It is tempting to view the fight for marriage as being over. Polls, people will say, suggest a tide of public opinion moving in the direction of jettisoning the age-old definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And while the Supreme Court has not said that the Constitution requires same-sex marriage, it has certainly shown an inclination in that direction.
If you are tempted by this kind of defeatist thinking, you need to read Ryan Anderson’s excellent piece at the First Things website: “Calling and Witness, Holiness and Truth.” To those who say that liberal victories are irreversible, Anderson responds that the current generation is more pro-life than the previous one. When Roe v. Wade was decided, most people, including many Christians, thought it was fine. Pro-lifers responded with determined effort, and today the movement is healthier and more influential than it has ever been. This despite the repeated claims of people on the other side that pro-lifers are the party of the past, destined to be swept away by the tides of so-called progress. As Anderson’s argument suggest, the truth has a certain staying power and persuasiveness that tends to support and reward its proponents.
These considerations, he suggests, should give hope and determination to the defenders of marriage. Despite all the deforming influences of propaganda, the evidence of the pro-life movement actually shows that the public can be moved by argument. And since the argument for marriage has hardly been made, now is the time to start making it with vigor.
In addition, Anderson’s piece is full of great remarks encouraging Christians to embrace the world with confidence, seeking to bring Christ to it and it to Christ. Here are some of my favorite quotations:
- “The argument for marriage hasn’t been heard and rejected; it simply hasn’t been heard.”
- “My generation is more pro-life than my parents’ generation. A majority of Americans identify as pro-life, more today than at any other point. More state laws have been passed protecting unborn babies in the past decade than in the previous 30 years combined.”
- “Christians need to be at the forefront of everything. At one point Christians were shaping culture—because God became a man, not just a mind. The best literature, the best art, the best music—for over a thousand years—was all produced by Christians: Shakespeare, Dante and Chaucer; Palestrina, Bach and Beethoven. Who do we have today?”
- “Christians should be at the forefront of every sphere of human life, embodying excellence in all that they do, bringing glory to God in every domain.”
- “Bad philosophy needs to be answered by good philosophy. Bad science needs to be responded to with good science—this is true with the science of embryology and the social science of marriage. We cannot allow the other side to depict these debates as ones of faith against reason, of backward superstition against enlightened science. This takes work. We have to work twice as hard as our opponents. We have to understand their arguments better than they understand them themselves—so we can then explain, at the level of reason, where they’ve gone wrong.”
- “If government doesn’t respect religious liberty and the rights of conscience, perhaps it’s because I don’t exercise my religious liberty as I ought, that I don’t follow my conscience as I should. If I don’t take my faith and conscience seriously, it’s no wonder that the government doesn’t either.”
- “But the marriage debate is just one earthly battle, one among many that the people of God must wage. It is not ours to determine when we will succeed in it, or how. And ultimately, it is of secondary concern. For the only success of ultimate importance is holiness. The only real tragedy in life is not to have been a saint.”
- “History isn’t a blind force. We aren’t passive observers. History will be shaped by the actions of people like you and me, by our response to God’s call. And so it is not history that will judge us. We know that we will be judged instead by the Lord of history. The same Lord who reversed history’s greatest evil when He rose from the grave the following Sunday.”
- “There is no right or wrong side of history, but only of truth. The world will not always want to hear the truth, but only the truth will set it free. We owe it to the world to share that freedom, God’s gift to us, in season and out, and always in love.”