The Manhattan Declaration — Part 3
This is the third and last installment of this series of articles entitled “The Manhattan Declaration.” I ask still a third time what in the world could a declaration by that name have to do with those of us living here on the south side of Atlanta? Well, it simply bears the name of the place in New York where a gathering of well known and respected national Christian leaders met a year ago last November to make an important and historic faith declaration, much like the governmental declaration that was made in Philadelphia in 1776.
I’m going to share this third and final part of one section of it here with you this week. I shared the first and second parts with you back in November and February. You can look up those articles on my blog on The Citizen’s website.
What follows is the third part of the section entitled “Marriage.” The reason I share it is because I agree with it wholeheartedly and have actually become a “signer” of it, as you can too if you so choose. You can find the whole declaration and sign it on manhattandeclaration.org.
As you will experience when you read what is below, it is quite an in-depth presentation. It may take you more than one reading to comprehend fully both the detailed lines of affirmation and the detailed and thoughtful lines of rebuttal to opposing beliefs.
“No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality — a covenantal union of husband and wife — that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow.
“First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized. Second, the rights of parents are abused as family life and sex education programs in schools are used to teach children that an enlightened understanding recognizes as ‘marriages’ sexual partnerships that many parents believe are intrinsically nonmarital and immoral. Third, the common good of civil society is damaged when the law itself, in its critical pedagogical function, becomes a tool for eroding a sound understanding of marriage on which the flourishing of the marriage culture in any society vitally depends.
“Sadly, we are today far from having a thriving marriage culture. But if we are to begin the critically important process of reforming our laws and mores to rebuild such a culture, the last thing we can afford to do is to re-define marriage in such a way as to embody in our laws a false proclamation about what marriage is.
“And so it is out of love (not ‘animus’) and prudent concern for the common good (not ‘prejudice’), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture. How could we, as Christians, do otherwise? The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God’s creation covenant. Indeed, the union of husband and wife mirrors the bond between Christ and his church. And so just as Christ was willing, out of love, to give Himself up for the church in a complete sacrifice, we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage.”
Now, I want to take you back to the very beginning of The Declaration and these words which remind us of the lofty intent of those who fashioned this document.
“While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that ... the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies ...
“Because ... the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife (is a) foundational principle of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in (its) defense. In this declaration we affirm: ... (that) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society .
“We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right — and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation — to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.”
Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville. For more information log on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com