The sanctity of marriage may be in jeopardy, Mid-Missouri church leaders say.
The past few decades, the moral fabric in America has been on the decline, so hold many churches and individuals.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week has heard opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 by a large majority in the Senate and House of Representatives and signed by President Bill Clinton.
The high court also has considered California's proposition to prohibit same-sex marriage.
This is the not the first time the Supreme Court has been sought to define marriage.
In 1879, Reynolds v. the United States addressed the issue of polygamy, upholding that the government has the right to regulate marriage. In 1967, Loving v. Virginia declared that government has no compelling reason to forbid marriage between people of different races.
Observers say the issue of same-sex marriage has generated at least as much controversy as those issues, if not more.
Those who advocate for marriage to be a permanent and exclusive union between one man and one woman hold fast to that viewpoint. Although those beliefs mostly are rooted in a range of religious views, it is not exclusively a faith issue.
According to a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City: "Marriage is not "created' by a religious institution or human government.
"Religion and government confirm what was already present from the beginning: Marriage is based on the sexual difference between man and woman."
Leaders like the Rev. Pete Livingston, pastor at Concord Baptist Church, want to see the best outcome for the future of their community and nation, he said.
"We believe firmly that what is best is what the Bible teaches - clearly a union between one man and one woman," Livingston said.
That description is repeated throughout scripture from Genesis and Deuteronomy to Matthew and Ephesians, he said.
Similarly, in the Islamic point of view, marriage is a union of a man and a woman "who accept each other in the presence of at least two individuals and in accordance of the laws of God almighty as defined in Quran," said Mohammad Iqbal Hussain, a member of the Jefferson City Muslim Community.
"This is the only way a sexual relationship is established," he continued. "Any relationship (sex) between two men is prohibited strictly.
"The so-called gay marriages are considered as a shameful act ... (and) are a complete disobedience to God Almighty's orders."
The ideas of two-in-one-flesh union and the fruitful love of marriage are only possible through the sexual difference and how a man and woman complement one another, the diocese statement said.
The issue, it says, is not about individual rights, equality or discrimination, but dignity.
"There are many ways to protect basic human rights; sacrificing marriage is not one of them," the diocesan statement said.
Catholics, particularly, see Christian marriage as a sacramental image of Jesus Christ's love for the church.
"Reason can discern that the natural bond of marriage is ordered to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children," the Catholic statement said. "Faith does not contradict reason but rather complements and illuminates it."
Hussain added that marriage is the cornerstone of family and it is a sacred act.
"The breakdown of marriage has very serious consequences on the society as a whole, but especially on the children," he said.
Livingston said he hopes that judges and lawmakers will look beyond their individual lives and today's culture before making decisions.
"I think our culture clearly is experiencing some decay at all levels - economically, relationally and certainly spiritually," Livingston said. "I hope we would see during our lifetime a reversal."