Sunday, June 30, 2013

@ the Intersection of Faith & Politics: DOMA was Doomed but Not Marriage

Marriage is an institution of God. That cannot be changed by any court, by any movement to the contrary or any further decay in our country. The Supreme Court decisions on the two key cases before them last week, got it at least 50% percent right with respect to the Constitution. We might of hoped for different, maybe even prayed for it, but this was to be expected, and might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Defense of Marriage act was doomed from the start. As soon as enough opposition could be mounted against it and brought before the High Court the result was inevitable. As much as some Christians love the idea that our Federal government defined marriage, at least for a time, there is nothing in the Constitution that allows for such a definition, whatever that definition may be. This point is something we need to hold on to. The decision might not sit well with many Conservative Christians, but it's the right thing to do, especially if you believe that upholding the Constitution is the right thing.

We can not claim on the one-hand that Federally mandated abortion is unconstitutional, for example, and on the other hand say that the Fed should uphold our understanding of marriage. Constitutionally, the Fed doesn't have the authority in either case. Of course that hasn't stopped them in the past from passing legislation to the contrary. But perhaps instead of fighting against this decision, we should, on the political side of the street, see it as an opportunity to speak about consistency in limiting the powers of our central government. That is something that Conservative Christians usually do champion. How far the argument goes today is anyone's guess but it still needs to be made well and reasonably. 

The DOMA decision does allow gay couples the right to certain Federal benefits, Same-sex couples who are legally married, which is only in 18 States presently, can now participate in federal benefits which until now have been available to traditionally married couples. This doesn't change the definition of marriage, at a Federal level, rather it simply expands who is entitled to these taxpayer benefits. I think that represents the fair and balanced scales of justice.

The 50% the SCOUS got wrong this week was concerning California's Prop 8. The Supremes, at least 5 of them anyway, thumbed their noses at the 10th Amendment, once again. The 10th gives power to the States to decide matters not vested by the Constitution to the Fed. No court in our land should overrule the democratic process of "We the People," as the lower court in California did. Doing so vests too much power in a small group of unelected leaders and opens the door for injustice. By way of a technicality, taking the easy way out, and returning the case to the lower court, the SCOUS showed they lacked Constitutional conviction. But that is where our court is today, however...

All the SCOUS accomplished this week is the continuation of this part of our culture war, and that's not a good thing. Neither side won a clear victory however so the battles continues. On the one hand, the decision doesn't define same-sex marriage as the law of the land.  It will be reinstated in California - against the will of the people who voted for Prop 8 - which is sad. But there are still 32 states with their own laws that still define marriage as between one man and one woman. This decision doesn't overrule that fact. On the other hand, the decision give us another opportunity to reconsider how we, as Christ followers, should respond to important culture issues. Clearly, fear or bitterness have no place in our response but either does apathy or the status quo. 

Regardless of what our culture does, marriage is not doomed in this country. Same-sex marriage does not affect my marriage or yours, at least it shouldn't. That is not to say the advances made by same-sex marriage serve the common good, they don't. When people fight so bitterly for the redefinition of a word and concept, all for personal gain that's not a good thing. Marriage, as Albert Mohler points out is meant for human flourishing, and whether one believes in God or not, that is a important concept. Marriage must have a high place in our culture. Therefore, it is past time for the Church to regain a prophetic voice and say enough, but that will require more than screaming at the darkness. It will require demonstrating the benefits of the Light.

What this historical moment should do, hopefully will do, is wake up many to the benefits of Biblical marriage, the strength of Godly families, and the rightness of God's original design. I'm talking about in the Church. The ball is now in our court, so how we respond will go a long way toward re-redefining marriage according to truth. If the concept of marriage fails in this country, it won't be because a small percentage of gay couples misappropriated the definition but because Christian marriages continue to be seen as no different from the rest our culture, with the same failure rate. Can there be a difference in our one-flesh relationships? There must be to give a witness that we have Christ as the center of lives and relationships.

God's design for marriage certainly never changes. As Mohler rightly notes, marriage is defined by our Creator. A culture can fail, marriage can fail, the Church can fail - in the short-term - but God's eternal truth never fails. We can exchange the truth of God for a lie but that doesn't change the truth of God. We shouldn't wring our hands, or put on sack clothe and ashes, but rather live even more as salt and light, noticeably different, offering different ideas, in our darkening culture. Even one small light pushes back the darkness. And, we must do so with love and understanding, not judgment and condemnation.

I came across this blog post that I think is worthy of much prayer and consideration: "Why the Supreme Court’s Decision for Gay Marriage May be the Best Thing for the American Church" This article speaks to the fact that at the Intersection of Faith and Politics, the right direction is always the direction Jesus wants us to go. Our reliance is not on what our government does, or will do in the future, but on the Holy Spirit and a life centered on Christ. That's the direction I'm heading at the intersection, how about you?

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