Rueger, Matthew. Sexual Morality in a Christless World. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2016.
Chapter 6, “Reason in Defense of Opposite-Sex Marriage” pp. 157-173.
Rueger notes that he sees little reason for hope that our society will pursue the sexual values he considers traditional. As a case in point, the redefinition of marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 has changed the playing field. However, Christians have historically advocated marriage of one man and one woman, a case which Rueger argues can be made “from natural law and reason” (Rueger 2016, 157). This argument is helpful since many reject a religious argument out of hand (Rueger 2016, 158). He observes that the Iowa Supreme Court went so far as to say the only objection anyone could have to same-sex marriage was religious in nature. However, while traditional Christian teaching affirms marriage of one man and one woman, the view is also maintained, as are many other forms of civil order, by natural reason (Rueger 2016, 159). After all, “Sound marriages are good for society. Unhealthy marriages harm society. It is right and valid even in a world that rejects the Christian God, even for those who worship no God, to question whether a certain human activity is good or bad for individuals and for society as a whole” (Rueger 2016, 160). The natural law assumption held by the courts has been that marriage without the restriction of being contracted between one man and one woman is a societal good. Rueger evaluates several factors involved in considering whether same-sex marriage is a societal good.
The state has long recognized the family and stable marriages as a societal good. For this reason, there are numerous financial benefits available to married couples (Rueger 2016, 161). Unstable families tend to result in court cases, declines in worker productivity, and increased medical costs. As marriage declines, costs to the state increase. “A natural law concern for the greater social good must ask if same-sex marriages are as stable and beneficial to families, and therefore to society as traditional marriage” (Rueger 2016, 162). Research has shown that the most stable family is a biological one with low conflict levels and both biological parents present (Rueger 2016, 163). The differences between a father and a mother lead to a more robust ability to raise children. The actual ability for male/female cooperation may be a fundamental social skill. This idea has not been overcome by the various studies, procedurally flawed, which assert children do as well in families with same-sex parents as in biological families (Rueger 2016, 164-168). Rueger reviews several studies in detail, demonstrating that children in biological, traditionally intact families routinely do best in school and with social stability. For this reason, a natural law argument for the superiority of marriage between one man and one woman is very strong.
From a moral law basis, marriage between a man and a woman can also be shown as superior. Because the children (and adults) of other arrangements seem to be hurt by those arrangements, it is not morally appropriate to advocate such harmful relationships (Rueger 2016, 168). Long term monogamy and commitment is good for societal health. Rueger observes that this norm of lifelong monogamous commitment is far less common in same-sex relationships than in male/female marriage, and even substantially less common than in cohabitative male/female relationships (Rueger 2016, 169). Rueger also notes that within the homosexual community, monogamy is typically defined in terms of emotional connections, not in exclusivity of one sexual partner. Such redefinitions eventually leave us without a clear understanding of what monogamy in marriage means (Rueger 2016, 170). In the end, same-sex relationships and “marriages” have a much greater tendency to become unstable. This creates instability in society, which is not a social good. Rueger emphasizes that redefinitions of marriage are demonstrably bad for society (Rueger 2016, 171-172).
Rueger closes with an afterword (pp. 175-178) urging Christians to show redemptive love for all who have been hurt by our society.