Another wrinkle in the developing story over same-sex marriage occurred this week in North Carolina. I just happen to be the state this week and heard a news blurb on the radio while in my car. This sent me to my computer later to discover the context for the story.
Last week the Supreme Court of the United States made the decision not to hear appeal cases from states in which federal judges have overturned voter mandated definitions of traditional marriage which banned same-sex marriage. On the same day, October 10, a federal judge in Ashville, NC, Max O. Cogburn Jr., (an Obama appointee) struck down North Carolina's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that had been adopted in May 2012. The case that brought this decision from this judge was actually brought by a group of clergy who argued that by not being allowed to perform same-sex marriages their religious rights were being violated.
The fact that a liberal federal judge overruled the will of the people on this topic by ruling the law unconstitutional is not new. This is happening more frequently all across our land. What is new is that a civil magistrate in Elizabeth City, NC refused to marry two gay men on Monday, October 13, and is now facing suspension or possible dismissal. Gary Littleton declined to officiate and validate the gay marriage based on the fact that his participation in it violated his religious conscience. He believes that marriage is only reserved for a man and woman. However, the law is clear. North Carolina state law requires magistrates to perform their duties; they do not have the option to refuse. Now these duties for Mr. Littleton includes performing same-sex marriages. His choices now seemed limited to sticking to his convictions and losing his job or compromising his sincerely held religious belief to keep his job.
Legalized same-sex marriage is gaining tremendous momentum in our country. I have no doubt that our Supreme Court will eventually hear a case in which they rule any law in any state denying gay couples the right to marry as unconstitutional. This will have serious consequences on government employees who hold Mr. Littleton's view and may be forced to be involved with same-sex marriages.
Although I try very hard not to be an alarmist, I can't help but think that this ideology will eventually challenge the pastors and churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples. Ironically, support for government intrusion may get support from some churches and denominations themselves. The same-sex marriage rights creep is already happening within the religious community. Don't forget the group that created the court case that led to the overturn of North Carolina law, that led to the moral dilemma of Mr. Littleton was initiated by clergy.
Churches, get ready for this battle. It's knocking at the door. And when you answer that door, don't be shocked to find the face that is staring at you is a leader from the liberal church across the street. We better have our houses of worship in order and ready to respond in a way that honors God and His Word.
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