The Supreme Court Redefines Marriage: What We Must Do

How to Defend Marriage Reality, Part Six

By Jay Richards Published on August 6, 2015

The Supreme Court has just struck down laws that recognize the perennial truth that marriage involves a man and a woman. The fourteen hold-out states who had maintained the truth must now redefine marriage to include relationships that lack the essential characteristics of marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, fulfilling his role as the case-study in disastrous Republican appointees. He also wrote the majority opinion for the Windsor case (2013), striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Lawrence v. Texas (2003), striking down state sodomy laws, and Romer v. Evans (1996), striking down a Colorado law involving sexual orientation.

These were obvious legal precedents for today’s atrocity, though its philosophical basis is found in the infamous Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) in which Kennedy offered this gem: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

We now see what happens when the American ideal of liberty is re-defined to mean we can make up reality and existence as we go along.

Of course the Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over reality. It never has. Marriage is what it is, and the high court has now set American jurisprudence against human nature itself. The decision is bound to have effects on some Americans’ views, however. Those whose attitudes are shaped more by social impression than conviction will go along. Some supposedly conservative politicians will buckle like cheap lawn chairs, perhaps growing weary of fighting a trend they’ve been told is inevitable. It’s a lie. They shouldn’t believe it, and neither should you!

We, by which I mean those of us who are not weathervanes of elite opinion, need to get to work. Here’s what we must do:

(1) Pray Unceasingly

To reverse the march of marriage to the gallows, we need a lot of repentance and healing bathed in prayer. The debate over marriage is not just a political or cultural or legal battle; it is a spiritual one. We contend not just against the flesh but against principalities and powers. We need an army of prayer warriors crying out to heaven for healing and renewal. If it weren’t for the supernatural power of God to transform cultures and people — to reverse trends that in human terms seem irreversible — we would have little hope. But we know from history and experience that God can do such things, that he wants to do such things, if only his people submit to him and his purposes.

(2) Act Consistently

If your marriage is in trouble, even if you’re in the middle of a divorce, you need to do whatever you must to save your marriage, before it’s too late. If there has been severe hurt or infidelity on either person’s part, your marriage can still be restored and become even stronger. Guess what? We’re all sinners. God freely offers His forgiveness and healing if you will repent and run to Him.

All of us who are married need to model what marriage is supposed to look like. Americans have surfed the no-fault divorce wave like a piece of dead driftwood. As believers, we also need to repent from what we have done to harm marriage. Divorce is almost as common among professing Christians as it is among the general population. The stats for staying married improve a lot for Christians who attend worship at least once a week and who pray together daily as a family. And for some reason, couples that practice “Natural Family Planning,” whether Catholic or Protestant, have extremely low divorce rates. We can do our part to protect marriage.

In the first century, women were considered property and their testimony was legally worthless. And yet, in his letters to the Ephesians, Paul told husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” There’s no taller order than that kind of sacrificial love.

If Christian husbands decided to take Paul’s command at face value, to follow it and become real spiritual leaders of their families (rather than letting their wives do all the heavy-lifting), if every married person reading this resolved to put Paul’s words in Ephesians 3 into practice, to seek holiness in marriage rather than just happiness, we’d have a lot more credibility when defending marriage.

(3) Think Clearly

One of the reasons we have lost so many battles over marriage is that people of faith don’t really understand the issue. Even those who know what they believe as Christians don’t know how to make the case for marriage publicly. There simply is no substitute for learning the details and the arguments, getting them down in your bones, and then using them in public and private settings. That is the purpose of my series on marriage reality: to introduce you to the basic arguments. If you’ve made it this far and still feel unsure, re-read. And to really gird yourself with sword and shield, read these books:

Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet, Same Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage

Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan Anderson, “What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense

Robert Reilly, Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything

(4) Love Unconditionally

While we defend marriage with all our might, we should not stoop to hateful attacks on our opponents. Even when we’re attacked as bigots or “homophobes,” we need to pray for the strength to offer love and compassion in return. It’s easy to demonize gay activists, especially when they’re attacking you, but every one of them is a human being created in the image of God. They need Christ’s love, not our anger. Anger is easy. Love is hard. We need to do the hard thing — show them love, without giving an inch on the truth.

(5) Stand and Fight Together, and Suffer the Consequences

It’s tempting to give in to fear and intimidation, to abandon our posts and to retreat into our private ghettos and enclaves, but these are temporary rear-guard actions. The best defense in this case is a good offense. Besides, we have a responsibility to our culture and to our fellow Americans, even if at the moment they hate us for it! It’s time for a counter-offensive. Real love in this case means that we must stand. We must suffer. We must fight for the truth, for the real good of our fellow citizens, for real marriage, and for real freedom. We must be willing to stand up to the mob, the media, the big corporations and the state. And we must do it together.

Given the trends in the courts and state legislatures, people of faith are now called to civil disobedience as others have in the past. We must resist the unjust coercion of the state, even if it means we suffer the consequences. If we do, let us offer up our suffering to God, and pray that He will use it for the good of others, and for His kingdom.

If you are a layperson, encourage your pastors, priests and other religious leaders to make a public stand in defense of marriage. Don’t let them get away with avoiding this issue. If you are a pastor, priest or other church leader, don’t let your flock avoid the issue. Make sure they are well-informed of the basic arguments, the current state of the debate and what they can do to help.

The US Supreme Court has decided to overturn laws recognizing natural marriage. Disastrous decisions resolve nothing. The Court has failed in the past when confronted with challenges to the collective opinions of elites, to which it is often enthralled. It has failed again. We must not be intimidated by a small oligarch of men and women in black robes.

When William Wilberforce committed himself to abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire, he was working against a historic and wide-spread institution. He was calling for members of Parliament to act, in many cases, against the economic interests of the British Empire. And yet, through the tireless efforts of him and his allies, he succeeded. The task before us is not nearly so hopeless. After all, we have the Creator of the universe and human nature on our side.

We are now entering a time of suffering, in which many of our fellow citizens, for whom we are working, will hate us. But if we work together, our suffering can lead to success. I can do no better than to end with a quote from the Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage, and ask you to join those of us who have already signed it.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.

The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.

In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to same-sex “marriage” — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.

We should view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision inventing a so-called right to same-sex marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the state directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

Together, let us stand and defend the reality of marriage, whatever the cost.


To read part one of this series, go here. For part two, go here. For part three, go here. For part four, go here. For part five, go here.

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