The redefinition of marriage and movement from its focus on children affects not only families but entire communities and all of society, religious leaders warn.
“People see marriage as a relationship between adults rather than a man and a woman coming together to bond and produce children. Rather than being a child-centered institution, it’s an adult-centered institution,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco told CNA at the March for Marriage June 19.
This focus on adults rather than children leads to “broken families” and a host of other social struggles, the head of the U.S. bishops' defense and promotion of marriage committee continued.
“We’ve known this because the problem of fatherlessness for decades.”
The march, which was the second national demonstration recognizing marriage’s unique role as an institution that unites a man and a woman, was held in Washington. D.C.
Participants in the march met in front of the U.S. Capitol building for a rally, and then walked three quarters of a mile to the Supreme Court building, where the group gathered in prayer and song.
Those who could not physically attend the march were invited to join in prayer and fasting, along with a live webstream of the event.
The first March for Marriage was held in March 2013, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that eventually ordered the federal government to accept redefinitions of marriage in states that choose to redefine the institution.
In its June 2013 decisions, the high court also discarded a case defending a California amendment approved by voters to defend the definition of marriage on procedural grounds. Because it was discarded by the high court, a lower court’s ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional to stand.
“For the black poor, no issue is more central” than marriage because “it’s a foundation of our society” Eugene Rivers, pastor of Azusa Christian Community, told CNA.
Pointing to the societal fallout of the destruction of marriage he sees in his ministry, Rivers said to “look to inner cities” to see those who are at risk if marriage is redefined.
“Men are not substitutes for mother because men can’t have babies,” adding that “the roles are not interchangeable” between men and women.
In situations where mothers and fathers are not both present, “children grow up without direction,” Rivers said. “Where there are not stable mothers and fathers the society is on the road to destruction.”
Rivers' wife Jackie, who also spoke at the march, told CNA, “marriage is falling among the poor” in large part because “the natural complementarity of man and woman is being denied.”
“Raising children is so demanding,” she said, adding “you need the mother and the father” to raise a child. “Children need that balance.”
“The solution is not to give a child two fathers and no father, or a second mother and no father,” said Archbishop Cordileone, but instead to restore the true understanding of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.
The archbishop encouraged supporters of marriage to “be not afraid to proclaim the truth of marriage.”
“Proclaim the truth of marriage articulately and convincingly, and lovingly as well.”