Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family (FOTF), continues his damage control after conceding defeat on marriage equality with a column in today’s Washington Post called, “What’s the focus of Focus on the Family?” Rather than actually establish that FOTF has any priorities other than continuing to demonize the LGBT community and defend bullies, Daly commits the whole post to walking back his concession on the marriage issue:
So, let me be clear: I am not waving a white flag. I’m not even contemplating picking one up. There is still much work to be done by those of us in the faith community to advocate for marriage as it has been defined, and practiced, by every civilized society for millennia.
My comments to World are no more or no less than a continuation of something I’ve been saying for years: That we cannot expect the culture to be the church. As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love, and advance it in public policy, regardless of opinion polls or shifting political winds. But our responsibility doesn’t end at the bully pulpit or the ballot box. We also must model the beauty and permanence of traditional marriage to society. And, to be frank, we have not done a very good job in that regard.
“Don’t think of an elephant.” That strategy always works for convincing an audience to not think of a white flag. It also makes perfect sense to argue that the culture should not be the church, and yet Christians should still advance the church in public policy using the “bully pulpit.” If Christians are modeling love, shouldn’t it be a “friend pulpit”?
But Daly clearly doesn’t even understand the focus of his own argument. As in his post yesterday on FoxNews.com, he seems much more concerned with divorce than same-sex marriage. While maintaining his commitment that same-sex couples shouldn’t even have the chance to make the commitment of marriage (though many do anyway), he’s frustrated that “Christians” don’t model it better:
Imagine if, as the result of such efforts, the Christian divorce rate goes from 40 percent to 10 percent or 5 percent, and the world’s goes from 50 percent to 80 percent. How can the culture not look at us then and think, “We want more of what they’ve got,” because we’re proving in front of the eyes of the world that marriage in a Christian context works?
Forget for a moment that Daly’s now back to making religious arguments about a civil institution. If the statistics on Christian marriage compared to all marriages were ever that absurdly disparate, it would suggest that Christians’ contributions to defining cultural norms are entirely insignificant. In reality, while born again Christians do get married at higher rates, they divorce at exactly the same rates as the rest of society.
Ultimately, Daly draws no link between FOTF’s goal of “divorce-proof marriages” and fighting against marriage equality. Quite to the contrary, if FOTF reaches that goal and demonstrates the potential success of marriage, it would likely only encourage same-sex couples to advocate more for equal access to its privileges and responsibilities. Daly may think that the past success of state marriage amendments is an endorsement of his position, but as he attempts to refocus Focus on opposing all things gay (remember: no white flag), he’ll realize that even if they haven’t “lost,” they’re still losing by everyone’s count.