe and teach that God created man
and woman in His image, created us as male and female to His glory,
and gave us the institution of marriage for our health, our happiness,
and our holiness. Furthermore, based upon this same revelation--the
Holy Scriptures--I am absolutely bound to declare the inherent sinfulness
of all sexual activity outside of the marital bond. Procreation,
reproduction, child-rearing, and other essential rights and functions
are divinely invested in the institution of marriage. Thus, to tamper
with this divinely-established institution is to risk not only social
peril but the divine judgment that will most surely come.
Nevertheless, even those who do not share my Christian
commitment must recognize the cultural wisdom and historic knowledge
that points to the primacy of marriage and the disaster which will
befall a society that would weaken--much less destroy--this most
precious institution. The historic wisdom of human happiness and
moral knowledge points to the centrality of marriage. A review of
history proves its necessity to civilization itself. Marriage is
a given--and is therefore not infinitely negotiable. Marriage cannot
be severed from heterosexuality without dissolving into meaninglessness.
Social experimentation must meet some limitation--and the controversy
over same-sex marriage presents us with that limitation.
Homosexual couples cannot fulfill the functions
of marriage. They cannot procreate. Severed from even the possibility
of natural procreation, their relationship is inescapably unnatural.
Rather than reinforcing heterosexual responsibility and sanctioning
heterosexual monogamy, same-sex sexual pairings undermine the very
notion of a sexual norm. Acceptance of homosexual marriage flies
in the face of both biblical revelation and millennia of accumulated
This nation stands at a dramatic moment of decision.
Our stewardship of this question--our decision on the question of
same-sex marriage--will determine the future state of our society,
the moral status of our culture, the health and well being of our
children, and the inheritance we leave to the world. The choice
before us is not between two visions of marriage--but between marriage