Do you believe that marriage is, and only can be, between a man and a woman?  Do you believe it is the bedrock of society?  Finally, do you believe that Nature’s God instituted marriage in the beginning?  If you said yes to all of these questions, this article is being written for you.  Let me explain.  Words matter and how you frame a message matters.  In fact, whoever defines the language controls the message and frames it in their favor.  This is why I am making the case that if you believe the above statement, then you can never use the word “gay” before the word “marriage”.  If you do not believe me, then you should study the word battles in the abortion issue.  It was through my work with the Right to Life in Iowa that I learned these important lessons of language—first being that you never repeat your opposition’s message or use “their” language.   Please read on before you write again to defend marriage.

Again, you never repeat your opposition’s message in order to give your rebuttal.  Don’t give them free space on your page.  This is by far the biggest error of the right.   The opposition said what they said to persuade, and they carefully crafted their words.  They have the disadvantage since they must “change” culture, so they are not going to use your words.   Christians and pro-life people react with very little strategy when they publish an article.  To their credit they want to defend truth and are willing to step out of their comfort zone to speak up—great, and thank you.  With that said, to their fault, they are not paying attention to how to fight the battle with words.  Consider why the liberal papers flip pro-lifers’ words from “pro-life” to “anti-choice”.  This is not an accident and has a definite motive behind it.  They want their readers to view pro-life people as an “anti” kind of people, which has the subliminal effect of making the reader want to disassociate with an “anti” group, as opposed to reporting us as “pro” life, which would have a drawing effect.  Take also into consideration the abortion industry’s use of “pro-choice” instead of “anti-life”.   Why do you think the largest abortion group in the United States call themselves Planned Parenthood instead of Abortions Aplenty?  The answer is obvious; they do not want people to view them as advancing more abortion.  Words really, really, really matter when engaging in social issues.

Let this be the rule of thumb when you want to engage in the battle of words:  Whoever defines the word, frames the issue in their favor.  So long as you use their language, you have yielded and helped them without even knowing it.

My hope is that my friends in this battle for marriage will be persuaded to stop using the opposition’s language.  Make no mistake; marriage has been under attack for a long time.  You do not have to look far to realize that the younger generation places very little value on the institution.  Why is it under attack?  I am convinced that marriage is a reflection of the triune God, since he designed and instituted it.  So in fact, this is far more than what it appears.   Let’s face it; God instituted marriage as his plan to populate the earth by creating each new generation and as a reflection of his love.  Marriage is about a life-long commitment that includes bringing children into the world.  If a couple is unable to have children, they can either adopt or serve mankind in another way.  The order of society should still maintain a mother and a father uniting to pro-create and raise children.  This is so obvious that it is a wonderment that so many people are confused today.   However, it’s not the first time in history that people have lost their way on this issue.  The question is:  how did we get here?  I believe a good place to start in understanding how America fell so fast as to devalue marriage can be found in Humane Vitae, written by Pope Paul IV.

I contend that the other side has done a good job dismantling marriage by using propaganda.  They took advantage of the fact that most people are lazy thinkers and do not like to be controversial.  Reframing the language began with a simple word–“gay”, which at one time meant “happy” or “joyful”, yet now it means someone who has sex with the same gender.  Not too long ago this sexual act was called perversion.  In fact, because of this perversion God’s judgment fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, and men who engaged in this sexual act were thereafter referred to as Sodomites.   Like all sins that lead to eternal death, it should be treated for what it is–sin that can be forgiven.  Let’s face it, all of us are sinners and need to repent to be restored to God.  However, it is evil to say that a sin is no longer a sin.  In the case of sexual perversion, many now say that people are born this way.  We are all born with a sinful nature—that is, a desire to sin.  Not only is everyone born bent to sin, but we are all born with a sexual drive.  The reality is, as sinners, we are all given the choice to act upon all types of sinful inclinations or to reject them to do what is right.   No one is without sin.  Make no mistake—there is no one without excuse.  Nature bears witness to the truth.  It is black and white.  The problem today is that people are buying into the lie that we can’t help ourselves and therefore it must be okay.  It is not okay and we must speak the truth, with love and with the correct words.

So let’s get back to what language to use or not to use in defending marriage.  You must ask yourself again whether or not you truly believe that marriage is, and can only be, between a man and a woman.  If so, then we can say with confidence there is only one kind of marriage.  Right?  Try not to contradict yourself by putting the word “gay or homosexual” with the word marriage.  If it can’t be and doesn’t exist then do not speak it into existence.  If you choose to use their language, they will use it against you.  How?  Once you allow them to create a new kind of marriage by using their language, all they have to do is say you are discriminating against “blank-marriage”.  See how subtle, and yet so simple.  You become your own worst enemy.  This information is probably a decade late, but I’m hopeful that at least some will catch on.

For those of you who have the habit of using their language instead of saying “marriage”, don’t be undisciplined or lazy and think that what I just said doesn’t matter, for not only does it matter, it matters a lot.  You must decide what you believe and then speak the words.  Marriage stands alone for it is what it is.   Do not help your opposition any longer by repeating “their message”.  Please!   Discipline yourself and stay on message.

If you were to ask me how I say it, I use these words:

  • Defend marriage (number one choice to say over and over again)
  • I encourage you to stop the destruction of marriage.
  • I support marriage.
  • Please support marriage with me.
  • Marriage is a blessing.
  • Marriage is under attack.
  • Rebuild marriage for the sake of our children.
  • Marriage has always been male and female, and I might add, will always be and cannot be anything but one man and one woman.
  • We must not let marriage be dismantled.
  • Encourage our children to marry.
  • Society didn’t create marriage and therefore has no power to redefine it.

Never call it “traditional Marriage” for that implies there is more then one kind of marriage (very subtle).  You will notice that your opposition will never say they are destroying marriage or dismantling it.  They are very disciplined to use their own language and compel you to use it in rebuttal.

The objective for both sides is to frame the message to get agreement

If you ask people if they support marriage, they will say yes.  If you ask them if they want to destroy marriage, they will say no.  If you ask them if society should help rebuild marriages in the US for the sake of our children, they will say yes.  If you ask people if they want to protect marriage, they will say yes.

Remember to frame the issue or your message in a way that the public will support.  So stay on message and love all people, and for the sake of our loving God, never agree with a lie by repeating the lie in order to rebut it.  Simply state your message.  Why give them free advertising?  Frame the truth and stay on message.

Photo Credit: Andrew Morrell via Flickr (CC-By-ND 2.0)

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