My Thoughts After Referendum 74

"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.
 

Comments:

Posted by Erin on December 1, 2012
Thank you Joseph, beautifully stated, "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". This is the heart of the matter, personal happiness at all costs.
Posted by Mike from Richland,Wahington State. on November 30, 2012
With a lot of the above Comments.It was extrinsically clear that the Gay Community, just had to show there Hatred of Jedao Christian Values & there lack of Common sense. they call for us to show them Tallernce when all that they show us is hatred. I also know that we are now on a vary Slippery Morel slope. the next thing to get Legalized is for High School Teachers To Marry there High School Students.
Posted by parentoftwo on November 29, 2012
I have a loved one who's in a same-sex relationship, and I wish only the best for them. But I did not vote for R74, because I don't believe that is truly what is best for our society or even for those who see themselves as gay. Since I love people, I want them to experience real freedom from the kind of behavior that often damages their health as well as their spiritual condition. Encouraging gay activity is not a help to people. We need to pray also for the next generation; the children are going to be affected by the things they hear at schools, and by the increasing number who won't have a Mom and a Dad to care for them. Our children and the people who are open to us need us to infuse them with faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and with realizing God is the only lasting satisfaction and the only real meaning to human life. No matter how many "rights" we gain on the earth, that can't really satisy us deep down inside. Only God can fill the vacuum inside us.
Posted by Wendy on November 16, 2012
Nancy, Please go meet some gay couples. Go down to the King County Courthouse on Dec. 6th and stand outside and see real gay couples go inside and the joy they are sharing, to pick up their marriage license. Then, go up to them and talk to them about their lives. Ask them why they wanted to marry? Ask them about their family, where they work, where they live. You wouldn't have written about blatant sinfulness if you knew them. Realize that many of these gay couples have been together for decades and are still excited to "tie the knot". Rejoice in their happiness. Leave to God the judgement of these couples and you will be a better Christian.
Posted by Thom Watson on November 12, 2012
You write: "There are freedoms to be won. There are rights to be protected." And yet you seem to do so without even a hint of irony, considering that you just spent many months and many millions of dollars trying to block the freedoms and repeal the rights of same-sex couples in the state of Washington. You also claim it's time for opposite-sex couples to "guard our marriages." No one's put a single obstacle in your way, or passed a single law that prohibits you from continuing to see to your own marriages. Show us the same respect, and let /us/ see to ours.
Posted by Joe Mondo on November 12, 2012
Children are already raised by same sex couples, in Washington and other states. Had R74 failed, children would still be raised by same sex couples. R74 was never about kids having a mom and dad, because it never impacted that. Your false claims do not help you.
Posted by Bill on November 12, 2012
If Joseph Backholm TRULY believes that every child deserves a mom and a dad, it would appear Joseph Backholm is trying to ban the wrong thing here. The only thing that can or will accomplish your stated goal, Joey, is to ban divorce. Your ulterior motives are showing. Big time.
Posted by Joe Murphy on November 11, 2012
Your argument now rests almost entirely on the premise that "children need moms and dads." But R-74 was, and is, completely unrelated to that. Gay couples were allowed to adopt and raise children long before R-74 was even conceived, and that never seemed to bother you. And that reality would not have changed regardless of how people voted on the measure. Thus, your argument crumbles. You can't oppose marriage equality on its own merits, so you have to bring children into the picture and use them as political pawns. Sad.
Posted by Nancy on November 9, 2012
I think that this battle has led to much more awareness regarding the nature of ourselves, our immediate family and friends, our church communities and pastors, our neighbors, and the surrounding Seattle population in which we live. I can only speak for myself, but I have been both surprised and shocked about false assumptions I have made about people that I thought I knew well in terms of their values and faith. I never realized how empowered the gay community has become with money to back their causes and agenda. I didn't know that the Seattle gay pride parade and activities that go with it exceed those of San Francisco. I was naive to believe that the billionaires who have personally benefitted from the support of good folks in our state would do what want to please themselves and win the adoration of ultra liberals bent on changing our culture to satisfy their selfish appetites. Too many pastors were passive and in some cases refused to stand up for biblical truth. I personally know of several individuals who have decided to leave churches because their pastors showed such a lack of character. Looking on the brighter side, I have met some incredibly wonderful, fellow Christians who have shown the highest level of passion and practice of their faith. They have inspired me to continue to keep on being true to what Christ taught us: to speak out in truth for the weak and innocent and to remain uncompromising when we see blatant sinfulness being advanced.. It does the gay community no favor to approve and enable them to continue to direct their lives on the path to destruction. Christ demonstrated the greatest love when he encountered the lost and told them "sin no more". The hard work has only begun to protect our families. We must diligently teach and inspire our children regarding how and why the Bible should be their guide for life. We must show them by example and encouraging one another.
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