The Supreme Court’s Alchemists Try to Change Marriage
As the world waited to hear their words, nine black-robed Justices of the United States Supreme Court emerged from behind the curtain and Justice Kennedy read the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges, an opinion that overturned the historic understanding of marriage and the laws of 37 states. The majority claims that the Fourteenth Amendment requires every state to license and recognize a “marriage” between two people of the same sex when it was performed in another state in accordance with its civil law.
The Justices who wrote the majority opinion have assumed the role of cultural revolutionaries, the leaders of a new secularist state that has declared itself the moral arbiter of a nation which has rejected God. The Natural Moral Law, upon which the American experiment is based, has been replaced by a legal positivism in which the “law” is merely what the court says it is.
This decision is the Roe v. Wade of marriage and family. It shows the same contempt for the will of the people as expressed through the political process, where the Constitution itself expects such matters to be hashed out. Worse, it will have the same devastating social results. The opinion does not recognize marriage but overturns it as a unique institution. The justices in the majority believe they can change the relational structure of reality by issuing opinions filled with sophistry masquerading as judicial reasoning.
The New Alchemists
The alchemists of days past claimed they could turn base metals into gold. Today’s judicial alchemists think they can change the structure of reality and human relationships. They cannot. But they can change what the law of our nation says reality is. It’s as if having watched his alchemists fail to turn lead coins into gold coins, the king ordered his subjects to treat the lead coins as if they were gold coins. But lead is not gold.
In marriage, the kings of the Supreme Court have ordered that lead be treated as if it were gold. With this decision they have made sure there will be no limit to the configurations of people seeking recognition under this judicially manufactured right to marry. Children will no longer have a legal right to a mother and father. The gift of sexual difference and the complementarity between men and women will be jettisoned, viewed as a vestige of an archaic past.
The conjugal embrace between one man and one woman who have pledged themselves to fidelity in marriage and opened their mutual gift of self to procreation, will no longer be esteemed and honored by the nation’s law. The unitive and procreative dimensions of male/female sexual intercourse within a chaste marriage bond will no longer be considered normative.
Test tubes, surrogate wombs, and new technologies will become acceptable, even commonplace. The use of what are now called “reproductive technologies” will no longer be measured against a standard of respect for human life and dignity. Rather, they will be unleashed, with devastating results. This utilitarian view of human sexuality will fuel the movement to recognize a growing number of recognized “genders.” A culture of use will be encouraged, rather than exposed and opposed.
That’s a culture of lead, not the gold of marriage as God created it and the Natural Law recognizes it. Now, the way we’ve lived out our marriages, they don’t always look like gold. Culturally, we haven’t done marriage very well. But the big difference is that gold is still gold, even if it’s mixed with other metals and covered with dirt. Lead will always be lead.
What Lies Ahead
For years I referred to the movement which brought us this decision as the Homosexual Equivalency Movement. The leaders have insisted that homosexual sexual practices are morally equivalent to the sexual expression of marital love between a man and a woman. But that’s not all they’ve wanted. The goal of the HEM’s revolutionaries is a society where our country’s law forces all of us to treat as marriage what can never be a marriage.
Now, with the Supreme Court’s decision, they’ve got that. Every state has to make homosexual and lesbian partnerships legally equivalent to marriage and the federal government will act as the enforcer of this new order.
Anyone who accepts what the Natural Law reveals — and the cross-cultural history of civilization affirms — and insists that marriage is between one man and one woman will be viewed as a threat. That includes all classical Christians, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, along with many other people of faith and good will.
If Christians and others refuse to treat these partnerships as marriages, we will face the police power of the state. Even though the court’s opinion claims that religious institutions have a first amendment right to understand marriage as they always have, this pronouncement will quickly lead to cases undermining that very right, as John Zmirak explains here.
Why can’t those who have claimed that accepting the new legal order is a matter of tolerance just live and let live? Why, for example, are local bakers and wedding photographers sued and attacked for politely declining to approve something they can’t approve — especially when lots of nearby bakers and photographers would be happy to do the work? David Mills suggests one answer here.
And the public spokesmen for the HEM are becoming the most intolerant people in America. Some within the homosexual community, such as Andrew Sullivan, recognize the danger of this intolerance. In an insightful piece entitled “The Hounding of a Heretic,” Sullivan wrote:
The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists. Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame?
Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me — as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today — hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else — then count me out.
All who affirm the vital role that marriage and family serve in the formation of a just and humane society must be ready for what lies ahead. The Supreme Court has overturned marriage and assumed the leadership of a cultural revolution.