“Captain, how could you have written your article about gay marriage? You are such a homophobe!” A homophobe is someone who is afraid of gays in the same way that an acrophobe is afraid of heights or an arachnophobe is afraid of spiders. A phobia is an irrational fear of something, but the term “homophobe” has been used to mean “hatred of gays” and not just an irrational fear of them. And it is currently used as a term to shut people up, just as calling someone a fascist or Nazi is often used to silence the opposition. I have neither fear nor hatred of gays or their lifestyle. While it is true that I do not condone their lifestyle, this is worlds away from fear and hatred. Heck, there are lots of lifestyles that I do not condone, so I’m not just picking on gays here.

“If gay marriage becomes common, that means my wife and I will have to get divorced, since gay marriage will damage the institution of marriage.” While this is a cute argument, the weakening of marriage as an institution does not mean that each and every specific marriage is on the rocks.

Do we agree that marriage today is a weaker institution than it used to be back when our parents and grandparents were married? Many things have combined in the last 3 to 4 decades to weaken the institution of marriage.

Free Love

The idea of “free love” that gained popularity in the 60s has had a destabilizing effect on marriage. As the saying goes, “why buy the cow when the milk is free?” Armed with the cry of “If it feels good, do it,” this generation justified doing just about everything. The end result was a breakdown in the institution of marriage. After all, why get married when shacking up together gives you everything you need? Hand-in-hand with the idea of free love come the twin ideas of promiscuity and unfaithfulness. If there are no vows of marriage, it is easier to let the eye (and body) stray to the next available person who crosses your path. Infidelity and heartbreak are rampant when your lust rules your actions.

Abortion and other forms of birth control

Access to abortion and other forms of birth control, most especially the Pill, has weakened marriage. It used to be that if a young couple get pregnant, they got married shortly afterwards. The end of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” illustrates this idea as the closing scene shows the fathers standing close behind the couples and giving their armed blessing to the marriages. Since they didn’t know which of the girls had given birth, they were all going to be married to save their honor. Old fashioned? Judging by today’s standards, it sure is. But it worked. Couples started off, albeit a bit tardy, married so the children would come into a home with both a mother and father.

These days, men don’t feel concerned about sleeping around. If the girl isn’t on the Pill, then she can always get an abortion. This attitude has freed men from worrying about getting the girl pregnant. After all, isn’t it the girl’s responsibility to make sure she’s taking the Pill? And if she’s forgotten and gets pregnant, who cares? “Doing the right thing” has come to mean paying for the abortion, rather than getting married and raising up the child.

Illegitimacy

In the last few decades, the rise of illegitimacy has been astounding. We have reached the point where a black child has about a 25% chance of being born to married parents. A generation of children has grown up knowing only Mom and a steady stream of boyfriends. The stigma of illegitimacy on children is no longer as onerous as it used to be, and I can’t help but think that is a good thing. After all, it is not the child’s fault that his or her parents were not married. The blame falls squarely on their shoulders. But where this once used to be a shameful, scandalous thing, in certain circles it has almost become the norm. And unfortunately, illegitimacy is often attended by violence. A woman and her child are much more likely to be beaten by a live-in lover than by a husband.

Divorce

Divorce, too, used to be a scandal. Before a couple could be divorced, one had to be shown to be at fault. Because a divorce was frowned on by society and difficult to obtain, couples often chose to stick together and work out their difficulties. But with the advent of “no-fault” divorce, it became much easier for a couple to part ways. All you had to do was claim “irreconcilable differences” and you were quit of each other. Since it was so easy to get divorced, why worry about choosing your mate carefully? And with divorce so simple to obtain, why work at kindling a more lasting love when the brief flush of lust has worn off? Bored with your spouse? Get a divorce and start looking for a new love. And with divorce so easy, some people started looking for a new love while still legally bound to the old one. I have heard people say that if they are already planning to get a divorce, dating around is OK. Infidelity between married people destroys the institution of marriage just as surely as infidelity between unmarried people does.

Effects on children

A happy marriage between a loving man and woman is the best environment for raising children. While this is not always possible, this is the optimal situation, and people should not aim for anything less. Children who are raised by a father and mother can see how to treat their spouse when they grow up and get married. I learned how to treat my wife with loving tenderness by watching how Dad treated Mom as I grew up. I fully understand that it is not always possible for children to be raised by both a father and mother. My wife’s father died when she was only twelve. I know of another who divorced her husband when his sexual abuse of the children was made known. While I am not in favor of no-fault divorces, this is a case of a crystal-clear fault, and I agree with the divorce. Both of these instances resulted in a single parent raising the children. It isn’t the best option, but it is the best they could do because life doesn’t always grant us the best even when we strive for them.

And now for something that will make some people mad at me: if a single woman is pregnant, she should think of the child’s best interests and give it up for adoption. This is the best way to ensure that the child will have both a father and mother. This isn’t always in the best interest or desire of the mother, but if she isn’t selfish, she will recognize that a loving couple could provide much more for the child than she can by herself.

So far I have listed several ways that the institution of marriage has been under attack for decades. Society suffers as marriage suffers. My next article will talk specifically why gay marriage is not something I can support.

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