Being Millennial at the March for Marriage: A Digital World Perspective

on March 31, 2013


by Barton Gingerich (@bjgingerich)

No Millennial memory of the March for Marriage would be complete without mention of internet activity, the plane of our alternate digital existence. Last Tuesday was no exception. Aside from the tremendous spate of opinion articles and Buzzfeed photo collections, Facebook gets plastered with profile pictures of the red and pink equal sign supporting “marriage equality.” Of course, young emergents and post-evangelicals participate—the usual suspects who have adopted just about every liberal trope on issues, except for maybe abortion and some economic niceties.

More engaging, of course, are the arguments with their Christian and/or conservative friends over the issue. I notice several trends. First, the older set on Facebook (say over 35 or so) bandy about the category of “unbiblical” to little or no effect. In fact, they get skewered. Marriage is for Christians AND heathens, the latter of which do not recognize the authority of Scripture.

Thankfully, the younger set see the real problem—the state is trying to square the circle by fiat. Marriage cannot be between two people of the same sex as much as south can be north or black be white. One might as well outlaw the laws of gravity (mysterious though they are in physics, they still exist). No good comes from the state trying to force metaphysical impossibilities. Yes, the law is didactic and thus teaching people about the nature of marriage is helpful, but anything besides heterosexual marriage is a definitional impossibility.

Nevertheless, the young liberal Christians cling to the same arguments of niceness, equality, individualism, and the supremacy of volition over nature. Throw in some insinuations of bigotry, racism, and hatred into the mix, and you get the picture. The self-loathing post-evangelicals want to be on the “right side of history.” Since their ancestors missed the boat on the civil rights movement, why not atone for their own sins by changing the definition of marriage? Plus, even though it feels good to save the babies, it feels icky to save marriage when public attitude works against you.

Another oddity is evangelical leftists’ apparent view of marriage. They seem to have bought hook, line, and sinker the progressive Western conception of marriage: the sign that a couple is “really really committed,” even after they’ve shacked up together for a while (and who knows with how many others beforehand). Indeed, in this world, weddings are but a display of wealth and economic security, as out-of-wedlock children serve as ringbearers and flower-girls. If marriage is but a mark of emotional intensity, why should we expect it to last a lifetime or be exclusive to heterosexual adults? Liberal evangelicals seem to have lost the notion that marriage is the founding of a new family with implications that illustrate God’s image, whether one is a Christian or not.

I also witness a particularly nihilistic view that asserts that, since marriage has already impoverished the institution, further redefinition will do no more harm. The same line of logic would plant dynamite to blow a gaping hole in the hull of a leaky ship. Why not devote energies to try to help recover marriage rather than driving it into the ground?

Others of a more libertarian bent urge that the government needs to get out of the marriage business altogether. This would be a great novelty since marriage and the state have generally shared a mutually-beneficial coexistence. People get married, have kids (citizens), and provide the best-known (best-tested) form of character formation for the next generation. Marriage is the main way that a nation—and humanity—perpetuates itself. We are not self-defining atoms in a national soup. As Joe Carter pointed out, evangelical deference to the devilish logic of “do what you will, so long as it harms none” over the Christian teaching of “love thy neighbor” has reached idolatrous levels.

Speaking of love, opposition to marriage redefinition is “unloving” and perpetuates the church’s homophobia, so I’ve discovered. At least that’s what my evangelical leftist friends seem to think. What kind of perception of love did their families form in them, anyway? That love tolerates any kind of behavior? Sometimes, love must prevent, limit, or punish for the good of the beloved.

All in all, attacks against marriage come from nearly all lines of popular argumentation. On the internet, at least, people seemed to push not so much for an expansion of marriage as much as its annihilation. Marriage has certain irremovable characteristics that, once removed, cause the institution to cease, at least in the realm of politics.

This, then, is what it was like to be a conservative and Christian Millennial that last Tuesday. These internet rumblings may be only slacktivism, but they signify poor thinking and a desperate escape attempt from reason. It is frustrating and sad, and the whole situation requires the mercy of God. Of course, it may have been quicker to understand the situation by simply reading the first two chapters of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

  1. Comment by apcroft33 on March 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Good article, two points in particular: the pro-SSM (same-sex “marriage”) side does seem to fixate on “What harm does it do?” We know in our gut that the the answer is “Lots!” but this is hard to articulate. No, it doesn’t harm me, in any specific way, if two “married” men live next door. The harm is more insidious, harmful because a word rich in meaning, “marriage,” gets so “inclusive” that it has no meaning at all. Debasing language is harmful to us all. So is lying. When you start saying 2 + 2 = 5, and people start to accept it, there’s harm. One man + one man = married couple – except they aren’t. Ever. Period. No matter what the nine (well, seven) clowns on the Supreme Court decide. (I’m counting on Scalia and Thomas, not sure about Alito. We know Ginsburg and Breyer would approve the marriage of two billy goats.) Marriage is a serious thing. You can’t treat the choice of marriage partners like you treat the choice of soda – Pepsi, Coke, to each his own – man and woman, two women, two men, is it anyone’s business? Yeah, it is. Men and women are different, created to complement each other, a “set” God designed. I grew up in a home where my two imperfect parents (one man, one woman – how quaint!) sometimes argued, negotiated, finagled, nagged, compromised, etc – teaching some valuable lessons about how to get along in a world composed of men and women. Do you learn that in a house with two “dads” or two “moms”? I don’t think so. Watching a mother and father interact is highly educational, as God intended. Already we have way too many single-parent homes, and the data is pretty clear about how no dad in the home affects kids, especially boys. When will liberals ever learn to accept the obvious: there is a reason that institutions like marriage have survived for such a long time – they work. Not being in the habit of thinking through the potential harm of their policies, they wouldn’t dream of asking themselves, what will the society be like in 20 or 30 years, when the children of “two dads” or “two moms” become extremely dysfunctional adults?

    The other point: what did your leftist friends’ parents teach them about “love”? Probably that it’s the same as tolerance – although anyone with kids knows that if little Kevin sets the dog on fire, you don’t tolerate that, as it would be unloving to Kevin (and the dog), also harmful to society to let Kevin grow up thinking that everything he does is OK. There are things we just cannot tolerate and continue to exist as decent human beings. Love has to be more than just shrugging the shoulders and saying “Whatever you decide, that’s nice.” that isn’t love, that’s laziness, and the line between laziness and tolerance is pretty darn thin. There has to be more to love than “I don’t care what you do.”

  2. Comment by Gus Ravenwheel on March 31, 2013 at 11:36 pm


    Marriage cannot be between two people of the same sex as much as south can be north or black be white. One might as well outlaw the laws of gravity

    The problem with this claim, Bart, is that the convention of marriage is not in any way comparable to a law of nature. Am I mistaken? If so, specifically how?

    You see, “marriage” has always been a product of culture. The status quo-ian of a few thousand years ago could easily have said, “Marriage can not be ‘chosen’ by a woman, any more than dropped things can ‘choose’ not to fall…” and the status quo advocate of the last century could just as easily said, “marriage can not be between a black man and white woman any more than the south can be north…”

    Cultural conventions – human mores – CAN and do change all the time and oftentimes, it’s for the good.

    Marriage – two rational adults attracted to one and another and committing to love, cherish and be faithful to one another “to death do they part” CAN certainly be between two people of the same sex. Who gets to say that it can’t happen?

    Are you suggesting that the conservative and fundamentalist parts of the world (fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims can agree on this point) somehow “own” the concept of marriage and it can’t evolve as it has in the past?

    If so, that is simply factually mistaken.

    Do you truly think I’m wrong? If so, where specifically am I mistaken?

    Again, the inability to address this sort of question is why you all have lost this debate.


  3. Comment by skotiad on April 2, 2013 at 7:07 am

    The debate is not “lost” until we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that same-sex “marriage” is OK, and we haven’t, because it isn’t. No Supreme Court or referendum or group of whining activists or Hollywood creeps can make me change my mind on an issue that is so clearcut. Maybe the “public” has been won over to this nonsense, but people with solid beliefs aren’t swayed by trends. I intend to be the kid in the fable that knows that the emperor has no clothes, no matter what the crowd says. It’s disgusting to see how the CINOs (Christians in name only) are such craven cowards that they go along with this.

  4. Comment by ericvlytle on April 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I prefer being on the “losing side of history”, given our guarantee that in the end God will make all things right. The secular mind believes in nothing but what exists in the present, so they see a “victory,” and judged by the secular standard, anyone would be a fool not to side with those who win the most political battles in this life and force other people to submit to their twisted ethical views. Issues like this ought to bind people of good will together, whether we “win” or not in the secular arena. It is truly tragic that those who label themselves “Christian” completely buy into this secular view and apparently lose sight of judging matters by God’s standards. But at least the choosing of sides lets us know who our true brothers are. The “Christians” who can’t grasp the concept of eternal standards are no different from the atheists or agnostics in either their ethics or worldview. Spiritually speaking, when you marry the spirit of the age, you end up a widow.

  5. Comment by Marco Bell on April 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Dear Apcroft33,

    Respectfully, I ask: Have you any friends that have raised children in a same-sex household?
    I do, and the children are fully functional adults today. Well balanced in their understanding of Love, Respect, and Social responsibilities. Actually, one is a new parent herself.
    Granted, this is but one case history, and not every relationship stands the test of time, so I submit that ‘Marriage’ won’t lose anything in its redefinition, after all, it has withstood adjustment regarding it’s Old Testament definition over it’s New World version.

    …”Marriage is a serious thing. You can’t treat the choice of marriage partners like you treat the choice of soda – Pepsi, Coke…
    …teaching some valuable lessons about how to get along in a world composed of men and women. Do you learn that in a house with two “dads” or two “moms”? I don’t think so.

    These two statements you proffered are also short of wisdom gained from experience. Be careful not to ‘broad-brush’ or make generalizations regarding situations that might seem ‘foreign’ to you.
    Certainly, you might agree that Celebrity marriages are more flippant and fickle than most, so why aren’t your concerns for the integrity of marriage as fervently opposed to these types (of marital disrespect)?

    Words don’t matter if one is deaf and blind. Perspective!

    Thank you for your participation in this discussion.

The work of IRD is made possible by your generous contributions.

Receive expert analysis in your inbox.