Teetsel: "On Winning the Marriage Debate"


Today on Public Discourse, Eric Teetsel, the Executive Director of the Manhattan Declaration, argues that conservatives need to argue more like lovers if they want to win the marriage debate:

"...What are marriage advocates to do? How can marriage--a thorough defense of which requires deep theological reflection or the complex natural law web of anthropological, historical, social, and scientific ideas contained inĀ What is Marriage--compete with "all you need is love"?

Couple SilhouetteMore broadly, how can conservatism--whose rich intellectual foundation includes philosophers such as James Madison, Edmund Burke, and Adam Smith--win in an age when Glee and Lady Gaga carry the real cultural heft?

Here's what we must not do: sacrifice our principles. Better to lose a thousand elections than win in sycophantic appeals to the lowest common denominator. Christians, at least, can rely on the long view of God's redemptive story. We have already read the final page of human history; we know how the story ends. How utterly meaningless is the next election cycle viewed from this perspective?

Until that final chapter comes to pass, the responsibility is ours to be active in the present. And since we aren't about to gain a slew of celebrity endorsements, we have to make ourselves and our ideas as attractive to the "persuadables" as possible. Forget beating the entrenched opposition. When we debate in the public square and in social media, our goal should be to win those silent observers whose commitments are shallow and subject to change.

This week, the Supreme Court will issue decisions in two cases involving the meaning and purpose of marriage. Whatever the results, our work to rebuild a culture of marriage and family will continue. Restoration will require that we better brand ourselves and make our case more attractive."