Taking a Walk for Marriage

Today I had the opportunity join thousands of others in the March for Marriage. On the first day of Supreme Court arguments on marriage a diverse crowd gathered on the National Mall to show support for marriage between one man and one woman, united as husband and wife to be mother and father to their children.

The March for Marriage makes its way down Constitution Avenue.

After making our way down the Mall to the front steps of the Court (weaving peacefully through a smaller group of same-sex marriage supporters gathered there) and back to the rally location, a number of speakers addressed the animated crowd. There was Rev. Ruben Diaz (D) state senator from New York and president of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Rev. Bill Owens of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation, Cathy Ruse of Family Research Council, Gary Bauer, Doug Mainwaring and many more.

Oh, and me!

And just in case you weren’t able to be there with us on the Mall I’ve posted the full-text of my comments below.

(I also ad-libbed an opening that my friend Owen captured on his iPhone. Check it out: March for Marriage – Teetsel opening)

Remarks at March for Marriage

In 2009, over 100 religious leaders from the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox traditions – including many of the speakers here today – joined together to author a landmark statement of Christian conscience on life, marriage and religious liberty that came to be known as the Manhattan Declaration.

The Manhattan Declaration describes marriage as the “first institution of human society – the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation.”

You see, marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education and welfare of all persons in society. We understand that where marriage is honored, and where there is a flourishing marriage culture, everyone benefits – the spouses, their children, and the communities and societies in which they live.

On the other hand, where marriage begins to erode, social pathologies of every sort quickly manifest themselves. Experience confirms this, social science confirms this. Even President Obama recognizes this fact. It is the reason his administration runs a Fatherhood Initiative that describes fatherlessness as (quote)

a growing crisis in America, one that undergirds many of the challenges that families are facing. When dads aren’t around, young people are more likely to drop out of school, use drugs, be involved in the criminal justice system, and become young parents themselves.

These are the reasons we are gathered here today.

Marriage is not about personal intimacy; it is a public good.

It is not about what adults want; it is about what children need.

Advocates of same-sex marriage often point out that we have failed to uphold our own definition of marriage. They are right. Too often we have failed to model for the world its true meaning.

Let today be the day we commit ourselves to renewing a culture of marriage.

The Manhattan Declaration points the way forward:

To strengthen families, we must reform ill-advised policies that contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including “no-fault divorce.”

To strengthen families, we must work in the legal, cultural, and religious domains to instill in my generation a sound understanding of what marriage is, what it requires, and why it is worth the commitment and sacrifice. That’s why this week I helped to launch a new group: Marriage Generation, whose purpose to be a voice for marriage for the next generation.

To strengthen families, we must stop glamorizing promiscuity and infidelity and restore among our people a sense of the profound beauty, mystery, and holiness of faithful marital love.

If you haven’t already, today is the day to join the 535,191 Christians who have committed themselves to the Manhattan Declaration movement; today is the day to say that when it comes to life, marriage, and religious liberty we must stand up to the cultural winds and never render to Caesar those things that rightly belong to God.

Thank you.