THE BLOG
09/11/2014 04:06 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

Conservatives Can't Be Pro-Marriage and Oppose Gay Marriage

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More bad news for marriage and families this week. A new study was released showing that 33 percent of children are now being raised by either a single parent or unmarried parents, compared to 1960 when the figure was less than 10 percent.

"The decline of marriage is wreaking havoc on our country," a spokesman from the non-profit group, "Family First," told Fox News.

As a Christian conservative, I entirely agree, and we must do everything possible to promote marriage and reverse the trend. But it's time to call out the hypocrisy of the right: It doesn't make sense to be pro-marriage and pro-family while opposing gay marriage and gay families. The positions are entirely inconsistent.

In fact, I'll go a step further. Any ideology fixated on preserving marriage and the nuclear family should be proactively encouraging as many couples to marry as possible, including gay couples.

The problem is, every major conservative pro-marriage organization in America continues to oppose gay marriage.

Focus on the Family, for example, evidently does not appear to see the contradiction.

"Family is the fundamental building block of all human civilizations, and marriage is the foundation of the family. The institution of marriage is unquestionably good for individuals and society, and the health of our culture is intimately linked to the health and well-being of marriage," the organization says on its website.

In the same post, the group continues, "Battered by high rates of divorce and cohabitation, unwed child-bearing and the push for so-called same-sex 'marriage' and civil unions, marriage is in a state of crisis."

This group does not even attempt to explain how gay marriage tangibly undermines traditional marriage arrangements, and no conservative I've asked has been able to give me a satisfactory answer.

Why would traditional marriages be devalued or under threat if homosexuals gets married? If anything, the advance of gay marriages only serves to bolster society's value for the institution.

The group also details a long list of benefits marriage provides from living longer to better outcomes for children. But in a swipe at gay marriage, the organization asserts, "Research and common sense tell us that girls and boys need role models of both genders."

Sounds convincing. The problem is that it's wrong. Not only has research shown that there are no statistical differences in well-being between children of heterosexual couples and those of homosexual couples, but the most recent study shows that homosexuals raise children with better health and well-being outcomes than all other types of parents.

Specifically, a study released this summer found that the children of same-sex parents rate roughly six percent higher than the general population on a number of measures of general health, well-being, and family cohesion. On other measures, including temperament and mood, behavior, mental health, and self-esteem, the children scored the same as children from the general population, in keeping with other studies.

The National Organization for Marriage lists 77 "non-religious" reasons why marriage should be defined solely between a man and a woman. A number of the reasons focus on making sure children are not separated from their biological parents. The group adds, "Every child is entitled to know and be known by both parents."

It's true that children have the best measurable outcomes when they are raised by their biological, married parents, but taking these points together, does this group oppose adoption too? Should fostering be banned? What about making sure that children are not raised by step-parents? I wonder if they would propose outlawing remarriage. What's to be done about single parents?

In its parting shot, the list says, "Same sex marriage amounts to a hostile takeover of civil society by the state."

No, my darlings. That's called liberalism.

There is some good news: The sheer number of these anti-gay marriage vigilantes is shrinking, including the Christian ones. I find that encouraging because their hypocrisy gives all Christians and conservatives a bad name.

Numerous mainline Protestant churches are reconsidering their official positions on the issue and making changes to their policies and doctrines.

In my own denomination, Presbyterian USA, one of the top ten largest churches in America, the governing body of the church voted in June by large margins to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian in the church's constitution. If ratified by a majority of individual presbyteries, the definition of Christian marriage will change from "a man and a woman" to "two people, traditionally a man and a woman."

Evangelicals -- previously known for their strong opposition on the issue -- are also changing their minds. In the past decade, evangelical support for gay marriage has more than doubled, according to a poll by the Public Religion Institute.

Nevertheless, these changes do not cover up the fact that leading conservative organizations and top GOP lawmakers who have a disproportionate influence on the public discourse continue to straddle conflicting messages about marriage and family. Just four Republican senators, for example, are on record supporting same-sex marriage.

To my Christian friends who may not be convinced, here is a thought from a Methodist pastor, Adam Hamilton:

"It is possible to be a faithful Christian who loves God and loves the scriptures and at the same time to believe that the handful of verses on same-sex intimacy are like the hundreds of passages accepting and regulating slavery or other practices we today believe do not express the heart and character of God."

Quite apart from the social benefits of all types of marriage, Jesus called us to love one another. It simply doesn't make sense to stand in the way of any person who wants to formalize their love within the sacred institution of marriage.