tml> Commentary by John Rankin

Is Same-Sex Marriage Good for the Nation?

Commentary by John Rankin

from the June 4, 2002 TEI Update, a newsletter sent to supporters of the Theological Education Institute

Dear Friends:

Greetings in the love of the Lord.

Same-Sex Marriage Debate Continues in the Connecticut Legislature

As most of you are aware, I worked hard as part of a statewide coalition here in Connecticut to stop the prospect of same-sex marriage two years in a row. Connecticut is in the cross-hairs of the national same-sex marriage movement that produced "civil unions" in Vermont. We have thus far succeeded. Much of my work has been one-on-one with legislators, as well as public testimony, where my argument was a positive one -- to underscore true marriage as the foundation for a healthy society, rooted in the God of the Bible who gives us unalienable rights.

Next year the same-sex advocates will return to the Legislature with their agenda. They will have one item they were able to come away with this year -- the Judiciary Committee has commissioned a report by January 1 concerning same-sex marriage. The Committee is chaired by Representative Michael Lawlor, the driving force in the Legislature behind same-sex marriage. So the report's conclusion is known ahead of time. Thus, there is much work to do in the meantime, and I will keep you apprised. I am in consistent communication with Mr. Lawlor in the process. He knows the theological and constitutional substance of my position, has not dislodged any of it, and he knows that I treat him with full respect.

The Hartford Courant Reveals Its Bias, Its Fear of Hearing Both Sides

Earlier this year, I wrote an editorial for the Hartford Courant, laying out part of my argument against same-sex marriage. They accepted the article, then at the last moment rejected it -- and refused to answer my specific questions as to why. The newspaper is in favor of same-sex marriage -- I knew that, but tried nonetheless. Then I tried again. They accepted it again, then for two weeks nit-picked at it, and finally rejected it for spurious reasons. They fear the reporting of a position that graciously and intelligently opposes homosexuality -- they only want a caricature they can dismiss out of hand.

Here are some portions of my final email to the editor, who said that we did not see things "eye-to-eye" on how to write the column:

"On the one hand you said I was too religious, on the other hand you wanted me to include Bible quotes I had no need or desire to include. You put me through the ringer of minutiae before that, and I believe you have done so in a manner inconsistent with the Courant's (policy for opinion columns)...

"I can only conclude that the 'eye-to-eye" issue is a matter where the Courant's definition of 'general-interest' does not include religion, unless it is in support of homosexuality and cognate sympathies. You publish Gloria Mengual's undocumented opinion that God looks with favor on her lesbian nature...

"After the first time around with you, I thought it would not be worth submitting another article. But I tried nonetheless. I challenge you to find better ethics for civility in the face of public policy disputes anywhere in the nation. Of such ethics, the Courant apparently has little interest.

"Finally, you never answered my final questions about your reversal on the first article I submitted you. Your position was inconsistent then as it is now. I do not expect any answer here..."

And indeed, no answer came. Here below is the article in question. I am glad for your thoughts.



Same-Sex Marriage and Honest Debate

John C. Rankin

Is it possible to have civil dialogue over contentious issues - for example, same-sex marriage?

I host a series on college campuses called the Mars Hill Forums. In these forums, I invite the most competent skeptics of my biblical worldview and its public policy implications. The goal is to have intelligent and gracious dialogue on subjects in which we disagree. These forums are rooted in my love of hard questions. I believe it is good to be skeptical in the pursuit of truth.

On April 18, I addressed such a forum at Wesleyan University on the question "Is same-sex marriage good for the nation?" My guest was Norm Allen of the Council for Secular Humanism, an avid advocate of same-sex marriage as public policy. I argued that same-sex marriage defines true marriage downward and undercuts a healthy society.

When I arrived on campus, I was greeted with chalkings on the sidewalks that advocated violent sexual aggression against my person in the lewdest of language. At the forum, several students said that my mere presence was "threatening" and "offensive" to them. I asked them why, and one student indicated that this forum was being held during "Queer Awareness Days" and thus was offensive. So I asked him: Is it offensive to hear both sides of an issue?

I then observed how remarkable it was that I was greeted with violent and lewd language against my person, and yet I was the one charged with being threatening. I said that I did not want anything more than a level playing field for all ideas, not one inch more liberty to say what I believe than I first commend to those who disagree with me. I then asked, "How, in the face of honest debate in the public sphere, should we conduct ourselves?"

I believe the best way is to embrace the idea of a level playing field in which both sides are equally heard. Then, as a partisan, I field the toughest questions from those who disagree with me. In so doing, I seek to live by the height of biblical ethics -- to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself; ergo, to treat others as I wish to be treated.

It is false to seek to change the opinions of others by force, manipulation or censorship. Honest change, in either direction, can only come through open and informed choice.

The matter of same-sex marriage is crucial when it comes to defining the social order. We are a nation founded on the concept of unalienable rights. All of us hold the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, as given by the Creator. The Creator is the God of the Bible, who defines marriage as one man, one woman, one lifetime. If same-sex marriage were to become law, it would have to be on a different foundation -- for in history there has never been a society rooted in unalienable rights that has simultaneously affirmed homosexuality in any capacity.

So, in the face of this and other public policy debates, there are two ethics I live by. First is "the love of hard questions" where I am eager to be openly accountable to the most competent and passionate questions from those who hold different opinions. Second is a "level playing field" where I do not desire one inch greater liberty to speak my view, than the liberty I first commend to those who disagree with me.

John C. Rankin is president of the Theological Education Institute, 750 Main Street, Suite 1300, Hartford, CT 06103 860/246-0099

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