June 26 was a hard day. The U.S. Supreme Court, disregarding longstanding tradition, religious belief, and the law, redefined the institution of marriage, which has throughout history been the bedrock institution upon which society is built.
The 5-4 vote was hotly contested by Justice Antonin Scalia, who called the ruling a “threat to American democracy” and quipped that if he’d signed a statement like that, he’d have to wear a bag over his head.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote a separate dissent, comparing the decision to Dred Scott, which ruled that no one of African descent could be an American citizen, and arguing that the majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. “The right it announces,” said Roberts, “has no basis in the Constitution or this court’s precedent.”
Clarence Thomas warned that use of the judicial process “short-circuits” the political process that could consider religious-freedom implications, “with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”
But with five votes, five lawyers in black robes changed life for all Americans. The ripples of Obergefell v. Hodges will stretch beyond the homosexual couples who seek to marry, and will also impact tax law, insurance policies, employment law, fair housing regulations, property and inheritance rights, child custody, and child and spousal support. Cakes will be baked. Churches will be challenged. Christians who seek to follow the tenets of their faith will be called “bigots” and “haters,” although there is no evidence to support that scurrilous claim.
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SO WHAT WILL WE DO NOW?
Well, in the morning we’ll sit up, put on our shoes and eat breakfast. Life will go on.
If you are the parent, the friend, the co-worker of a homosexual person who wants to marry, you will still love him in the morning. Perhaps you’ll remember with a special poignancy how God loves you, how His gentle hand guides you when you veer off course; and you’ll try to imagine how much He also loves your son or daughter, or your same-sex attracted friend or loved one. You’ll pray for your dear one, earnest, tearful prayers; but your love won’t fail.
If you are an employer, there may be a time of confusion; and there will be financial implications, to be sure. Vacation policies, family leave, spousal insurance, tax structures and benefits may all need to be reevaluated in light of today’s ruling. But adjust you will, and your business will continue.
If you are a person who experiences same-sex desire and you plan to marry your partner, you may go through the legal channels, sign the paperwork, exchange rings, and kiss. Your friends and relatives may attend the ceremony, or perhaps they will not. If they attend, they will hope, along with you, that things will stay the same between you–because they love you. If they stay away, it’s not because you are not loved; rather, it’s that their deep love cannot encourage you in what they sincerely believe and know to be error and sin. In the eyes of the state, you will be married. Your family and friends will come down on different sides of the fence–some acknowledging the ceremony with only a shrug, others holding onto the hope that you will reconsider and turn your face toward God. But always, they love you; always, God loves you.
Life will go on.
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Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Philadelphia, in his brief statement on today’s ruling, acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on marriage is not a surprise. “The surprise,” he said,
“…will come as ordinary people begin to experience, firsthand and painfully, the impact of today’s action on everything they thought they knew about marriage, family life, our laws and our social institutions. The mistakes of the court change nothing about the nature of men and women, and the truth of God’s Word. The task now for believers is to form our own families even more deeply in the love of God, and to rebuild a healthy marriage culture, one marriage at a time, from the debris of today’s decision.”
Let us rise up, go in the peace of Christ, and love one another.
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And please, because it’s a jungle out there in the ethernet, I have this request:
If you are a conservative who believes that the Supreme Court erred in this decision, don’t fill my combox and other people’s comboxes with hate-filled admonishments or threats or name-calling. Don’t call God’s judgment down on those who think differently from you: The Spirit of God, Who makes all things right, can touch their hearts more effectively than you ever could. Your job is to love, not to hurl epithets and puff up in self-righteous indignation. Remember the old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey.” Perhaps you’ll never persuade others to consider your viewpoint; but for sure, absolutely you won’t persuade them with vinegar.
And I have this request: If you are an atheistic, pro-gay, pro-abortion secularist, don’t think that you can use my combox to crow about this temporal victory. Really, I’m not in the mood. Stay home.
Image By Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK (Time to wake up Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons