Change is the major constant of our time. Views, ideals and values of our societies are changing rapidly. Often this may be reasonable, though certainly not always. As human beings we absolutely need long-lasting values that enable us to navigate the challenges of life. I perceive that a growing number of individuals gets lost in the labyrinth of today’s diversity of opinions and views. At the same they long for orientation and stability.
Amid a time of disorientation the psalmist prays: “Lord, your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). This is nothing else but a profession of the conviction that his and our values need to be rooted in firmly established principles. Even today we need this desire for orientation through the Word of God. “Faith seeks God himself,” the Jewish scholar of religious studies Pinchas Lapide says. Therefore the believer’s starting point will always be God himself and not the person of the believer or his or her own wishful thinking. I am convinced this approach is also to be applied to the question if the institution of marriage should be opened up to same-sex couples.
To me it does not seem to be a valid argument that only by this opening up a substantial legal equality with the marriage between a man and a woman can be reached. Except for the right to adopt children I can identify only marginal legal differences of minor relevance. It rather seems we are facing an attempt to define the term marriage that in Europe historically and culturally has always and exclusively signified the relationship between husband and wife, in a new way. Language creates awareness. Therefore a new interpretation of the term marriage would further erode the awareness of the uniqueness and exclusiveness of this relationship between a man and a woman that is designed to be permanent. Yet, it is precisely this marriage I consider the proven model that overarches ages, cultures and even religions and is one of the foundations of human existence.
On the first pages of the bible the origin of man is described. God himself created man in his image – namely as man and woman. He blessed them with fertility and authority (Gen 1:27-28). These words are not just a side note, but an absolute foundation. The relationship between husband and wife is an expression of God’s order of creation and thus a biblical-anthropological constant no human society can relinquish. Neither the commandment to multiply nor the assignment to care is at the core of this statement, instead it is a basic axiom and God’s blessing on mankind. Man is neither created as an end in itself nor for self-actualization, but rather for the relationship with God and for the relationship with other humans – in such a way that a continual development of life is only possible through the polarity of both sexes.
The issue of same-sex marriage is connected to the right of adoption. Basically, I consider the freedom to lead one’s life as it deems right to the individual an achievement of our liberal and open society. Yet, individual freedom reaches its limits when it affects the freedom of others. Children who are put up for adoption depend on society to provide a framework that considers preferably all aspects of holistic upbringing and socialization. In dealing with adoption the child’s well being must be of top priority, not the desire of the couples willing to adopt. When it comes to adoption I regard the quest for adoptive parents, both father and mother, as an appropriate principle that must not be abandoned. In my opinion, man and woman, only through whom life can be given, are absolutely necessary to support the child in its upbringing and development. Considering the fact that there are more married couples willing to adopt a child than children who are put up for adoption, I do not see any shortcoming in this matter.
Generally speaking it is my desire that debates about issues like this are carried out with the highest degree of mutual respect and appreciation possible and not by polemics and heated battles of words. It is viable for a pluralistic and open society that all participants meet in a fair contest of opinions. I intend to work towards that goal. At the same time I encourage Christians, to be brave at all times to adhere to God’s principles and to be firmly rooted in them.