An article at the Pew Research Center website about the Southern Baptists who, at their annual meeting in Baltimore, discussed same-sex marriage whether they wanted to or not included some troubling polling statistics.
According to Pew while in 2001 35% of Americans favored allowing legal marriage for same-sex couples and 57% opposed, in 2014, those percentages have switched. Today 54% say they support legal marriage for same-sex couples and only 39% oppose it.
Those sorts of numbers plus assorted court cases overturning the nearly universal definition of marriage as one man and one woman (there is not and has never been a “gay marriage ban” to overturn) have led some to believe that same-sex marriage in America is a fait accompli even in the churches—including at least some Southern Baptist Churches. It’s coming so just get used to it.
I’m not so sure.
Polling has its problems. For example, asking people about religious activities is tricky. “How often do you attend church?” People tend to tell the pollster how often they’d like to attend church or how often they think they should attend church or whatever they believe the pollster wants to hear rather than how often they manage to find their way into an actual pew. Could it be that polling statistics about homosexuality and permitting same-sex couples to marry has a similar difficulty?
An article in Public Discourse by Witherspoon Institute scholar Doug Mainwaring makes me wonder. Mainwaring identifies himself as “a gay man who is opposed to same-sex marriage” and in his article, “Marriage, Marketing, and Intimidation: ‘It is up to you, fearless reader, to act,’” he examines the tactics gay activists have used for several decades to promote their cause.
Mainwaring quotes from After the Ball: How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 90’s, the 1989 game plan for manipulating public opinion to accept homosexuality. “You can forget about trying right up front to persuade folks that homosexuality is a good thing,” the book’s authors explain, “But if you can get them to think it is just another thing—meriting no more than a shrug of the shoulders—then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won.”
Or consider this: “Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided on the subject and that a sizable bloc—the most modern up-to-date citizens—accept or even practice homosexuality . . . The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome . . . .”
That is, the game plan in After the Ball, is to get to the point when the majority of people simply say, “Whatever,” and give up resisting same-sex anything. We appear to be nearing that point.
But there’s a fly in that ointment. Mainwaring writes that “the processes that have led to the surprising success of the radical left are also its Achilles heel. Consent that is manufactured is not real. Proponents of same-sex marriage haven’t won in the arena of ideas—they have won through manipulation.”
That’s what I think we saw in the story of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.
After Robertson comments in December 2013 made disparaging remarks about homosexuality and allowing same-sex couples to marry, the media went into overdrive. A&E threatened to cancel the show or at least to dump Phil. The restaurant chain Cracker Barrel removed all Duck Dynasty merchandise from the shelves of their gift shops. Other companies had similar knee-jerk reactions. But media and interest group racket ended in a few days. A&E still airs the show with Phil in place. And Cracker Barrel put the merchandise back on the shelves, publishing an apology to its customers. Over at Target the shelves full of Duck Dynasty merchandise were empty before Christmas.
Are people telling us something with their purchases that they aren’t telling the pollsters? I suspect so. The public consent for redefining marriage, as Mainwaring notes, is fragile at best.
In order to strengthen the cause of marriage and family, the annual March for Marriage will be held on the Mall in Washington, DC this Thursday. As the March, website notes, “sends a clear message to every level of society that a majority of Americans still stand for marriage as it has been traditionally and historically defined and handed down through the centuries” and the majority still believe “that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is our culture’s best means of linking mothers and fathers to one another and to their children.”
The strategy behind the movement to redefine marriage calls for the majority of Americans to quit the fight with an exasperated “Whatever.” The way to break that strategy is to stand together—even march—for the good of marriage, children, the Church, the nation, and the culture.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published on ReligionToday.com. It is cross posted with permission.