I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re an American, you know that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states according to a supreme court ruling handed down this morning. I think it’s also safe to assume that you have an opinion on the ruling. With so many passionate and confusing reactions out there on social media, I decided to give my two cents.
On the ruling
I was struck by the phrasing Justice Kennedy used in the majority opinion. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.” I think Justice Kennedy has a point here. Gays and lesbians in this country clearly have a regard for the idea of marriage (or at least an idea of marriage, if a misguided one). If they seek fulfillment in their partner before anyone or anything else, they do not have too low a regard for marriage, but too high a regard for marriage.
I’m sure married, opposite-sex couples understand better than anyone, that marriage is not a happily ever after. Even a Christ-centered marriage has its share of disappointments and heartache. Perhaps the reason these marriages tend to last is due to more realistic expectations. While Kennedy asserts that “the petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage seek it for their respect– and need– for its privileges and responsibilities,” I maintain that gays and lesbians do not need marriage. They need Jesus. I cannot describe to you the relief I experienced when I realized this for myself.
On the Church
My greatest concern following this decision is what will happen to the church. I see two potential dangers. One is almost a certainty, and that is an increasing pressure on the church to accept same-sex marriage as normal. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas, speaking of the religious and governmental institutions of marriage, says, “It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” Christians have already been attacked for refusing to endorse or be involved in same-sex marriage ceremonies. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, the church will only be perceived as more intolerant, more hateful, and more bigoted. I can only imagine what the consequences will be for those who continue to speak out ten, twenty, or thirty years from now.
But perhaps the greater danger, and one which may yet be avoided, is that there will be no consequences because in a few decades, no one will be speaking out against same-sex marriage anymore. I sincerely hope and pray that the church does not let this happen for the very simple reason that gays and lesbians need help. And if the church doesn’t help them, no one will.
In conclusion, I expect there to be much confusion in the GLBT community when their “golden ticket” proves a fake. When they discover that a legal marriage does not provide the “privileges and responsibilities” they need, perhaps they will turn to the church for answers. But I ask the church: when they do, will we be ready?