Russell and Duenes

Gay Marriage, the Supremes, and the Supreme

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JusticeKennedyHeaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away. – Our Lord Jesus Christ

May the Lord grant you courage and humility. – Vic Downing

“Hath God said?” That is the only question that matters in light of these recent Supreme Court decisions, and the answer that should resound in our ears and in our hearts, again and again is, indeed, “Thus saith the LORD!” I happened to be reading John Piper’s book, Finally Alive, the other night, and though he discusses the biblical doctrine of the “new birth” in Christ, his words cut straight to the heart of the Supreme Court decisions of this week. Piper lives everyday “seeking to bring my vagrant feelings into line with ultimate reality. My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth . . . And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth.” (p.165). This is the most important thing I can say in response to United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry.

God has spoken, and He has spoken with clarity. To borrow Jesus’ phrase, “the time is coming and now is” when those who would be Christ’s disciples must stand on, yea, must delight in the fact that God has spoken and that His Word is truth. (John 17:17). The eternal, unchanging, beautiful and true Word of God is being abandoned in droves in the Western Church, and the cultural pangs and groanings we are witnessing are a significant evidence of it. Yet this may ultimately be revealed as good news for the gospel, as Russell Moore believes.

God is clear that His Word “is no empty word for you, but it is your very life.” (Deut. 32:47). His law is perfect and His testimony is sure. (Ps. 19:7). His every word proves true, (Prov. 30:5), and is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Ps. 119:105). God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. (Heb. 4:12). Indeed, the words of Supreme Court justices blow away like dandelion spore, but the Word of the Lord remains forever. (1 Peter 1:25). Only God is wise. (Rom. 16:27). Only in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3). God alone teaches us knowledge. (Ps. 94:10). God alone is able to instruct sinners in the way and lead the humble in what is right. (Ps. 25:8). Mankind truly lives upon every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, (Matt. 4:4), even if in his rebellion he refuses to acknowledge it. In God’s light, we see light. (Ps. 36:9).

More specifically, God has spoken about marriage and sexuality. A cacophony of so-called “authorities” surrounds us, much of it coming from Christian circles, that somehow God has not spoken, or if He has, He has not been clear. Yet Jesus regularly said to his inquisitors, “Have you not read?” “What did Moses command you?” “Is it not written?” He assumed that His Word was understandable, that “applying our hearts unto His knowledge and hearing the words of the wise,” is the way to “know what is right and true.” (Prov. 22:17-21). The time has come to stop listening to those who would tell us that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.” For it is simply not true. It would be beside the point even if it were true, since “all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16). It does not matter if Paul or Peter or James of John said it. If it’s in Genesis through Revelation, our Triune God says it! God’s design for men and women in marriage is there for anyone who cares to see, and it is a beautiful design. Indeed, the gospel is suffused with God’s thoughts on marriage, and cannot really be appreciated in its fulness without marriage imagery.

God speaks in Ezekiel of His love relationship with His people, using the imagery of marriage. He says to Israel, His beloved, “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” (Ezek. 16:8). God proclaims through Isaiah the prophet: “Your husband is your Maker, the LORD of hosts is His name.” (Isa. 54:5). God says to Israel that He will make a “new covenant” with them which will not be like the old covenant, a covenant which Israel broke, “though I was their Husband, declares the LORD.” (Jer.31:32). God calls Israel an “adulterous wife who receives strangers instead of her Husband.” (Ezek. 16:32).

God says that he will “betroth” His people to Himself forever, “in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.” (Hosea 2:19). God exclaims that “as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isa.62:5). Moreover, God says that marriage between a man and a woman images forth the relationship between Christ and His Church. (Eph. 5:21-33). Christ, as a Husband to His bride, the Church, “sanctifies her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” (Eph. 5:26). A man leaving his father and mother and joining himself with a wife “is a profound mystery” that “refers to Christ and the Church.” Indeed, in Revelation, the apostle John is shown a vision of “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (21:9). The New Jerusalem comes “down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2). God is clear about marriage, and just as clear that He is the inventor and author of it; and He has worked beautifully and mysteriously in creating it. It is a picture of the gospel, and we do well to live and speak this truth most especially in light of our times.

I begin with a recounting of God’s truth, for I take the current Supreme Court rulings on so-called “gay marriage” to be of a piece with a world, and much of a Christian world, that scoffs at God’s Word, casting it aside as irrelevant, quaint, un-hipster, embarrassing, and hateful, along with those who gladly give allegiance to it. Indeed, Justice Alito rightly said that the majority’s opinion in Windsor “would cast all those who cling to traditional beliefs about the nature of marriage in the role of bigots or superstitious fools.” Justices Kennedy, Kagan, Breyer, Sotomayor and Ginsburg said nothing that should shock anyone. What will this mean for God’s people? Will it mean that we, too, will feel embarrassed when and if our pastor preaches a sermon that tells the truth about marriage and sexuality? Will it mean that voicing one’s opinion about God’s truth in public forums will bring disciplinary consequences? Will it mean that promotion of homosexual sex and marriage will overrun the public schools in large parts of our nation? Should we just shut up and keep our heads down, as if that were going insulate us? I do not know for sure, but I suspect that the import of the Court’s words will be decidedly negative as it pertains to spiritual truth. Perhaps, as Russell Moore says, this will cause us to “repent of our pathetic marriage cultures within the church.” For as he further says, “Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it.”

In terms of the Windsor and Hollingsworth themselves, anyone not living in a cave can hardly be unaware of Justice Kennedy’s denunciation of those who would stand against so-called “gay marriage.” His opinion is only further evidence that we are already in the midst of a generation who will increasingly find any articulation of God’s truth on marriage and sexuality to be on a par with uttering racial epithets. Justice Scalia, in dissent, says that “[b]y formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.” Yet this “arms” not only those challenging state laws, but those who would seek to inflict personal, social and vocational punishment upon “narrow-minded” persons holding to a “traditional” view of marriage. In addition, the demeaning and disparaging views of homosexuality that Justice Kennedy says he finds in DOMA also demean those who want to marry Sally, Sue and Sandra all at the same time. Those polygamists too will not want to be tarred and branded as inferior, nor denied the “equal dignity” that polygamous marriage would afford them. It’s all about “liberty,” baby! Our vaunted “freedom of religion” will be no bulwark against the supposed “hatefulness” of Christians holding to God’s Word. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that we need such a bulwark. What we need is true love for God and His Word, we need preaching of repentance and faith, and we need a good dose of courage and humility. Nothing has changed in that.

Windsor and Hollingsworth tighten the general squeeze on religious truth and freedom in the United States. We have the Obama Administration deigning to tell us what counts as religion and what doesn’t so that it can require just about everyone to fund abortions through its HHS mandate. The Supreme Court, along with universities like Vanderbilt, has already told Christian groups on campus that they will have to open up their student leadership elections to anyone and everyone, no matter whether they worship Jesus or think he’s the devil, or be de-recognized and kicked off campus. See Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. We have people being sued, successfully, who refuse to do things such as photograph gay wedding ceremonies. (See here). And I reiterate that none of this surprises me, alarms me, or discourages me. It does not cause me to despair or become paralyzed. It also does not create indifference in me or a “live and let live” attitude. Nor does it make me think it is “loving” to just acquiesce to laws that enshrine as wonderful things that God despises. Rather, it throws me upon Christ and His Word. It causes me to see even more the beauty of Christ and the Church that is at the heart of marriage. It makes me want to see the power of the gospel in people’s lives, including my own. For love and healing cannot be divorced from truth.

Just to make this post even longer, a few final observations about the two cases. I was struck by the fact that the Court tortured itself to find jurisdiction which would permit it to hear the DOMA case, but then turned around in the Prop 8 case and told the 40 million Californians who voted for it, essentially, to go take a flying leap, you have no standing to bring suit. Justice Alito remarks on this in his dissent in Windsor. In other words, you Californians have absolutely no way of getting redress for the injury you have suffered by your political leader’s usurpations and arrogance in refusing to defend Prop 8, the very thing that California’s initiative process was to supposed to prevent, as Justice Kennedy’s dissent in Hollingsworth points out. As Hadley Arkes says, this is tantamount to giving state governors a pocket veto. Indeed, I think it spells the ultimate ruin for the initiative process in any states that have them. How hard is it for a complainant to find a sympathetic judge who will strike down a constitutional amendment such as Prop 8? Thus, the California citizens who wanted Prop 8 in the state Constitution can’t have it, and worse, are stuck with the shameful, travesty of a decision on Prop 8 handed down by Federal District Court Judge, Vaughn Walker; an opinion which Justice Alito properly castigated as “at times…reach[ing] the heights of parody.” I find this to be in keeping with the growing lawlessness we see in our politicos. It is getting rather brazen these days.

Speaking of lawlessness, I can’t help but regard the refusal of President Obama’s DOJ to defend DOMA as an example of such lawlessness. I thought the same thing when the Obama Administration made it clear that it would not enforce federal immigration statutes. There are times when it may be proper to defy the rulings of Congress or the Court in particular (see Lincoln’s refusal to enforce the order of Dred Scott v. Sanford), but the American people should be wary when the Executive, sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, simply decides that it will defend or enforce some laws and not others. I try to imagine what kind of outrage we would be hearing were a President Romney to have said that his DOJ would not defend Obamacare against the many lawsuits against it. The horror! What may be worse is that the legislative branch, both of the U.S. and California, refuses to confront a president (Obama) or a governor (Schwartzenegger) who will not execute and defend duly enacted, constitutional laws such as DOMA and Prop 8. If Justice Scalia is right, and I think he is, that it’s not the courts that should decide issues between the Executive and Legislative branches, but rather a good “arm wrestle” between these two branches, then we seem to be in for future shenanigans and chicanery as more presidents and governors dare the legislature to confront them on their willy-nilly enforcement, or lack of it, of our laws.

Yet the upshot of all this is that I agree once again with Russell Moore: “It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,'” and with Douglas Wilson: “If our way out were political, we can be (and have been) thwarted, out-spent, out-maneuvered, lied to, and betrayed. But if our way out is Jesus, not only do we have a sure and certain hope, but our adversaries have no hope at all.”



Written by Michael Duenes

June 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm

One Response

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  1. Well written, Mike. Thank you.

    Terrie Springer

    June 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm

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