Wednesday, Oct 3, 2018
Tags: Audio, Civil Partnership, Marriage
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Wednesday October 3, 2018. I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Is there any limit to the redefinition of marriage? Non-married couples will now receive access to civil partnerships in England and Wales
Given the force of the moral revolution taking place around us, the comprehensiveness of the re-definition of morality in our times there are certain front line institutions that are suffering from the greatest attack, and the most important of these, to no surprise, is marriage.
We have seen marriage redefined, first by the contraceptive revolution, then by the revolution in divorce, particularly in the United States as defined by so called 'no fault divorce'. Then of course we saw the revolution in sexual morality, the loosening of the bonds of marriage, we saw the dissolving of the expectation of marriage, even the re-definition of marriage. They all came in a sequence.
First of all, sex outside of marriage was made normalized and legitimate as the first wave of the sexual revolution. Then the roles of husband and wife became absolutely debatable, also matters of the moral revolution, then the relationships, not only between a husband and a wife, but also between parents and children, those became increasingly redefined, especially with the intervention of elites and the state. And then of course, came the normalization of the entire category of behaviors, sexual orientations, and relationships that go under the category, at least for now, LGBTQ, and remember that sign at the end, plus. And the redefinition of marriage eventuated in the legalization of so called same sex marriage, now so much a part of our moral vocabulary that we hardly even notice it.
The word marriage, like a piece of metal on an anvil has simply been hammered into an entirely new shape and we are told this is the new reality, except of course, as predicted, it isn't. What we have seen in this moral revolution is not just the redefinition of marriage, as if you could speak of 'just' the redefinition of marriage. Not just the redefinition of marriage when it comes to the gender or the sexual identity of those who are involved in marriage. As we have seen, this will set loose the further redefinition of marriage especially with polygamy and polyamory clamoring for new attention, that's just very predictable. The defenses are basically already gone, but a development that has just happened in the United Kingdom, in Great Britain, brings our attention to another inevitable part of what will take place in the marginalization and redefinition of marriage. That is this, non-marriage as a substitute for marriage. Marriage even redefined is no longer going to be acceptable in our society, at least for everyone, and for those for whom marriage is not currently acceptable, well society is being told you're going to have to declare our unions acceptable, normal, and legal with or without marriage.
Now just notice what's happening here, you had same sex couples who were suing to be included in marriage, and now you have heterosexual couples demanding to have their relationships recognized even without marriage. The announcement came just this week in the United Kingdom that in England and in Wales, heterosexual couples very shortly, that is a man and a woman, will have legal access to so called civil partnerships. Those civil partnerships, or as they are known elsewhere domestic partnerships, were created for and demanded by same sex couples as legal arrangements before they had access to legalized same sex marriage. The civil partnerships are not exactly marriage but they are extremely close, they can only be dissolved by something like a divorce. They are formal arrangements that include many of the rights and privileges, and responsibilities of marriage. But what they lack is the normative moral status of marriage. They lack the history of marriage, and it turns out that's exactly the point.
This is what many of us predicted years ago when the civil partnerships became legal and then same sex couples were given access to legal marriage. The reality is that heterosexual couples demanded, and now in the United Kingdom, they will receive in England and in Wales, access to something like marriage lite, an arrangement that comes with much of the content of marriage, but without all of the content of marriage, thus the undermining of marriage becomes almost complete. Now you can have almost marriage even as a heterosexual couple.
Owen Bowcott and Severin Carrell reporting for The Guardian, that's a liberal newspaper in London, they report, "Every couple in England and Wales will in future be able to choose between a civil partnership and marriage when they formalize their relationship, the Prime Minister has announced." Ending months of uncertainty following defeat in the supreme Court. The British government has agreed to extend civil partnerships, available to same sex couples since 2005, to everyone. The story then gets even more interesting. The reporters tell us that in a statement at the conservative party conference in Birmingham, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said she would end the ban on heterosexual couples entering civil partnerships. Later in the article we are told, and I quote, "The government had been due to respond to a ruling in June that it is discriminatory to restrict Civil Partnerships to gay couples.”
It's really important to look at the words used by the British Prime Minister when she made this announcement: "This change in the law helps protect the opposite sex couples who want to commit, want to formalize their relationship, but don't necessarily want to get married." As Holmes secretary she said, "I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage. Now by extending civil partnerships we are making sure that all couples, be they same sex, or opposite sex are getting the same choices in life."
Now, what you hear in the background is an entire civilization crumbling. And remember, we are talking about the British Prime Minister, she is the head of the Torie, or conservative party, that tells you just how un-conservative the conservatives in the United Kingdom have now become. It also issues a warning to all of us, the more conservative party in a two party system, Britain's a multi-party democracy with a parliamentary system of government, but in the main, for the last several decades there have been only two major parties that have been able to form a government, that would be the labor party, a party of the left, officially committed to socialism, and the conservative party, the more conservative party to be sure, the enduring party that represents the so called Torie tradition in Great Britain. But it's the conservative Prime Minister who made this announcement, because conservatism in the United Kingdom as a political party decided some years ago that it would make a pact with the sexual revolution, it would join the moral revolutionaries in order to maintain it's political power. This became very clear in the immediate past conservative government under then Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron pioneered for the conservative party in Great Britain this mode of operating with social liberalism and some degree of economic and political conservatism. The Torie party, the conservative party, then became an advocate for legalizing same sex marriage, and furthermore an enthusiastic advocate. Back when Prime Minister David Cameron was in office, Theresa May, now the Prime Minister, David Cameron's successor, was serving as Home Secretary, that is a massively important cabinet position in the British government, basically responsible for all matters of domestic law and affairs. And as Home Secretary Theresa May as she bragged in this statement this week was the advocate for the legalization of same sex marriage.
But notice something else here, as we point out repeatedly, this kind of moral revolution requires a change in language. It also requires fairly Orwellian twists and turns in language. For example, the British Prime Minister speaking in her announcement this week said, again, "The change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite sex couples." Opposite sex couples, this would be a couple otherwise historically known as a man and a woman, but now given the sexual revolution a man and a woman now simply appear as an opposite sex couple, as contrasted with a same sex couple. Both of which are understood to have equal rights before the law, that's the moral revolution.
But then she went on to describe the interests of opposite sex couples who want to commit, these are her words, "Who want to formalize their relationship but don't necessarily want to get married." Now here again you see a civilization crumbling because marriage has been in virtually every society throughout human history, the very formalization and institution that formalizes the relationship of opposite sex couples, after all they were the only couples who could get married, who wanted to commit.
Marriage by common grace throughout human civilizations has been the glue that has brought together in a public covenant relationship a man and a woman set apart for sexual and romantic exclusivity authorized to form a union and to begin procreating, reproducing, having children. But now that civilization is crumbling. The old truths, we are told, are simply to be done away with. The new truth is we have to speak of opposite sex couples and same sex couples. The new truth is that now opposite sex couples will have an equal right, not only to marriage, as the same sex couples demanded, but now to something less than marriage, as now heterosexual couples are predictably demanding.
Equality campaigners as LGBTQ advocates are known in Great Britain expressed their satisfaction in the Prime Minister's announcement, but they are not satisfied with any delay. As the chairman of Britain’s Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, identified as Martin Loat said, "It's great news, but let's get on with it. What's missing in the announcement is a timeline." You will notice the inpatients of the moral revolutionaries. They have won here, and they have again won big, but they don't merely want to win big, they want to win now, and they want to win everywhere. But it's the next sentence in this article that is absolutely the most striking. I read, "Supporters maintain that civil partnerships which do not carry the patriarchal associations of traditional marriage will prove more attractive to cohabiting couples."
Now wait just a minute, what's going on here? Well even earlier in the article we read, "The marriage foundation supports extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples." Saying they are, "Infinitely preferable to unthinking and risky cohabitation." That's the marriage foundation arguing for the subversion of marriage. Well as if we are stuck in some new narrative of Alice in Wonderland, that's exactly what's going on here. So how do the defenders of marriage now excuse or rationalize undermining marriage with civil partnerships? It is because they say that it will lead to greater stability and might entice cohabiting couples to create some kind of formal relationship through a civil partnership. That's a very risky endeavor just pragmatically, but in principle it's a failure from the start. You cannot strengthen marriage, nor offer any kind of assurance of increased cultural stability, nor stability in the lives of children and teenagers who are made vulnerable by the lack of marriage.
You can't create a true stabilization by destabilizing the only institution that truly brings about stability, and that would be marriage. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
Other British reports made very clear what's identified here in The Guardian as the patriarchal historic associations of marriage. It comes right down to even the language of marriage. And here again we note the ironic hypocrisy, not only of modern civilization in the west Writ Hole, but just looking for instance, a Great Britain. Britain just went through an absolute hurricane, an absolute frenzy of enthusiasm about a royal wedding and a royal marriage where the groom is identified as a husband and the bride identified as a wife. And even though this more recent royal wedding used a revised liturgy of the Church of England, the reality is that the language of marriage shown through as husband and wife, man and woman, united in holy matrimony.
That's exactly what is now so offensive to so many people in Britain that Britain's head of government, the Prime Minister, has just announced that marriage is simply too patriarchal, too traditional, too oppressive for many people so in the name of cultural stability and equality she argued, "Lets just see if we might entice some into an arrangement like civil partnerships." Ironically enough created for same sex couples, but now demanded by those identified by the Prime Minister as opposite sex couples.
The moral revolutionaries don’t just want to win, they want to win big, win now, and win everywhere
I also want to direct attention to another paragraph in the article in The Guardian, we are told that Christina Blacklaws, the president of the Law Society of England and Wales said, and I quote, "The law needs to catch up with and reflect the multiple ways in which people choose to live their lives today. We are absolutely,” she said, “in favor of are review of all areas of the law affecting civil and religious contracts, marriages, and partnerships." Well there you hear not only the collapse of the civilization behind us, you hear the roar of revolutions yet to come.
When we are told that it is now demanded that “the law catch up and reflect", again her language, "the multiple ways in which people choose to live their lives today.” Well there's the announcement that this revolution simply has not ended, it cannot end. It certainly will not end. In the same article we should note we're reminded that the British government announced just last month that it is also working on legal revisions to getting out of marriage, or now also getting out of these civil partnerships. So you have Britain arguing that it is now moving in the direction of so-called “no fault divorce.”
The innovation of, no fault divorce as it is called, has been an absolute disaster in the United States. It subverted and redefined marriage long before same sex marriage was even in our moral vocabulary. But now Britain has decided that now is the time to look at no-fault divorce, a very sad export from the United States to the United Kingdom.
What a declining divorce rate reveals about the ‘The Millennial Success Sequence’ and America’s growing inequality
But then next, we move from the U.K. back to the U.S. for an article about recent research on millennials and divorce. The research led to many headlines in the United States including this one published at Bloomberg Business Week, "Millennials are causing the US divorce rate to plummet." The subhead, "They're waiting until all is secure before tying the knot." Ben Steverman is the reporter for Bloomberg, he tells us, "Americans under the age of 45 have found a novel way to rebel against their elders, they're staying married." Now, if you just look at that opening paragraph that would appear to be good news. And of course any fall in the divorce rate is good news.
Looking further at the argument we are told that University of Maryland sociology professor Phillip Cohen looked at divorce rates in the US between 2008 and 2016 and noticed that the divorce rate had fallen 18%. Now that's certainly significant, an almost 20% fall in divorce. But looking at the data more clearly, the actual study, it's also apparent that the number of marriages has fallen in the United States, thus the number of divorces would also fall because it's logically and legally impossible to be divorced if one hasn't been married. But when you look at the net fall, it's actually about 8%, that's a lot less than 18% but it's not insignificant, it is morally significant that the actual divorce rate when you also factor in the decreasing number of marriages has fallen about 8%, particularly amongst those who are identified as Millennials, so that's good news. But what kind of good news is it?
It turns out that this kind of news is very much tied to previous research, well documented now in the public square and often sited on the briefing. Research by figures such as academics Andrew Churland, and Isabel Sawhill, they have pointed out that marriage rates have been falling, that the age of first marriage has been rising, and that increasingly marriage, actual formal recognized marriage, is becoming something more and more restricted to the most educated and the most wealthy, the most advantaged.
To put the matter as clearly as we can, marriage is as strong as ever, and perhaps even more strong than it has been in recent decades among the socially advantaged in the United States. But among the disadvantaged it is exactly the opposite. Now let's admit we're looking at something of a chicken and egg question, which comes first, which then follows? The reality is, it's a viscous circle. The disadvantaged are less likely to get married, they will then not have the privileges of marriage, the stability of marriage, their children outside of marriage will be very much documented to be more vulnerable. They are going to be in a situation of economic, sociological, and by almost every other dimension disadvantaged.
Meanwhile, the advantaged while claiming to be socially liberal, overwhelmingly, live rather conventional lives. They get married, they stay married, they do not have children outside of marriage. This points to what conservative sociologists often rightly define as the success sequence. Graduate from high school, if possible graduate from college, get your education and get employed, and then get married, and only then have children. As has been documented for the last several decades following that sequence is a formula for not falling in to an economically vulnerable position. Graduate from high school, get as much education as possible, get a job, keep a job, get married and don't have children until you are married. But here's where we also have to recognize that many on the cultural and political left in the United States now dismiss that argument, it's an unassailable argument by the way proved by all kinds of demography and research, not to mention experience. The cultural left now dismisses this success sequence and marriage as being a hopelessly bourgeoisie argument applying Marxist critique.
On many college and university campuses these days, if you make the success sequence argument, notice the absence of any explicit theological reference there, you're simply dismissed as hopelessly oppressive, patriarchal, and out of date. But that takes us right back to the story from Great Britain, the demand by heterosexual couples to have access to civil partnerships without all the patriarchal baggage of marriage, including those nuisance words, 'husband' and 'wife'.
Andrew Churland whom I mentioned earlier resounds to this research by bringing up, once again, the issue of cohabitation, pointing out the vulnerability of cohabitation, the fact that the argument that those couples who cohabit before marriage eventually get married, has been betrayed by the fact that only a very small number of cohabiting couples ever do get married. Cohabitation relationships are fracturous and they are abnormally vulnerable. But as Churland points out, if you take young heterosexual couples in the United States and if you add together those who ware married and those who are cohabiting, the reality is that the break up rates is almost assuredly not less than it was before, thus that differential disappears.
There really isn't a decline, he points out, there is merely a decline amongst the sociologically privileged. Marriage, as many are now pointing out, has become at the same time more rare and more vulnerable. And even as the language of unmarried heterosexual couples living together has shifted from cohabiting to cohabiting, the reality is that the relationship is even more vulnerable than it was in the past. There is ample research to indicate that cohabiting couples break up far more regularly than any other form of relationship and often leave individuals not only morally scared but children outside the benefits of married parents.
One more interesting fact that is available in all this research put together is a factoid from the United Kingdom indicating that if you look at a 15 year old teenager living with the teenagers biological mother and father, it is almost statistically insignificant, unlikely, that the teenager's parents would be unmarried. Flip the reality around and what that tells us is that if you look at a child, or an adolescent, at age 15 and that adolescent is living with a mother and a father together, they're almost assuredly married, no other relationship endures so long. Cohabiting couples who are together for so long as to have a child between them, age 15, they're statistically insignificant, the reality is so rare.
Unification Church adapts to the age as members increasingly select their own spouse or are matched by parents
But also, this week as we're looking at marriage, we turn to another article, this one appeared recently in the New York Times with the headline, "Unification Parents are Primary Matchmakers for their Children." Alexander E. Petri is the reporter on the story, and what's really interesting is that the word 'unification' comes up again. Now, you probably have to be an American or a European of a certain age to hear the word unification and think immediately of the cult known as the Moonies. Officially established as The Holy Spirit Association for Unification of World Christianity, in Seoul, South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon. Moon claimed himself to be a messianic figure, a second coming Christ. His book, The Divine Principle set out the theological world view, the unification church, and he and his wife Hak Ja Han served as the heavenly parents for a cult that eventually included millions, even right now it is estimated that the unification church includes worldwide about three million adherence. Back in the 1970s the unification church became very powerful in the United States, especially on the two coasts and especially on many college and university campuses.
This led to a rash of young people becoming influenced by and attracted to the unification movement. It also led to anti-cult ministries that were offering ministries such as deprogramming in order to get young people out of these cults. But the unification church also became very politically powerful in the United States, even reaching influence in American presidential administrations. In 1982 Moon was convicted on federal charges of filing false tax returns and conspiracy, he served several months in prison. He died in September of 2012 at age 92. But many Americans knew of the unification church primarily because of its mass weddings, including one wedding, a mass wedding, in Madison Square Gardens in which 3000 young couples were wed in this mass ceremony. It happened again in 1980.
What was most remarkable to many Americans is that the husband and the wife in these, so called, Heavenly Marriages, generally did not know one another until they were united in marriage. The marriages were, at least according to official church teaching, arranged by the heavenly parents. But of course, as it turns out, The New York Times article in recent days points out that that responsibility now largely falls to the parents of young people in the unification church, still rather Korean in culture. That points to the fact that arranged marriages like this, or marriages and romances under parental supervision are still very much a part of Asian cultures.
The Times takes us to South Korea where on August 27th this year thousands of couples were married in another recent mass ceremony. These ceremonies are no presided over and blessed by Hak Ja Han, that is Sun Young Moon's widow. The word cult is rarely used, even in Christian or theological circles these days, instead you have a sociological label that's often appended American or international religious minorities. It's probably pretty striking to most Americans to know that the unification movement still claims about three million people worldwide. It's also interesting to see that the unification movement has basically dropped just about every claim to any connection whatsoever to biblical Christianity. The movement was heretical and non-Christian from the start. It's interesting that now, just about everyone in the world seems to understand that.
Finally, another news item about marriage, this one's very short, and I'll let you draw your own worldview conclusions. The Week reports, and I quote, "Novelist Nancy Crampton-Brophy, age 68, wrote two novels about escaping awful husbands, and an essay entitled How to Murder Your Husband. She was just recently charged in Portland, Oregon with the crime of murdering her husband." I guess the big question would be, how could anyone be surprised?
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.