27 June 2013

What the Supreme Court's Ruling Tells Me about the Future

On June 26 the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which had defined marriage between a man and woman, consequently not recognizing same-sex marriage.  The catalyst for this decision was a lawsuit regarding federal benefits, or in this case the lack thereof, in regards to an elderly lesbian couple.  They had been legally married in their state and then later one died.  Because the federal government did not recognize them as a married couple, certain federal benefits did not apply.  Therefore, the survivor was left with a hefty estate tax as the property of the deceased individual was willed to her.  So the context of this moral issue about marriage and sexuality was in the practical area of benefits and money.

The Court ruled 5-4 that DOMA was unconstitutional and only designed to harm homosexual couples.  Of course, when the Supreme Court rules a law unconstitutional, they must argue from the Constitution of the United States regarding the specific part or parts that are violated by the law.  In this case the argument of the majority was that DOMA violated the 5th Amendment, which reads as follows:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

What I've gathered is that the Court focused on the portion that says, "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property." 

Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the majority, stated, “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” (New York Times article)

Technically, the Court's decision only applies to the 12 states which presently recognized same-sex marriage.  Here they are in the order in which each made gay marriage legal beginning in 2003: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Washington) However, it is easy to see where this is leading - the federal mandate that all states must recognize gay marriage.  It's coming. 

Also, in another decision, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a case concerning California's Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that overturned a 2008 decision to legalize gay marriage.  A lower trial court in California had overruled Prop 8, so the Court's refusal to take the case and rule on it essentially allowed the lower courts ruling to stand, which in effect makes California the 13th state now to recognize legally gay marriage.

This culture shift is dramatically reshaping our collective view of sexuality and marriage.  It is a march away from a biblical view of such things and an embracing of the spirit of Judges 21:25, "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (KJV).

When the foundation is removed, how can the house stand?  Those who forged this country and the Founding Fathers who penned the Constitution possessed a biblical world-view.  They certainly were not all Christian men, but the culture was infused with Christian understanding, convention, ethic, morality, and expectations.  I can only image the collective gasp of the Founding Fathers at the Supreme Court's use of the 5th Amendment to justify that gay marriage is morally acceptable.  It would certainly flip their wigs!

Unfortunately, the Constitution has become a useless document on this moral issue.  The Fathers never addressed the issue, and certainly couldn't have possessed a reason to do so.  The immorality of homosexual behavior was assumed culturally.  However, I know a source that has always and continues to condemn the lifestyle.  And unlike the Constitution, it is still relevant on this issue.  It is unchanging and unwavering.  And as long as I hold it in my hand and proclaim it's content, it will not be silent.  Our unbelieving culture is progressively wanting to sweep the Bible into the trash bin for it's alleged bigotry.  Our liberal brothers and sisters want to do the same, only to a lesser degree.  They just choose to dismiss the perceived offensive parts so that we can all get along.

The church is on a collision course with our culture on the issue of homosexuality.  We have seen it coming for some time, but the issue is accelerating and the clash is going to be dramatic.  I see no reason to believe that the encroachment of the federal government into this issue will not become increasingly intrusive.  As Christians push back and the church stands firm there will be consequences.  So, pastors, believers, and churches, count the cost now.  What are you willing to suffer for the truth of God?  That used to be a question that was only hypothetical.  Suffering for the truth of God was only something I read about in history, but I believe I can see it on the horizon for us right here in the good old USA.    


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