WASHINGTON -- The Institute on Religion and Democracy has released a new paper touting the social value of traditional marriage and taking stock of the debate about its future in U.S. society. Part of the Institute's Mount Nebo series on religion and the public square, the marriage paper poses the question: "Our society's view of marriage, centered on mutual emotional satisfaction, is already far from classic Christian teaching. Now pro-homosexuality advocates are seeking to radically redefine marriage, reducing it to a relationship between any 'two people who love each other.' Amidst all this conflict, is it worth the cost for Christians to continue to defend this embattled institution?"
Designed for individual or group study, the 47-page paper examines key biblical passages related to marriage, as well as the history of the church's approach to marriage. It surveys the official teachings of many denominations, finding "a wide agreement on many points." The paper presents social science evidence showing the weakened state of marriage today, but also the benefits that marriage brings for both adults and children. It addresses sensitive issues such as cohabitation and same-sex marriage. The paper can be viewed free of charge on the Institute's website at www.TheIRD.org.
Alan Wisdom, IRD's Vice President for Research and Programs commented:
"By many measures, marriage has weakened in our society. Fewer people marry. More people divorce. Increasing numbers follow a pattern of 'serial monogamy.'
"U.S. Christians have three options. They can yield to the trends devaluing marriage. Or they can admit defeat in society but try to maintain traditional teachings inside the church. Or they can swim against the current and insist that both church and society lend a hand in strengthening marriage. We believe that only this last option is faithful to the Scriptures and conducive to the long-term good of society.
"The battle for marriage is far from over. The question is whether U.S. Christians are ready to move from a defensive position (defeating efforts to redefine marriage) to a more proactive posture (working together to strengthen marriage)."