Marriage Under Fire

Photo of Dr. Dobson

Dear Friends:

Behold, the institution of marriage! It is one of the most marvelous and enduring gifts to humankind. This divine plan was revealed to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and then described succinctly in Genesis 2:24, where we read, "For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh." With those 20 words, the Creator announced the ordination of the family, long before He established the two other great human institutions, the government and the church. Notice that there is no mention in this verse, or any other, of same-sex marriage.

More than 5,000 years have come and gone since that point of origin, yet every civilization in the history of the world has been built upon it. Despite today's skeptics who claim that marriage is an outmoded and narrow-minded Christian concoction, the desire of men and women to "leave" and "cleave" has survived and thrived through times of prosperity, peace, famine, wars, epidemics, and every other possible circumstance and condition. It has been the bedrock of culture in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and even Antarctica. Given this unbroken continuity, one might begin to suspect that something mystical within human nature must be drawing the sexes together—not just for purposes of reproduction as with animals—but to satisfy an inexpressible longing for companionship, intimacy and spiritual bonding. Indeed, how can it be doubted? It finds its expression in the institution of marriage.

Marriage represents the very foundation of human social order. Everything of value sits on that base. Institutions, governments, religious fervor and the welfare of children are all dependent on its stability. When it is weakened or undermined, the entire superstructure begins to wobble. Admittedly, there have been periods in history where homosexuality has flourished, such as in the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire. None of these civilizations survived. Even where sexual perversion was tolerated, marriage continued to be honored in law and custom.

But, as we all know, liberal forces within the American culture are working night and day to bring about a redefinition and complete restructuring of marriage. As you have heard, the New York State legislature voted to legalize same sex marriage on June 24th, making it the sixth state in the union to take this momentous step.1 How ominous this is for the welfare of the nation.

"With one vote," wrote Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, "New York forced more Americans to bow to its twisted definition of marriage than the combined population of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. And none of it would have been possible without the political cowardice of New York Republicans."2

It is true. Passage of the legislation had been made possible by Republican legislators who abandoned their earlier opposition after being enticed by huge campaign contributions from Wall Street and from homosexual activists.3 Former Republican National Committee chairman, Ken Mehlman, raised a million dollars for the campaign,4 and leftist millionaire Tim Gill and his Gill Action Fund sweetened the deal with enormous contributions.5 A few words describe the flip flopping by four members of the GOP -— they are "bought off," "duck and cover," "self serving," and "caved in."

There was jubilation in the State Capitol as Governor Andrew Cuomo strode onto the Senate floor to wave at cheering supporters who crowded into the galleries to watch. Among those celebrating the victory four days later was President Barack Obama, whose administration has been working behind the scenes to promote the redefinition of marriage. While he has professed from the days of his campaign not to support same sex unions, these are his candid reactions to the decision in New York.

"This administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people on the basis of sexual orientation. And we have done more in the two and a half years that I've been in here than the previous 43 presidents to uphold that principle..."

"What I've seen happen over the last several years, and what happened in New York last week, I think was a good thing. Because what you saw was the people of New York having a debate, talking through these issues."6

This is phony-baloney. In what context did the people of New York have a "debate" about same sex marriage? They had no say in it. Marriage was hijacked by liberals and political powerbrokers in New York and throughout the country. Ultimately, they had their way.

Speaking again of the President, The New York Times reported a couple of weeks ago that he is on the verge of publicly endorsing same-sex marriage.7 The White House has been debating when to come out of the closet for some time. The Times also said Obama recently attended a fundraising "Gala with the Gay Community,"8 and hosted a "gay pride" reception at the White House.9 Sounds like the fix is in, doesn't it?

You'll recall that the President also ordered the Department of Justice not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the courts,10 despite the fact that in 1996, the Senate passed that legislation by a vote of 85-14,11 and the House of Representatives approved it by a 342-67 margin.12 Then President Clinton signed the bill and it has been the law of the land for 16 years.13

Because the Department of Justice has been ordered not to defend DOMA against attack, it may soon be struck down by the courts. That would affect the citizens of nearly every state in the nation. Obama, acting like an autocratic Justice, simply overrode the actions of the Congress. The Separation of Powers prescribed in the Constitution was ignored. Clearly, the President is committed to homosexual activism, including implementation of a radical social experiment.

The family is facing formidable foes in every dimension of the culture. The most powerful among them are the federal and state courts, which are determined to impose their will on the American people. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is a prime example of this threat, which may soon declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional. That amendment was enacted by 7 million Californians who declared marriage to be exclusively between one man and one woman.14 If Proposition 8 is overturned, the case will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where anything could happen.

If there ever was a time when Christian people should fight for what they believe, this is it. Solidarity is critical. And yet, regrettably, some Christian leaders are saying that the battle has been lost, and that the family of the future will be increasingly compromised. Some have even told their constituencies to get used to same sex marriage. They are tragically wrong.

We have striking new evidence that public support for marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman is rock solid, despite what the cultural elites, politicians and judges are trying to accomplish. Divorce is still a serious problem, of course, but the majority of Americans believe in the traditional definition of marriage. Further, it isn't losing ground; it is gaining support.

Consider these findings: The Alliance Defense Fund, led by my valued friend Alan Sears, recently commissioned an organization called Public Opinion Strategies (POS) to conduct a national survey on marriage. POS regularly provides polling for members of Congress, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Fortune 100 companies and many others. In response to the request by the Alliance Defense Fund, POS surveyed more than 1,500 adults in May 2011 and found that 62 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, "I believe marriage should be defined only as the union of one man and one woman."15 Only 35 percent disagreed!16

Other developments validate these findings. Voters in thirty-one states have participated in statewide elections for the purpose of defining marriage. All 31 of them, without exception, have defined it exclusively as being between one man and one woman.17 The results were the same whether they were in large states, small states, liberal states, conservative states, prosperous states, poor states, industrialized states and agricultural states. The majority of the electorate came to the same conclusion.

Here's more hard evidence. In 30 of the 31 states referred to above, 63 million Americans voted on constitutional marriage amendments, and 40 million of them (63 percent of total voters), affirmed marriage as the union between a man and a woman.18 In the 31st state (Maine), voters overruled their state legislature and governor—who had signed a same-sex marriage bill—and restored marriage as one man and one woman in their state. Can there be any doubt how the majority of our citizens feel about this issue?

Despite this good news, I am still deeply concerned about the institution of the family. It is because I fear the people will not be permitted to make decisions for themselves and the country. Given the imperious courts and the influence of liberal politicians, the wishes of the American people could be overridden. It is a battle for the very soul of the nation.

What would be the consequences of losing this cultural war? It would be a social and international disaster for six reasons as spelled out in my book, Marriage Under Fire.

1. The legalization of homosexual marriage would destroy the traditional family.

When the State sanctions homosexual unions and gives them the blessing of the law, the younger generation is confused about sexual identity and quickly loses its understanding of lifelong commitments, emotional bonding, sexual purity, the role of children in a family, and from a spiritual perspective, the "sanctity" of marriage. It is reduced to something of a partnership (cohabitation) that provides attractive benefits and sexual convenience, but cannot achieve the intimacy described in Genesis 2:24. Cohabitation and short-term relationships are the inevitable result.

Ask the Norwegians, the Swedes and the people from the Netherlands. This is exactly what is happening there. Indeed, more than 80 percent of the children in some areas of Norway are born out of wedlock.19 It comes down to this: same-sex marriage and de-facto marital unions destroy the Real Deal. These two entities cannot co-exist because they represent opposite ends of the universe.

It is also true that the introduction of gay marriage will set the table for polygamy because there is no place to stop once that Rubicon has been crossed. Historically, the definition of marriage has rested on a foundation of tradition, legal precedent, theology and the overwhelming support of the people. After the introduction of marriage between homosexuals, however, it will be supported by nothing more substantial than the rulings handed down by individual judges or by a black-robed panel of justices. After they have reached their decisions and made them the law of the land, the family will consist of little more than someone's interpretation of "rights." Given that unstable legal climate, it is certain that some self-possessed judge, somewhere, will rule that three men or three women can marry. Or five men and two women, or four and four. Who will be able to deny them that right? The guarantee is implied, we will be told, by the Constitution. Those who disagree will be characterized as hate-mongers and bigots. (Indeed, those charges are already being leveled against Christians who espouse biblical values!) How about group marriage, or marriage between cousins, or marriage between daddies and little girls?20 Anything allegedly linked to "civil rights" will be doable. The legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed.

What will happen then, if marriage becomes anything, or everything, or nothing? The short answer is that the state will lose its compelling interest in marital relationships altogether. After marriages have been redefined, divorces will be obtained automatically, will not involve a court, and will take on the status of a driver's license or hunting permit. With the family out of the way, marriages will occur without legal entanglements or commitments, and its meaning will be destroyed.

2. Children will suffer the greatest harm.

The implications for children in a world of decaying families are profound. Because homosexuals are rarely monogamous, children in those polyamorous (meaning "many lovers") situations will typically be caught in a perpetual coming and going. Such instability is devastating to kids, who by their nature are inherently conservative creatures. They like things to stay just the way they are, and they hate change. Some have been known to eat the same brand of peanut butter throughout childhood. More than 10,000 studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by loving and committed mothers and fathers. They are less likely to be on illegal drugs,21 less likely to be retained (held back) in a grade,22 less likely to drop out of school,23 less likely to commit suicide,24 less likely to be in poverty,25 less likely to become juvenile delinquents,26 and for the girls, less likely to become teen mothers.27 They are healthier, both emotionally and physically, even 30 years later, than those not so blessed by traditional parents.28

(There is more to say here about the welfare of children, but we must move on. Marriage Under Fire spells out the additional ramifications.)

3. Public schools in every state will have to endorse homosexuality in its curriculum.

With the legalization of homosexual marriage, every textbook will be obsolete and every public school in the nation will be required to teach this perversion as the moral equivalent of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Textbooks, even in conservative states, will have to depict man/man and woman/woman relationships, and stories written for children as young as elementary school, or even kindergarten, will have to give equal space and emphasis to same-sex relationships. How can a child, fresh out of toddlerhood, comprehend the meaning of adult sexuality? The answer is they can't, and they shouldn't, but it is happening in California and Massachusetts, already.29 Social propaganda to elementary school kids and beyond is already the order of the day.

World Net Daily posted this blog on July 5, 2011, titled, "California lawmakers demand schools teach 'gay' history."

A bill devised by a homosexual California lawmaker, Mark Leno, requiring schools to promote homosexuality and other alternative sexual lifestyles to children without parental permission or even knowledge has been approved by the legislature and is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Critics say the vote to approve SB48 could create a vast new opportunity for indoctrinating children into such roles. "May this brash attack upon children's innocence finally motivate parents to remove their children from the government school system, and get them into the safe havens of church schooling and homeschooling," said Randy Thomasson, president of, a leading statewide pro-family organization promoting moral virtues for the common good.

Teachers also will be required to portray homosexuality positively, "because to be silent can bring the charge of 'reflecting adversely' or 'promoting a discriminatory bias.'" School boards will have to adopt textbooks and other materials based on their positive advocacy for homosexuality and parents – because the teachings are a part of the state's core curriculum – will be neither notified nor given the option of withdrawing their children from the teachings, he said.

"This sexual brainwashing bill would mandate that children as young as six years old be told falsehoods – that homosexuality is biological, when it isn't, or healthy, when it's not," Thomasson said.30

4. Adoption laws and foster-care regulations will be obsolete.

From the moment that homosexual marriage becomes legal, courts will not be able to favor a traditional family involving one man and one woman in matters of adoption. Children will be placed in homes with parents representing only one sex on an equal basis with those having a mom and a dad. Even the polyamorous couples won't be excluded. The prospect of fatherless and motherless children will not be considered in the evaluation of eligibility. It will be the law. It has happened already. The latest Census data reveal that more than 25 percent of gay and lesbian couples are raising children.31

5. The gospel of Jesus Christ will be severely curtailed.

The family has been God's primary vehicle for evangelism since the beginning. Its most important assignment has been the propagation of the human race and the handing down of the faith to children. Malachi 2:15 reads, referring to husbands and wives, "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth" (NIV).

You can be certain that if same sex marriage is legalized and the rest of the gay agenda is achieved, the church will be subjected to ever-increasing oppression and discrimination. That has already happened in some European countries and, to a lesser degree, in Canada.32 At stake is the right of pastors to preach their understanding of the Scripture, to hire people who share their theology, to fire those who do not, and to have uncensored Bibles. Could the independence and mission of the Conservative church be threatened in these and other critical areas? I don't know.

I can only tell you what the New York law means for religious liberty. According to the Alliance Defense Fund,

"(It) does not protect individuals. It does not protect private business owners. It does not protect, for example, a bed and breakfast owner who is using their own private personal property in the type of intimate setting that a bed and breakfast is. It does not protect licensed professionals. For example, it does not protect counselors. It also does not protect lawyers – you may have a family law attorney who does not want to do a same-sex divorce because of their deeply held religious beliefs. It does not protect fertility doctors who may have a strict belief and only want to help [heterosexual] married couples because they believe a kid deserves both a mom and a dad." The dominos from this decision are just starting to fall. One newspaper is reporting that the New York Department of Correctional Services is already rewriting its rules for inmates' "conjugal visits," which will now be open to homosexual "spouses." Prisons will provide the condoms.33
And this is just be beginning. Can churches be far behind?

6. The culture war will be over, and the world will become "as it was in the days of Noah" (Matthew 24:37, NIV). This is the climactic moment in the battle to preserve the family, and future generations hang in the balance.

This apocalyptic and pessimistic view of the institution of the family and its future will sound alarmist to many, but I think it will prove accurate unless—unless—God's people begin an even greater vigil of prayer and petition for our nation.

Marriage is a sacrament designed by God that serves as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and His Church. Tampering with His plan for the family is immoral and wrong. To violate the Lord's expressed will for humankind, especially in regard to behavior that He has prohibited, is to court disaster.

Excerpted from Dr. Dobson's book, Marriage Under Fire. Used by Permission.

One thing is certain. This is NO time for Christian people to throw up their hands in despair. The moral principles in Scripture have guided this great nation since the days of its founding, and we must remain true to them. This is a moment for greater courage and wisdom than we have ever been called upon to exercise. If we now choose to stand by idly while our foundational social order is destroyed, the family, as it has been understood for millennia, will be gone. And with its demise will come chaos such as the world has never seen.

If you read or hear from Christian leaders who are saying traditional marriage is headed for the ash heap of history and we should just get used to it, pray for them and for the protection of the American family.

Thank you for reading along with me this month. I felt it was important to set the record straight in regard to the views of the American people and the risks posed for the nation.

Although my book, Marriage Under Fire, is now out of print, the information and research presented therein is as important today as ever in providing the foundations of a battle plan for the preservation of traditional values and a biblical definition of family. Recently, we secured what may be the final few thousand copies of this resource, specifically to make them available to friends and supporters of Family Talk.

Of course, we would appreciate you helping us financially here in July. The mid-summer days are tough for us, as you know. The expenses roll on, and the income is sparse. We ran a $200,000 deficit in June, which is not sustainable. Anything you can do to get us through these weeks would be greatly appreciated. This month, with your gift of any amount, we'd be pleased to provide you with a hardcover edition of Marriage Under Fire, upon your request. Simply check the "Yes!" box on the enclosed reply card. We will distribute the books for as long as they are in stock.

Also, please pray for us when you think about this ministry. A letter such as this one on a controversial topic can always be expected to bring a flurry of hostile responses. Part of our mission, however, is to "speak the truth in love," and we will continue to accept that challenge.

Protect your marriage, if you are indeed married, and remain determined to go the distance together. Shirley and I have discovered that our relationship grows sweeter as the years roll by. What a gift that is from the Lord.

God's blessings to you and yours.

Your friend in Christ,

Dr. Dobson Signature

James Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and President


1. "New York Becomes Sixth State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage," Fox News, June 24, 2011.

2. Tony Perkins, "A New York State of Blind," FRC Washington Update, June 27, 2011.

3. Michael Barbaro, "Behind N.Y. Gay Marriage: An Unlikely Mix of Forces," New York Times, June 25, 2011.

4. Sam Stein, "Money Was the Key Ingredient in New York's Gay Marriage Bill, Huffington Post Politics, June 27, 2011.

5. Ben Smith, "Stealth Campaign Pays Off for Gay Marriage Proponents,", June 25, 2011.

6. Remarks by the President at Reception Observing LGBT Pride Month," East Room, June 29, 2011.

7. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Obama's Views on Gay Marriage 'Evolving,'" New York Times, June 18, 2011.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid. Fred Lucas, "Obama Praises Homosexual Spouses in Gay Gathering at White House,", June 30, 2011.

10. Brian Montopoli, "Obama Administration Will No Longer Defend DOMA,", February 23, 2011.

11. "U.S. Congress Roll Call Votes 104th Congress, 2nd Session September 10, 1996.

12. Final Vote Results for Roll Call 316: HR 3396," July 12, 1996.

13. Kim A. Lawton, "Clinton Signs Law Backing Heterosexual Marriage," Christianity Today, October 28, 1996.

14. Final yes vote was 7,001,084 according to the California Secretary of State's office. See

15. Married to Marriage: 62% of Americans Say It's One Man, One Woman," Alliance Defense Fund Press Release, June 16, 2011.

16. Marriage Survey Results Survey and State Marriage Amendment Vote Percentages as of June 2011.

17. Marriage Survey Results Survey and State Marriage Amendment Vote Percentages as of June 2011.

18. State Marriage Amendment Vote Percentages as of June 2011.

19. Stanley Kurtz, "Death of Marriage in Scandinavia," Boston Globe, March 10, 2004.

20. For evidence that same-sex marriage advocates want to expand marriage beyond just same-sex couples, see "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage," signed by several hundred same-sex marriage advocates.

21. "Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, March 2005, p. 17.

22. David Popenoe, Life Without Father (New York: Free Press, 1996) cited in Sara McLanahan, "Father Absence and the Welfare of Children," Network on the Family and the Economy. Also see Nan Marie Astone and Sara S. McLanahan, "Family Structure, Parental Practices and High School Completion," American Sociological Review 56 309-320, 1991.

23. Gunilla Ringback Weitoft, Anders Hjern, Bengt Haglung, and Mans Rosen, "Mortality, Severe Morbidity in Children Living with Single Parents in Sweden: A Population Based Study," The Lancet, 36: 289-295, 2003.

24. Susan Larson and David Larson, M.D., M.S.P.H., "Divorce: A Hazard to Your Health?" Physician, May/June 1990, p. 16.

25. Robert Rector, "Marriage: America's Greatest Weapon Against Poverty," The Heritage Foundation, September 16, 2010.

26. Cynthia Harper and Sara McLanahan, "Father Absence and Youth Incarceration," Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14: pp. 369-397, 2004.

27. B. Ellis, "Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy?" Child Development, 7: No.3, May/June 2003.

28. Judith Wallerstein, Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky. "Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression." Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 1034-1035 (1999).

29. See Claudia Cowen, "Bill Mandating California Schools Teach Gay History is a Lesson in Controversy," Fox News, June 30, 2011; Drew Zahn, "'Gay' Curriculum Challenges Student's Faith," WorldNetDaily, September 19,2009; Bob Unruh, "Judge Orders 'Gay Agenda' Taught to Christian Children," WorldNetDaily, February 24, 2007; Diana Jean Schemo, "Lessons on Homosexuality Move Into the Classroom," New York Times, August 15, 2007

30. Bob Unruh, "California Lawmakers Demand Schools Teach 'Gay' History," WorldNetDaily, July 7, 2011.

31. "One-Quarter of Gay Couples Raising Children,", June 23, 2011.

32. See Jonathan Petre, "Church 'Could Be Forced to Bless' Gay Weddings," London Telegraph, October 6, 2006. xml=/news/2006/06/10/nbless10.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/06/10/ixuknews.html; "High Court Considers Barring Christian Foster Parents," WorldNetDaily, November 13, 2010.; "Government to Pastor: Renounce Your Faith!," WorldNetDaily, June 9, 2008.; "Homosexual Sues Church for Right to be Employed as Youth Worker," The Christian Institute, April 3, 2007.

33. Tony Perkins, "Washington Update," June 29. 2011.

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