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Marriage on Trial

Marriage is about a whole lot more than love and commitment.

These questions and answers are taken from Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting by Glenn T. Stanton and Bill Maier. Copyright © 2004 by Glenn T. Stanton and Bill Maier. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515. Although we have omitted some questions, we have retained the question numbers from the book.

Answering the Same-Sex Marriage Proponents

Question 2. Does it really matter how we define marriage?

Answer. It matters in many deep ways. No society has ever allowed a “suit yourself” approach to family, where people choose to live in whatever relationships seem to work for them. All societies need people to live within specific parameters regarding marriage. This is why natural marriage is humanly universal. God has weaved marriage into human nature so that it serves two primary purposes throughout all societies:

 Marriage always brings male and female adults together into committed sexual and domestic relationships in order to regulate sexuality and provide for the needs of daily life. Wives help men channel their sexual energy into socially productive and nonpredatory ways. Husbands help protect women from the exploitation of other males.

 Marriage ensures that children have the benefits of both their mother and their father, each in their distinctive and unique ways.

Together, these two aspects of marriage have been the means by which we build strong human communities, generation after generation. As anthropologists tell us, these primary needs shape the family and social norms for all known societies.1

Same-sex relationships cannot provide these benefits. These unions provide no essential social good, instead they primarily address the personal or emotional needs and desires of consenting adults. In addition a growing number of these couples want access to the legal and financial benefits granted to those whom society recognizes as married.

One of our nation’s most eminent political scientists and social thinkers, James Q. Wilson, brings clarity to what all societies need marriage to do: [T]he purpose of marriage…has always been to make the family secure, not to redefine what constitutes a family. The family is a more fundamental social reality than a marriage, and so pretending that anything we call a marriage can create a family is misleading…. By family, I mean a lasting, socially enforced obligation between a man and a woman that authorizes sexual congress and the supervision of children…. There is no society where women alone care for each other and their children; there is none where fathers are not obligated to support their children and the mothers to whom they were born. Not only do men need women, women need men.2 (pp. 22-23)

Question 3. Shouldn’t two people who love each other be allowed to commit themselves to one another?

Answer. Yes, but we don’t always call it marriage. Parents commit themselves to their children, but they aren’t married. Friends love and commit themselves to each other, but they aren’t married. Coworkers, athletes and soldiers can even love each other and enjoy great commitment, but we don’t call it marriage.

Marriage is about a whole lot more than love and commitment. It is not less than these things, to be sure, but it is certainly much more.

Marriage is built on a paradox of humanity—that we exist as male and female. The strong benefit of marriage is that males and females are designed with profound differences, and these differences are coordinated in marriage so that each contributes what the other lacks. 3 Together they create something larger than themselves. The polarity of the two genders is inextricably locked into the meaning and practice of marriage.

….The benefit of male and female in marriage is not confined to reproduction. The complement and exchange between the sexes provides huge and irreplaceable benefits for both males and females because these differences are rooted in every part of our being. Male and female are not interchangeable human parts. Love and commitment are necessary, but they are not sufficient to form a marriage. Marriage requires persons of different sexes to love and commit themselves to each other.

Besides, couldn’t the “people should be able to marry who they love” argument be made for nearly any kind of union? If this is the new criteria for allowing people to marry, how can we say no to a woman who loves a polygamist and wants to become his third wife? How do we say no to Jonathan Yabrough and Cody Rogahn, the first couple to get a same-sex marriage license in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on May 17, 2004? Yarbrough, a bisexual, said to the press just before his wedding, “I think it’s possible to love more than one person and have more than one partner….In our case, we have an open marriage.”4 So what if this couple wanted to expand their own marriage to include some of these other people they plan to love? How would we— how could we—say no? On what basis could we rule out incest, condoning sexual relations and marriage between, say, a loving mother and her adoring son who are both consenting adults? (pp. 24-25)

Question 4. Why restrict marriage to two persons of different gender, as long as it’s restricted to two adults who love each other and are not closely related biologically?

Answer. While you’re rejecting one standard of marriage—male and female—you’re holding on to another: that it’s only about two people. If love and commitment were the only criteria for marriage, then not only would concern for gender be eliminated but so would the concern over the number of people in a marriage and their biological relationship. We agree that these kinds of limits to marriage are legitimate and that in maintaining them no one’s rights are being violated. Marriage naturally brings with it is own demands. These are what make it marriage. Without them, marriage becomes something else.

Actually there is more of a human-experience case for the gender limit than the number limit. Marriage has always been between men and women in all cultures, but it has not always been between two people. Many societies throughout history and the world have practiced polygamy. However, most developed nations enforce a system of male-female monogamy.

But this brings us back to the original question: If marriage is simply about people who love each other and gender doesn’t matter for marriage and the family, why does the number of spouses? What criteria will we have for limiting couples like Misters Yarbrough and Rogahan who wish to expand the size of their open marriage to include any of the other people they could fall in love with? What about the gay or lesbian couples who want to “marry” their opposite sex sperm donors in order to make a “complete” family? The question is much more than a rhetorical countermove. In fact, Stanley Kurtz, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues that the “slippery slope” from gay to group marriage is very real and well-greased. He warns:

The bottom of the slope is visible from where we stand. Advocacy of legalized polygamy is growing. A network of grass-roots organizations seeking legal recognition for group marriage already exists.…. Actually, there are now many such organizations. And their strategy—even their existence—owes much to the movement for gay marriage.5

Kurtz warns that revolutionaries who call themselves “polyamorists” are also capitalizing on the gains won by the same-sex marriage advocates and are ready to make the “love and commitment/justice and equality” case for their idea of marriage. (pp. 25-26)

Question 5. What is polyamory?

Answer. Polyamory refers to group marriage. This is different from polygamy, where a man takes many wives. Polyamory has been around for a while. Its roots are found in the utopian Oneida Community of New York, founded in the mid 1800s. This large but short-lived community of men and women lived as a married group, openly sharing work, homes, children and their beds.6 Polyamory was continued in some of the hippie communes of the 1960s and early 1970s. Any skeptics of the current vibrancy of the polyamory
movement should Google the word polyamory and see how much serious support there is for this phenomenon. Kurtz explains that “polyamorists are enthusiastic proponents of same-sex marriage.”7 If the same-sex advocates are successful in abolishing the idea that marriage is only between one man and one woman, then the hard part of making the group marriage case is done. As same-sex advocates make a way for the never-before tolerated definition of homosexual marriage, then it will be easy to usher in multiple-spouse marriages because all that is required in this definition of marriage is the verbal declaration of love and some kind of commitment to someone, anyone. We wager the speed by which this will happen will be swift. (p. 27)


Same-sex marriage does not allow more people access to marriage but actually redefines marriage and the family for everyone. It says the complementarity of husband and wife, mother and father are merely optional. Male and female are meaningless, interchangeable parts. Same-sex marriage turns marriage into something it has never been in any other human civilization at any time in history. Natural marriage comprises much more than love between people and access to legal and health benefits. The same-sex proposition robs marriage of its unique virtue in bringing men and women into cooperative relationship where they complete one another in their differences. Every natural, monogamous marriage is a declaration to all society that male and female matter.

Marriage is also the best way to ensure that children grow up with a mother and father. But same-sex marriage advocates say none of that matters, and they want to forever change everyone’s understanding of marriage and family. What is more, the argument the same-sex advocates use is the same argument that will make way for any type of “marriage.” The impact this will have on children, women, business and the government will be staggering.… (p. 31)

Isn’t This Primarily An Issue of Justice?

Question 1. But surely gays have the same right to marry as heterosexuals, don’t they?

Answer. Let’s be very clear. Homosexuals do have the constitutional right to marry. But, no one has the right to redefine marriage for themselves or for a whole society. No one has the right to say male and female, mothers and fathers, don’t matter for society and the family. But this is exactly what giving social and legal sanction to same-sex marriage would do.

Many homosexuals have indeed married members of the opposite sex, and no homosexual has ever charged any state or federal government with barring him or her from marrying because of their own sexual preference. It has never happened. The state is blind to such matters of personal orientation. There are some very basic legal parameters as to who any of us can marry, and they apply equally to all of us. This satisfies the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Traditionally, when any of us seeks a marriage license, we

can’t already be married

must be an adult and must marry an adult

can’t marry a close family member

must marry someone of the opposite sex

Now if two people meeting all these criteria go to city hall to get a marriage license, and the clerk asks whether either are homosexual and denies them a marriage license based on an affirmative answer, that would be discriminatory. Current law does not keep homosexual individuals from marrying. It just keeps them—as well as heterosexuals—from redefining marriage by marrying a person of the same sex. Our current marriage laws treat everyone equally.

This debate isn’t about equality or access to marriage; it’s about redefining marriage, making it something it has never been before. (pp. 32-33)

Question 2. Heterosexuals can marry according to their sexual orientation. Why shouldn’t homosexuals be allowed to marry according to their orientation?

Answer. This argument compares apples with oranges. The assertion rests on an immense, unproven theory that homosexuality is rooted in nature just as heterosexuality is.

Historically, heterosexuality has never been considered an orientation. It was only when homosexuality gained political legitimacy that we started referring to sexual “orientations.” People have always been understood to be heterosexual even if some people want to have sex with members of the same sex. Being gay is more of a political description than a psychosexual one. And it is a relatively new term. Marriage has never been defined or regulated according to orientation, one way or another.

Besides, no United States court has ever recognized and no scientific institution anywhere in the world has ever established the immutability (i.e. qualities we are born with and therefore cannot change) of homosexuality. Many scientists have tried, but none has ever succeeded. Homosexuality cannot be compared to genealogy or ethnic heritage, which cannot be changed any more than the past can be changed.

In the early 1990s, Columbia University researchers William Byne and Bruce Parsons carefully analyzed all the major biological studies on homosexuality. Finding no studies that supported a purely biological cause for homosexuality, they found the origins of homosexual identification rooted in a “complex mosaic of biological, psychological and social/cultural factors.”8 More recently, Professors Richard Friedman and Jennifer Downey, writing on the nature of sexual orientation, explain: At clinical conferences one often hears that homosexual orientation is fixed and unmodifiable. Neither assertion is true.… [T]he assertion that homosexuality is genetic is so reductionistic that it must be dismissed out of hand as a general principle of psychology.9

Therefore, it is wrong to assert that heterosexual and homosexual orientations are essentially the same and should therefore be treated equally. One is firmly rooted in nature and as a result is manifest as the foundation of all human civilizations. The other is far less common and the result of influences that are little understood and not intrinsic to human nature.10 (pp.3334)

Question 7. Isn’t marriage an inherently religious institution that adheres to very narrow prohibitions? Shouldn’t marriage be set free from the restrictions of the church?

Answer. When we think of weddings, we think of churches. When we think of marriage licenses, we think of city hall. Both church and state have a stake in marriage. Churches are interested in making sure that marriages are healthy and strong. But city hall—as well as both state and federal governments—have a huge stake in marriage as well. As Maggie Gallaher explains, “There is scarcely a dollar that state and federal government spends on social programs that is not driven in large part by family fragmentation: crime, poverty, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure, mental and physical health problems.” 11

Marriage provides many benefits for society, like healthier people; more productive, law-abiding citizens; healthier, more well-adjusted children who do better in and complete school, and don’t get involved in criminal and antisocial behavior (See chapters 8-9 [p.95-111]). When marriages fail, they fail to provide those good things essential to healthy society, and the state must prop up the decline. So both church and state do have a stake in marriage, each for their own reasons. Marriage doesn’t belong just to religious institutions.

But it is also important to remember that in the history of human culture, marriage didn’t arise because some government or religious institution dictated that people must marry. Marriage predates both the organized church and the state.12 God rooted it in all of human nature. Therefore, it isn’t the job of either the church or the state to redefine marriage to accommodate the current preferences of some individuals. Rather it is in the interest of both the church and state to preserve marriage in its given and natural form. Both must therefore support and champion natural marriage…. (pp. 39-40)

Question 8. Haven’t historians of early Christianity found same-sex marriage ceremonies being practiced in ancient Christian times?

Answer. There is one historian, John Boswell, who got a good deal of press on this issue in the early 1990s. Asserting that homosexual unions were ritually honored in the medieval Christian church, Boswell got rave reviews from some newspapers and the popular press. But his work on this thesis has not been favorably reviewed by any historian of antiquity.

Boswell explains that the early church practiced ritualized ceremonies in which two men or two women entered into brotherhood and sisterhood relationships. And this is largely true. But Boswell errs when he makes the leap of equating these friendship ceremonies with the recognition and blessing of erotic homosexual relationships.

A professor of early Christian history, panning Boswell’s book in the journal First Things, explains, “Nine years ago I was joined in devout sisterhood to another woman, apparently in just such a ceremony as Boswell claims to elucidate in his book.” She explains the ceremony was performed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem by an Orthodox archbishop. The other woman was not the professor’s lover but her professional colleague and friend, another professor of history. Upon meeting the women in the midst of their Middle East tour, the archbishop remarked the ladies must be very good friends since they “had survived the rigors of Syria and Eastern Turkey in amicable good humor” and offered a ceremonial blessing on such a special friendship.13 They were honored to have their sisterhood blessed in such a special way. These friendship ceremonies have long been a part of certain Christian traditions.

The professor goes on to explain that Boswell’s scholarship “is studded with unwarranted a priori assumptions, with arguments from silence and dubious, or in some cases outrageously false, translations of critical terms.” She warns that Boswell’s slipperiness
with historical accuracy and principles of interpretation “would be unacceptable in an undergraduate paper.” She gives the example where Boswell says, “Certainly the most controversial same-sex couple in the Christian tradition comprised Jesus and John” on the basis of Christ calling John his “beloved disciple.”14

John Boswell cannot be taken seriously as a reasonable historian. (pp. 40-42)

Question 9. But if most religions object to same-sex marriage, can’t we just allow civil same-sex marriage and let churches do what they want?

Answer. We think not. If same-sex marriage is seen as a fundamental human right by the United States Supreme Court—as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found in its infamous Goodridge decision—then all citizens will be forced to recognize it. A just society can’t be selective about which groups will recognize fundamental human rights. If they are basic or fundamental, everyone must recognize them.

Only months after legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Canada, activists there successfully passed C-250, a bill criminalizing public statements that could be deemed “hateful” to homosexuals, punishable by up to two years in prison!15 Say the wrong thing; go to jail. Churches in Canada cannot speak against homosexuality without fear of punishment. The same could happen here.

Every public school in the nation, K-12, will no doubt be compelled to teach that same-sex “marriage” and homosexuality are perfectly normal. Pictures and story lines in textbooks also will most likely be changed to show same-sex couples as normal. If the right to samesex marriage is identical to civil rights, then we should expect the same kind of governmental enforcement of the law.

Your church could very well be pressured to perform same-sex weddings or lose some or all of its privileges. When courts find same-sex marriage to be a constitutional and fundamental human right, the American Civil Liberties Union can convincingly argue that the government is underwriting discrimination by offering tax exemptions to churches and synagogues that only honor natural marriage. It could happen in every state in the union.

Gay and lesbian people have a right to form meaningful relationships. They don’t have a right to redefine marriage for all of us. If same-sex marriage is legalized in America, all citizens will be affected by this shift in the civil and religious meaning of marriage. Furthermore, protection of your religious right to live out your faith in public by voicing moral criticism of this arrangement would be seriously eroded if not eliminated. (pp. 42-43)

Question 10. But some believe that same-sex marriage could actually strengthen the institution of marriage. Isn’t this true?

Answer. Wouldn’t that be a bit like saying printing counterfeit money would help strengthen the economy by putting more dollars into circulation? Marriage is not the creation of human beings; thus it is not our province to change it. It doesn’t thrive under the inclusive banner of “the more the merrier.” A marriage culture, which is essential to a healthy society, is nourished when we are faithful to and honor its timetested definition, which is simply not elastic.

In addition, recent research from a major British medical journal on male same-sex relationships in the Netherlands—arguably one of the most gay-friendly cultures in the world (and where same-sex marriage is legal)—indicates gay men have a very difficult time living by the values of marriage. This study found that, on average, steady homosexual relationships in the city of Amsterdam last only 1.5 years. The study also found that gay men in steady relationships there have an average of eight partners a year outside of their current relationships.16 And remember the attitude of the first couple in line on May 17, 2004, to get a same-sex marriage license in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They admitted to having an open marriage.

Contrast that with the fact that 67 percent of first marriages in the United States last ten years, and more than three-quarters of heterosexual married couples report being faithful to their wedding vows. 17

Some same-sex marriage apologists explain that if homosexuals had the social pull of marriage to keep them monogamous like heterosexuals do, then they would be more monogamous like heterosexuals. But data like that from Amsterdam exposes this as wishful thinking. In addition, an article in OUT magazine quotes a thirty-two-year-old gay man as a normative gay voice on the question of the virtue of marriage and monogamy: “As far as the legalities and financial aspects, yes, I’d definitely get married. But would that make me monogamous? No way. I think it’s silly for anyone, straight or gay, to define it that way.”18

No, opening marriage to people who simply want to the benefits it provides and little else does not strengthen marriage. (pp. 43-44)

How Would Homosexual Marriage Threaten Other Families?

Question 1. If someone I know says he’s a homosexual and he wants to marry his partner, how does that threaten my heterosexual marriage and family?

Answer. If this were just about his family, then you might have a point. It may not have any substantial negative impact. But this public debate for same-sex marriage isn’t just about a few different kinds of marriage here or there. It is about asking every one of us to radically change our own understanding of marriage forever.

If marriage were truly a private affair, which it is not, then same-sex marriage would have little impact on anyone’s family. But marriage is just as much about the community as it is about individuals, perhaps more so. That’s why marriages are public ceremonies, whether in churches or before civil authorizes, and are regulated by laws. Marriage is a societal agreement.

No marriage is an island. Every marriage touches the community as a universally human community norm—a rule embraced by society for how we conduct ourselves sexually and domestically, and what we provide for children to meet their developmental needs. And every society must have a norm for what it expects and what it will not allow. Marriage is that social norm for the family. As humans, we are all connected and our decisions and actions—both public and private—do affect other people, even if it is indirect and not always evident. There are no truly private marriages.

Every healthy marriage proclaims to the community that men and women 

need and complete each other in their differences 

should be faithful to one another sexually and emotionally 

have a duty to look out for each other’s welfare

share a commitment to bear and cooperatively raise the next generation

Marriage is also a statement to the community that a man must commit himself to one woman, to care for her as selflessly as he can, and support and care for the children that he sires with his wife. The decline of marriage over the past few decades has reduced the number of men who are helping women raise their children, creating widespread fatherlessness, one of our nation’s most urgent social problems.19 Same-sex marriage likely will contribute to this decline, even among heterosexual men. Won’t lesbian families send the message to men that fathers are optional and lead men to increasingly see themselves that way? Gay male families tell us that a man committing himself to one woman is simply one lifestyle choice among many. So, men committing themselves to women will become increasingly optional. This is not good for men, and it won’t be good for women or their children. (pp. 54-55)

Question 2. How could same-sex marriage harm my children?

Answer. Same-sex marriage teaches children and their generation that marriage is merely about fulfilling adult sexual and emotional desire, nothing more. Many approaches to and philosophies of heterosexual marriage already teach this, and same-sex marriage will only help solidify it.

Same-sex marriage—like easy divorce, cohabitation pre-and extramarital sex, and unmarried childbearing— relativizes family relationships. It promotes a smorgasbord mentality for family life: choose what suits your tastes, and one choice is as good as another. But no society has ever been able to sustain itself with such a view of family life.

Same-sex marriage will teach little boys that the idea of being a good family man—caring and sacrificing himself for one woman and their children—is not expected or even virtuous, but merely one lifestyle choice among many. Same-sex marriage teaches our daughters that being committed to and helping socialize a husband and bearing and raising children with him is also only one family lifestyle choice among many.

In short the entire meaning and significance of marriage itself, and what it means to be male and female, will be radically changed. So will the choices and behaviors of those who grow up within that altered social context. (pp. 55-56)

Question 3. How does same-sex marriage harm our understanding of humanity?

Answer. In some very profound and harmful ways.

Wife and husband become mere words we use to describe people in a relationship. They lose any vital meaning. In fact, marriage license clerks in Massachusetts have been instructed to start referring to people getting marriage as “Party A” and “Party B.”20 Thus the deep meaning of husband and wife are evacuated. With “Party A, you may now kiss Party B,” our sons and daughters will miss the fact that men and women are uniquely completed and fulfilled when they love and commit to the “otherness” of male and female in marriage.

Mother and father become merely androgynous people engaged in the act of caring for kids. Mother and father become mere sentimental words used to address parents—not something special that men and women, as parents, are. Any apparent differences become merely superficial and of no practical consequence In fact, saying children need mothers and fathers could become hate speech because it indicts same-sex families.

The terms male and female are emptied of significance. We exchange our appreciation of humanity, understood as the treasures of being male and female, for a “Mr. Potato Head” theory of humanity (same shell, interchangeable exterior parts!). The same-sex marriage proposition cannot tolerate any necessary, fundamental differences between the genders. If there were necessary difference, male and female would need each other and every same-sex family would be humanly incomplete. Gender in a society that accepts same-sex marriage can only refer to meaningless, impersonal, interchangeable parts. A socially equal—and not just tolerated—same-sex marriage does damage at the very fundamental level. In fact, granting moral equality to even one same-sex marriage diminishes all of us at the very core of our humanity.

The significance of gender is demolished by the essence of same-sex marriage. Once it is made morally equal to natural marriage it will diminish the femininity of every woman. There will be minimal differences of men and women left over, and they are purely physiological. A woman’s surrogate womb becomes the only part of femininity that is needed to create a male same-sex family. A woman is reduced to a womb and its practical function and this is a horrible message to send to women and girls. Reducing gender to physiology is, well, dehumanizing.

Similarly, one lesbian same-sex marriage—once it is seen as morally equal to natural marriage—will diminish the masculinity of every man, for the only thing important about manhood will be sperm. This is a bad message to send to men and boys. They are reduced to being impersonal parts—things, not persons. Both views are deeply antihuman because they are deeply anti-male and –female.

This turn in our understanding of gender will create far more—rather than less—confusion within us as individuals and dissension among us in our relationships with others; it will not allow us to be true to our respective genders—who we really are! Samesex marriage deconstructs our humanity as expressed in our masculinity and femininity. Masculinity and femininity become morally, personally and interpersonally meaningless. (pp. 56-57)

How Does Marriage Benefit Adults?

Question 2. In what specific areas of life do malefemale marriages benefit adults?

Answer. Let’s start with how it leads to a longer, healthier life.

Unmarried people have lower activity levels, and they spend twice as much time as patients in hospitals as their married peers.21 Research conducted at Erasmus University in Rotterdam reports that “married people have the lowest morbidity [illness] rates, while the divorced show the highest.”22 Professor Linda Waite of the University of Chicago finds that the “relationship between marriage and death rates has now reached the status of a truism, having been observed across numerous societies and among various social and demographic groups.”23

In Waite’s 1995 presidential address to the Population Association of America, she explained that the health benefits of marriage are so strong that a married man with heart disease can be expected to live, on average, 1,400 days longer (nearly four years) than an unmarried man with a healthy heart. This longer life expectancy is even greater for a married man who has cancer or is twenty pounds overweight compared to his healthy but unmarried counterpart. Being unmarried will shave more days off a woman’s life than being married and having cancer, being twenty pounds overweight or having a low socioeconomic status. Additional research from Yale University indicates that a married man who smokes more than a pack a day can be expected to live as long as a divorced man who does not smoke. This researcher explains with a touch of humor, “If a man’s marriage is driving him to heavy smoking, he has a delicate statistical decision to make.”24

Robert Coombs’s research agrees with these findings: “Virtually every study of mortality and marital status shows the unmarried of both sexes have higher death rates, whether by accident, disease, or self-inflicted wounds, and this is found in every country that maintains accurate health statistics.”25

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that cures for cancer are significantly more successful (8 to 17 percent) when a patient is married, and being married was comparable to being in an age category ten years younger. 26

Marriage is more than just an emotional relationship. It is a very real fountain of youth. (pp. 97-98)

How Does Marriage Benefit Children?

Question 1. Marriage provides benefits to the man and woman who are married, but does it provide real benefits to children?

Answer. All things being equal, children with married parents consistently do better in every measure of wellbeing than their peers in any other type of family arrangement. And this is a stronger indicator of wellbeing than the race, economic or educational status of parents, or of the neighborhood in which these children grow up. The research supporting these conclusions is very robust.

Pitirim Sorokin, founder and first chair of the sociology department at Harvard University, proclaimed the importance of married mothers and fathers some sixty years ago:

The most essential sociocultural patterning of a newborn human organism is achieved by the family. It is the first and most efficient sculptor of human material, shaping the physical, behavioral, mental, moral and sociocultural characteristics of practically every individual….From remotest past, married parents have been the most effective teachers of their children.27

Research over the past few decades only confirms this idea. The child advocacy organization Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently reported: “Most researchers now agree that…studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two married biological parents.”28 Child Trends also reports: “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents.”29 (pp. 103-104)

Question 2. Specifically, how do children benefit when they grow up with their biological mothers and fathers?

Answer. Sara McLanahan of Princeton University, one of the world’s leading scholars on how family formation affects child well-being, finds that regardless of which survey we look at, children raised with only one biological parent are about twice as likely to drop out of school as children being raised with two biological parents.30 Children from married two-parent families, on average, have test scores and grade-point averages that are higher, they miss fewer school days, and they have greater expectations of attending college than children living with one parent. Additionally, of those from either type of family who do attend college, those from biological two-parent families are 7 to 20 percent more likely to finish college.31

Children from divorced homes are 70 percent more likely than those living with biological parents to be expelled or suspended from school. Those living with never-married mothers are twice as likely to be expelled or suspended. In addition, children who don’t live with both biological parents are significantly more likely to require parent-teacher meetings to deal with performance or behavior problems than those who live with married parents.32 Likewise, young men without married parents are 1.5 times more likely than those with married parents to be out of school and out of work. Young girls without married parents are twice as likely to be out of school and not working. 33(pp. 104-105)


These questions and answers are taken from Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting by Glenn T. Stanton and Bill Maier. Copyright © 2004 by Glenn T. Stanton and Bill Maier. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515. Although we have omitted some questions, we have retained the question numbers from the book.


1. Suzanne G. Frayser, Varieties of Sexual Experience: An Anthropological Perspective on Human Sexuality(New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1985); Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage, vols. 1-3 (New York: Allerton, 1022); Helen E. Fisher, Anatomy of Love: The Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery and Divorce (New York: W.W. Norton, 1922); George P. Murdock, Social Structure (New York: Macmillan, 1949).

2. James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), pp. 24, 29.

3. Steven E. Rhoads, Taking Sex Differences Seriously (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004).

4. Franci Richardson, “Ptown Ready for the ‘Big Day,’” Boston Herald, May 17, 2003.

5. Stanley Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” The Weekly Standard, August 4, 2003, p. 26.

6. Frayser, Varieties of Sexual Experience, p. 369.

7. Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” p. 28

8. William Byne and Bruce Parsons, “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologica Theories Reappraised,” Archives of General Psychiatry 50 (1993), 228-239.

9. Richard C. Friedman and Jennifer I. Downey, Sexual Orientation and Psychoanalysis: Sexual Science and Clinical Practice (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 39.

10. We will address the “naturalness” of homosexuality more fully in chap. 13 [p.133-139]

11. Maggie Gallagher, “The Stakes: Why We Need Marriage,” National Review Online, July 14, 2003, accessed on June 15, 2004, at

12. Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage (New York: Allerton, 1922), 1-27.

13. Robin Darling Young, “Gay Marriage: Reimagining Church History,” First Things, (November 1994), p. 43.

14. Ibid, p. 46.

15. “A Body Blow to Free Speech,” National Post, May 19, 2004, p. A21.

  1. Maria Xiridou et al., “The Contributions of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV Infection Among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam,” AIDS 17 (2003),: 1029-38.
  2. Matthew Bramlett and William Mosher, “First Marriage Dissolution, Divorce and Remarriage: United States,” Advance Data, National Center for Health Statistics, May 31, 2001, p. 1; Edward O. Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 216.
  3. Signorile, “I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO,” p. 113.
  4. David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York: Basic Books, 1994).
  5. Jonathan Finer, “Only Mass. Residents to Get Marriage Licenses,” The Washington Post, April 30, 2004, p. A03; see also “Procedures to Perform (Solemnize) Marriages by Special One Day Designation,” Public Records Division, William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, accessed on June 15, 2004, at
  6. Lois Verbrugge and Donald Balaban, “Patterns of Change, Disability and Well-Being,” Medical Care 27 (1989): S128-S147.
  7. I. M. Joung et al., “Differences in Self-Reported Morbidity by Marital Status and by Living Arrangement,” International Journal of Epidemiology 23 (1994) : 91-97.
  8. Linda J. Waite, “Does Marriage Matter?” the presidential address to the American Population Association of America, San Francisco, April 8, 1995; Linda Waite, “Does Marriage Matter?” Demography 32 (1995): 483-507.
  9. Harold Morowitz, “Hiding in the Hammond Report,” Hospital Practice, August 1975, p. 39.
  10. Coombs, “Marital Status and Personal Well-being,” p. 98.
  11. James Goodwin et al., “The Effect of Martial Status on State, Treatment, and Survival of Cancer Patients,” Journal of the American Medical Association 258 (1987): 3130-52.
  12. Pitirim Sorokin, Society, Culture, and Personality (New York: Harper & Row, 1947), pp 246-47; and his The American Sex Revolution (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1956), p. 5.
  13. Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?” Center for Law and Social Policy Brief, May 2003, p. 1.
  14. Kristin Anderson Moore et al., “Marriage From a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can We Do About It?” Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1.
  15. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 19.
  16. Ibid, p. 47.
  17. Deborah Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and WellBeing. Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (1991): 573-84.
  18. McLanahan and Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent, p. 50.


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