Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two significant rulings concerning homosexual marriage. What should we think about them?
First of all, Joe Carter tells us, “9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Cases.” His article helps to simplify the complexity of these cases and provides an overview of what the cases were about and what the Supreme Court said in its decisions and dissenting opinions.
Al Mohler quickly responded with a typically insightful editorial, “‘Waiting for the Other Shoe’ — The Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage.” One significant comment from the article:
Of the two decisions handed down today, the DOMA decision is, by far, the most important and wide reaching. In the Court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court has ruled that Congress was motivated by a specific moral animus against homosexual marriage and homosexual citizens when it passed DOMA. As such, the Court ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional.
It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the future impact of the DOMA decision, but it is not yet a new Roe v. Wade. Instead, it sets up a future legal challenge from any citizen in any state that does not have legal same-sex marriage. The Court’s decision in that future case, surely not long in our future, will be the new Roe v. Wade – a sweeping decision that would create a new “right” that would mean the coast-to-coast legalization of same-sex marriage. Today’s decisions do not take us there, but they take us to the precipice of that sweeping decision. That is especially true of the DOMA case.
Russell Moore also asks the insightful question, “What Did the Supreme Court Really Change Today?” And as part of his answer, he writes,
This is an opportunity for gospel witness.
For a long time in American culture, we’ve acted as though we could assume marriage. Even people from what were once called “broken homes” could watch stable marriages on television or movies. Boys and girls mostly assumed they had a wedding in their futures. As marriage is redefined, these assumptions will change. Let’s not wring our hands about that.
This gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture. But is there anything more “freakish” than a crucified cosmic ruler? Is there anything more “freakish” than a gospel that can forgive rebels like us and make us sons and daughters? Let’s embrace the freakishness, and crucify our illusions of a moral majority.
That means that we must repent of our pathetic marriage cultures within the church. For too long, we’ve refused to discipline a divorce culture that has ravaged our cultures. For too long, we’ve quieted our voices on the biblical witness of the distinctive missions of fathers and mothers in favor of generic messages on “parenting.”
For too long, we’ve acted as though the officers of Christ’s church were Justices of the Peace, marrying people who have no accountability to the church, and in many cases were forbidden by Scripture to marry. Just because we don’t have two brides or two grooms in front of us, that doesn’t mean we’ve been holding to biblical marriage.
The dangerous winds of religious liberty suppression means that our nominal Bible Belt marrying parson ways are over. Good riddance. This means we have the opportunity, by God’s grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why.
So how should we think about these decisions?
- We should not be surprised. Unregenerate men think with futility, are darkened in their understanding, they are spiritually and morally ignorant, and they are callous to the truth (Eph. 4:17-19). Given those truths, how can we expect ungodly, unrighteous men to write righteous laws and defend those laws with moral uprightness?
- We should not despair. Christ will be victor, but He is also already victor. As believers we have not lost anything. What we have in Christ is eternally secure and cannot be removed from us (1 Pt. 1:4-6). Grieve for the lost who are blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4), lament for future generations who may have to live under increasingly ungodly laws, should the Lord tarry, but do not despair for yourself. The Lord conquered sin and death at the cross and nothing can undo that (Jn. 16:33; Heb. 2:14-15). These acts of ungodliness are Satan’s futile attempt to alter the unalterable. Both his fate and ours as believers are secure.
- We should not think worse of those ensnared by homosexual sin than any other unredeemed men. My sinful condition and all my sinful actions condemned me to suffer the wrath of God, just as those who persist in homosexual sin without repentance will suffer the wrath of God. My only hope — and the hope of any homosexual — is the gracious cross of Christ to reconcile us to God and redeem us from sin.
- We should think of this as an opportunity to be distinct from our culture and to look for opportunities to communicate the good news of the gospel. What is needed to address the blatant sins of our culture (and there are a good many more of those than homosexuality!) is not more laws and more conservative jurists and politicians. What is needed is the gospel changing one life after another. The darker the world becomes as it is ensnared in sin, the brighter the good news of Christ can shine.