The Silver Lining in the Destruction of DOMA

A few months ago, when the Supreme Court first revisited Proposition 8, I wrote that the battle over legalizing homosexual marriage was not as much about civil rights as it was about moral rights. Today, Justice Anthony Kennedy confirmed my suspicion in his majority opinion overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Citing a document from the 1996 enactment of DOMA, he made the case that DOMA was created to express “both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.”

Basically, today the Supreme Court ruled that since DOMA was grounded in morality, it should be overturned. Kennedy argued that the "purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states." Such a stigma, in their eyes, is unconstitutional. In other words, morality is not sufficient grounds for a federal law.

As I write this, it's almost 8:00 pm on the west coast and the above is already old news. Americans have already acknowledged the ruling, grieved or celebrated in accordance with their beliefs, and are now ready to start talking implications. As a Christian, my first question is, "What will this mean for the Church?" We certainly don't have time be outraged or try to grasp at any last scraps of family values from the "good old days." We need to face the future with full confidence that it is ordained and held together by our sovereign King.

First, we should be aware that today's ruling is just one domino in a long row of inevitable court decisions which will lead our country directly away from its Christian roots. We ought to heed the warning Justice Antonin Scalia gave in his dissent, "As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe." (*1)

Then, upon acknowledging the direction our nation is headed, we should rejoice! You see, the spiritual terrain of the United States looks more like the world of the early Church than it ever has. And friends, history has shown us that the gospel message thrives most when it stands in sharp contrast to the world around it.

Dear Church, all these years that we've been praying for revival, that we've been crying out for God to do a new thing in our land -- what did we expect? Did we really hope that God would answer our prayer by increasing our church attendance by 1%, improving our prayer life by 2% and "purifying His Bride" by allowing a few of our century-old moral deist members to die off? No. I am convinced that He is doing something radical today that we have never seen before. He's drawing lines between light and darkness again (Gen 1.3, John 1.5, 2 Cor 4.6), He's uprooting His Church and setting her back on the hilltop where she belongs (Mt 5.14).

Let me explain. Pretty soon, no one will assume the traditional Christian model of marriage as "normal." Permanent, heterosexual marriages won't be the status quo -- they will be an anomaly. Eventually, as families with both a mother and a father become more and more foreign, society will have a striking reason to ask about the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3.15). Stable, God-honoring marriages will become as unlikely as a Crucified King offering forgiveness to His enemies.

While it's exceedingly exciting to witness this great rescue of the Church from mediocrity, we must also recognize our enormous responsibility to repair what has actually been broken for decades. As Russell Moore admonished this morning,
"We must repent of our pathetic marriage cultures within the Church. For too long, we've refused to discipline a divorce culture that has ravaged our [churches]. For too long, we've quieted our voices on the biblical witness of the distinctive missions of fathers and mothers in favor of generic messages on "parenting." For too long, we've acted as though the officers of Christ's Church were Justices of the Peace, marrying people who have no accountability to the Church, and in many cases were forbidden by Scripture to marry. Just because we don't have two brides or two grooms in front of us, that doesn't mean we've been holding to biblical marriage."
We must return to preaching the true, all-or-nothing, gospel that we find in Scripture: the gospel which would have us deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. If we really are going to call our Christian brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions to deny themselves, abandoning what the State is now offerring them: wedding cake and married life and the American Dream, we must give our lives to demonstrate that this cross-bearing self-denial isn’t just for them! What Christ offers: the life of a bondservant, a cross, adoption as sons and daughters, a future wedding feast, and the privilege of knowing our Creator for eternity, is worth everything.

This is good news for the homosexual and heterosexual alike. We all stand condemned as His enemies, yet He gave His life as a ransom for many (Mk 10.45) without distinction (Rom 3.22-23).

Dear Church, God has heard our prayers for revival, and it is happening. Are you ready to stand your ground and lovingly preach the true gospel with clarity so that all who hear it may believe (Acts 13.48)? Can you set aside your political agenda to follow Jesus of Nazareth, the Servant King who taught us to wash each other's feet? Are you willing to forsake the American Dream for the sake of those who have yet to hear of their Savior?

"The Son of Man" by Full of Eyes ©2013


I realize that some may choose to throw up their hands and call today "a great loss for Christianity." But to those people I would submit that the first Good Friday, with its earthquakes and black skies, was just as much "a great loss for Christianity." But our Redeemer lives! And He is on His throne, redeeming. Even now. Even today.


Soli Deo Gloria




Footnotes:
*1 - If the logic is that it is unconstitutional to "interfere with equal dignity," as Justice Kennedy claimed, then, by the Supreme Court's own admission, this ought to lead to the legalization of all types of marriage: polygamous, zoophilic, pediphilic, incestual, posthumous... you name it. Justice Kennedy effective dismantled all legal grounds to prohibit such things, because up to this point an appeal to morality was legal. Of course, the dominoes don't stop there: As non-biblical marriages gain protection from the government, Christians may face persecution for articulating their biblical worldview.

We have already seen this type of persecution in the UK, (more than once,) and Sweden. Additionally, first amendment rights have already been subtly chipped away at as well.

2 comments:

  1. As a Christian, I do believe Homosexuality is not of The Lord and a sin. That being said what I am on the fence about is whether it is something we should make illegal. How many more Christians were saved by prevention rather than by repression?

    God gives us freewill, if we aren't forced to be Christians, why should we force others to see marriage the way we see it? I personally believe that leading by example would be more effective. How many non Christians got saved because we denied them something that went against Biblical principles?

    Forbidding gays to marry won't lead them to Christ and quicker than allowing them free will, that's what I would sum up my thoughts on. So in a way, I agree with your blog :)

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    1. I agree entirely. Of course, whether it "should or shouldn't be illegal" is really a debate of yesteryear (specifically 2008, in the case of California) and there's little use in making a case for or against something the Supreme Court already ruled on.

      Unfortunately, I think you and I are in the minority on this issue, and a lot of Christians are upset (to put it lightly) that DOMA was overturned.

      I wrote this blog for them: so they can see that the implications of this ruling, for us, the Church, are both vast and GOOD. As you pointed out, this landscape of freedom is much more hospitable to the true message of salvation than is a landscape of oppression.

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