Abraham Lincoln once advised a group of teetotalers in Illinois, if they wanted to persuade lampfaced drinkers to get off the wagon and sober up, then the teetotalers must use use “kind, unassuming persuasion. . . . It is an old and a true maxim,” Lincoln said, “that a ‘drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’”
And so it is with trying to persuade our fellow citizens who favor redefining marriage—honey is better than gall. Therefore, I offer five drops of honey for why the traditional understanding of marriage—the permanent, exclusive, and procreative union of one man and one woman—is best for society.
1. Man-woman marriage promotes procreation.
The ultimate goal of marriage is the creative act of producing children. Couples who choose not to have children or are prevented from doing so through infertility do not invalidate this basic reason for marriage. People of biblical faith believe the first command given by God to the first couple was to have sex—not for the mere pleasure of coitus but to bring forth children (Genesis 1:28). Obedience to this command, not only creates permanence in the bonds of marriage and family, it fulfills a longing in the heart of every man and woman—a desire for legacy.
Some may argue that scientific advances in artificial insemination renders natural insemination moot. But artificial insemination is ineffective and inefficient, as well as silencing other human longings and goods. And to point out the obvious, the coupling of same-sex individuals is the production of negation. When it comes to producing life, both men and women are needed. Therefore, man-woman marriage is the only normative means of procreation.
2. Man-woman marriage provides emotional stability for children.
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Same-sex marriage undermines the need for children to grow up in a home with a mother and father, further weakening the societal norm that men should take responsibility for the children they father. This leaves more children emotionally scarred. Men and women are not only different physically we are different emotionally, bringing different and necessary emotional strengths to the rearing of children. Such differences cannot be replicated by single mothers or fathers, duel mothers, or duel fathers.
Families are small societies, stretching back into older generations, reaching ahead into newer generations, and spreading out into current generations. Tradition, progress, and cooperation builds character by inculcating the virtues of generosity, self-sacrifice, trust, self-discipline, and hard work in children who grow into healthy, mature, and productive citizens.
3. Man-woman marriage provides a fixed meaning to the unique intimacy of marriage.
Traditional marriage, unlike other forms of marriage, provides meaning and order to adult sexual relations. It elevates our sexual nature. Traditional marriage places checks on the sexual appetites of men, whereby they become more moral and disciplined in their sexual practices, and become more involved in the rearing of their children. Traditional marriage places confidence in the lives of women, whereby they receive stability and protection, acknowledgment of paternity of their children, and physical and emotional support in rearing those children.
For both men and women, traditional marriage tends to create permanence and fidelity. Men and women are not just sexual beings, we are relational beings. Open relationships—the tradition at least of gay males—will never provide the distinctive and unique intimacy that is satisfied by a single individual of the opposite sex, committed to permanence and fidelity in the bond of marriage. Most of us are born with an emptiness of soul, a loneliness that can only be filled by one of the opposite sex—someone uniquely different from ourselves with which we can be completely naked, physically, emotionally, and spiritually (Genesis 2:18–25).