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.