Throuples that are monogamish

And other consequences of same-sex “marriage”

If marriage were to be redefined, what could really go wrong?

A lot, warns Ryan T. Anderson, who researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Anderson, who co-authored the acclaimed book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense,” will speak March 19 at the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought in Boulder, Colorado, on the topic “Redefining Marriage: Why It Matters.”

In this interview with Denver Catholic, Anderson discuss the consequences of the movement to redefine marriage, which range from an increased number of absentee dads, to the closing of faith-based adoption agencies, to the rise of a multitude of “marriage” arrangements.

Q: This spring the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of state marriage laws, what is the key question they face with this issue?

A: The overarching question before the Supreme Court is not whether a male-female marriage policy is the best, but only whether it is allowed by the U.S. Constitution. The question is not whether government recognized same-sex marriage is good or bad policy, only whether it is required by the U.S. Constitution.

Those suing to overturn state marriage laws have to prove that the man-woman marriage policy that has existed in the United States throughout our entire history is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. And the only way someone could succeed in such an argument is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless institution based only on the emotional needs of adults, and then declare that the U.S. Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in such a way. Equal protection alone isn’t enough. To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage our law has long applied equally is just wrong—that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely.

But the U.S. Constitution is silent on what marriage is or what policy goals the states should design it to serve.

Q: Why does marriage matter for public policy?

A: Marriage is about attaching a man and a woman to each other as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their sexual union may produce. When a baby is born, there is always a mother nearby: That is a fact of biology. The policy question is whether a father will be close by, and, if so, for how long. Marriage increases the odds that a man will be committed to both the children that he helps create and to the woman with whom he does so. The man-woman definition of marriage reinforces the idea—the social norm—that a man should be so committed.

The man-woman definition, moreover, is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father.

Q: What are the consequences of redefining marriage?

A: First, it fundamentally reorients the institution of marriage away from the needs of children toward the desires of adults. It no longer makes marriage about ensuring the type of family life that is ideal for kids; it makes it more about adult romance. If one of the biggest social problems we face right now in the United States is absentee dads, how will we insist that fathers are essential when the law redefines marriage to make fathers optional?

Second, if you redefine marriage, so as to say that the male-female aspect is irrational and arbitrary, what principle for policy and for law will retain the other three historic components of marriage? In the United States, it’s always been a monogamous union, a sexually exclusive union, and a permanent union. We’ve already seen new words created—throuple, wedlease, monogamish—to challenge each and every one of those items.

Third, I’ll mention liberty concerns, religious liberty concerns in particular. After Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C., either passed a civil union law or redefined marriage, Christian adoption agencies were forced to stop serving some of the neediest children in America: orphans. These agencies said they had no problem with same-sex couples adopting from other agencies, but that they wanted to place the children in their care with a married mom and dad. They had a religious liberty interest, and they had social science evidence that suggests that children do best with a married mom and dad. And yet in all three jurisdictions, they were told they could not do that.

Q: How do we best advance the cause of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and what can people do to protect the traditional understanding of marriage as being between a man and a woman?

A: First, live out the truth. Long before there was a debate about same-sex anything, far too many heterosexuals bought into a liberal ideology about sexuality that makes a mess of marriage: Cohabitation, no-fault divorce, extra-marital sex, non-marital childbearing, massive consumption of pornography and the hook-up culture all contributed to the breakdown of the marriage culture. At one point in American life, virtually every child was given the great gift of being raised to adulthood by the man and the woman who gave them life. Today, that number is under 50 percent in many communities.

Second, protect religious liberty. When he “evolved” on marriage last year, President Barack Obama insisted that the debate about marriage was a legitimate one, that there were reasonable people of good will on both sides. But, government has not respected these Americans. For example, Christian adoption agencies have already been forced out of the work of serving children because of their beliefs about marriage. Americans should insist that government not discriminate against those who hold to the historical definition of marriage.

Third, make the public argument. Americans need to redouble their efforts at explaining what marriage is, why marriage matters, and what the consequences are of redefining marriage. Defenders of marriage need to frame their messages, strengthen coalitions, devise strategies, and bear witness. They should develop and multiply artistic, pastoral and reasoned defenses of the conjugal view as the truth about marriage, and to make ever plainer the policy reasons for enacting it.

The left wants to insist that the redefinition of marriage is “inevitable.” The only way to guarantee a political loss, however, is to sit idly by.

Roxanne King: 720-771-3394, editor_king@icloud.com, www.twitter.com/RoxanneIKing

AQUINAS INSTITUTE LECTURE

Who: Ryan T. Anderson speaks on “Redefining Marriage: Why it Matters

When: 7 p.m. March 19

Where: St. Thomas Aquinas Center, 1520 Euclid Ave., Boulder

Info: call 303-443-8383 or email brianna.lawson@thomascenter.org

COMING UP: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.


Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.