The Respect For Marriage Act – Congressional version.

While you weren’t watching, 47 Republican members of the House of Representatives joined all the Democrats to pass the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA).

Don’t let the title fool you.  The act has nothing to do with respecting marriage, and everything to do with making a travesty of marriage.

If passed in the Senate it would not only codify same-sex “marriage” but would also grant legal recognition to polygamous marriages if a state recognizes them (23 percent of Americans support the practice), and would force the federal government to recognize any redefinition of marriage that a state may come up with. In addition, it would open up organizations that support the traditional definition of marriage to numerous lawsuits.

In short, the Respect for Marriage Act would trivialize marriage and render it largely meaningless.  Should it pass, the only positive accomplishment of the bill will be to reveal that a large number of supposedly conservative Christian politicians are neither Christian nor conservative.  Several prominent Catholics including television apologist Mother Miriam, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco denounced the bill.  Mother Miriam called it a “vote for evil,” while Bishop Strickland tweeted, “All who love God and seek to live His Commandments must go on record opposing this travesty and denial of God’s law.” Meanwhile, 2,000 other religious leaders have signed a letter to Senate members asking them to reject the Democrat bill and uphold the traditional view of marriage

One reporter characterized the vote as “one of the worst betrayals conservatives have ever suffered at the hands of the Republican Party.” Considering that the Republicans have been on a roll recently (the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the many polls that are running strongly in favor of a Republican win in November, etc.) it’s difficult to know why so many Republicans so swiftly rolled over on their principles.  What sort of enticements were they offered?  And what sort of threats were made?

Or was it a failure of vision?  A failure to see that one of the great issues of the day lay before them?

The first thing to notice about the congressional response to the bill is the casualness of it.  Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said “there are some very legitimate concerns about religious liberty, and those concerns would have to be properly addressed.”  GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said he’s “going to delay announcing anything on that issue until we see what the majority leader wants to put on the floor.”  John Thune, the Republican Senate whip said that the Republican leadership probably won’t urge members to vote against: “My guess is on something like that, it’s probably a vote of conscience.

“Probably a vote of conscience”?  One can imagine some of today’s Republican wafflers at crucial moments in history.  For example: “Excuse me, Mr. Wilberforce.  Will that upcoming vote on the slave trade be a matter of conscience?  Otherwise, I have some tickets for the opera that day.”

The question of what constitutes a marriage and a family is not just one question among many; it’s a foundational question.  The answer to the question determines what kind of civilization you will have, and it also determines whether your civilization will continue to exist.

Because one of the current trends in marriage among Westerners is to have few or no children, we could witness the virtual extinction of some nationalities in Europe as their numbers are replaced by groups with higher birth rates.  The replacement will be (and already is) a shocker for those who erroneously believe that all cultures are essentially the same.  They will find that their vision of the “boutique family” is not shared by those who are taking over their neighborhoods.  And they will find that the kind of polygamy practiced in most of the world is not a feminist dream, but a feminist nightmare.

In short, this might not be the best of times in which to experiment with alternative and novel patterns of marriage and family.

Of course, from the traditional Judeo-Christian perspective, it’s never a good time to experiment with new forms of marriage.

Why?  Well, the simple answer is that God has a plan for marriage. It’s sketched out in Genesis and elaborated on in other books of the Bible.  And from the very beginning marriage is established and defined as a heterosexual affair

Although the facts of life are obvious, Genesis goes to great lengths to explain that God is creating two types of humans—male and female—and that he is creating them, moreover, in his own image and likeness.

Having been made in the image of God, men and women also share in his power of creativity.  In cooperation with God, they can bring children into the world in their own likeness.  In fact, the purpose of human life seems to be bound up with this act of creation between man and woman: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen 2.24)

Notice that although there is a good deal of “sex talk” in Genesis, there is no mention of the kind of sex that our senators and representatives are currently debating. The only exception is the discussion of the behavior of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah; and the two exterminating angels make it quite clear that such behavior is not to be emulated.

Now, you can argue that the book of Genesis is not to be taken literally, and you can say that our knowledge of science has increased markedly since then.  On the other hand, the “sex talk” in the Bible is quite consistent with what modern science tells us about the reproductive systems of men and women—namely, that they have different anatomies, different chemistries, and different sets of chromosomes. When, for example, the Bible says, “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…” it says nothing contrary to the tenets of modern science.

Ironically, however, when they discuss marriage and sex in Congress (and, increasingly, in the nation’s schools) much of what is said has absolutely no correspondence with the scientific facts about reproduction. There is no scientific foundation whatsoever for a statement such as, “Reginald knew his wife Rex and he conceived and bore Rex, Jr.” The statement is not only unscientific, It’s meaningless. Yet, this is the direction that 47 Republican House members and all 221 Democrats want to take the country in. One can, of course, talk about a same-sex couple as though one of them was actually the opposite sex, but talk is cheap. Postpartum photos of our Transportation Secretary notwithstanding, a man can’t impregnate another man. End of story.

So, what’s the point of pretending that he can?

The point is, as Humpty Dumpty says in Through the Looking Glass, “who is to be master?” Whoever defines or redefines the key terms wins the debate.

Why are proponents of same-sex unions so keen about using the word “marriage”? Aren’t there other words besides “marriage” which would serve their purpose? What’s wrong with “civil commitment” or “civil union”, or some similar term? If no other word or words will serve their purpose, is it because their purpose is not clarity but control?

What we seem to be witnessing is a hijack attempt: hijack the word “marriage” and then redefine it to mean something it was never intended to mean. Instead of searching for an accurate and descriptive word for same-sex unions, why not simply appropriate the word “marriage” with all its positive connotations and associations including “wedlock,” “sacred,” “sacrament,” and “holy matrimony”?  Although the tactic is low and dishonest, it has proven effective. After you’ve heard the phrase “same-sex marriage” a thousand times, it seems to acquire a certain legitimacy. “Marriage” and “same-sex marriage”? They’re just two kinds of marriage. Why split hairs?

But the Orwellian hat trick can’t hide the fact that the two terms are radically different.

The key difference, in case you have forgotten in the midst of the hullabaloo, is that a marriage, precisely because it involves a man and a woman, is potentially procreative.  The fact that marriage is naturally procreative and that same-sex unions are inherently sterile is a huge distinction that forever puts the two forms of union in totally different classes.

The purpose of the Democrats dog and pony show is to keep your mind off that simple fact and to get you thinking instead about “rights,” “feelings,” and “equality.”

But the Respect for Marriage Act leads not to marriage equality but to the erasure of marriage.  It will not have the effect of making marriage accessible to all, but of diluting the meaning of marriage to the point that few will be interested in “taking the leap.”

In fact, that’s already the case with most people of the LGBTQ+ persuasion.  By-and-large they are not interested in marriage or in having children.  A 2019 PEW Research article reports that only about 10.2 percent of LGBT Americans are married to a same-sex partner.  Moreover, only 28 percent of LGBTQ survey respondents cited having children “as a “very important reason” for getting married (versus 49 percent of the general public.)  There is also a ton of data showing that children with both a mother and father in the home are much more likely to thrive than children who don’t have that advantage (“Why don’t you have a mommy like the other kids do? Well, umm…”).

However, the best reason for thinking twice about the Respect for Marriage Act is that the Democrats plan for marriage seems to be opposed to the one proposed by God in Genesis and elsewhere. By the same token, the Dem plan is quite similar to the plan proposed by one of the creatures in the Garden of Eden—the one described as being “more subtle” than the others.   The serpent tells Eve that if she disobeys God, “you will be like God.”  Presumably, she will become an autonomous person who takes charge of her own life and makes her own plans.  We don’t know what it was that she and Adam did, but given the context of the story it’s quite possible that it was some kind of sexual sin (although it’s considered unsophisticated to say so.)  In any event, the first sin almost certainly involved a temptation to put their own plans ahead of God’s.

It’s a perennial temptation.  Currently it’s being offered to the U.S Congress in the form of a shiny red apple of a bill called the Respect for Marriage Act.

Painful past experience suggests that it’s a rotten apple.

This article originally appeared in the September 23, 2022 edition of Front Page.

Picture credit: Pixabay