We need to begin with some framing statements regarding God and humanity.
- I believe that all sexual acts outside of marriage are sinful.
- I believe that marriage is exclusively between a man and woman.
- I don’t believe the government has authority to change either of the first two points. That is, marriage is a gift from God to humanity, and so he gets to define it. No government has authority to create homosexual marriage. This is outside the purposes of government, as marriage predates government. Government is a creation of humanity. Marriage is a creation of God.
- This is true whether gay “marriage” is being created by the courts or by the legislatures or by a constitutional amendment adopted by the people. As to marriage, the sovereign power is exclusively held by God.
If I were writing a book on the subject, I would walk the reader through the Gen 1 – 2 passages and how Jesus and Paul interpret and apply them. But readers of this blog should be familiar with this material already — and the fact that Jesus and Paul reach their conclusions from Gen 1 – 2, not the contract theory of government, the divine rights of kings, or the like. We should think as Jesus and Paul thought.
Next, a few framing statements regarding civil law.
- The Obergefell v. Hodges decision of the U.S. Supreme Court is not only very bad theology, it’s bad US law. Even if you concede a constitutional right of privacy, Obergefell goes far beyond the prior privacy cases because it doesn’t merely require the government to leave people alone. It requires the government to grant a range of civil benefits.
- Lawrence v. Texas held that the government may not criminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults — due to privacy rights. The theory is that the people did not form government to tell us how to live sexually. In fact, going back for many decades prior to the decision, the police and prosecutors virtually never enforced the sodomy laws, largely for that reason.
- But there’s a huge difference between limiting the government’s power to interfere (the real meaning of a legal “right”) and requiring the government to grant recognition and associated privileges.
- There are many who see this as a states rights issue, that is, that gay marriage should be defined state by state, by elected representatives rather than the courts. And I would agree that the courts have usurped powers that no one meant for them to have. But I would take it a step further: Congress, the state legislatures, and even the people do not have the power to invent gay marriage because marriage predates government. It is, rather, part of human nature — and should be viewed not as a legal issue at all but as a question of human identity before God.
- Hence, Christians err greatly when they think, write, and vote as though this were something properly considered by the political/legal system. It’s not.
- Gay marriage is not about who gets to decide or what decision to make. It’s about the fact that the decision has been made already.
However, we don’t live in a Christian nation, and we have to live in the real world, not the world we wish for — that is, until the world is changed for the better. When the early church declared “Jesus is Lord,” they were contradicting the Empire’s claim that Caesar is lord. The church was right. The Empire was wrong. And many Christians died for their disagreement. That’s the price of confronting the principalities and powers with God’s truth.
- The claim that the US was founded as a Christian nation makes for great campaign rhetoric. It’s meaningless from both a theological and legal standpoint.
- No one knows quite what the language means. Are we saying that the Constitution prefers Christianity over all other religions? Well, read the Constitution. It just doesn’t. Are we saying that most Americans were Christians when the Constitution was adopted? Well, that’s bad history.
[A]ctually very few Americans were church members during the Revolutionary era-less than 1 in 5. The big change happened with the Second Great Awakening, in the early 1800s, the time of Charles Finney and revival meetings. During this time, adherence rates jumped to about one-third. In the late 1800s, they jumped again, to almost half of the population, and they have steadily risen to the present when almost two-thirds of the nation adheres to a religion.
Bradley R.E. Wright. Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (Kindle Locations 399-401). Kindle Edition.
- It’s a peculiarly American thing for us to assume that whatever is wrong with the nation is a political or legal problem. If we see morals declining, rather than blaming parents and the church for not doing their jobs, we blame the government for not doing its job
— as though someone wrote a secret law requiring the government to raise our children as Christians for us. Didn’t happen.
- To be plain: the problem with the nation’s fallen morals is not fundamentally a government problem. It’s primarily a failure of Christian parents to raise their children as Christians. It’s next a failure of the church to be the church.
To quote Pogo, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.”
Imagine that all the Christian parents of the 20th Century had managed to convert their own children to Christianity. How Christian would the nation be?
If our parents fail to raise their own children to become Christians, what laws might we pass to fix that?
Imagine that all of our churches had been enough like the church Jesus meant for them to be that they managed to keep their members as Christians and teach them how to live the gospel. How Christian would our nation be?
If our churches fail to be true to their mission and if they fail to teach the gospel to their own members, what laws might we pass to fix that? How many Supreme Court appointees would have to change for our churches to be fixed?
So, you see, how we frame these questions matters quite a lot.
Now, yes, our political and legal systems are thoroughly boogered up. But who did the boogering? Who elected presidents and senators who confirm Supreme Court judges who care nothing for the things of God? Who are, in the final analysis, lawless — preferring their personal moral compasses to law? In a democracy, it’s ultimately about the people.
If Christians, because they’re angry, want to vote for a secular candidate to “send them a message,” whose fault will it be when laws get passed and court decisions get made that don’t reflect Christian values?
So what’s the solution? And don’t tell me that it’s to keep doing church the way we’ve been doing it. Or to keep on parenting the way we’ve been doing it. Or to go back to church and family as they were in the 1950s. The parents of the 1940s and 1950s raised the voters and politicians of the 1960s and 1970s.
Something was badly amiss at least a generation before everything went off the rails. And it wasn’t taking prayer out of the schools. It was, in fact, the lazy, un-Christian, anti-God, irresponsible notion that the schools ought to raise our children for us — going back to well before the 1960s.