This past Friday, as many expected, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, ruled that under the Constitution, “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” Brushing aside arguments about history and the purpose of marriage, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, wrote “No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”
This ruling should be no surprise to anyone. All along, court-watchers knew that it would all come down to what Justice Kennedy thought about the issue. The votes of the other eight justices were never really in doubt. It was obvious that Justice Kennedy, as the author of Planned Parenthood’s infamous “mystery passage,” would have trouble excluding same-sex marriage from “the right to define one’s own concept of existence.”
Justice Kennedy’s opinion, along with the four dissenting opinions, will be dissected and analyzed for some time. For all you Christians out there, who find yourselves really shaken up over this decision, I would like to console you a bit by stating what should be very obvious to you: Five Justices of the Supreme Court cannot redefine marriage itself, not any more than Roe vs. Wade could redefine the sanctity of life.
Just as Roe vs. Wade marked a new phase in the struggle for the sanctity of life and the dignity of new persons, Friday’s decision marks a new phase in the fight for the God-ordained gift of family.
Of course, that’s not what the majority of the Court would have us believe. That is why Justice Kennedy framed his opinion as the next logical step in the history of our evolving ideas about freedom and equality.
The key word in that sentence is “evolving.” In Kennedy’s take, our forebears who had moral objections to same-sex relations, never mind same-sex marriage, were unenlightened and cruel. This idea that Kennedy is sharing to the American public is, at its very essence, chronological snobbery. This idea was way too much for Chief Justice Roberts who, in dissent, wrote, “The Court today not only overlooks our entire country’s history and tradition, but actively repudiates it, referring to live only in the heady day of the here and now. To blind yourself to history is both prideful and unwise.”
These are strong words, but Chief Justice Roberts was not the only one who felt this decision was a demonstration of arrogance at its very extreme. Allan Carlson recently wrote, “same-sex marriage is merely the current enthusiasm of a relatively small number of deracinated, secularized, mostly childless, and largely white elites in ten percent of the world’s countries.” He continues, “Despite intense forms of bribery and extortion now practiced by the United States and the European Union, few other nations are likely to join ‘the West’ in this latest surrender to the sexual revolution.”
Unfortunately as of last Friday, we now live among the ten percent. While Carlson is correct when he writes that in the long run, as viewed from a Christian perspective, last Friday’s decision will “mean little,” in the short-to-medium run it poses challenges for believers.
There is no doubt that there are a lot of people with very strong opinions and beliefs on both sides of the issue. If you would humor me a little, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on the issue.
Let me start by saying that I am a Christian, I believe in God, and I have an active, growing relationship with God. Whenever I have a question about what I should believe or how I should stand on any issue, I go to the guidebook that God has provided to me, the Holy Bible. When you look in the Bible, there are two different parts that discuss the idea of marriage and what marriage should be. I would like to take a look at both parts and go from there.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
It is clear, to me, from reading these passages, that God created man and woman, as separate, but both in His own image. He created both male and female to rule over all the animals and creatures of this world. God created male and female to be united as one and the two will become one. Once, joined the two should not be separated. At no point in the Bible does it state that man should be united with man or woman should be united with woman. I believe that if God had any intention in His great plan for our lives thought that involved same-sex marriage, He would have discussed that in the Bible. Since He did not, it is my belief that same-sex marriage directly violates God’s plan for our lives and is therefore, by definition, a sin.
With that being said, I also want us to go a little further and again look at the Bible and see what it says about the idea of us judging the sins of others.
James 4:11-12 (NIV)
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Romans 2:1-4 (NIV)
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
John 8:1-7 (NIV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
I am not going to say that all sins are equal, but every single person who has ever lived on earth, with the exception of Jesus Himself, have committed sin. This is clearly stated in the book of Romans:
Romans 3:23 (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We all sin, but as we read in the above passages, it is not our place, as humans to judge the sins of others. Only God has the right to judge our sins.
If Christians start getting angry at gays and start lashing out at them, they are just in the wrong as those participating in those same-sex marriages. If people are going to pull out their Bibles to show people, in anger, where it says what they are doing wrong, they need to be prepared to look up in the Bible the parts that talk about judging sin as being wrong.
God tells us that we are to show love and forgiveness towards all our brothers and sisters on earth no matter what sin or sins they have committed. We need to do this because God has commanded us to do so and He has done this for each and every one of us.
With that being said, I feel that, if 2 gay people choose to get married, during the ceremony, there should be no mention of God or any reference to the Bible at all. Our country has declared that it is OK for same sex marriage, but God has not. If one is to choose to engage in a same sex marriage, it is wrong to bring God into it. That is my opinion so you can choose to agree or disagree, however you see fit.
To summarize, here is what I believe regarding same-sex marriage:
Sin is wrong. Same-sex marriage is a sin. Same-sex marriage is wrong. Humans judging the sins of others is wrong. Only God has the right to judge sins. We are all called to show love and forgiveness to all people, just as God loves and forgives us.
This past Sunday, the pastor at the church I attend here in Ames, took the time to read a letter that the newly appointed president of the EFCA (Kevin Kompelien) wrote to the entire membership of the EFCA, talking about this very topic. I thought the letter was very well written and I would like to share with you a portion of what it said:
The Word of God is clear in both Genesis 1:26-27 and Matthew 19:4-6 that marriage was established by God and is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman. The EFCA Spiritual Heritage Committee in a document entitled “A Church Statement on Human Sexuality,” gives the following suggested definition of marriage:
Marriage is the original and foundational institution of human society, established by God as a one-flesh, covenantal union between a man and a woman that is life-long (until separated by death), exclusive (monogamous and faithful), and generative in nature (designed for bearing and rearing children), and it is to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church.
The reality of the situation for us as the people of God is that today’s Supreme Court decision did not take God by surprise nor does it in any way change the Biblical definition of marriage. Rather it is a call for us to clearly embrace our Lord’s definition of marriage and to respond to this recent development with grace and truth like He would (John 1:14). It will be important that our responses reflect the character and heart of Jesus to the world around us.
We have moved into a time when our perspective on marriage is no longer supported by the law of our nation and is quickly being abandoned by a growing number of Americans. However, this is not a time to wring our hands in despair or to respond in anger. Responses of fear or anger will not honor the Lord nor will they demonstrate the redemptive power of the gospel. Rather this is an opportunity for us to be the church and to live out what we say we believe.
Now is the time for us to commit to pray for the leaders of our nation as Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-7, to be gracious to those who don’t share our views and love them as people created in the image of God, and to engage the world around us on this issue in ways that speak truth and point people to the redeeming gospel of Jesus.
As these events unfold in our nation we must ever more clearly stand on the truth of God’s Word regarding marriage, demonstrate to the world around us the beauty of loving Christian marriages, and commit ourselves to teach and model Biblical marriage to our children and grandchildren who are growing up in a rapidly changing future.
None of us knows exactly what challenges the future holds for the church and for us as followers of Jesus. What we do know is that the Lord of the church is in charge and he has a plan that he will work to completion to His ultimate glory. It will be important for all of us to be prayerful and wise as we lead the church and our families in the days to come.
I think that this letter is very well-written. In essence, we need to leave the consequences of this decision up to God and His plan and put our focus into loving God, loving others, and a lot of prayer to and about both.
Now more than ever, we need to emphasize instructing our kids in the fullness of the Christian faith. They have to learn what marriage really is, not what the Court and the culture would have us believe it is.
We need to be prepared for the inevitable impact this decision will have on how we practice our faith.
Like the pro-life movement learned to do in the wake of Roe vs. Wade, we’ll need to find ways to help those victimized by this chapter of the sexual revolution. Every other chapter has had its victims. This one will too.
Most of all though, we need to pray that God would equip us for and sustain us through these challenges. As Carlson put it, “The twenty-first Christian century should actually be an exciting time to be alive for believers call to witness to the Truth. Despair is useless. Hope is certain.”
I say Amen to that!