NFL Football Players Speak Out On Marriage

Of all the discussion on marriage lately, none has been so unique as the dialogue between the National Football Players for the Baltimore Ravens, with a few politicians and critics poking in here and there.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has publicly expressed support for same-sex marriage, and Baltimore Ravens Center Matt Birk, after some back and forth with other players, recently expressed his views in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  Minnesota will vote on marriage this fall.  Birk's candid, focused, measured, and well-reasoned reply
Birkphoto.jpgreveals why he holds his views on marriage protection, and why Brendon Ayanbadejo respects him for those views.

Children have a right to a mom and a dad, and I realize that this doesn't always happen. Through the work my wife and I do at pregnancy resource centers and underprivileged schools, we have witnessed firsthand the many heroic efforts of single mothers and fathers -- many of whom work very hard to provide what's best for their kids.
But recognizing the efforts of these parents and the resiliency of some (not all, unfortunately) of these kids, does not then give society the right to dismiss the potential long-term effects on a child of not knowing or being loved by his or her mother or father. Each plays a vital role in the raising of a child.
Marriage is in trouble right now -- admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions. In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced "I am my brother's keeper" and "love your neighbor as yourself" with "live and let live" and "if it feels good, go ahead and do it."
The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution. How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?marriagesign.jpg
Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children -- the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.
I am speaking out on this issue because it is far too important to remain silent. People who are simply acknowledging the basic reality of marriage between one man and one woman are being labeled as "bigots" and "homophobic." Aren't we past that as a society?
Don't we all have family members and friends whom we love who have same-sex attraction? Attempting to silence those who may disagree with you is always un-American, but especially when it is through name-calling, it has no place in respectful conversation.
A defense of marriage is not meant as an offense to any person or group. All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms. There is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.

Matt Birk has received a great deal of criticism and name calling since his opinion was published, but his teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo came to his defense on Twitter.  “I don’t think he’s homophobic, Ayanbadejo tweeted, “Matt Birk is an amazing father, teammate, man!”  Focus on the Family's Jim Daly wrote a great piece highlighting Matt Birk's express views on marriage and and opening a public discussion on the matter at  http://www.focusonlinecommunities.com/blogs/Finding_Home/2012/10/03/this-nfl-player-said-what?refcd=136901.

There has been a great deal of posting on marriage here at Family Restoration, and you may want to consider again what's happening in Minnesota, Maine, Washington, and Maryland by reading my post on the JURIST at http://jurist.org/forum/2012/06/lynne-kohm-marriage-referendum.php, or here on this blog at http://www.regentfamilyrestoration.blogspot.com/2012/09/marriage-and-election-2012.html.  But hearing it from players for the Baltimore Ravens in a state like Maryland that is politically battling over the issue adds spark and substance to a matter that is significantly important to families not only in Maryland and Minnesota, but across the entire country. 


  1. For something relevant: Google First Scandal. When you get there, go to the top of the page and click on "Welcome University..." Please note: this website you reach will be deleted on November 1, 2012.

  2. I have a great deal of respect for the way that Birk handled this topic. As believers we are called to expose the darkness (Ephesians 5:11)but we are also called to give an answer for the hope that is within us with gentleness and respect so that when we are slandered for what we have said we have a clean conscience and those who are doing the slandering are without excuse for doing so (1 Peter 3:14-17). Too often I think we sacrifice one of these commands for the other instead of realizing that they are mutual commands that exist together and must be executed together. Having said that, I think it is important to realize that the fact that Birk's statement still resulted in slander is not an indication that he should have said something different. The wording of the passage in 1 Peter assures us that this will be the result. 1 Peter says, "...so that WHEN you are slandered" you will have a clear conscience. We are to love, hope for repentance, and speak with gentleness and respect, but we are to expect to be slandered.

  3. I believe that Matt Birk's opinion piece does well to focus on the fact that supporting traditional marriage does not necessitate or equate to the hatred of or the diminution of anyone who differs in opinion, while at the same time he points out the hypocrisy of those who would say he cannot have an opinion (by calling him a bigot). Birk is right to realize that the opponent's to traditional marriage seem to be attacking, not the issue itself, but one's ability to speak freely in opposition to an increasing trend away from the traditional family model.

    It is often stated by those in opposition to traditional marriage that opposition to homosexual relations, and the like, is equivalent to homophobia and bigotry. Yet, when one is considered homophobic or called bigot for merely differing in opinion, then the process of free speech and debate breaks down. The very idea of differing in opinion is already realized in this new wave of thought, in the breaking away from the traditional model of family. It seems that the blade should cut both ways. For if one is a bigot for supporting traditional marriage, then is not one who opposes traditional marriage equally bigoted given their difference with those who stand firm on marriage's tradition as between one man and one woman? It appears that the very argument itself has been flipped on its head.

    It is indeed important that Matt Birk takes a stand in support of the traditional model of family and traditional marriage, and I applaud his candor and confidence in his foundation based on Biblical truth. It is a rarity in this day-in-age for a prominent figure to stand against that which is popular. But if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.

    1. I have to agree with Michael. Calling comments like Birk's "homophobic" is misinformed at best and ad hominem at worst. To me, his is a well intentioned, well informed pro-family argument, and labeling such a statement as "bigotry" is somewhat lazy and reflective of a deeper societal issue, in my opinion. Abject dismissal of any pro-family discourse doesn't lead to progress, it merely masks actual issues with current dominant societal beliefs and vilifying anyone who does not fall into line with those beliefs. It is a hardball tactic used to sway those in the middle ground on positions like this and while even if it is effective in swaying popular opinion, it is a shameful strategy.

  4. I encourage readers to take a look at the book review printed at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/10/6203/, published by The Witherspoon Institute. It explores a new book on marriage by Elizabeth Brake titled Minimizing Marriage. According to the book reviewer, Ms. Brake argues for an expansion of the definition of marriage to the point of what the reviewer calls "an almost complete disestablishment of marriage." Specifically, Ms. Brake would expand marriage to include just about any relationship of "caring." Rather than allowing traditional social institutions like marriage to curb the excesses of our individualistic impulses, Ms. Brake advocates surrender to them. In the end, consent is the only prerequisite for marriage, likely obliterating the other statutory requirements often found in state codes, such as age, lack of consanguinity, and the presence of opposite genders. Social science arguments about the superiority of marriage as a nurturing environment for children are unpersuasive to Ms. Brake. The author of the book review, Scott Yenor, offers appropriate challenges to Ms. Brake's assertions throughout his article. However, it is self-evident that all Americans will need to think through these issues as the "minimalist marriage" movement advances. We will all need to formulate a proper response to the evolving thinking about marriage as Mr. Birk has done.

  5. There is no doubt Mr. Birk was thoughtful, well spoken, and invested in his answer to his teammate's views on same sex marriage. Additionally it would be crudely ignorant to call any statement revealing that caliber of careful thought, sensitivity, and construction as "bigoted" or "homophobic" but his words reveal an incongruous dichotomy that lies at the heart of many folk's criticisms of same sex marriage or any LBGT rights.

    Basically critics, especially sensitive, politically correct critics, always say how we all live in America and we have all these wonderful rights and freedoms and LBGT's should share in these rights and freedoms and we all have "close" family and friends who are LBGT. Problem is, they conclude, LBGT's should not have the right to marry or adopt children or be boy scout leaders, or be foster parents, or be artificially inseminated, or etc but, by golly, should revel in every other freedom we have here in this great country of ours.

    You can't have it both ways. Personally, I see LBGT rights as about parallel to the civil rights struggle in about 1965-68 but moving forward more quickly than the struggle for racial equality. This comparison has been heavily criticized by, ironically, both sides of the debate and is definitely the fodder for another day's discussion.

  6. I agree with Mr. Morris that Matt Birk's support for traditional marriage between a man and woman does not arise out of hatred or homophobia. Rather, Matt Birk is expressing his beliefs as a Christian and concerned citizen.

    Citizens who affirm the right of states to not recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states is merely part of our political process in this country. Benjamin Franklin said it best that "[f]reedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins."

    I greatly respect the Baltimore Ravens players using their stature as professional athletes to cordially express their views on same-sex marriage. However, I must agree with Matt Birk that requiring citizens to sanction same-sex relationships violates moral and religious beliefs of millions of American citizens, who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

    My personal stance on this issue, similar to Birk's, is not meant as an offense to any person or group. I agree that all people should be afforded their inalienable rights. But the preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman does not impede any inalienable rights.

  7. I think the obvious response to Matt Birk's position on marriage is that gay couples can be just as good parents to children as heterosexual couples. Here is the problem with that response: When looking from a parent's perspective, gay couples are obviously just as capable of giving love and support as heterosexual couples. But when we look at the child's perspective, we must ask, "Can a gay couple give a child what they truly need from each parent? Or is there something inherent in the masculinity of a man and the femininity of a woman, operating in balance with each other within the parental relationship, that children need from their parents?" If the problem is simply one of number, that is, if kids simply need two parents instead of one, then why do children raised by a mother and grandmother still have "daddy issues?" Why do children raised by a single father still have issues arising from a lack of a mother? And if a gay couple can try to meet a child's needs by having one partner play the masculine father and one play the feminine mother, isn't that all it is; an act?

    I believe Matt Birk said it perfectly when he asked, "How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids?" We as a society must make our decisions with a constant meditation on how they will affect the future generations whom we must raise and to whom we will be responsible. While many people (who may or may not already be in the position of parents) may be glad that gay marriage is a reality now, we must contemplate the effects that that decision will have on our children, and take whatever means are necessary to prevent or reverse the damage that decision will bring.