THE NEWSPAPER PHOTO showed two men kissing as their friends joyously threw rice. Unbelievably, it was their wedding day—and their "marriage" was, thanks to a Canadian court, as legal as any heterosexual marriage.

If we don't act fast, we may soon see many more "weddings" like these—not only in Canada, but also in the United States.

Consider: On June 11, a Canadian appeals court ruled unconstitutional Canada's ban on homosexual marriage. Within hours, the first same-sex Canadian couple rushed into matrimony. Three weeks later, in Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court declared (6-3) that sodomy is protected behavior under the Constitution's so-called "right to privacy" provision.

Gays hailed the decision as the prelude to homosexual "marriage" in America—and they're right. It's the prelude, as well, to legally sanctioned polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality. As Justice Antonin Scalia angrily roared in dissent, the decision "effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation."

This is precisely the point Senator Rick Santorum and Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor (nominated for the Circuit Court) were vilified for making. Radical gays and the media falsely claimed he equated homosexual behavior with bestiality and incest. Nonsense. Santorum was simply stating the obvious: If the Court sanctioned sodomy on privacy grounds, it would then have no rationale for outlawing other private, consensual sexual acts.

How, for example, can we continue to uphold laws against polygamy? After all, the polygamist and his wives engage in private, consensual sex. So does a father who wants to sleep with his consenting teenage daughter—or son. Ditto the man who engages in bestiality, for, according to ethicist Peter Singer, animals can give nonverbal consent.

This is the dirty little secret behind Lawrence v. Texas—which is why the gay lobby so viciously attacks anyone who exposes it. Americans may tolerate sodomy—but most draw the line at incest, polygamy, and bestiality.

These rulings will do more than pave the way to a sexual free-for-all. They'll also codify cultural confusion about the very nature of marriage. If consensual sex of any kind is now a constitutionally protected civil right, as Lawrence holds, the Equal Protection Clause should give gay couples the same right to formalize their relationships as heterosexual couples enjoy. But as both Catholic and Protestant philosophers have noted, "gay marriage" is the ultimate oxymoron.

In his book The Clash of Orthodoxies, Princeton legal philosopher Robert George writes that matrimonial law reflects both the biblical and natural law understandings that marriage is a two-in-one flesh communion of persons, consummated by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they result in children. They unite the spouses as a single procreative unit—an organic unity achieved even by infertile couples.

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By contrast, George writes, homosexual acts have no relationship to procreation and can't unite persons organically. Thus, these acts cannot be marital—which means homosexual relationships cannot be marriages.

And as philosopher J. Budziszewski writes in his book What We Can't Not Know (Spence, 2003), "To call procreation the purpose of marriage is not arbitrary; alone among all forms of human union, the union of the sexes produces children … A legislature [or a court] can no more turn sodomitical unions into marriages than it can turn dogs into cats; it can only unravel the institution of marriage by sowing confusion."

Tragically, our culture is already confused. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 40 percent of Americans, and 61 percent of younger Americans, think same-sex marriages should be legal.

Clearly, our culture has severed the tie between marriage and its purposes: procreation and spousal unity. Even many Christians accept the notion that sex is intended primarily for pleasure. And if sex is merely recreational, what's the rationale for denying marriage to gay couples? If heterosexuals can legalize their "recreation," why shouldn't gays?

Christians have to regain the high moral ground, making—to our secular neighbors—the natural order arguments that define the purposes of sex as unitive and procreative, and marriage as the stable, one-man, one-woman institution in which to rear children. This means we will have to be just as critical of heterosexuals engaging in extramarital, recreational sex as we are of homosexual behavior.

The stakes could not be higher. If we fail, we will embark on a social experiment no culture in history has dared attempt—and which no culture can survive.

Related Elsewhere

Christianity Today's earlier coverage of Lawrence v. Texas includes:

The Next Sexual Revolution | By practicing what it preaches on marriage, the church could transform society. A Christianity Today editorial (Aug. 27, 2003)
The Marriage Battle Begins | Profamily and gay activists agree: Texas decision sets significant precedent (Aug. 11, 2003)
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Opinion Roundup: Does Lawrence v. Texas Signal the End of the American Family? | Evangelicals may not agree on antisodomy laws, but they're all concerned about what the Supreme Court's decision of them means (June 30, 2003)

The Lawrence v. Texas opinion is available at the Supreme Court web site.

Dick Staub earlier interviewed J. Budziszewski on our site.

The Clash of Orthodoxies is available from and other booksellers

Recent Charles Colson columns for Christianity Today include:

Being Here | Why we should sink our roots in the places we call home (July 28, 2003)
Beyond Condoms | To alleviate AIDS, we must sharpen our moral vision. (June 10, 2003)
Taming Beasts | Raising the moral status of dogs has created a breed of snarling, dangerous humans. (April 3, 2003)
Faith vs. Statistics | Beware of doing ethics by crunching numbers. (Jan. 28, 2003)
Just War in Iraq | Sometimes going to war is the charitable thing to do. (Dec. 10, 2002)
A Clan of One's Own | Hacking through the jungle of identity politics. (Oct. 9, 2002)
Undaunted | Bioethics challenges are huge. But so is God. (July 31, 2002)
The Wages of Secularism | New laws won't prevent another Enron. (June 4, 2002)
More Doctrine, Not Less | We need to proclaim truth to a truth-impaired generation. (April 15, 2001)
Post-Truth Society | The recent trend of lying is no accident. (March 4, 2002)
Drawing the Battle Lines | We need to be informed and discerning about the Islamic worldview. (Jan. 9, 2002)
Wake-up Call | If September 11 was a divine warning, it's God's people who are being warned. (Nov. 5, 2001)
The New Tyranny | Biotechnology threatens to turn humanity into raw material. (Oct. 5, 2001)
Merchants of Cool | We should be angry that the media hawks violence and that parents allow it. (June 6, 2001)
Slouching into Sloth | The XFL is but the latest sign of the coarsening of our culture. (Apr. 17, 2001)
Checks and (out of) Balance | Moral truth is in jeopardy when the courts enter the business of making law. (Feb. 27, 2001)
Pander Politics | Poll-driven elections turn voters into self-seeking consumers.(Jan. 3, 2001)
Neighborhood Outpost | Changing a culture takes more than politics. (Nov.8, 2000)
MAD No More | In this post-Cold War era, it's time to rethink our nation's defensive strategy. (Sept. 27, 2000)

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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