From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:
Two hundred and thirty seven years ago this week, fifty-six men representing diverse backgrounds, occupations, family situations, and denominations overcame their differences to unite around the issues they did agree on. The central issue was, of course, that the King of England had usurped his authority over the colonies. The particulars of what they agreed on formed the core of the document they all ultimately signed, pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
In 1776, they were fearful but courageous as they boldly declared that the inalienable rights granted to humans by their Creator had been trampled on and that they were declaring the United States of America a free and independent nation founded on the principles that were unifying these men—personal liberty, a sovereign God in Heaven working to accomplish His purposes on earth, respect for human life, the right to own property and more.
In 1787, they were putting meat and skin on these beliefs as they framed our government—a government that respected these principles while also taking into account the depravity of humankind.
The story of the birth of our country and the early years of figuring out what our government would look like are inspiring and instructive—and well deserving of remembrance and celebration.
This year, however, I am sobered as I recall these events. I am trying valiantly to imagine what those 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence would think of where we are today, especially culturally.
Last week’s US Supreme Court decision that overturned the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and gave federal recognition and standing to relationships between two men and two women is unprecedented and historic—and should be unsettling to all who truly understand marriage and who truly know who we are as Americans.
I am frequently asked in debates, panels and forums, why, if marriage is so important, didn’t the founders of this country mention it in our original documents.
Marriage isn’t mentioned in these documents because those who founded America could not conceive of having to mention marriage in any way. They knew it was the foundation of this country; they knew it could only be one man and one woman. They knew it was critical to the future of this nation. From their 18th century perspective, it was unnecessary to codify or address that which was basic, assumed, foundational.
To put it bluntly, I believe the 56 men who put their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on the line in signing the Declaration of Independence, would be appalled, irate and alarmed by the US Supreme Court’s rulings that legalized behavior that in their day was referred to as “sodomy, buggery, or crimes against nature.” In those days, homosexuality was behavior between persons of the same sex; it was not an identity. These men would have no frame of reference for our nation’s highest court giving legal sanction to this behavior.
The Supreme Court’s legal sanction of relationships between two men or two women put its stamp of approval on the behavior, the sexual behavior, of those involved. Legalizing same-sex relationships, regardless of what we call it—marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, whatever—is not about recognizing some cockeyed notion of love and commitment. It is fundamentally about legalizing homosexual sexual activity. It’s about making it seem normal and natural—when it is neither.
Our founders recognized marriage for what it is—a unique relationship between one man and one woman that is generally procreative in nature—and our founders hoped it would be so. They were looking to populate this country with a future generation of Americans who would be strong and would carry on the values and vision they had laid out. They couldn’t imagine any other relationship than marriage providing for children what they knew children needed to become the next American leaders. I am quite confident that they couldn’t imagine a July 4th celebration on the heels of a Supreme Court decision that hastens the unraveling of what they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to bring about. May God yet have mercy on this nation.