5-4 marriage decision: Christians 'will stand fast'
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Among reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right in all 50 states are numerous statements by Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelicals.
From other evangelicals are statements by Jerry A. Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters; Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary; Jim Campbell, Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel; Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage; Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Institute president; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com.
"I deeply believe in biblical and traditional marriage. The court has determined otherwise. Our #1 concern at this point is that religious freedom is protected in every way, honoring our God-given conscience, and that we not be discriminated against for our biblical and traditional stand. This decision shows one thing: Our desperate need for the next Great Awakening and the hope of the Gospel given to all persons. We must rise up like never before with great urgency, to forward the message of Jesus Christ to every person in America and across the world."
"I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling handed down by the Court today, believing, along with millions of others, that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman and that it is improper for the Court to redefine an institution it did not invent in the first place.
"I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion. In the wake of this decision, we must ensure that the American principles of pluralism and religious liberty are maintained, as the religious convictions of millions of Americans necessarily cause us to hold a different, more ancient, view of marriage than the one the Court has imposed. Additionally, today's decision reminds us of the importance of electing a president who knows how to appoint jurists rather than would-be legislators to the bench.
"Despite this ruling, the church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. We will not capitulate on this issue because we cannot. To minimize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this. At the same time, now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won't change at all. The church must now articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage and work to rebuild a culture of marriage."
Frank S. Page:
"Our hearts are saddened to hear of the Supreme Court's decision to ignore the desire of the American people, to ignore legislative processes and most of all to ignore God's clear and unambiguous Word.
"Much like the Old Testament times where 'the people did what was right in their own eyes,' we have entered into a time of deep spiritual darkness. If there was ever a time when we need believers to be salt and light, it is now. God help us all, but especially our children and grandchildren."
"We find ourselves much like Peter and the apostles in Acts 5 as they told the leaders of their day, 'We must obey God rather than men. …' GuideStone Financial Resources continues to recognize that marriage is a God-ordained institution of one man and one woman united for life. Any other definition is unacceptable."
"The cultural and legal landscape, which has been shifting for some time, has made a radical change with this ruling, perhaps as large or larger a shift than Roe v. Wade. GuideStone remains committed to advocating for the churches, ministries and pastors we serve during these days and will share information to help churches remain compliant in their health care and retirement plans."
Roger S. Oldham:
"When courts legalize actions that contradict the commandments of God, the commitments and life choices of genuine Christ-followers will not change. It should not be surprising when they respectfully express their disagreement with the Court's decisions, declaring their continued allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives as did the Apostle Peter when he said, 'We must obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29).
"Our two dominant concerns about this Court's decision are that personal religious liberty will be further eroded and that modern society will be increasingly confused about and led away from the enduring value of the natural family in God's design and plan for humanity's well-being. We hope and pray that, despite the Court's flawed ruling today, it will continue to act in ways that will sustain the God-given and constitutionally-protected rights for citizens who disagree with the Court's definition of marriage, especially when they exercise their religious values in the marketplace as well as in the church house.
"We believe that the natural family -- a husband and wife, with children as granted by the Lord, whether through birth or adoption -- reflects God's design for humanity to flourish and prosper. We're aware, of course, that families often fail to achieve this ideal. We thank God that He is never limited in His ability to create something beautiful out of human failings. However, we believe it is our spiritual responsibility to continue to uphold and abide by His ideal standards for marriage and family life.
"The power of being fully and freely forgiven of our sins through Jesus Christ can neither be supplied nor suppressed by governmental action, judicial decree, or cultural pressure. The Christian faith will continue to shine brightly despite this dramatic shift in society. We remain committed to Jesus Christ and His Word as revealed in Holy Scripture. We will continue to point people to Jesus Christ, the focus of our Christian faith. Only through His atoning death and resurrection can we receive the gift of salvation from our sins in this life and the promise of eternal life in the life to come."
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall have them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath and distress them in His deep displeasure” (Psalm 2:4-5).
A five-to-four decision of the nation’s highest court to redefine the nature of marriage plays with far more than a definition of terms. Homosexual sin, like my sin and your sin, has a long history. But seldom has anyone had the chutzpah to assume such authority as to deny the authority of the God of all law, trash the Genesis creation order, and plunge a country into a dark abyss. New Testament Christianity has never sought to invade the private domains of individuals with a series of legal mandates. Ours is to love all women and men and faithfully disseminate the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who will hear. We grieve when some do not hear, but we grant them the right inherent in their humanity to chart a course far from that revealed by the Lord.
But today’s anticipated decision is a decision of five people in a country of millions to call something right that God has already called wrong. Isaiah noted, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness…” (Isaiah 5:20). A dark day overtakes us when the supreme court of the land empties the meaning from a concept that God has given. The mischief that will emerge from this ruling across the years to come will know little respite and trigger enormous suffering for believers and unbelievers alike.
What then are Christians to do in light of this ruling? First, knowing the inevitability of the judgment of God on those who flaunt His laws, we must love and earnestly pray for all who stand ripe for the judgment of God. This includes the justices who ruled so crassly. Many prayed for us in our rebellion against God. We must not do less for them. Second, anything that resembles gay-bashing must be foreign to our behavior and speech. Every sin has its deep consequences, some more than others. Breach of God’s ethic for marriage is especially odious to believers attempting to rear children in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord, but this does not alter the obligation we carry to meet human needs wherever we encounter them and share the saving Gospel of Jesus with all. Third, we must cultivate understanding for weaker brethren who will succumb to the enormous pressures that will inevitably come upon all who resist the Supreme Court mandate. This does not mean that we agree with them, but it does suggest that we comprehend human frailty and know that God is able to forgive that also.
Fourth, we must not bend on the issues. God says that adultery is wrong and that divorce is wrong. To abuse a child is clearly contrary to God’s will and purpose. Homosexual behavior is no different and is called sin in Scripture. Nor can evangelicals perform weddings for same-sex couples, and the church must be prepared to proceed with an ordered and loving church discipline for those who refuse to correct any lifestyle violating the clear teachings of God’s Word. All sinners will continue to be welcome in our services and will be the objects of our kindness and grace. But under no circumstances will we alter our preaching or practice to conform to the dictates of a human court.
The critical issue that many recognize is the future of religious liberty. This nation’s founding fathers fought to guarantee that liberty, and we are prepared to suffer in order to preserve that most precious of all freedoms. In fact, without religious liberty, people are not really free at all. The struggle to maintain that which our forefathers fought to provide now begins. Whatever the cost, stay true to God’s Word. With heaviness of heart we acknowledge that we are now facing such exigencies. With gratitude to God, we accept the opportunity, when necessary, to suffer for Him.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.:
"Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The Supreme Court's decision today is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a five-to-four decision the nation's highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all fifty states.
"As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, 'The majority's decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.'
"The majority's argument, expressed by Justice Kennedy, is that the right of same-sex couples to marry is based in individual autonomy as related to sexuality, in marriage as a fundamental right, in marriage as a privileged context for raising children, and in upholding marriage as central to civilization. But at every one of these points, the majority had to reinvent marriage in order to make its case. The Court has not merely ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry -- it has fundamentally redefined marriage itself.
"The inventive legal argument set forth by the majority is clearly traceable in Justice Kennedy's previous decisions including Lawrence (2003) and Windsor (2013), and he cites his own decisions as legal precedent. As the Chief Justice makes clear, Justice Kennedy and his fellow justices in the majority wanted to legalize same-sex marriage and they invented a constitutional theory to achieve their purpose. It was indeed an act of will disguised as a legal judgment.
"The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the land, and its decisions cannot be appealed to a higher court of law. But the Supreme Court, like every human institution and individual, will eventually face two higher courts. The first is the court of history, which will render a judgment that I believe will embarrass this court and reveal its dangerous trajectory. The precedents and arguments set forth in this decision cannot be limited to the right of same-sex couples to marry. If individual autonomy and equal protection mean that same-sex couples cannot be denied what is now defined as a fundamental right of marriage, then others will arrive to make the same argument. This Court will find itself in a trap of its own making, and one that will bring great harm to this nation and its families. The second court we all must face is the court of divine judgment. For centuries, marriage ceremonies in the English-speaking world have included the admonition that what God has put together, no human being -- or human court -- should tear asunder. That is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States has now done.
"The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia.
"In that sense, everything has now changed. The highest court of the land has redefined marriage. Those who cannot accept this redefinition of marriage as a matter of morality and ultimate truth must acknowledge that the laws of this nation concerning marriage will indeed be defined against our will. We must acknowledge the authority of the Supreme Court in matters of law. Christians must be committed to be good citizens and good neighbors, even as we cannot accept this redefinition of marriage in our churches and in our lives.
"We must contend for marriage as God's gift to humanity -- a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.
"We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. … We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.
"We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God's truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church's mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever."
Rick Lance and Travis Coleman Jr.:
"We are deeply saddened by the United States Supreme Court ruling which changes the legal definition of marriage and, as a result, is a radical departure from the biblical definition of marriage. We believe that this action has far-reaching moral and legal implications, even beyond the stated intent of the ruling itself.
"In the wake of this highly-anticipated decision, we as Alabama Baptists need to remain faithful to our calling to be the people of God, even in a culture that is becoming increasingly adverse to the biblical views of marriage and family. Our mission has not changed. Our beliefs have not changed. Our calling to be the people of God has not changed. Now more than ever, we must be the voice of authentic biblical Christianity."
(A video response by Lance can be seen at https://vimeo.com/131897095.)
"The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision sanctioning gay marriage comes as no surprise to me, or to many of my Missouri Baptist colleagues. As I read reactions from Christian leaders across the state and around the nation, it's hard to avoid the angst and anger arising from their deeply held convictions.
"'The Supreme Court has stripped all Americans of the freedoms to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process,' one such leader writes.
"'The sacred institution of marriage has been legally transformed into an abomination,' writes another. 'The rule of law in our nation has once again been subverted by an arrogant oligarchy of federal judges who have anointed themselves as the architects of a new social order.'
"Even the dissenting Supreme Court justices had harsh words for the majority. 'The majority's decision short-circuits' the political process required by the Constitution, Chief Justice John Roberts writes, 'with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.'
"I'm tempted to pile on with my own expressions of self-defined righteous indignation about how five justices have thrown the convictions of millions under a bus headed for national destruction. But I believe there's a better way to respond to today's landmark ruling.
"First, while many Christians feared the Supreme Court ruling was inevitable, our great God has known about today from eternity past. No human actions -- regardless of how brazen -- surprise Him or thwart His divine purposes for human history.
"Second, we should not despair. This is a God-ordained opportunity for followers of Jesus to love our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends, and for the church to minister to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.
"Third, Christians should be committed to a biblical understanding of human sexuality and marriage, and proclaim the whole counsel of God -- no matter the cost. The Missouri Baptist Convention's new resource, 'What Every Christian Should Know About Same-Sex Attraction,' is a timely and relevant primer for the local church. Pastors and Bible teachers: Teach your people about what the Bible says.
"Fourth, our churches should be a safe place for people struggling with same-sex attraction. This does not mean that those living unrepentant, openly gay lifestyles should be received as members, or should play any role in the leadership of the church. But vibrant, disciple-making local congregations should not deny church membership to those who confess same-sex attraction and agree that same-sex lust and conduct are sinful, and who seek to overcome these sinful desires and behaviors by the power of God and the accountability of a community of fellow believers.
"Fifth, we should be consistent in our stand on biblical conduct and church discipline. Same-sex conduct is not the unpardonable sin, nor is it a special category of sexual transgression worse than any other. However, we must learn about the value of community and holy behavior that is acceptable to God.
"Sixth, we should buckle up. As the dissenting Supreme Court justices acknowledged, there are serious legal issues ahead for people of faith and for faith-based institutions. While we swim against the tide of public opinion and common practice, Christians have a divinely appointed opportunity to be salt and light. Consider first-century Christians who faced ostracism and intense persecution -- not merely for their stand on moral issues but primarily because they loved Jesus and served Him faithfully. As a result, the church grew from 120 on the Day of Pentecost to 30 million by the middle of the 4th Century.
"Finally, we should look up -- in praise of our sovereign God; in prayer for our churches, government leaders, and those struggling with same-sex attraction; and in petitions for gracious responses as we engage a lost world and lend our voice in the court of public opinion.
"We live in a sinful and fallen world, and I am as responsible for this sad reality as much as anyone else. The world was not always this way, and it will not always be this way. Ultimately, the redemptive work of Christ will rise to its crescendo in His glorious return, and He will set things right.
"Until then, be faithful. As Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33, 'In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.'"
"The Baptist General Convention of Texas is committed to loving, caring and treating all people with grace and respect. Also, we continue to affirm our long held understanding of the biblical view of marriage as that between one man and one woman."
"Despite the Court's ruling today, the Christian Life Commission continues to support and affirm biblical marriage as a holy union between one man and one woman.
"In light of today's ruling, we encourage Texas Baptist churches to consider taking the following steps: First, we recommend churches adopt bylaws and employment policies that clearly define biblical marriage and protect church property from use in same-sex ceremonies.
"Additionally, ministers who do not agree with the state's understanding of marriage may wish to refrain from signing state marriage licenses and move to offering a covenant marriage consistent with biblical teaching.
"We respect the Supreme Court decision as the law of the land, but we believe in One who is higher than national laws, and ultimately we must submit to God's authority. Marriage is a God-designed and God-ordained institution, and no Supreme Court decision can redefine what has been defined by God."
Jerry A. Johnson:
"This judicial activism is a slap at democratic governance and shows disdain for a holy institution that has been the bedrock of human society for millennia.
"Christian citizens must be free to believe, free to speak, and free to obey what the Bible says about marriage -- in and out of church, seven days a week. Especially after the Obama Administration's shocking admission to the Court, which somehow did not dissuade this ruling, we need the First Amendment Defense Act.
"[Roe v. Wade] did not end the debate on abortion; rather it sparked new energy in the battle to defend the sanctity of human life. This ruling will not be the end for marriage."
"Now the battlefield shifts to religious freedom. Will the progressive, totalitarian and intolerant left weaponize the government and attempt to force or compel people to affirm same-sex behavior and relationships? Or will they respect the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution? These will continue to be questions for the coming generations, now that the high Court has seized the historic role of defining marriage from the individual states and stripped it away from voters."
"The Supreme Court has stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The court took that freedom from the people and overrode the considered judgment of tens of millions of Americans who recently reaffirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The court cast aside the understanding of marriage's nature and purpose that diverse cultures and faiths across the globe have embraced for millennia.
"Americans who understand the good of marriage still have great opportunities to communicate and model how the unique union of one man and one woman benefits society. Although the ongoing debate about marriage now enters a new phase, it is far from over. ADF will continue to advocate the truth about marriage and redouble its efforts to ensure that those who believe in the long-recognized definition of marriage will be free to hold, express, and live out their beliefs."
Brian S. Brown:
"Though expected, today's decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.
"Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.
"The U.S. Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today's ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.
"In his 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail,' Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is 'a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law.'
"Today's decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.
"This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has issued an immoral and unjust ruling. In 1857, the Court ruled in the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford case that African Americans could not become citizens of the United States and determined that the government was powerless to reject slavery. In 1927 the Court effectively endorsed eugenics by ruling that people with mental illness and other "defectives" could be sterilized against their will, saying 'three generations of imbeciles are enough.'
"And in Roe v. Wade, the Court invented a constitutional right to abortion by claiming it was an integral element of the right to privacy. Over 55 million unborn babies have died as a result.
"We urge the American people and future presidents to regard today's decision just as President Abraham Lincoln regarded the Dred Scott ruling when he said in his first inaugural address that 'if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made ... the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.'
"Today's decision is by no means the final word concerning the definition of marriage; indeed it is only the beginning of the next phase in the struggle. NOM is committed to reversing this ruling over the long term and ameliorating it over the short term. Specifically:
"1. We call on Congress and state governments to move immediately to protect the rights of people who believe in the truth of marriage from being discriminated against by passing the First Amendment Defense Act through Congress, and similar legislation in the various states.
"2. We also call on Congress to advance to the states for consideration a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in the law as it has existed in reality for the entirety of our nation's existence -- the union of one man and one woman.
"3. We call on the American people to make the definition of marriage a pivotal issue in the 2016 presidential contest and to elect a president who will be a true champion for marriage, one who is committed to taking specific steps to restoring true marriage in the law including appointing new justices to the Supreme Court who will have the opportunity to reverse this decision.
"4. NOM will work tirelessly along with allies to help change the culture so that Americans have a better understanding of the importance of marriage to children, families and society as a whole.
"While today's decision of the Supreme Court is certainly disappointing, it is not demoralizing to those of us who fervently believe in the truth of marriage and its importance to societal flourishing. Indeed, the decision will be energizing. Just as the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade infused the pro-life movement with new energy and commitment, so too will the decision today reawaken the American people to join the marriage movement.
"Our prayer for America is that today's injustice can be corrected quickly, sparing the nation decades of anguish of the kind that has followed the Court's decision in Roe."
"As today's Supreme Court ruling recognizes, Americans have a constitutional right to speak and act according to their beliefs. In the marriage debate, many people of faith -- from small businesses owners to students, soldiers, and chaplains -- have been persecuted for their religious beliefs about marriage. We will not allow people of faith to be silenced or censured because of their religious beliefs, and we appreciate that the Court unanimously recognized the importance of protecting religious liberty in this area. Liberty Institute remains undeterred in our mission to defend and restore every American's right to religious liberty."
"Today's SCOTUS decision redefining marriage serves as a de facto and legal catalyst for the marginalization of Americans who embrace a biblical worldview.
"Still, we affirm the Court's recognition to uphold proper protection of religious organizations and persons, under the First Amendment rights, as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.
"As children of the Cross committed to biblical truth, we affirm the biblical definition of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman.
"At the same time, as Christ-followers committed to the loving Gospel of Jesus, we reject and repudiate all vestiges of homophobia, intolerance and bigotry.
"Accordingly, we must all work arduously to recognize the image of God in every individual, without exception, while simultaneously building a firewall against intolerance and bigotry toward followers of Christ who preach truth with love.
"For at the end of the day, I know for certain, that the moment biblical truth stands defined as hate speech in our nation, America, as we know her, will cease to exist."
"The Supreme Court got this wrong because a narrow majority of justices do not fear God and have rebelled against their promises to 'support and defend' the clearly written words of the U.S. Constitution, which does not contain the word 'marriage' but explicitly honors states' rights. The 14th Amendment is not about marriage but about race; not about couples but individuals -- essential distinctions one must recognize in order to be loyal to the Constitution.
"Because the Supreme Court has no troops to enforce its illegitimate opinion, sovereign states with constitutional marriage amendments should ignore this unconstitutional edict and should instead faithfully enforce their state constitutions, as all state officials swear to do," Thomasson said. "While federal judges subvert the written words of the Constitution, it is incumbent upon state-based supporters of our republic to authorize only man-woman marriages -- the natural kind -- as God-given stabilizers for family and society, supplying what's in the best interest of children.
"1. Marriage licenses and regulation are not in the United States Constitution, are therefore the jurisdiction of voters in individual states (9th and 10th Amendments; Article IV, Section 4).
"2. Article IV, Section 4 guarantees to every state 'a republican form of government' -- meaning 1) no monarchy and 2) no lawless mob rule, but a government of written laws representing the will of the people, who are sovereign. State constitutions represent the People's will on marriage, which the federal judiciary must affirm. (See footnote recording James Madison's definition of republican government as 'a republican constitution and its existing laws' http://constitution.findlaw.com/article4/annotation18.html#t322)
"3. The 10th Amendment explicitly says powers that don't belong to the federal government, or what the Constitution does not prohibit among the states, are state powers. Therefore, marriage is under the states' jurisdiction.
"4. The 14th Amendment is one of three post-Civil War amendments and was about race -- giving black former slaves the same legal rights of white freemen -- not about marriage. The Amendment applied to the states what was already a federal right enshrined in the 5th Amendment -- that no one should be killed (deprived of life), imprisoned or enslaved (deprived of liberty), or deprived of their property without a court order (due process of law). Further, the Equal Protection Clause in no way requires the recognition of same-sex 'marriages' because homosexual couples are not the same as heterosexual couples. They cannot have a conjugal union that produces children, and one of the primary purposes of marriage is to bind together fathers and mothers for the benefit of the children they bring into the world."