By Adriane Heins
When it comes to speaking about the historic, one-man/one-woman understanding of marriage, “People have to be reassured that their gut instincts are sound,” Sherif Girgis says.
Girgis, co-author of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (with Robert George and Ryan Anderson), discussed the issue in a Sept. 11 webinar for LCMS members, hosted by the Synod’s “Free to Be Faithful” campaign, which is aimed at educating and raising awareness about the importance of protecting and promoting religious liberty. Webinar attendees tuned in from across the country — from Iowa to Colorado, to New Mexico, to Texas, to Tennessee.
Those gut instincts can be a powerful motivator for American Christians who are uneasy about speaking up in defense of marriage, Girgis believes. “The people in the best position to do that [speak about marriage] are in the church,” he explains.
An honest defense of marriage is more relevant and necessary today than ever, he notes, since traditional beliefs on the definition of marriage are being “clamped down” in the public square, where Christians are encouraged “not just to tolerate, but to endorse” same-sex marriage.
Ultimately, Girgis says, the nation will see a “social revolution” that attempts to define “what you’re allowed to think and do in the public square.”
It’s already started. Those who oppose the long-standing definition of marriage are actively working to change “our social understanding of what makes a marriage,” Girgis explains, and are promoting “the idea that moms and dads are perfectly interchangeable and fathers are optional.”
“The challenge,” he says, “has been to try to rebut that, not just with negative arguments, but with a positive vision.” Part of that vision involves Christians speaking about and encouraging the three components of marriage — permanence, exclusivity and sexual union — as well as modeling marriage “in concrete ways.”
Often lost in the discussion, he says, are children. “Kids need a mom and dad; this is a birthright of children.” Assuming otherwise ultimately hurts children. When a nation recognizes same-sex relationships as marriage, “You encourage a consumerist model of parenting,” Girgis explains. “It encourages the idea that individuals have a right to a kid, instead of viewing children as a gift and a great blessing.”
Girgis compares the current climate to the years leading up to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, a crucial time that demanded — and still does — the engagement of Christians.
“Our long-term plan — no matter what, no matter what the court does — is to fight for the long haul,” he explains. “We’re not just worried about particular policy issues or a particular decision. Kids need moms and dads, and the culture owes it to them to encourage moms and dads to stay together wherever possible. It’s a fight we’re going to have to keep waging no matter what.”
“The first thing we have to do is pray,” he notes. “The second thing we have to do in a basic sense is show that this [marriage] matters.”
And yet Girgis believes the battle isn’t lost. France, for instance, has seen resurgence, even in a “very secular and liberal libertarian culture,” of traditional views on marriage and life.
That recommitment to marriage is proof, he says, “of signs that people are fed up with fruits of the sexual revolution. Human nature is reasserting itself.”
And better still? “Our particular call is not to guarantee success, which is not in our hands,” Girgis encourages, “but to be faithful.”
An archived version of the webinar can be found here.
Adriane Heins is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Posted Sept. 11, 2014