Sunday, July 5, 2015
Thoughts on Obergefell
The Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, finding a fundamental right to gay marriage, was so expected as to be anti-climactic.
Conservatives lost this battle long ago. It's over, culturally. It has been over ever since the ABC sitcom Modern Family hit the air with it's portrayal of the popular gay couple, Mitchell and Cam.
I have long thought that the Church should not be in the contract business. Instead, it would have been preferable if American wedding ritual was more like the French: go to the court house to have a government official conduct the marriage, and then, for those so inclined, go to the church and receive the sacrament of marriage.
Instead, we allow members of the clergy to act as an agent of the state, performing a government function simultaneously with bestowing a sacrament. The cost of that convenience is Obergefell.
A bifurcation along the lines of the French marriage ritual recognizes that marriage is two things: a contract, and a sacrament. As long as adults are competent to give consent, I have no problem with two people of the same sex entering a contract to formalize their relationship. That comports with an understanding of limited government.
That's why I thought it was a mistake for conservatives to oppose civil unions. It's true that this reasoning applies with equal force to polygamy. It's also true that the Supreme Court's reasoning would encompass polygamy. That's not a battle worth fighting; if adults choose to organize themselves in that manner, it's no one's business. Again, that's viewing marriage as a contract, freely entered into.
However, I worry that marriage as sacrament is endangered. There will be calls to revoke the tax exempt status of those churches that refuse to conduct gay weddings. Calls for "tolerance" will not extend to tolerating the religious convictions of those who believe in the biblical definition of marriage as being reserved for one man and one women. This assault on freedom of worship has already begun. It will get worse, I fear. The implications for the nature and survival of our country are serious. Gay marriage cannot and will not destroy America; stripping citizens of the right to worship freely very well could.
The Church has seen worse. It's important to remember that and to keep a historical perspective as the assault on Christianity gets more aggressive. Sure, it would be a terrible thing to have one's church lose its tax exempt status. But it's not the same as being martyred. As Russell Moore wrote this past week, the Supreme Court cannot put Jesus Christ back in the grave. He is still alive. Still sovereign, even in the fallout of Obergefell. That means we should be of good courage and not let our hearts grow dismayed.
So the appropriate response to the Supreme Court's decision is prayer for America. Lots and lots of prayer that the Lord will continue to bless and keep this great nation.