My Thoughts After Referendum 74
by Joseph Backholm | November 9, 2012"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rules take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens laughs;..." Psalm 2:1-4a
Yesterday, Preserve Marriage Washington conceded that our attempt to repeal the same-sex "marriage" law that was passed by the legislature was not going to be successful.
The first question is, "why?" Why did we lose after such a long string of successful campaigns on marriage?
The most obvious answer to this question is the huge discrepancy in resources. In some ways, being outspent by more than $10 million and still having the race be as close as it was is a testament to the strength of our argument and the hard work so many of you invested. The spending differential in left leaning Washington was significantly greater than had ever been faced in other, often far more conservative states. Washington was clearly targeted nationally as the priority for passing same-sex "marriage".
It doesn't make anyone feel better, but these are realities that help us create some context for what happened with Referendum 74 that are important because of the next question.
Does this mean America is now prepared to embrace same-sex "marriage" as a normative?
Advocates of same-sex "marriage" will no doubt be energized by these results and believe that America is ready to say that same-sex relationships are in every way the same as marriages.
Here is the reason I don't believe this is true.
What became apparent in all the discussions about this subject is that people in general don't object to the idea that kids need moms and dads. Some do, but that's the fringe left of their movement.
The support they received from the middle, that they needed in order to prevail, came from people who were voting to approve this as a way of proving they don't dislike gay people.
Their campaign makes an entirely emotional argument that says, "the only reason you would oppose redefining marriage is if you don't want gay people to be happy." When well-funded, this can clearly be successful.
But the fatal flaw of every purely emotional argument is that the emotions you depend upon eventually go away. Eventually you must defend your arguments on the merits. And the idea that kids don't need moms and dads, that gender is meaningless, and that there is no reason to recognize different relationships cannot be defended on the merits.
The only reason they have convinced people to agree with these principles is because they have convinced people that you're a bad person if you don't. Once they lose that leverage, and they will, they lose the argument.
So what does this mean?
It means that the legal definition of marriage has been changed. But it does not mean that the important distinctions between men and woman have been erased, or that most people even agree with the idea that they should be. The vote changes civil law, but it does not change reality.
As my children's father, I am specifically necessary in their life. As my children's mother, my wife is specifically necessary in our children's life. That is true for every parent in Washington State. None of us are replaceable. The relationship that allows my children's mom and dad to be present in their lives at the same time is uniquely valuable.
Marriage has always served a purpose greater than our own personal fulfillment. It not only unites men and women to each other, but it unites men and women to the children that result. No, not every married couple has a child. But every child has a mother and father, and the absence or presence of a child's mother and father in her life is not meaningless. True marriage-between a man and a woman-honors this.
The greatest risk from redefining marriage is not that same-sex couples can live as they choose, or even that the religious freedoms and individual rights of those who disagree will be lost (though that is a reality). The greatest risk is that we, as a culture, continue to internalize the idea that there is no greater good than our own personal happiness; that the world exists, or should exist, to make us feel good about ourselves.
Regardless of the context, when the adults care primarily about themselves and their own happiness, children and the next generation suffer. That is evidenced equally by our national fatherlessness epidemic as well as our $16 Trillion national debt.
The "Greatest Generation" earned that moniker because of their selflessness in defense of others. I cringe when I consider how my generation could be remembered.
The more we believe "it's about me", the worse it will be-for everyone.
Yes, we hope every person finds joy in life. But joy is not a function of your circumstances but a byproduct of decisions that are consistent with what is good, true, and beautiful. And that, invariably, requires us making less of our own personal happiness, rather than more of it.
Friends, this battle is not over. In the end, we cannot lose because truth is always vindicated. Every lie is ultimately exposed as such. And when the history of this anomaly has been written, may it be said of us that a temporary political setback not only did not weaken our commitment to truth, but strengthened it.
There are all sorts of corny clichés or scenes from inspirational movies that could be used to analogize moments like these.
But it will always be true that our character is determined not by what happens, but how we respond.
There is no need for fear. And if you're inclined to feel fearful, consider the following.
Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God? It's true. He has never learned something that changed how he viewed things. He already knows everything, and I assure you, He's not afraid. He who sits in the heavens laughs...
If it was up to us to fix all the world's problems, we should be terrified. But it isn't. And that's why He told us so many times to "fear not".
We must control the things we control.
We must guard our marriages and purge from our own lives the idea that my own happiness is paramount. We must teach our children not only how to think biblically in light of an increasingly hostile culture. We must strive to find that balance truth and grace so that who we are speaks more than what we say.
And finally, we must persist.
While this is unquestionably a setback, what has been built over the last several months has the opportunity to be the turning point for our state. There are literally hundreds of thousands of new relationships that are formed and thousands of people who have engaged in this battle for the culture for the first time. More than a thousand churches who applied biblical truth to cultural discussions in ways they never had before.
What has been built over the last year has the opportunity to create truly lasting change in Washington State, provided we don't quit.
Benjamin Franklin remarked that if we don't hang together, we will all hang separately. I'd like you to consider the possibility that if we hang together, we just might win this thing.
There are unborn lives to be saved.
There are freedoms to be won.
There are rights to be protected.
There are lives to be changed through a confrontation with truth.
There are people to be reminded that marriage is, and will always be, a relationship between a man and a woman.
If anything, what just happened in Washington is a testament to what can be accomplished by a few highly motivated people. Now it's our turn.