However popular the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodge ruling was in secular society, faithful Christians answer to a higher authority. So, one year later, how has the Obergefell decision affected the body of Christ? Well, “Not much. And a great deal.”
This is according to Mark Tooley (my boss), anyhow.
To mark the one year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodge, the Family Research Council (FRC) hosted a lecture entitled “Obergefell: One Year Later.” Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), was invited as a panel guest to address the Court’s marriage decision and its impact on America’s churches. Alongside Tooley, panelists included Dr. Paul Sullins is Associate Professor of Sociology at Catholic University of America, and Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at FRC.
It is easy to be pessimistic—perhaps even despairing—about the implications of Obergefell on the direction of the Church if you’re an orthodox Christian who upholds the sanctity of marriage. But for Tooley and the rest of us staffers over at the IRD, the trends among sexual ethics and church vitality remain the same. Tooley notes:
No major church body has changed their stance since the court ruling and none are likely. Several declining oldline denominations had abandoned traditional Christian teaching before the ruling. They are the Episcopal Church, the PCUSA, the UCC, and the ELCA, plus Christian Church Disciples of Christ sort of. They collectively represent perhaps 5% or less of USA church members and are fast declining. Their example is instructive to others who might be tempted.
The Evangelical Left would be wise to take note of the oldline denomination, Tooley says:
There is a growing evangelical left that’s embarrassed by Christianity’s and specifically Evangelicalism’s counter cultural teachings especially on sex. In the Evangelical Left mythology, Christianity without serious sexual restrictions would be more inclusive, more welcoming and therefore more evangelistic ally successful. These voices are typically uninformed about or just ignore the oldline Protestant example even as they advocate evangelicalism become more like the fading Episcopal church.
Watch FRC’s entire panel discussion on the Church after Obergefell v. Hodges here: