Supreme Court Hears Supreme Case

Years of legal proceedings came to a culmination this week in what has been an anticipated hearing for the sake of religious liberty. The case Masterpiece Cakeshop, LTD. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was finally heard at the highest court in the United States. For 88 minutes (note that most cases are normally only allowed 60 minutes) Kristen Waggoner (assisted by Solicitor General Noel Francisco) presented her case and argument before a group of men and women who yield power in the United States unmatched by any other (1) (although the transcript seems to indicate that Justice Sotomayor commanded 89 minutes of the exchange . . . I obviously exaggerate, but not by much). There is much to say, respond to, and dissect in the oral arguments that we heard. 
First off, we must commend Kristen Waggoner for her discussion points and articulation during the presentation. It is unfortunate though, that despite the logic and reasoning used by her during her case, that case has already been tried and a judgment made before she ever entered the courtroom. In fact, this case has been tried in three separate courts in which the outcomes have been already determined, or at least nearly determined.

The Court of the United States Supreme Court
Obviously, the most notable aspect of this case is the fact that it has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The exchange is interesting and rather than merely take my interpretation or anyone else’s interpretation of what transpired, I would urge everyone to simply read the transcript. With that said, there are three telling points that came out of the discussion that says much about the mindset of this case:

  1. Public Accommodation: First, repeatedly throughout the exchange, we see the phrase ‘public accommodation’ pop up and exclusively used to suggest that we have public accommodation laws that allow people to discriminate. The context and continued use of this phrase essentially show the justices are making a case from the bench that the law permits discrimination and that needs to be changed. Never mind the foundational principles that lie behind the freedom of speech and freedom of religion guarantees, instead, the justices are indicating that there is a need to compel certain behavior.
  2. Private Beliefs: The public accommodation comments brings us directly to the aspect of private beliefs. At one point Justice Sotomayor makes this comment: “We’ve always said in our public accommodations law we can’t change your private beliefs, we can’t compel you to like these people, we can’t compel you to bring them into your home, but if you want to be part of our community, of our civic community, there’s certain behavior, conduct you can’t engage in. And that includes not selling products that you sell to everyone else to people simply because of their race, religion, national origin, gender, and in this case sexual orientation. So we can’t legislate civility and rudeness, but we can and have permitted it as a compelling state interest legislating behavior.” There are two key points to this comment. First, she joins two characters and twists them to misrepresent Christianity by linking private beliefs with hospitality and kindness. I can’t speak for every group of people, but I can speak as a Christian for Christians. We disagree with homosexuality as a sin explicitly outlined in the Bible, but that disagreement is not manifested by a disregard and disrespect for people. In fact, we are compelled to love them, which we do by associating with them in a context outlined in Scripture. First off, calling sin what it is . . . sin . . . is a great act of love, we just don’t like to accept it. Second, we love them by sharing the gospel. Third, sometimes sharing the gospel in love includes being hospitable. Example: I’ve worked with a number of homosexual individuals over the years; I’ve disagreed with their lifestyle and they were aware of that, but our relationship was one not characterized by hatred for one another. In fact, you wouldn’t have seen a difference between my relationship with them versus the relationship with other unbelievers who were heterosexual. 
  3. People of Race: Finally, the arguments from the justices attempted to relate this case with that of race. This is a false premise. One is the discussion of race-based upon skin tone in which not only does a person not have control over, but is God-given and thus no distinction can/should exist. However, the other contends to redefine gender and marriage, which is also God-ordained according to a certain function. The severity of that distinction should be quite obvious, however, if you would like to read more, I would recommend you read Trevin Wax’s response by clicking here.
It’s interesting that out of this discussion what we see is a court, or at least a number of individual justices, who have already made their decisions. Even more, Justice Sotomayor once again expresses that the court sees itself as a supreme authority over the land. Her claims, like that listed above, suggests that the court has the right and need to compel certain behaviors in our society according to what the court desires our society to look like. If that does not concern you, then go back and read some of her comments. 
Even more though, major watchdogs have already declared where the justices stand on this case. The New York Times has even gone so far as suggesting in one of their articles that there is one swing vote in this case: Justice Kennedy (click here to read that article). The very fact that everyone can determine where the justices stand on this case long before hearing the facts suggests that this case is not about the law or the Constitution that defines our foundational principles, but about what each individual person wants. If this is the determining case for how we make laws in our nation, we are setting ourselves up for greater failures and disappointments (no matter what your personal beliefs are). The fact that the decision was nearly already made before it appeared in front the justices, combined with the fact that the justices see themselves both as a final authority and an authority that has the rights to compel certain societal behaviors, demonstrates that freedom does not exist at all, but is merely a facade so that nine people can rule our country (further giving evidence that it’s not a majority rule, but a minority rule).

The Court of Public Opinion
If there is anything that can be learned from the last several years in the history of the United States, it’s that we’re not a nation about a majority, we’re not a nation about respect, and we are not a nation about logic. Instead, we are now a nation in which bullying is seen as a legitimate form of argument. As a result, we have become a nation in which the many must attend to the few.

That has certainly become the case when it comes to the issue of homosexuality (and everything related to it and gender identity). For a great treatment of the topic and explanation of the process that has taken place, take some time and read Al Mohler’s book, We Cannot Be Silent. He does well at explaining the process that has taken place over the last several decades to bring us to where we are today. Unfortunately, that process of changing public opinion to favor the few means that the case that went before the Supreme Court this week was already tried before the court of public opinion. 
The protests that took place while this case was being heard already speak to the fact that decisions have already been made regardless of facts. It’s troublesome when we consider what facts have been suppressed from this case such as the following:
  • The baker previously served those in this case, and thus he never denied service to those individuals despite the claim.
  • Colorado refuses to prosecute bakers who deny service to someone who wants cakes with something that expresses the sinfulness of homosexuality, thus employing a double-standard.
  • This case isn’t merely about trying to explain a position, but about destroying those who disagree . . . considering that what’s at stake here and for the florist in Richland, WA is that they will lose everything they have ever worked for.
Regardless of the true facts, we see people who are more inclined to respond based on their emotions and their personal desires. As a result, it matters not what case was presented, nor does it matter what decision is issued by the Supreme Court, the positions have already been declared in the court of public opinion.

The Court of God
Ultimately, there is not much to say here. Regardless of what an earthly court determines, all that matters is what occurs in the court of God. There are three basic points that must be considered:

  1. God is Sovereign: We must recognize that God is sovereign. As God, he is in absolute control. Therefore, the events taking place today and the progression of society towards a rejection of Him is not a surprise. In fact, it’s talked about and expected (Romans 1) and yet, we trust that the Lord has orchestrated events for His greatest glory (Romans 8).Therefore, our confidence is not in a society who determines what is right and moral every 10-20 years, but in a God who never changes.
  2. God is Sovereign: Not only is he ultimately sovereign over everything, but Romans 13 tells us that he is in control of the government. Therefore, while disagreeing with the overall direction of our society (despite what ruling comes down in this particular case) we can have complete trust in God because His rule is just and merciful, and therefore, we trust Him and the plans He has mitigated through our government. 
  3. God is Sovereign: Finally, God is sovereign in the ultimate judgment. 1 Thessalonians and Revelation both speak of God’s judgment in both its finality and its perfection. Regardless of what takes place in this physical life, we know that God is sovereign in his control over these events, and the events that are to come. Therefore, we look forward to his future reign with anticipation of the perfect future with the perfect reign of the perfect king.
Therefore, the ultimate authority comes not from an earthly court or government system or from an opinionated people, but from God.

Every time a new case similar to this is presented, we find ourselves having legitimate reasons for being more concerned. The line of questioning from the justices reveals a heart attitude of our society that doesn’t seek truth or justice but instead seeks conformity through oppression. While lamenting the depravity that has brought our society to this point, and yet, we can conclude that God is sovereign and therefore, our trust, our faith, and our hope lies in nothing less than an almighty God. Therefore, we do not worry, have anxiety, or cry, but instead look to our future hope of joy and eternal security with Him, regardless of societal outcomes.

(1) In previous arguments (Obergefell v. Hodges) I have critiqued the justices for seeing themselves as the final authority with no checks and balances (you can read that article here; you can also read a related article at glorybooks.org by clicking here). This raises great concern about the role that the Supreme Court in our nation. If these justices see themselves as the final authority, that’s 9 people making moral and religious decisions for 323 million people (or we could say that each justice for every 35,888,888 people). This is why the checks and balances system that was established is/was so important in our society.

To read the transcript of the oral arguments, you can click here.

Photo “On the Hill” courtesy of user Eric B. Walker and Flickr.