Column: Family Values: Beyond The Ballot Box

This story was written by Eric Magazu, Massachusetts Daily Collegian
The fact that there wasn't a major political realignment in America during this past election is made manifest in the results of ballot initiatives associated with the integrity of the traditional family and traditional marriage. The results were closer than would have been ideal, but Americans overall voted for the reaffirmation of the ideal of the traditional family. Some may view these results as leaning towards bigotry, but the issues involved are much more foundational.Those who seek to alter the definition of marriage essentially rest their case on the idea of civil rights. However, there isn't a true civil rights claim here because there are many restrictions on who a person can marry based on other criteria, not just the sex of the intended partner, and these restrictions are applied equally to all members of society.As seems to be the case with many issues that rest on morality and world view, what we are really talking about with the discussion of marriage and the family is the way our society ought to be ordered. Should we base our foundational ethics on our personal whims and the fashions of our time, or should our ethics be rooted in certain enduring principles and moral truths?For those who support the traditional family, ultimately the latter choice overrides all other concerns. It can be argued that the ballot initiatives unfairly singled out homosexual behavior for public ridicule, but the truth is that there is a wide swath of sexual and marital morality deficient in America today.The producers of popular culture have certainly encouraged, and many of us have eagerly adopted, an acceptance of many disordered behaviors. Fornication, that is to say, engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, is seen to be acceptable and pornography is pervasive. These transgressions work against societal order by breaking down the more sanctified environment of the family. We, as a whole people, have given up the things that really matter in exchange for a cheap thrill.

In marriages, we have seen a continuation of this breakdown. Divorce is prevalent; spouses no longer spend any time attempting to preserve a marriage before it is dissolved. The result is that our next generation of children will grow up missing out on the best home environment possible. I'm not arguing against the personal merits of non-traditional family situations, but rather I'm arguing in favor of the most ideal arrangement. Our laws ought to encourage the most ideal and morally rigorous approach. Toward this end, I would have encouraged ballot initiatives making divorce much more difficult.Secularists have argued that using biblical texts to defend marriage is an unacceptable course of action because of the American ideal of separation of church and state. The Constitution itself does not enshrine such an ideal, but the First Amendment is intended to limit the federal government from intervening in the religious and moral affairs of our individual states.The idea that religious covenants have no role in our society is untrue. The covenant established by God through Moses at Mount Sinai is specifically given not to individuals, but to an entire nation. This is the nation of Israel, a society that is to be governed not by the whims and injustices of men, but by the perfect laws and statutes of God. This is the same model used by the early settlers that would constitute the new citizenry of the American republic.Detractors tend to point out the laws of sexual morality that are given in the 18th chapter of the third book of Moses, called Leviticus, and argue that these are outdated and cannot be used as a model for a modern society. Perhaps these laws reflect a very harsh response to the sexual immorality of the nations that surrounded Israel at the time, but these were laws given to man after we had already made several mistakes.Had man kept to God'smore ideal state of purity, we would find that the actual ideal of marriage is not found in Leviticus, but in the 24th verse of the second chapter of the first book of Moses, called Genesis, where we are taught, "Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." This is the ideal of marriage and the family that we ought to be emulating.A long-term solution is not for Americans to do battle with each other through ballot initiatives, but to work on restoring the basic nature of our people. The fact that we are debating what should be obvious issues, the idea that marriage is between one man and one woman, shows that we are already travelled far from the ideals of God and our forefathers. What America needs much more than political activism is people that will repair the breeches of discord in our society. The world can use people that want to set things right again. This goal is not far from us if we have the desire and will to see it through.