One of our evening church members, in her first year of university, shared this on her Facebook feed.

The yes / no facebook page provides quality content. Whilst it divides the fb community over big and small issues, I like to think that it also unites. We “react” to express our similarities and differences on important issues, such as wearing socks to bed, brushing your teeth in the shower, watching the bachelor, or having snapchat streaks (yes, yes, no, no).

However, it seems to me as if the yes / no marriage debate has become a lot more “reactive” in real life, and a lot more intolerant of the inevitable differences in opinion. I know that it is a very personal issue to many, and I don’t want to take that lightly or come across as naive. But I want to suggest that if someone disagrees with your opinion, this does not equate to dislike, or to discrimination. To be human is to be different, so conversations regarding ANY yes / no debate should be based on respect and tolerance.

The marriage yes / no debate isn’t trivial. It’s complex and it’s significant. There are legal, ethical, social and religious factors associated. But this debate is not based on the legal and human rights of adults. It’s based on changing a definition to validate adult affection and connection. If validation was all marriage stood for, then in a secular society, by all means we should have same sex marriage. Except marriage is more than validation. Marriage is an institution that upholds the belief that gender, biology and stability matter to raising children. It supports the belief that a child deserves the right to a mother and a father. So fundamentally, this debate regards the human rights of children. By making marriage genderless, parenthood consequently becomes legal rather than biological. Children with same sex parents can absolutely experience loving parent relationships, but they will still be denied the right to a mother or father. Before you argue that same sex couples can already ‘parent’, the difference is that legalising same sex marriage normalises this parenting. It makes children a political commodity adults own, rather than a biological product of a sexual union.

By holding this opinion, I’m not saying same sex relationships are any less loving, or that my homosexual friends would make any worse parents than my heterosexual friends. In a lot of cases, they would probably make better parents. But I believe in the right children have to a mother and a father, and it is the responsibility of all adults to uphold this right. Because if we don’t, who will?

I know writing a post like this is controversial or that I could come across as a bigot. But for a yes / no debate, there’s a lot at stake, and it’s worth discussing openly, respectfully and lovingly.