By Pamela Nielsen
WASHINGTON — Undeterred by a broiling sun with humidity levels at their highest, thousands gathered on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building here June 19 for the “March for Marriage” — to defend and uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The diverse crowd grew over the course of three hours, as busloads of participants from many states arrived. Representing various church bodies and faith-based groups, as well as their own individual convictions, they then marched to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Marchers represented the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, Orthodox Jews and various Protestant churches including The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In the throng were adults and children of all ages and ethnicities. Political leaders and clergy at the march included Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas); New York state Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx); TV and radio host Mike Huckabee; and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
“We are assembled today to defend something we never thought we would have to defend,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
Cordileone’s message focused on love and service toward neighbors, even those who oppose the stance for the God-given truth that defines marriage. The archbishop was there despite significant opposition to his attending in the weeks leading up to the event, especially from various political leaders and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) supporters.
Echoing the archbishop were numerous speakers who addressed the status of court cases regarding marriage, as well as the challenges and victories in the ongoing effort to defend marriage. They offered encouragement, calling on the crowd to not lose hope.
Diaz charged the crowd with an energetic and passionate speech delivered in Spanish that was translated for the crowd.
Several speakers reminded those assembled that 40 years ago, following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, pro-life supporters were in a similar position, against the tides of the culture. Today, they stressed, the tides are changing, with a growing swell in support of life.
“We never surrender, never,” said Ludovine de la Rochere, co-founder and president of La Manif Pour Tous, a French organization devoted to maintaining traditional marriage and a leading spokesperson in defense of traditional marriage in France.
Participants carried homemade banners, waved American flags and held up signs that read “Every child deserves a father and a mother.”
Deaconess Dorothy Krans, director of LCMS Recognized Service Organizations, and Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, associate executive director of LCMS Communications, attended the march. They are members of the LCMS “Free to Be Faithful” effort, an educational and awareness campaign to educate and move rostered LCMS members and people to take informed action to protect religious freedom and all the cultural issues that pertain to it.
“It was encouraging to see Christians standing together to uphold marriage between one man and one woman,” said Krans. “As Lutherans, we need to stand firm in our faith and boldly confess our belief about marriage.”
The tone of the gathering was peaceful and positive, as speaker after speaker emphasized love for all, care for the neighbor and the conviction that traditional marriage is a God-given truth.
A small group of LGBT and same-sex marriage supporters — bearing rainbow flags and homemade signs — were on hand to protest the march.
The day before, Krans and Nielsen were part of an invitation-only gathering of representatives from various faith groups and organizations meeting with more than 40 representatives of groups at the forefront in the battle to defend marriage. They included representatives of he National Organization for Marriage, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, First Things First, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and The Witherspoon Institute.
That meeting featured updates on the legal outlook for traditional marriage, pending legislation on Capitol Hill and various education efforts, and introduced new resources and initiatives aimed at equipping leaders and laypeople in the defense of marriage.
Deaconess Pamela Nielsen is associate executive director of LCMS Communications.
Posted June 27, 2014
I am coming up on 25 years of marriage, this fall. My wife and I entered into our union in church and embrace that what we have is forged and sustained by God. We married fairly young by today’s standards – I was 25 and my wife 23. We had our first child a week before our first anniversary. She stayed home and I worked. We saved slowly, rented, bought a small condo 7 years in and our first house after 15 years. Again, by today’s standards, we weren’t prepared, hadn’t established ourselves, and still don’t practice the same level of consumption as our friends and neighbors. We keep it simple and, biggest challenge of all, we live in New Jersey, a place that causes many in the heartland of this country to have sticker shock when they look at what it costs to by a small house that needs a ton of work (which is what we have).
My son has been through Tourette’s and has mild Asperger’s syndrome. He’s an adult and may never live on his own, we don’t know, yet. I’ve been through bouts of unemployment and we always have enough but rarely more. We’ve had our highs and lows. Through it all, at the end of the day, there is love and forgiveness. Most of all, though, neither of us would accept failure in marriage as an option. Whatever we go through, the marriage comes through, intact. Again, this is not without God’s intervention.
We go to support group for parents who have children with Asperger’s. I am the only father there. The others, because of the stresses on the family (and there are stresses – on siblings, on peace in the house, believe me) are largely gone – they’ve divorced their spouses. the remainder just don’t deal with it. We have friends, including many in church who’ve divorced for various reasons – financial, social stresses, romance flickered out, drugs, alcohol, you name it. Almost all have re-married, some two or three times. Again, as many in church as not. There, but for the grace of God, go I.
There are billboards where lawyers offer to settle your uncontested divorce for <$200, now. Where is the motivation for people to grow up and behave. To believe that they are in something greater than the sum of two individuals. Weddings are personalized with vows that read like Valentine's Day cards and are officiated by civil servants and self-proclaimed clergy in dining halls, on beaches, in parks. Most of all, the notion that this is a union of two into one is absent from the rhetoric. There is never a time, in the modern American mind, that we are not individuals, not even in marriage. I know we preach against this and do pre-marriage counseling. But how often does that pry people away from the glitter and schmaltz and out of church venues? How many never even come in to church to discuss it before jumping in front of a judge? How many live together before marriage? How many really buy into the "for better or worse" aspects by relying on God to pull them through?
The world has not been generous to us, but God has. The world has not made things easy, but God shares our burdens and helps us through. What is destroying marriage is not that acts of the legislature or the expanding definition, it is the denial of what God intends that permeates even the marriages of one man and one woman that is doing it in.
Same-sex marriage has no place in the Church. It is a violation of scripture, that is clear, though many Christians have come to differ in their churches. But it is also the case that civil marriage, which preserves the individual, with no respect for God's ordinances, that exists as a legal contract which can be dissolved for a couple of hundred dollars has no place, either. I'd be so bold as to say, if that's what homosexuals want, it is marriage in name only. It has no depth, no God, no commitment, no union. Let them have it. At this point in our cultural history, we are quibbling over a word that has lost substance. First, let us restore the substance of God's intention to the word "marriage" among ourselves and lift it up as parts of God's plan. Only when we restore it to its proper station in our own churches will marriage be in a defensible position.