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Issues of Same-Sex Marriage

May 10, 2015     Time: 29:02
Issues of Same-Sex Marriage


Two recent articles shed light on the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on marriage

Transcript Issues of Same-Sex Marriage

KEVIN HARRIS: Dr. Craig, we have two articles to look at here concerning the issue of marriage – same-sex marriage in particular.

We have an article written from a very intelligent, highly educated adult woman who is the child of gay parents. She has written a letter[1] that has been spread all over the Internet to Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court in light of the late June 2015 projected date when some rulings will come down on marriage.

The other article is a Christian pastor who is attracted to men but chooses not to act on that, and in fact he married a woman. Some of these things we’ve talked about in podcasts in the past.

I think that you would agree with the first line of this when she writes to Justice Kennedy,

Dear Justice Kennedy,

June is nigh, and with it will come your ruling on the most contentious political issue of our time: marriage.

DR. CRAIG: I think it is a hugely important ethical issue. If it were merely political, Kevin, I don’t think we would be interested in talking about it because I think we want to be as apolitical as possible. But this is an ethical and cultural issue that has enormous implications for the direction of American society. I think that if the United States ratifies same-sex marriage it will have so fundamentally redefined what marriage is that it will be a cultural watershed for this country and represent just a further drift away from traditional values.


I write because I am one of many children with gay parents who believe we should protect marriage. I believe you were right when, during the Proposition 8 deliberations, you said “the voice of those children [of same-sex parents] is important.” I’d like to explain why I think redefining marriage would actually serve to strip these children of their most fundamental rights.

It’s very difficult to speak about this subject, because I love my mom. Most of us children with gay parents do. We also love their partner(s). You don’t hear much from us because, as far as the media are concerned, it’s impossible that we could both love our gay parent(s) and oppose gay marriage. Many are of the opinion I should not exist. But I do, and I’m not the only one.

In fact, I want to give her credentials. Katy Faust serves on the Academic and Testimonial Councils of the International Children’s Rights Institute. This is a well-written letter. I encourage people to see it. It is “Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent.”

The definition of marriage should have nothing to do with lessening emotional suffering within the homosexual community. If the Supreme Court were able to make rulings to affect feelings, racism would have ended fifty years ago. Nor is this issue primarily about the florist, the baker, or the candlestick-maker, though the very real impact on those private citizens is well-publicized. The Supreme Court has no business involving itself in romance or interpersonal relationships. I hope very much that your ruling in June will be devoid of any such consideration.

Government Should Promote the Well-being of Children

Children are the reason government has any stake in this discussion at all. Congress was spot on in 1996 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act, stating:

At bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.

There is no difference between the value and worth of heterosexual and homosexual persons. We all deserve equal protection and opportunity in academe, housing, employment, and medical care, because we are all humans created in the image of God.

However, when it comes to procreation and child-rearing, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are wholly unequal and should be treated differently for the sake of the children.

When two adults who cannot procreate want to raise children together, where do those babies come from? Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right. When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.

Thoughts on that so far?[2]

DR. CRAIG: The argument here is that same-sex marriage denies childrens’ rights – that they are the ones that bear the burden of this redefinition of marriage. She is not dealing with the issue that I think is even more fundamental; namely, marriage by its very nature is a union that is heterosexual. There is no such thing as a same-sex marriage. It is essentially a heterosexual union. But her argument is a very interesting one. These same-sex marriages automatically are going to give these two persons the rights of adoption or of bringing children into the home through some other sorts of means and that the children will bear the disadvantage of this relationship. She says the scenario guarantees that however the kids come into the home (adoption, divorce, third-party reproduction) it will be for the benefit of the adults. Their desires to be parents will be satisfied, but the child is going to bear the cost of missing out on a father or a mother. Even if the child doesn’t have access to its natural mother or father, I think she would agree that it should be placed in a foster home or an adoptive home where you have both genders represented. Because to be raised by two persons of the same sex rather than a mother and a father inherently disadvantages the child.

I was struck by a statement late in the letter where she says, “In same-sex-headed households, the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child.” That is a really interesting way of seeing the issue. In fact, her experience is not just anecdotal. She does relate her own experience, but Mark Regnerus, who is a professor at UT Austin, has done an extensive study of same-sex couples, and he has shown that the children who are raised in same-sex homes are significantly disadvantaged compared to children who are raised in homes that have a father and a mother. Regnerus has endured enormous backlash, calls for his dismissal from the University of Texas. He has been denounced as bigoted and homophobic. But in fact, UT Austin reviewed his research methods and upheld their sociological integrity and credibility. No one has been able to dispute Regnerus’ results. So you have here not only the testimony of a woman who is the product of a same-sex family, but you also have sociological data to support the truth of what she is saying. That is very sobering to me. That the desires of adults should trump the rights of children – that these kids should be disadvantaged by being placed into these homes just because these two people want to have children even though they cannot procreate themselves. It is allowing the desires of the parents to override the good of these children.

KEVIN HARRIS: She says that again, “. . . the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.”

DR. CRAIG: It is important to reemphasize that this is not about gay marriage. There is no suggestion that we should legalize gay marriage. This is about same-sex marriage. You can’t have a law that would discriminate against heterosexual men who want to marry each other, or heterosexual women who want to marry each other. You can’t have laws that are discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. So the present laws allow marriage between a man and a woman regardless of their sexual orientation. No one asks any questions about a person’s sexual orientation when a man and a woman comes before a justice-of-the-peace to be married.[3] Similarly, if we ratify same-sex marriage, this isn’t just about homosexual couples marrying each other. Two men who decide to live together and be married so that they can collect the benefits of one of their employers that are given to spouses have the freedom then to adopt children and to bring them into the home and raise them. Why would we allow little children to be disadvantaged in this way just because a couple of fellows or a couple of women want to live together and be “married?”

KEVIN HARRIS: If the best way for a child to be reared is by a male and a female – a mother and a father – why would we want to diminish that in any way? That happens from time to time.

DR. CRAIG: And yet it is going to be impossible to prevent if you say that two persons of the same gender can marry because once you allow that to happen then they are going to have the freedom to adopt children or to have foster care of children. So it really opens the floodgate, and these children are going to be the victims of this redefinition of marriage.

KEVIN HARRIS: Several years ago before same-sex marriage was even on the radar, I was on a mission trip to Jamaica. Some of the social workers there told me that there was a real crisis among the newer generations of Jamaicans who were coming up because they didn’t have fathers. Fathers were so absent. In that horrible economy, they would leave Kingston and go to the resort areas to try to find work, leaving the mother with the children, the children with no fathers, no male figures whatsoever.

Now, can these children overcome this? Oh, yes, and in God’s grace. But it is a disadvantage. They said that disadvantage is showing up in their lives.

DR. CRAIG: I heard the same thing when we were in Jamaica. You don’t need to go to Jamaica to see the results of not having the father in the home. In the United States, because of our aid to families with dependent children and those policies, there is an absence of fathers in homes. This has been devastating for the black family where so many children don’t have a father influence in their lives. This has been disastrous in the black community, especially for young black men. They need to have a father figure in the home. To allow two women to serve as parents for children is going to equally deny the presence of the father in that home for those children and the guidance and authority that he provides.

KEVIN HARRIS: All the time I am told, How is legalizing same-sex marriage gonna hurt your marriage? Kevin, it is not going to hurt your marriage one bit. I’m told that all the time. She is saying in this letter, Hey, it is not about my marriage. My marriage is intact. It is about the children. It is about redefining that.

DR. CRAIG: I think there is this tendency to think that if we allow people who are of the same sex to marry that that doesn’t do anything to hurt our heterosexual marriages. This, I think, is a naïve attitude that fails to understand that marriage in the United States is not just a private institution. It is a public institution, and therefore comes with certain civil rights attached to it like spousal benefits, freedom to adopt children, to serve as foster parents, and then also to bring lawsuits against people who don’t want to recognize same-sex marriage as legitimate. There has already been lawsuits brought against, for example, wedding photographers who don’t want to take photographs of same-sex marriages. They are brought before the court because they are denying the civil rights, allegedly, of these same-sex couples. The fact that marriage is a public, and not merely private, institution, makes the ratification of same-sex marriage have implications for all of us, but then especially for these children.

KEVIN HARRIS: The final paragraph before we get to this next article, briefly,

Like most Americans, I am for adults having the freedom to live as they please. I unequivocally oppose criminalizing gay relationships. But defining marriage correctly criminalizes nothing. And the government’s interest in marriage is about the children that only male-female relationships can produce. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. It moves us well beyond our “live and let live” philosophy into the land where our society promotes a family structure where children will always suffer loss. It will be our policy, stamped and sealed by the most powerful of governmental institutions, that these children will have their right to be known and loved by their mother and/or father stripped from them in every instance. In same-sex-headed households, the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child.

DR. CRAIG: Well said.[4] I want to make one last point on this before we move to the next article. One might think, How can we allow the states to define marriage as between a man and a woman so as to exclude same-sex couples from marrying? When our children were home recently for the holidays, we were playing a family board game together that involved guessing the statistics of certain questions that were given you. One of the questions was, “How many states in the union prohibit marriage between first cousins?” And I thought, “State laws prohibiting marriage between first cousins?” There must be hardly any. These must be archaic laws from the 19th century – maybe in a couple of southern states. So I guessed 2 as my answer. Do you know what the answer was? The answer was something like 37 or so. A huge number of states discriminate against first cousins by not allowing them to marry. I assume it is probably for medical reasons – that they don’t want inbred genetic defects and so forth to result. But that is assuming that these persons are going to have children. Here is the case where our society allows states to govern marriage so that the state, if it believes it has an overriding interest, can deny the right to marry between a man and a woman who happen to be first cousins. If the state has the right because of an overriding interest to prohibit marriage as between first cousins, how perverse would it be if we don’t give the states the right to define a marriage as between a man and a woman so as to exclude same-sex unions? I think it would be absolutely bizarre if our society were such that states are not allowed to regulate marriage in such a way that it is only between a man and a woman, and yet the states do have the ability to prohibit marriage between first cousins – no matter how much they are in love with each other, no matter how romantically involved they are, and so forth. The states have the right to prohibit that kind of marriage but not two men or two women from getting married to each other. It seems to me to be fundamentally inconsistent. This is really a states’ rights issue. If the states are the ones who have the rights to regulate marriage then surely it ought to be up to the states to decide whether or not they are going to allow these same-sex marriages.

KEVIN HARRIS: Do you think we may see instances, if this goes through, of civil disobedience perhaps?

DR. CRAIG: I don’t know. You know what I wondered about this was what about one of those states where they have the laws prohibiting cousins from marrying, and so two male cousins go before the justice-of-the-peace and say, “We want to get married. You have no right to deprive us of our constitutional right to marriage because we are same-sex cousins.” Would they be, then, allowed to marry? Again, the inconsistencies just seem bizarre.

KEVIN HARRIS: This second article – a man is attracted to other men sexually but he chooses not to act on it. And this is big news!

DR. CRAIG: [laughter] Right.

KEVIN HARRIS: You’ve got to be kidding me. This story has certainly made the rounds in the press.[5] It is about a pastor.

Pastor attracted to men says he married a woman because he believes in all of Scripture like Jesus

A Presbyterian pastor in western Pennsylvania chose to marry a woman although he is sexually attracted to men.

Allan Edwards, the pastor of the Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church, realised his preference for the same sex in mid-1990s when he was in high school. But being deeply religious and knowing it was "in conflict with [his] faith", he decided not to act on his sexual orientation.

Well, right there, Dr. Craig, we’ve talked about that very thing. That person does not automatically have to act on whatever his or her proclivities are.[6]

DR. CRAIG: Sure. God is not asking of the homosexual person anything different than he is asking of the single male or female who is attracted to members of the opposite sex, and that is to remain chaste and to not indulge in those desires. I like what the pastor says. He says, “I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?” Desires for gluttony, desires for alcohol perhaps. Perhaps desires for violence in people who have a bad temper. We need to control our passions and our desires so that we have mastery over them. This is what he is doing. He is exercising mastery over his sexual desires.


"So for me, it's not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am."

Edwards, who does not identify himself as gay, is wed to Leeanne Edwards. The two are expecting a child in July.

The 31-year-old pastor shared that when he was young, he did not know who to talk to about his predicament. He started talking only when he was in a Christian liberal arts college.

"My expectation was, if I started talking to other guys about this, I'm going to get ostracised and lambasted," Edwards said. "I actually had the exact opposite experience ... I actually was received with a lot of love, grace, charity: some confusion, but openness to dialogue."

I think that is important, Bill. That might have been the turning point for him, rather than further ostracized or pushed away and maybe even pushed toward a proclivity that he did not want to embrace if he were. Instead he was accepted. He didn’t run into a bunch of bigoted Christians. He ran into loving Christians.

Edwards also admitted that he once considered joining a denomination that accepts gay relationships, but decided against it as he could not reconcile his beliefs with homosexuality.

"I studied different methods of reading the Scripture and it all came down to this: Jesus accepts the rest of the Scripture as divined from God," he said. "So if Jesus is who he says he is, then we kind of have to believe what he believes."

Edwards met Leeanne at a Christian summer camp, but they started dating only several years later.

Talking about the moment he started falling in love with the woman who would later on become his wife, Edwards said, "I don't want to be gushy or romantic, but I just melted inside, and thought, this is someone who understands graciousness. This is someone who understands acceptance, and this is someone I want to spend as much time with as possible."

Edwards clarified that although he experiences attraction to men, it does not mean that he does not feel attracted to his wife.

"I'm not universally attracted to all men, nor am I universally attracted to all women. I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually attracted to my wife," he told the Daily Mail Online.

DR. CRAIG: I think this is a wonderful reminder that marriage is so much more than just a sexual relationship. He met a woman that he connected with emotionally, who understood him, who probably shared his values and vision in life. So he says he is attracted to her spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Certainly building a marriage relationship with another person is so much more, so much richer, than just the physical attraction. That is a very good reminder that the pastor gives us in the way he has described the relationship that he’s built with his wife.


For her part, Leeanne was understandly curious as to how her husband's sexual orientation would affect their relationship. However, she now views it as normal, comparing it to the sexual attractions any married couple must resist, be it with the same or the opposite gender.

"There's always going to be situations where a partner is sexually attracted to someone else and isn't necessarily dealing with sexual attraction with their partner," Leeanne said.

"Everybody has this experience of wanting something else or beyond what they have," Edwards added.

"Everyone struggles with discontentment. The difference, I think, and the blessing Leeanne and I have experienced is that we came into our marriage relationship already knowing and talking about it. And I think that's a really powerful basis for intimacy."

DR. CRAIG: Yes, there are a couple of points here that he makes that are worth underlining. First is that the resistance of sexual attraction is a part of every marriage. You might not be attracted to other persons of the same gender, but you are certainly still going to have the same chemistry after you are married and will be attracted to, say, people of the opposite gender. You are going to need to resist the attraction to other women if you are going to build a relationship with your wife.[7] So this control over one’s sexual desires and attractions is something that is not unique to this homosexual man who is in a heterosexual relationship, it is something that every person who is married has to come to grips with and deal with. That is again a healthy reminder.

The other thing that I think is significant is when he says that we came into our relationship already knowing and talking about it. Many times you hear about failed marriages between a homosexual and a heterosexual after several years of trying to make it work out, he comes out of the closet and to her shock she finds she is married to a homosexual man and the marriage falls apart. I can’t help but wonder if part of the problem in those scenarios is that it was clandestine – that he was hiding his true orientation trying to pose as a heterosexual man, whereas here Edwards says he and his wife knew about it, they talked about it right from the very beginning. So she understood him and they were open about it. There wasn’t this sort of secret life and secret inner desires that were going on in him that finally can be so destructive. I think that is a very good lesson for anybody who is listening to us and has these homosexual desires or orientation but would want to build a marriage relationship with a member of the opposite sex to be open and honest right from the beginning about these struggles.

KEVIN HARRIS: Very true. Bill, we talked about this. This is so important. That is, if a person has a homosexual proclivity for whatever reason (there are dozens and maybe hundreds of factors of why that is the case), to be a follower of Christ you don’t have to seek to become heterosexual necessarily. Now, it may happen; it may not. But it may be that you just live as a single person – a single celibate life in the grace of God and be a fulfilled single person. A fulfilled celibate person. Scripture talks about that. He didn’t seek to marry her, but as they grew closer and closer together, they are making it work.

DR. CRAIG: They fell in love! He fell in love with this woman.

KEVIN HARRIS: It would be hard on a woman or a man if someone trying, like you said, to hide it jumped into this relationship because they are trying to ignore it or they need the facade of heterosexuality because of their faith or whatever. I am thinking of a pastor right now who just devastated his family after years of trying to suppress it. He admitted that he married her for his ministry and for the looks. Why do that to another person? In this case they grew to love one another, and their intimacy is deepening as it goes. Becoming a Christian may not automatically make you heterosexual if you have that proclivity.

DR. CRAIG: Well, it won’t. From what the testimony of Christian homosexuals is is that this is something that you will deal with for the rest of your life. But it can be dealt with, as Paster Edwards has discovered.

KEVIN HARRIS: It is difficult.

DR. CRAIG: I think that is the testimony that I’ve read of people involved in this problem. It is extremely difficult to “cure” but it can be managed.

KEVIN HARRIS: What should be our prayer and our activity as we move toward . . .

DR. CRAIG: I think that we need to pray for our Supreme Court that, in hope against hope, they will decide that marriage is something that ought to be left to the states to regulate and decide, and that they will not redefine marriage by saying that people of the same sex can get married to each other.[8]

[1] Katy Faust, “Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent,” February 2, 2015. See (accessed May 13, 2015).

[2] 5:19

[3] 10:06

[4] 15:29

[5] See here (accessed May 13, 2015).

[6] 20:02

[7] 25:05

[8] Total Running Time: 29:04 (Copyright © 2015 William Lane Craig)