Months, perhaps years in the making, yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing marked the peak of the same-sex marriage debate that wages war within our country. Contained within a small room before few witnesses and no cameras, a handful of people debated a topic that affects the 300 million people of this nation. The arguments, by both sides, revealed nothing new and lacked the spectacular showmanship expected of such an event. In fact, the was very little finesse and grace and instead, it seemed that all parties fumbled for the right words to explicate their arguments.
Yet, it is not the debate itself that is so revealing about the current moral revolution at stake. Again, the arguments were not profound nor really new, so we already knew where ‘society’ stands in its regard for God. The concern about religious freedom being disposed of is still prevalent, and is probably exacerbated by the arguments. But my intention is not to deal with those issues, as there are others who already have addressed those and done a good job of it. For more information, I would recommend reading Al Mohler’s response to the issue here
. Likewise in his briefing for today, he addresses specifics in the arguments yesterday and it is well worth listening to here
Quite frankly, there are so many facets of yesterday’s discussions, it is impossible to address them in one setting, which is why I recommend reading other solid people (Al Mohler
, Kevin DeYoung
, and Denny Burk
to name a few). What is fascinating for our discussion here though is how the questions asked by the Supreme Court Justices reveals just how deeply entrenched into sin and anti-authority that our nation is embedded in. There are three areas at stake here that I find very fascinating…..and at times concerning.
A Rejection for the Authority of God
Justice Sonya Sotomayor proposed that the basic premise of the issue at hand is whether or not the right to marry is fundamental. This question is not a valid question. It is a leading question built on a false premise itself. Marriage is not a right that people are entitled to. Marriage is a gift of God given to us at His discretion, not ours (Genesis 2, Ephesians 5:25-27). As soon as we see marriage as a right that I am entitled to, it becomes a contract in which I have certain expectations and if the other person fails to meet those needs, then I can terminate the contract. Marriage though, is a picture of God’s relationship to His people, and therefore it is a covenant, which means no longer is it about my wants being met, but instead about meeting the wants of my spouse. In a covenant with God, my will becomes completely consumed by God’s will, and so it also in marriage. My will is consumed by my spouse. Marriage then, is a great privilege, a great joy, and a great gift.
Why is it important to view it as a covenant? Because a covenant relationship recognizes God’s authority. Throughout yesterday’s discussions, many justices questioned who is to decide the issue of what marriage is; should it be the States or the Federal Government? Neither. Marriage was instituted by God, given to us according to His definitions and standards at creation. Therefore, it is God who gets to determine what marriage is. Justice Alito rightly pointed out that for centuries all the nations and cultures defined marriage as one man and one woman. It was not until the early 2000’s that any recognized same sex marriage (I believe the first was the Netherlands in 2001). So Justice Alito rightly asks if there was some rational, practical purpose that all of these nations and cultures recognized? Of course they did! God set the standard and it was never question. For centuries there was not a concerted effort to change that definition because even pagan’s recognized the authority by which marriage had been established.
The rejection of God’s authority is especially seen in the Justices theory of their own authority. It was quite clear throughout oral arguments that each of them believed that if/when they issue a decision on the subject of same-sex marriage it is final. No longer is there a checks and balances of government anymore. For this decision, and any others that make it to the Supreme Court, this is the last stop and it can no longer be overturned. This view denies the rights of United States citizens living in a democracy and worse…..it denies the sovereignty of God. Generally speaking, this is a court that has dethroned God and now rule on the throne themselves…..they just use the term ‘bench’ instead.
A Rejection for the Authority of God’s Word
It makes sense that if one rejects the authority of God, the next thing to follow is the a rejection of the authority of Scripture. This is a battle that has been waged for a long time and despite the fact that God’s Word is consistently verified as truth in a rational and logical way, people will still reject it. As a result, the compelling argument to much of society is that religion is not a legitimate reason to define marriage as man and woman. Justice Breyer accented this point in his own line of questioning and reasoning. Yet, if the authority of God is sensible, so is the authority of God’s Word. Technically, Justice Breyer’s question must be answered with a no. Religion is not compelling enough to define marriage. But God is. As the author of marriage, God defines it. How do we know how God defines it? In His Word. This is how God has shared with us His plan, and therefore, to reject God’s authority is to reject God’s Word.
This was further evidenced by Justice Kagan’s lin of questioning. At one point she asks whether or not allowing same-sex marriage would demonstrate that marriage and children are separate. In the institution of marriage, God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Repeated throughout Scripture is the numerical growth of people through the marriage relationship, which was seen as a blessing (Genesis 9:1; 26:24; Psalm 127:3-5, etc.). In fact, it is the institution of marriage that God has used to grow His people and guide people to Him (Proverbs 22:6; 23:13-14; Ephesians 6:4). To redefine marriage is to separate the relationship that God established in order to guide, correct, teach, train, and care for children.
A Rejection for the Authority of God’s People
Finally, it was very clear that there is a rejection of the authority of God’s People. Justice Scalia made this provoking comment:
A minister…to the extent he’s conducting a civil marriage, he’s an instrument of the state.
Notice the important wording of that. First, he separates marriage out from any other duties of a minister of God. This denies that marriage is indeed a God-ordained institution, but instead it is a government-sanctioned and government-supported institution based on the question. This is further seen in the use of the term ‘civil.’ Marriage has already been redefined once. Referring to a ‘civil’ marriage draws a distinct line between the institution that God created and the institution that the government oversees. But the most troubling wording here is that Justice Scalia sees the people of God as instruments of the government. He defines it only in the instance of marriage, which means that he sees this as separate from God and now is controlled by man. How hard is it to take control of the next issue, and the next? Eventually, the government then has taken control of everything sacred from Scripture and the people of God are simply instruments of the states.
I can most assuredly state to you, those who are born again of God are not instruments of the State. They are slaves of God (Romans 6:17-18; 12:1; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24). Ministers performing a role in a marriage ceremony are doing so not because the State instituted it, but because God did. They are acting as agents of God and to think otherwise is to belittle the institution of marriage.
This is where the rejection of God’s authority leads. It replaces it with the authority of self and makes everyone else your servant.
As Christians we must define the institution of marriage and it must be done in accordance with God’s word only and not according to man’s. But defining it is not enough. We are called to defend it. This is crucial though. We don’t defend it by fighting, we do so through love. Love of course is defined by the character of God since God is love (1 John 4:8) and this may be radically different than the world, and thus unaccepted by the world. It does not change our call to love only in a way that God can do. Those practicing same-sex marriage are men and women convoluted in sin…..it is where each of us was before God called us to Him. Thus, we love them with a real, practical love that points to God (and yes, this includes discipline and conviction of truth as those are acts of love). My encouragement to each of you, stand firm in the truth and stand firm in love, both of which are born of God.