Vol. XV Number 3

October 2004

Published by the Community of Concern within the United Church of Canada

What concern is it of mine?

Recently Robert Bork, an American expert on law, noted that trying to save heterosexual marriage is made "more difficult because so many people ask: How does, homosexual marriage affect me? What concern is it of mine or anybody else what homosexuals do?"

And he continues:
The answer is that the consequences of homosexual marriage will affect you, your children, and your grandchildren, as well as the morality and health of the society in which you and they live.

Where same-sex marriage is in effect already, as in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, heterosexual marriage tends to be downgraded as just one more sexual arrangement among others. The symbolic link between marriage, procreation, and family is broken, and there is a rapid and persistent decline in heterosexual marriages. Families are begun by cohabiting couples, who break up significantly more often than married couples, leaving children in one-parent families. The evidence has long been clear that children raised in such families are much more likely to engage in crime, use drugs, and form unstable relationships of their own. They are pathologies that affect everyone in a community.

Moreover, homosexual marriage will most likely lead to an increasing number of homosexuals.

Particularly vulnerable will be young men and women who, as yet uncertain of and confused by their sexuality, may more easily be led into a homosexual life.

And homosexual men have far higher rates of physical and psychological disorders than do heterosexuals. In fact, attempted suicide rates, even in countries that are homosexual-friendly, are three to four times as high for homosexuals.

In addition, who can be sure what other forms of marriage will flow from the approval of homosexual marriage? As another American commentator has written: Say what they will, there are no principled grounds on which advocates of same-sex marriage can oppose the marriage of two consenting brothers. Nor can they (persuasively) explain why we ought to deny a marriage licence to three men who want to marry. Or to a man who wants a consensual polygamous arrangement. Or to a father to his adult daughter.1

Such possibilities will seem outlandish to most of us. But remember that it was only 16 years ago that our United Church accepted both the Membership and Ministry of homosexuals, all the while acknowledging that "we are unclear at the present time as to what God's complete intention is in relation to human sexuality." Now they have added the third "M" — Marriage: same-sex marriage, but viewed almost entirely as a justice issue. And it is far more than that.

In this great debate over marriage it is ultimately the children who are the chief losers. Two McGill University professors recently argued this point eloquently before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights:

A change in the heterosexual definition of marriage would belittle the importance of procreation. People who desire such a change ignore the fact that marriage is a social institution, not merely a vehicle to promote individual self-interest. Allowing such a change would send the message that marriage is a vehicle to satisfy the personal desires of adult individuals, rather than an institution that is primarily (though not exclusively) about meeting the needs of children and the community.2

Nevertheless, to repeat what we wrote in Concern in 1993, we do not forget the immense contributions of single people to church life, nor of single-parent families who are succeeding, despite considerable difficulty, in giving their children a good upbringing. Life is not easy for them.

Nevertheless the definition of the family must not be stretched so thin as to include "any combination of two or more persons". The time has come to redefine the family as God ordained it and Christ blessed it. We ignore this crucial unit at our peril. G. K. Chesterton said, "This triangle of truisms, father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it."

And, we might add, it can only destroy those churches which disregard it.

This past summer the Association for Church Renewal, an American reform/ renewal group representing a number of denominations (and which COC is affiliated with) presented its views on marriage to leaders of the American Congress as well as to the White House. This was the essence of their message:

Marriage is the primary, essential institution of civil society. It has come under increasing attacks from those who would remake marriage into the image of shifting cultural trends rather than affirm the unchanging design given to us at creation — a design recognized across cultures and history. We also acknowledge the unambiguous sociological evidence that children are best off with a mother and a father. It is becoming increasingly clear that legal messages to protect the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman are necessary to preserve the place of marriage in our society.

Given all the public pressure in favour of same-sex marriage, what can we members of COC do to let Canadians in general and other members of the United Church — especially ones that disagree with us — know why we adamantly oppose same-sex marriage?

Have you written either the Moderator or your Member of Parliament about this? If not, please do, for the sake of the family unit. Be charitable, not belligerent (ranters are always ignored), but firm and brief (remember you're writing to busy people). And if it is easier for you, use any of the wording in this newsletter. Copy a paragraph or some sentences if you like. Address your letters to:

1. The Moderator:
     Right Reverend Peter B. Short
    The United Church of Canada
    3250 Bloor Street West, Suite 300
    Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4

2. Your federal Member of Parliament:*
     (Mr./Ms.) _________, M.P.
    House of Commons
    111 Wellington Street
     Ottawa, ON K1A OA6 *and this one requires no postage!

Some 15,000 of you read Concern, but not all agree with everything we write. So if you do agree with us on this issue, please send those letters to the Moderator and your Member of Parliament. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

. Remember, the quickest way to guarantee your cause will be a lost one is to give up too early.

What concern is this of yours? You decide.

1. Quotations from Robert H. Bork, "The Necessary Amendment", First Things, August/September 2004, 19-20.

2. Quoted in Marriage and Homosexuality: A Christian Response, Focus on the Family, Canada, Vancouver [20041, 16.

Community of Concern within the United Church of Canada
Box 79013 Garth Postal Outlet Hamilton, ON L9C7N6



Front Row: (L-R) Baby Peter, adopted son of Ted and Bob; Toddler Katlyn, natural daughter of Sue and Kevin; Skipper the dog, actively single

Second Row: (L-R) Miles the Cat, source unknown; Grandpa Martin, grandfather of Bob; Sue, mother of Katlyn; Kevin, partner of Sue; Lisa, half-sister of Kevin; Alice, formerly Albert, brother of Lisa; Grandma Lewis, mother of Dave

Third Row: (L-R) Sandy, surrogate mother of Peter; George, nanny to Katlyn; Ted, live-in friend of Bob; Bob, Alice's third cousin twice re­moved; Lori, first wife of Dave; Dave, third husband of Sandy* Hilariously reprinted from Concern, September 1993


Same-sex blessings