Wheaton College Speaker Says Legalizing Same Sex Marriage Would be 'Trouble'

Author and economist Jennifer Roback Morse spoke to Wheaton College students Thursday about the institution of marriage, and why legalizing same sex marriage would be troublesome for society.

Jennifer Roback Morse proved Wednesday that she is not in the habit of mincing words.

“I want you to seriously consider praying for the institution of marriage,” she said to a roomful of Wheaton College students at the school’s Edman Memorial Chapel.

Morse spoke for an hour about the consequences of giving same sex unions the same legal status as traditional marriage.

An economist, Morse is founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for the Study of Religion and Liberty that seeks to promote the concept of lifelong love to college students.

Morse received her PhD in economics from Rochester University in New York, after which she spent a post-doctoral year at the University of Chicago and served as a senior Research fellow at Stanford. She also taught economics for 15 years at Yale and George Mason Universities. 

Morse also authored several books, including, Smart Sex: Finding Love in a Hook-up World and Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village.

Morse noted that everywhere that citizens have had a chance to vote on the issue, proponents of same sex marriage have lost. “They have not had the votes for it,” she said. “Marriage is still the union of a man and a woman.”

While Morse made it clear that she wasn’t in the least interested in people’s private sexual arrangements, saying of her work, “I don’t spend five minutes talking about what I think of gay people,” she nevertheless maintained that legalizing same sex marriage would mean trouble for society in any number of ways.

First among her qualms—and no doubt foremost for her audience, considering the college’s unapologetic Christian Evangelical orientation—is the conflict same sex marriage has with Biblical teaching.

“Scriptures are full of marriage,” Morse said. “Marriage is all throughout the Bible.”

She said that a redefinition of marriage would mean that Christians “will lose the ability to evangelize…we will lose the ability to preach the Bible.”

Morse stressed that redefining marriage undermined what she called the “essential public purpose of marriage.”

She noted that, in a legal sense, attaching children to their parents was the primary reason for marriage to even exist. “If it weren’t for that purpose, I don’t think we would need marriage at all,” she said. “Procreation is key to marriage.”

Morse said that court decisions back up her opinion on the essential role of procreation and rejected the idea that banning same sex marriage meant that gay people were being treated differently under the law. “They are situated differently,” she said. “It is only when courts say it (procreation) is not an important function of marriage that same sex marriage is supported.”

As evidence, Morse cited the legal rationale behind California judge Vaughn Walker, who issued a ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman. She noted that procreation was not even mentioned in his opinion.

Moreover, the redefinition of marriage without including procreation will serve to separate children from biological parents.

Contrary to the “presumption of parenthood” inherent in traditional heterosexual marriage, courts can rule that same sex partners are the parent of a child and “safely escort the father off stage,” Morse said. “Mothers and fathers are not perfectly interchangeable… men and women bring different characteristics to parenting.”

But, she argued, if men and woman were interchangeable, as advocates of same sex marriage seem to suggest, there would be no point in having a father. “Fathers will be marginalized,” she said. “They will be considered non-essential.”

Morse said that the redefinition of marriage without consideration of biological realities—and courts making the determination that a same sex partner is a parent—will allow a father to become completely separated from his child. “The woman can make the unilateral decision that a child can never have a relationship with his father…because she wants it,” Morse said. “That’s not enough of a reason.”

Finally, Morse concluded that the redefinition of marriage was tantamount to a restructuring of the traditional family. “In the process of redefining marriage, we’re redefining parenthood,” she said. 

She noted that with the modern culture being what it is, any number of problematic situations would arise in child custody cases, including those where a former girlfriend or boyfriend with no biological connection to the child, could be awarded custody.

Morse also warned that redefining marriage would inevitably mean an expansion of the government power. “Now the state recognizes it (marriage), but doesn’t control it,” she said. “Now they will be defining who a parent is.”

Despite the gloomy picture that some opponents of same sex marriage paint, Morse can still find room for hope. “This doesn’t have to happen,” she said.










Thomas Alex April 08, 2011 at 07:41 PM
No body is redefining anything; just like when we finally allowed blacks to marry each other and interracial couples to tie the know, we didn't refine marriage then and we aren't now.
Jim McMahon April 09, 2011 at 05:02 AM
She's probably gay.
Stephanie April 09, 2011 at 05:56 AM
It always baffles me to hear people say they oppose same-sex marriages because it "goes against" their ideals of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. If they are so pro-marriage, maybe they should focus more on ways to decrease the incredibly high divorce rate in this country...
Ben April 11, 2011 at 05:40 AM
I agree with Morse, marriage should be about procreation (and adoption for some couples where there are biological hurdles). For too long, gay elites have acted like adults-first libertarians. That’s why I support politically-incorrect gays opposed to same-sex marriage.Every boy deserves a mum and dad.
Tim April 12, 2011 at 03:44 PM
If you don't want to marry someone of the same sex than don't, but don't try to entangle your rights with other people utilizing theirs. Whatever marriage is it's not just about children but the rights and obligations of choosing a lifetime partner and the respect that the government places on that commitment. It's in the states best interest to popularize monogamous marriages for a variety of reasons, it it not their concern who is married.
David in Houston April 12, 2011 at 04:19 PM
All of her arguments are pure fantasy, without a shred of proof to support her rhetoric. 5% (or less) of the populous is simply incapable of having any impact on the other 95%. Straight couples know EXACTLY what marriage is to them, regardless if gay couples can marry or not. They will also have children (if they so desire) regardless if same-sex couples marry. She says that "procreation is the key to marriage". But she falls short of saying that all straight couples should have to procreate in order to marry. Because she knows that the ability or the intent to procreate is not a requirement to getting married. That's why barren couples, senior citizens and those not wanting children are ALL permitted to marry. The fact that all of those non-procreative groups CAN marry, makes it virtually impossible to use procreation as a justification to exclude gay couples. She said that a redefinition of marriage would mean that Christians “will lose the ability to evangelize…we will lose the ability to preach the Bible.” Again, utter nonsense. Massachusetts has had marriage equality for 5 years. Has anyone ever heard of a single church being sued for saying that homosexuality is a sin, or gay marriage is wrong? Of course not.
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) April 12, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Thank you to everyone for these comments—I appreciate the discussion.
MIchael April 13, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Tell that to your 57% heterosexual marrieds who divorced. Stop putting your heterosexist failures on the LGBT community.
MIchael April 13, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Dear Ms. Morse: I know you think you know what your iron-age book of fairy tales says, but you're wrong. Here is what it says about marriage, most of it polyganous: Genesis 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives. Genesis 16:1-4 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai ... gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived. Genesis 25:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had.... Genesis 26:34 Esau ... took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. Genesis 31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set ... his wives upon camels. Exodus 21:10 If he take him another wife.... Deuteronomy 21:15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated.... Judges 8:30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives. and that's just the half of it.
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) April 13, 2011 at 08:52 PM
I love that you included this! I was telling my grandmother about the speech at Wheaton College and she started telling me so many of the things that are in the bible that would make no sense in today's society (polygamy included). That's where a lot of people's religious views differ, though. To some, the Bible is the end-all, be-all. To others, it's maybe a guide book and historical document, but something that's taken with a grain of salt.
esteem April 13, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Why is this the only website in existence that says the Morse group is part of some National Organization for the Study of Religion and Liberty? Previously Morse has claimed it was a 501(c)3 until she was caught illegally pushing specific candidates. Then her group became a part of the National Organization for (sic) Marriage, an anti-gay group of Catholic extremists (like Morse herself). Now we have this new group that has never been mentioned on the Internet according to a Google search. I should not that it is not about liberty, however, as Morse, does not want to grant the same liberty to gay couples that she eventually claimed for herself. (She and her now husband had lived in sin and denounced the right of any church or state to proclaim them married, that was until she found the Virgin Mary as her lord and savior.
Beth May 01, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Her arguments are entirely INVALID!! And her opinions do not reflect the majority of Christians/Americans! Not only is she spreading misconceptions/hate and NOT The reality is that two adults have the RIGHT to get married! And yes adopt or have children.. As a long time Wheaton resident who's a straight/mom/wife and Christian I'm appalled that Wheaton College would host such a speaker and will not only be with holding my financial support for Wheaton ($$$) but also my community support until they are able to realize the consequences of having such a misinformed speaker who does not reflect the true values of Jesus christ...
Jim Smith May 27, 2011 at 06:07 PM
"If they are so pro-marriage, maybe they should focus more on ways to decrease the incredibly high divorce rate in this country..." How do you know they aren't?
Stephanie May 27, 2011 at 09:22 PM
If they are, then kudos. Continue focusing on that and stop trying to discriminate against how consenting adults choose to live their lives.


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