Buh bye DOMA. So long Prop 8. The Supreme Court struck them both down, and guessing by the weeping and gnashing of teeth by some Christian Conservatives, has also unleashed the impending fury of the Heavens (cue Pat Robertson, in 3, 2, 1…). Okay, sarcasm aside, I’m again left feeling, for the second time in a week, not surprised (first was with Paula Deen, who I’m sure, after stumbling through an apology-ladden sit down with Matt Laurer this morning, is probably thanking the pop culture gods that the SCOTUS ruling is such big news). This ruling was made by a secular court over a secular nation. The fight against DOMA and Prop 8 has been framed as a civil rights issue, and eventually, Same Sex Marriage will be legal in this land.
So what now? Carry on. From The Advocate:
Minnesota congresswoman and former presidential aspirant Michele Bachmann, one of the leading opponents of marriage equality, issued a statement soon after the rulings came out.
“Marriage was created by the hand of God,” she said. “No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted. For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations.
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people’s representatives through DOMA. What the court has done will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States.”
Tim Huelskamp, a Republican congressman from Kansas, offered similar sentiments when speaking to reporters outside the court building. “The courts have allowed the desires of adults to trump the needs of our children,” he said, saying kids need a parent of each gender, and same-sex marriage denies them this. He also contended the rulings were contradictory, with the Defense of Marriage Act ruling saying states have the right to define marriage, but the Proposition 8 decision saying they don’t.
Also speaking outside the court, Evangelical Church Alliance spokesman Rob Schenck said the rulings “do not change biblical or timeless truth.”
“The Supreme Court has no authority when it comes to the nature of marriage,” he said. That authority belongs to the creator.”
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, via Christianity Today writes:
Should the Supreme Court discard the age-old understanding of marriage, the church will face challenges unlike any it has encountered. And yet the calling of pastors and their churches on this issue will remain largely the same as it is now.
The biblical ideal of self-sacrificing, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is already countercultural. We must still uphold and celebrate God’s wise and magnificent design in this unique, complementary, and irreplaceable relationship between a man and a woman. We must teach coming generations of its benefits and beauty. And, above all, we must model it well.
It is vital that we frame marriage as an example of God’s common grace, given for the benefit of all humanity, transcending even fundamental faith differences. We must speak about the damage to our culture of departing from this blueprint—not because “we want our way,” but because people inevitably suffer when God’s basic guidelines for human flourishing are jettisoned.
The church will be called upon once again to help its people embrace challenging times through the prism of God’s Word, and to hold out the beacon of hope that Christianity offers to the lost. If we want others to understand marriage from God’s perspective, we should strive to converse in a spirit consistent with God’s heart. We must speak truth boldly, yet with compassion, understanding, and love.
Pastors must recommit themselves to the task of teaching on the subject of marriage from a biblical perspective. We must train our children about this issue, first in the home, but also in Sunday school and teen groups.
We must also humbly confess the damage we have done to marriage by our own careless treatment of it. Though the divorce rate among committed Christians is lower than among the general populace, it remains far too high. The single greatest argument we can present to the world on this issue is to live out marriage in all its God-ordained fullness and radiant beauty.
From Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Seminary:
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.
Striking at the heart of DOMA, Justice Kennedy wrote: “The history of DOMA’s enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, a dignity conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.”
As evidence of this judgment, Kennedy cited a document from the House of Representatives in 1996. That statement proposed that DOMA expressed “both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.” That document went on to state that DOMA would protect the government’s “interest in protecting the traditional moral teachings reflected in heterosexual-only marriage laws.”
In the view of five justices, that meant the death of DOMA. They ruled that the only reason that Congress passed DOMA in 1996 was because it wanted to single out same-sex couples to be denied access to marriage, and it did so on moral terms. As Kennedy argued in his majority opinion, “The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.” In doing so, he argued, the Congress had passed a law that “violates the due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.”
Nevertheless, even as Justice Kennedy castigated Congress (and presumably former President Bill Clinton) for making moral judgments, he could not resist moral judgments of his own. He wrote of our society’s “evolving understanding of the meaning of equality and declared that the states have the right to confer on same-sex marriages “the equal dignity” of a mariage between a man and a woman. By finding that the moral judgment of Congress in opposing same-sex marriage was wrong, he asserted, quite forcefully, that opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in animus or hatred. In other words, Justice Kennedy, joined by four other justices, believes that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong. In condemning a moral judgment, he arrogantly made a moral judgment.
While the immediate effects of the striking down of DOMA’s federal definition of marriage are not specifically clear, it does mean that the federal government will now be required to recognize any same-sex union declared to be legal in any state, extending full recognition and extending all federal marriage benefits to that same-sex marriage. The Obama Administration will have to make a myriad of decisions about how this is to be done. Interestingly, this will put President Obama, who last year “evolved” into full support for legal same-sex marriage, on the hot seat once again.
The Christian church does not ask the U. S. Supreme Court, or any other human court, what marriage is. Marriage is a pre-political institution defined by our Creator — for His glory and for human flourishing. Today’s decisions will create serious religious liberty challenges for all churches, Christian institutions, and Christian citizens in this nation. But the greatest impact of these decisions is the further marginalization and subversion of marriage. The destruction of marriage did not start recently, and it did not start with same-sex marriage, but its effects will be devastating.
Meanwhile, Christian artist Sho Baraka kept it short. From The Old Black Church:
Christian hip-hop artist and writer Sho Baraka set off a firestorm via social media today when he posted the below comment to his Facebook Page. After the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote, that the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages is unconstitutional the artist posted the following comment:
“I think many Christians (not all) want legislation to do their job of evangelism. Biblical marriage will not die because of DOMA.”