How America changed its mind on gay marriage

How America changed its mind on gay marriage June 3, 2024

In 1989, neuropsychologist Marshall Kirk and advertising executive Hunter Madsen joined their psychological and marketing expertise to chart a game plan to make same-sex marriage the law (and sentiment) of the land:

  • Focus on the normalization of homosexuality.
  • Identify churches that can be manipulated to promote homosexuality and the idea that gays are victims.
  • Convince Americans that the issue is anti-discrimination, not gay rights.
  • Reclaim or invent a noble history of gay people.
  • Caricature opponents of gay marriage as hateful.

Their book became a seminal reading for gay activists. And their game plan worked. According to Gallup, 68 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage in 1996; today, 71 percent support it.

Now activists have an entire “Pride Month” in which to pursue their four-fold strategy: normalize LGBTQ behavior, legalize it, stigmatize those who oppose their agenda, and criminalize such opposition.

Meanwhile, evangelicals like me will be writing articles like this one seeking to counter their strategy. Why?

After all, we live in a free country where legislated morality is typically defined as keeping us from harming each other. If people want to live in same-sex relations, “transition” their gender, or otherwise identify with LGBTQ ideology, what harm are they causing others? What business is it of mine?

Is my opposition, at its root, not homophobic discrimination?

Three defensible reasons to oppose Pride Month

There are three reasons evangelicals oppose Pride Month agendas that are defensible, and one reason that is not.

One: We genuinely believe LGBTQ lifestyles harm those who practice them.

The Cass Report is just one example of recent research demonstrating that “gender-affirming therapies” are often damaging to those who experience them. We are likewise alarmed about legislation limiting (and even criminalizing) parental engagement with regard to “transitioning” children. And we are concerned about the unfairness of biological men competing in women’s sports. These are just a few of the many reasons we believe we are “speaking the truth in love” on this issue (Ephesians 4:15).

Two: We believe that rejecting biblical morality threatens our future as a nation.

We must keep God’s covenant to experience its blessings (cf. Psalm 132:12). This is not legalism: obedience positions us to receive God’s best for us. By contrast, a holy Father cannot reward sin without committing sin and encouraging that which harms us (cf. Isaiah 27:11; Joel 3). “The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17), but “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Psalm 33:12).

Three: We are alarmed by the rising assault on religious freedom.

Recent legislation requiring schools to open girls’ bathrooms to biological boys is just one example of ways LGBTQ advocates seek to force compliance regardless of religious disagreement or freedom. As Judge Ken Starr warned, religious liberty and the separation of church and state are increasingly in crisis today.

Americans are starting to enjoy hating each other

Here is the indefensible reason for opposing Pride Month ideology: viewing its advocates as our enemies. When we caricature or slander Pride Month advocates, we forfeit our ability to be used by the God who “is” love (1 John 4:8) and adopt the manipulative methods of our broken culture.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan warns that Americans across our partisan divides are beginning to enjoy hating each other. There’s a reason for this. As a political science expert once explained to me, you can get people to vote for you if you do three things:

  1. Convince them they have an enemy.
  2. Convince them they cannot defeat their enemy.
  3. Convince them you will defeat their enemy if they vote for you.

Weaponizing opposition also works for fund-raising, marketing, and other forms of public persuasion. And it is a strategy Christians must refuse at every turn.

We are called to share God’s word with compassion rather than condemnation. For example, Paul had to expose and respond to sexual immorality in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 5), but he then explained his motive: “I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4).

“Abundant love” should motivate everything we say and do as well.

“The greatness of Christian exiles”

As Pride Month begins, it is easy to become discouraged about the direction of our broken culture. But the God who redeems all he allows wants to use the challenges of this present world to remind us that this world is not our home. We are “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13) whose “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Thus we should say, “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

When I lived in East Malaysia as a college summer missionary, I sought its welfare and wanted the best for its people (cf. Jeremiah 29:7), but I did not feel its problems viscerally as my own. That’s because I knew this “foreign” country was not my true home. At the time, I thought my true home was America.

Now I know better.

John Piper is right:

The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness the way of truth, beauty, and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.

Whom will you serve with “brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy” today?

NOTE: As Denison Forum celebrates 15 impactful years, we have a special opportunity for you to double your impact. A generous donor has offered a Matching Grant, and any gift you give now through July 12 will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $70,000. Please give now to help reach our $550,000 Summer Campaign goal — and help transform more lives with Christ-centered content.

Monday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“The deepest reason why the Church is weak and the world is dying is that there are not enough saints. No, that’s not quite honest. The reason is that WE are not saints.” —Peter Kreeft

Recommended Resource:

In an era where societal norms increasingly diverge from biblical teachings, especially regarding sexuality and marriage, Sacred Sexuality: Reclaiming God’s Design emerges as a crucial guide for believers seeking to navigate these complex waters. This book is a must-read to understand and impart God’s design for sexuality in a world that desperately needs it.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!