US Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage—now what?
Published: 29 June 2015 (GMT+10)
As we write this article, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the USA. Most Christians who have been watching the developments in our culture—including the rapid erosion of religious liberties and the increasing persecution of Christians who have the ‘audacity’ to oppose same-sex marriage in public—should not be overly surprised by this, though we still grieve that what the Bible calls an abomination has now become effectively the law of the land in the U.S.
How do we think about this, not just as citizens of countries around the world who are debating a fundamental redefinition of marriage, but as Christians? We must face this with a biblical and historical perspective, and confront the culture with truth and love, and the unchanging standard of Scripture.
How we got here
Fifty years ago, it would have been unthinkable for homosexuality to have the public approval it now enjoys, much less that marriage would be redefined to allow for the solemnification and state recognition of these relationships. But the seeds were already being sown.
America capitulated on marriage long before the homosexual lobby wanted in. A culture with far too many marriages ending in divorce (although evangelical Christians, unlike the stereotypical accusation, have lower rates of divorce), children frequently being conceived outside of marriage, and an increasing preference for cohabitation instead of marriage showed that it lacked real conviction about marriage.
And most Christians were, quite frankly, unprepared for the organized, strategic assault on traditional morality waged by a small number of politically savvy activists. Gay people are such a small proportion of the population (most reputable estimates are around 5 percent, much less than the ten percent myth that is usually paraded as fact) that many simply did not see them as that much of a threat.
But pro-homosexual activists relied heavily on propaganda to advance their point of view. They told us the battle was between love, equality, civil rights, and immutable orientation on the one side, and discrimination, intolerance, and homophobia on the other. And homosexuality was normalized through exposure to a barrage of gay TV characters, news stories presenting gay individuals and couples in a sympathetic way and suppressing the dark side of homosexual culture, university professors who effectively brainwashed young students by abusing their authority in the classroom, and non-stop political pressure.
Coming after the Church
Now hardly a day goes by without a news story about the tolerance mongers coming after those (primarily Christians) who don’t toe the line on same-sex marriage. We’ve seen pastors disinvited from praying at government functions, adoption agencies who won’t service gay couples forced to close, people like Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich or Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran hounded out of their jobs, lawsuits against Christians who have wedding-industry businesses, parents told they don’t have the right to exempt their children from classroom indoctrination, and much more.
CMI warned that gay marriage would be a big stick to beat the church with. That is, it is (or sadly, was) a line-in-the-sand issue, because gay marriage will be the first of many issues that Christians might be forced to accept. And we see this becoming more true all the time. The culture is trying to marginalize and silence those who remain faithful to Scripture on this issue, and many Christians are fearful and intimidated. Some think we should avoid the subject because they are so tired of hearing about it, and others fail to speak up for the truth because they know it will earn them scorn.
Lessons to be learned
Many professing Christians have reacted to this tidal wave of cultural change by changing along with it. Ethicist David Gushee, for instance, has become a vocal voice saying that the Christian church must be inclusive of people who engage in same-sex relationships. ‘Mainline’ liberal denominations have already capitulated en masse to the redefinition of marriage, and evangelicals who remain true to the teaching of Scripture risk being labelled as bigots.
Others have clung to reactionary, trite-sounding slogans such as “Turn or burn!” or “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” While it is true that people who engage in homosexual sin will face judgment, and that the male/female complementarity in marriage is part of the created order which homosexuality rebels against, these slogans do not help to advance a conversation, and they reinforce the stereotype of Christians as people who lack compassion or concern for the broader issues involved.
Rather than capitulating or relying on shallow sloganeering, Christians need to present a loving, but firm and united front in the face of this ruling. First, we express love for people in homosexual relationships. Many of them are friends, family members (even children), and neighbors, and we pray for them to find repentance and salvation in Christ. Our behavior should be so unobjectionable toward them that no reasonable person could find fault (of course, we will not always be dealing with reasonable people).
But we should firmly reject any attempt to redefine marriage, because no human institution has the authority to do so. God created marriage, and so He gets to define it. Jesus pointed out that “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’” (Mark 10:6). We cannot offer Caesar his pinch of incense, because to do so would be to deny God in this matter.
This means that Christians may have to be willing to lose some of the privileges and exemptions that we have long enjoyed. For instance, many Christian schools are wondering if they may face losing their federal funding if they do not capitulate on gay marriage. Our response should be faithfulness even at the cost of these benefits, trusting God to more than make up for what is lost. The Christian community should also rally together to support those who face loss for the cause of Christ, particularly individuals and businesses who have made a stand, suffered persecution and loss as a result.
Christian churches, schools, and ministries should do everything in their power to protect themselves from the inevitable attack from homosexual activists. This is due diligence, even recognizing that these attempts may be ruled invalid.
Evangelical churches need to teach their people about this topic, and how to respond with the combination of biblical truth and love regarding homosexuality. Parents, most of all, should teach their children how to think biblically and logically about this issue as there is a tendency to ‘buy in’ to the gay lobby’s emotional sound bites on this issue (e.g. “It’s OK as long as gay couples love each other.”)
The authority of Scripture
Ultimately, the only way we can stand firm on the issue of marriage is to hold on to the authority of Scripture. Historically, and still today in many parts of the world, Christians have faced the confiscation of property, imprisonment, and even death for their identification with Christ. Americans have never imagined ourselves vulnerable to this sort of persecution because our country was founded on Christian principles and those principles for a long time formed the foundation of our culture. Unfortunately, that false sense of security may have helped our ideological opponents win the day.
Building morality on a house of cards
As the dissent in the case points out, redefining marriage, which has existed in essentially the same form for millennia across all cultures, is extremely presumptuous:
The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial “caution” and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own “new insight” into the “nature of injustice.” Ante, at 11, 23. As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?1
Also, there is not much at all to keep this precedent from further redefinitions of marriage:
It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” ante, at 13, why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” ante, at 15, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” ante, at 22, serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships?…
…when asked about a plural marriage union at oral argument, petitioners asserted that a State “doesn’t have such an institution.” Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 2, p. 6. But that is exactly the point: the States at issue here do not have an institution of same-sex marriage, either.2
Christ is not defeated!
Finally, Christians should not take a defeatist attitude toward this issue, but recognize that Christ has already achieved victory over sin and death and the forces of darkness. In the long term, it will not be supporters of same-sex marriage who are on ‘the right side of history’ (as they commonly assert), but those who have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and who remain faithful to Him in times of trial like this. God did not abandon the faithful Israelites who went into exile, and He has promised not to abandon us either (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). God is still in control, and He still provides for His people. We must trust Him in the days to come.
When Augustine wrote The City of God, he was addressing Christians who equated the Roman Empire with Christianity, and were shaken with the fall of the Empire. He gave them the valuable reminder that the true citizenship of every Christian is not in an earthly country, and that we wait for the ‘city of God’, that is, the New Jerusalem.
God’s agenda has always been the spread of the Gospel, and that has happened in the face of worse persecution than anyone in America has faced. Even though we are rightly distressed that the government has officially embraced an unbiblical stance on this issue, Christians still have hope that the Gospel will transform people even in the midst of a corrupt culture.
A resource to help equip Christians
Our little booklet Gay Marriage: right or wrong? And who decides? has received lots of positive reviews from families who needed information to help deal with this issue, and for its nice tone. It contains some wonderful testimonies of former homosexuals who have been set free from their bondage to sin. We’ve also had several churches order many hundreds of copies to give out to their congregation and in particular their youth, to help them when encountering opposition or arguments to defend gay marriage. If you click on the links to our store you will see substantial discounts for bulk purchases.
References and notes
- Roberts, C.J., dissenting, Obergefell v Hodges, p. 3, 26 June 2015. Return to text.
- Roberts, C.J., dissenting, Obergefell v Hodges, pp. 20 – 21, 26 June 2015. Return to text.
Just let it be. Let them. We must concentrate on ourselves first before we point at others. As we all know, the Christian community is not like it's supposed to (when we read the book of Acts we can see that, for example). If the core is broken, how can we reach out to others effectively?
We should get our own house in order, but be a positive influence on society at the same time. It should be both/and, not either/or. Christians are to be salt and light in the culture, not to hide our lights under a basket.
Great article, I do have a question though and my apologies if I missed it in the article. Sin frustrates me as I am sure it does any Christian, despite that I still spread the word of God with the love and kindness. What really angers me is those that proclaim the name of Christ (at any degree) and yet support same sex unions. I hate to question any ones walk with Christ as we all experience ups and downs but how can this be? How can any one say "I am a Christian" and support what the Bible clearly condemns throughout? This is what angers me, these are the people I want to yell at saying "SHAME ON YOU!" to be nice about it. How should we approach these people?
Obviously, a pastor advocating this sort of position would be a lot more culpable than a confused college kid that just thinks Jesus wants us to love everyone. I think the answer is to lovingly confront them with the truth. We are only Christians to the extent that we follow Jesus, and gay marriage is demonstrably not something that Jesus taught or would have allowed. So if a Christian is advocating gay marriage, he or she needs to repent and follow Christ, or stop professing to be a Christian.
The Vice-President of the Student Representative Council (SCA) at the University of Cape Town, Zizipho Pae, has been "relieved of her duties" pending the outcome of an intensive investigation into her alegedly homophobic Facebook Status update. Two days after the U.S Supreme Court Ruling. She wrote, "We are institutionalizing sin! May God have mercy upon us." This raised a storm of protest from the Gay lobby and others. Today (02-07-2015) the Citizen Newspaper reported that she has said that as a Christian, she cannot withdraw her statement, despite strong calls to do so. May God strengthen her resolve. We should all follow her example to stand for the truth.
Just want to say Thank You to Lita & Keaton. An excellent article, wonderfully written. The advise that you have given is first rate. We MUST remember that all things must be done with order. Acting loud or abusive will only label us as insane, quacks, or fanatics. We must remain calm, steadfast, and ever vigilant, if we are to avoid the traps that the enemy has prepared for us. Hold on to Jesus with everything you have. Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 10:22- "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
God Bless You,
Anyone using the love angle regarding same sex marriage really needs to read the pamphlet above. It is a bogus claim and clarified in the presentation. As noted, distilling it down to love opens the door to adultery and even pedophilia if the participants claim, "Well, we just love each other."
The fact is same sex unions are considered sins as noted in Leviticus and other areas of the Old Testament for a good reason. I recently listened to a woman battered by her bi-sexual husband describing the rampant homosexuality permeating the upper levels of the Marine Corps and Navy Seals. She also names high level government officials as well. Fact is, since ancient times when homosexual and sexual perversions grew societies collapsed.
Societies are built on solid and moral family relationships where the spouses have absolute trust in the faithfulness of their other. This solidity also contributes to a more stable child rearing. There are always exceptions, of course, but without a minimum of trust and stability, there is no chance for a solid and stable family unit.
The Marxist State doesn't want that because they want the State to replace the parent and become the Supreme authority. Same sex marriage is a Marxist oriented principle that fits the Communist Manifesto (which is anti-family) like a glove.
Same sex marriage is about dissolving the family unit and replacing it with the State as authority. It is anti-Christian, anti-God and anti-freedom and always found in systems based on Marxist principles. Anyone falling for is helping tp punch their own ticket to enslavement under the thumb of the State and needs to wake up before it is too late.
Same sex isn't about freedom, it is about debauchery and evil men (primarily) undermining family to champion the Marxist State.
Homosexuals kept their sin quiet and worked powerfully behind the scenes by gradually, over time, placing themselves and friends in positions of influence in order to undermine the Christian scriptures and morality. In this they have been very successful. Keep in mind that pedophiles too are now placing their people carefully into influential positions of power in order to copy the success of the so-called "gays". Watch your children then.
It is perhaps worth quoting from two scholars on this issue. Dennis Prager wrote 20 years ago: “Man’s nature, undisciplined by values, will allow sex to dominate his life and the life of society. . . . It is not overstated to say that the Torah’s prohibition of non-marital sex made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can, to a significant extent, be attributed to the sexual revolution, initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity." Dennis Prager, Judaism, Homosexuality and Civilisation. Ultimate Issues 6, No 2. 1990. p 2.
Dr Geoffrey Satinover comments: “In sum, it is a simple and sobering fact that no society that has sanctioned unconstrained sexuality has long survived.” Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. Hamewith Books 1996. Fifth printing, January 1998. Introduction p 18.
The secular facts are clear. Report after report documents the deterioration of our society, which is only behaving according to what it has been taught to believe - a Godless morality and a menu of lifestyle options. Rationalism, Darwinian evolution, existentialism, liberal theology and the new morality are destroying our civilization.
You said, "Our behavior should be so unobjectionable toward them that no reasonable person could find fault"
This is a dangerous and weak position to take. If we are living and witnessing as true Christians, we will be objectionable or offensive to those who are lost. It is not loving NOT to warn homosexuals that their wicked acts are abomination in the sight of God and they will ultimately go to hell for their rebellion unless they repent. However, we should do this in a respectful manner.
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
We agree that we should expect the world to hate us if we are being faithful (John 15:18–20), but the key word in our statement was "reasonable". If we love others the way Scripture commands, then no reasonable person could find fault.
Sorry, Lita, but I must disagree with you about the use of the word "gay". Just because it is the most commonly used currency doesn't mean we, as Christians, should accept or go along with it. I am all for meeting people where they are in life, but to accept their terminology is a step too far.
"Gay" means happy and carefree. "GAY", in the homosexual sense, is an acronym for "Good As You" and I am sure that some homosexuals/lesbians are as good as me. I am also very certain that a great many more are far better than me.
Alan, we accept common terminology all the time. That doesn't mean we accept their ideas. Using their terms allows us to get to the heart of the matter without quibbling over what term we give to their sin.
But I understand some disagree about this.
One need only check out Hosea, Amos and Micah to find out whhat happens next- Israel suffered God's judgement and was scattered, Sodom and Gomorrah and the sin of the Benjaminites against the Levite's concubine are other lessons to learn from Scripture.As I've noted before, either the Western civilisation will collapse or the Rapture will come followed by the Great Tribulation. To me it seems like the latter option will be the one.Then too we have ISIS, devout Muslims committing jihad. Not good, but us Christians know God has it all in Hand
This ruling (by SCOTUS) does not alter our Christian faith, no, not by one iota! It does not diminish our right, nay, our pledge to Christ Himself, to speak on His behalf to sinners -- to show compassion, to convince them of sin, and to lead them to salvation in our Savior. It does not prevent us from sharing our opinions and ideas safe within our own homes, and out of the public square, where birds of hell take our words and fling them into crackling briars. For the time being, each man to his tent, and let us come together again next week, once we have had time to pray and hear the truth of God's Spirit, rather than our own. After all, we're not here primarily to sell books and support a ministry, but to see God's will done through us, here or abroad.
What's next? Will bakeries have to serve mixed-race couples?!
Bob, if a person went to a bakery requesting a cake with a Confederate flag on it, and the owners believe that's a symbol of racism and oppression, should they have to bake it?
When someone is using their skill and talent to create custom works of art (I believe this is what custom cakes are), they should be free to refuse anything they believe to be objectionable. To be clear, if I went to a bakery wanting a Christian cake, and the owners happen to believe the Christian symbolism is offensive, I would go to a different bakery!
I think it would be wrong and a sin to refuse to serve a 'mixed-race' couple (in fact, I think there is only one race, the human race!). However, just because I think it's wrong doesn't mean it should be illegal--and that seems to be something that never goes through the mind of these activists.
Those in the wedding cake industry should never offend anyone. If asked to bake a cake for a gay couples wedding simply saying that doing so will offend millions of Muslims would make the refusal to do so very clear.
We should rejoice that this has happened. Same-sex marriage and homosexuality is nothing new and was prevalent in the days of Noah. Jesus warned us: Luke 17:26-30, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
I recommend in the name of our Lord God and for the benefit of the over all public good in the U.S., that the entire Christian communities (All denominations and groups) engage in some of the same techniques that the homosexual movement used. That is, insist upon public schools teaching marriage courses between men and women only; God's Creation of the entire Universe; and demand that the Holy Bible be allowed for usage in any setting or class in the classroom. That is to name just a few issues we can become involved with. In a kind, courteous manner, insist that these be approved and allowed and all students have to attend the classes and be allowed to hear the teachings and information provided. This would of course require hiring Christian school teachers and/or Principles etc.! Organized meetings with the current system leaders should be pushed and promoted and if they refuse to see and hear us and not do these things we can appeal to the Courts to hear our case using discrimination, civil rights and other legal means to have this become a reality. Never let up. Don't give up! Do it! By engaging in this, we will be using and promoting the same themes they used to get their way. Also, we must demand the Network T.V. and Radio stations and also the News Media outlets give us the same type of coverage in a positive manner as they have given to the Homosexual l movement. If they don't we have to go to the courts on this also. Keep pressing, keep pushing. The point is we are citizens of this nation, we have every legal and good right to do this. We have a Constitution at present which also allows this and sanctions this and promotes this. This is good, legal advice. If we just sit back and run for our Holy Caves and hide and feel we can do what we wish 'inside
The battle was lost in 2003. That was when the US Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional. Can a society maintain the biblical definition of marriage after abandoning its biblical understanding of sexual intercourse? It's worth remembering that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their homosexual practices, not their unspecified view on marriage. Christians rightly grieve the recent loss, but it is a farce to think that biblical marriage can last where sodomy is permitted.
Based on Romans 13, I believe that the U.S supreme court ruling reflects the way that those who identify themselves as Christians are treating the Bible. Having a personal relationship with Jesus means following His teachings and not just going along with popular opinion (the broad road) or placing your trust in Bible "experts" (placing your trust in flesh and blood).
It is sad, but it seems that the court ruling opened the door to attack the church more over this weekend than any other time i've seen it. Someone even going as far as comparing Jesus with Lucifer. It truely is saddening to see this. As a Christian with a Wedding Industry based service, i've known many photographers sued (and photographers losing) where Gay couples want them to photograph their wedding and the photographers saying no... Ultimately they are forced to do so by law as well as losing a lot of money and public opinion in the process. What would be your recommendation on handling this as we head deeper into the last days?
Ultimately, as I wrote in the article, I believe Christians are going to lose a lot of the privileges we've had as the dominant cultural influence in America. That means that we will probably face tough decisions, especially people involved in the wedding industry. But there are good Christian legal organizations that are specializing in putting out information about what Christian businesses and non-profits can do to attempt to protect their businesses, and I would encourage people to seek those sources out.
Thanks for this article.
But I would urge you not to go along with the homosexual lobby by using the word "gay", a perfectly good English word hijacked to mean something completely different. Why not use "homosexual" all the time?
Unfortunately, the hijacking has been so successful that the homosexual connotation is the primary understood meaning of the word 'gay'. To communicate to the culture, we should use the language that they understand.
Because of the growing intolerance of those who preach tolerance, those of us who stand for biblical principles are fully expecting to have our social media accounts "disciplined", suspended and even deleted if we dare to speak the truth. I wouldn't be surprised to see The Question Evolution Project removed because of the extensive 30+ link article I wrote and published. This may even reach blogging sites, so we'll have to do our free speech elsewhere. All part of taking up our cross and persevering in the wake of discrimination and persecution.
Love is love is a con for sure & many align themselves with the same sex movement as they are anti theist.
I find challenging points in the debate have been moderated out of media blogs in a bigoted way. Post modern culture only allows some to express themselves freely, not all.
I was shocked to find out the darker side of homosexuality regarding sexual acts but apparently its nobodies business what goes on behind closed doors yet all the while we are supposed to be talking about sex as mature modern people unhindered.
It doesn't seem like love to me but something unnatural & damaging.
thanks for clearing some things up, in Australia we are now under more pressure to change as well. We have been praying that our own Government will see sense and not follow after others.
Also its sad to see a Country That in its Constitution states that they are One Nation Under God, turn against their principles. for So few individuals. :( Will continue to pray for our brothers and Sisters in Christ who are now in the US and Ireland.
Perhaps a more 'secular' view of same-sex unions might be helpful.
Loving relationships between persons of any age have always been allowed and have never required legislation for approval. They are private, and rightly remain so.
Heterosexual marriage is NOT a private relationship. It is the publicly recognized basis for a successful, self-replicating society and has been so for millennia.
Public recognition of a private relationship which has no foundational public benefit is clearly an unnecessary step. To claim that all loving private relationships require public recognition is to open a Pandora's Box for alliances that even our secular world would find abhorrent.
Therefore equating heterosexual with homosexual marriage is attempting to match apples with oranges.
This article has highlighted the irony and the irony as the article stated is that “...America capitulated on marriage long before the homosexual lobby wanted in...” Marriage is in tatters in America and increasing numbers are not buying into marriage anymore. The only marriage that escapes these tatters and the jurisdiction of man’s laws is the one with profoundly significant meaning that recognizes the union between man and woman where both are faithful to God and His Word while they go through their trials in married life rejuvenated by God’s healing powers.
I disagree that we should be about love, we should be proclaiming God's holiness and the need for us to be holy. God's love demands us to be hly first and foremost. The power of the gospel has been lost because we are too often too nice with the gospel. Jesus spoke more about hell and the punishment for unbelief than he did about the reward of heaven and only then he said that to the disciples already who believed.
Hi, I look with much interest to these issue's from CMI. I have always thought that America would move in this direction. I have thought that all nations that move in the direction of immorality seem to fall. I wonder how big the splash will be when America finally tumbles. I guess the next move is the marriage between man and beast or personhood for the beast. An Australian politician spoke out expressing this and suffered hugely at the hands of our/his conservative party, not to mention those strange people in our left wing reactionary fringe. Amazingly here also there is a huge (seemingly) group who also want the same laws passed. I stand amazed at their foolishness and wonder, can we expect any thing less from the masses nowadays, or is the worst yet to come?? Come Lord Jesus.
Thank you for this timely message, particularly for your encouragement to not get discouraged- Christ has already won the victory over sin indeed!