In its decision concerning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages, the justices struck down Section 3, declaring that the federal government cannot define marriage for its own federal policies and laws but must accept whatever the states’ decisions on marriage may be. However, the ruling doesn’t affect or change Section 2, which declares that no state is required to give effect to another state’s recognition of same-sex marriages.
In the other case, the Supreme Court stated that the group that sponsored Proposition 8, the California law that banned gay marriage in that state, didn’t have standing to defend the constitutional amendment that was passed by millions of Californians. Therefore, the justices didn’t take the case, and gay marriage will once again be legal in California.
“The U.S. Supreme Court rulings in both the DOMA and California Proposition 8 cases grieve but do not surprise me. They are but the latest evidence of the fundamental shift in worldview that has taken place among the elites in the American culture; a worldview once based on the final reality of a personal, sovereign, holy and living God has been usurped by the situational morals of whomever has a vote in the room at time a decision is rendered,” said Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of The Presbyterian Lay Committee and executive editor of its publications.
“There is no longer an appeal in our nation to the standards established by the God under whom we pledge allegiance. There are now only appeals to the personal proclivities of those who want what they want regardless of the damage ultimately done to the already frayed fabric of American morality,” she said. “It is time for Americans who believe in God to begin understanding the comprehensive assault on their worldview. The Supreme Court decisions in these cases are not the issue. Gay marriage is not the issue. The issue is whether or not we understand ourselves to be living before and under the sovereignty of, the personal, holy, infinite, revealed, living God.”
Many other conservative and evangelical voices have commented on the Supreme Court decisions. They include:
“Traditional marriage serves an important role as a building block for a flourishing society. There is an urgent need for churches and others to defend traditional marriage. Faithful church teaching contrasts with forces of cultural accommodation that would redefine marriage out of existence. Standing up for traditional marriage is an important responsibility in a confused culture needing spiritual and moral direction. … U.S. Christians have three options. They can yield to the trends devaluing marriage. Or they can admit defeat in society but try to maintain traditional teachings inside the church. Or they can swim against the current and insist that both church and society must uphold marriage. We believe that only this last option is faithful to the Scriptures and conducive to the long-term good of society.”
Kristin Rudolph, Institute on Religion & Democracy “Marriage is Worth Defending”
“Anything that could have happened [June 26] with the Supreme Court would have been culturally impactful. It’s what happens now that will be culture shaping … The echoing refrain from the secular quarter and the public square is that the die is cast and that the pattern of marriage as defined by the Church is doomed. But the Church is not shaped by culture; we are called to shape culture. Let’s take hope and have confidence in the fact that, as Kingdom People, we have been at our best when we have had to set ourselves against culture. Somehow we must learn to be ‘in the world’ but not ‘of the world.’ I personally don’t know a more challenging need today than for Christians to demonstrate the meaning of marriage, and for us to model the rich meaning and blessing of sexuality expressed procreatively and faithfully and in the covenant of marriage. If marriage is, as we understand it, a life covenant between one man and one woman, we must not allow the decision of the Court to determine otherwise.”
Evangelical leader Maxie Dunnam, former Asbury Seminary president, posted on Juicy Ecumenism blog
“We tend to find it difficult to love those who are different. In the end, Jesus asks us to love those with whom we disagree quite fundamentally. Are we really willing to do this? This moment offers a unique opportunity for Christian people to lovingly, cogently and consistently both argue and demonstrate the coherence of their views. At least for that reason, if none else, it is an exciting time.”
Jeff Gissing, blog “A letter to my American friends”
“We are in the midst of a people of unclean lips. They are at the moment unwilling to let go of their sin and give their lives to Christ. But we are united to the Lord of life; we are, perhaps, set to walk a lonely path such as his. To be despised, to face humiliation. Yet, this may open God’s door for those who will be given new life and transformation. This is often God’s pattern, to change his people who feel the sting of their own sin, and through them in their union with Christ, with proclamation of the good news of redemption, to change the wandering sinner.”
Viola Larson, Naming His Grace blog “For the Church because of yesterday’s opinion”
“I’ll just say that it shows how wrong all those members of Congress were when they claimed that Congress had the power to address the issue of same-sex marriages through legislation, when what they really needed to do was to pass a Constitutional amendment. Now the Supreme Court has told them so, and now we have an entirely different Congress and a President who would not support any such amendment. So that’s that — but at least it restores to the States the power that should have been theirs all along.”
A. S. Haley, Anglican Curmudgeon blog “On today’s Supreme Court decisions”
“The Christian church does not ask the U. S. Supreme Court, or any other human court, what marriage is. Marriage is a pre-political institution defined by our Creator — for His glory and for human flourishing. Today’s decisions will create serious religious liberty challenges for all churches, Christian institutions, and Christian citizens in this nation. But the greatest impact of these decisions is the further marginalization and subversion of marriage. The destruction of marriage did not start recently, and it did not start with same-sex marriage, but its effects will be devastating. Christians will have to think hard — and fast — about these issues and our proper response. We will have to learn an entire new set of missional skills as we seek to remain faithful to Christ in this fast-changing culture.”
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., “Waiting for the Other Shoe — The Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage”
“Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all. For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide. But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again. … the evangelical witness may be leaner in numbers in coming years, but the upside is that the witness may be even more potent. The gospel of God’s love in Christ is no less powerful in 21st century America than in 1st century Rome. So, let’s love God, love our neighbors (even those with whom we respectfully disagree), and remember the good news that in God’s lawcourt, all who repent and believe in Christ have the verdict of ‘justified’ pronounced over them. And there’s no court on earth that can overturn that.”
Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition, “Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church”
“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father. Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it. … Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage: Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage: ‘Tragic Day for Marriage and our Nation,’ State U.S. Bishops
“… We must change the way we preach. Those with same-sex attractions, who follow Christ, will be walking away from what their families and friends want for them: wedding cake and married life and the American Dream. Following Jesus will mean taking up a cross and following a hard narrow way. It always does. If we’re going to preach that sort of gospel, we must make it clear that this cross-bearing self-denial isn’t just for homosexually-tempted Christians. It is for all of us, because that’s what the gospel is. If your church has been preaching the American Dream, with eternal life at the end and Jesus as the means you use to get all that, you don’t have a gospel that can reach your gay and lesbian neighbors—or anyone else for that matter. Same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’ And that’s good news.”
Russell D. Moore, Moore to the Point blog: How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness?
“‘I was preaching at Pathway Vineyard Church in Maine on the Sunday after the state of Maine legalized gay marriage. After such a strong statement and shift in the culture around them, what did the believers there do? The same thing they did the week before: loved people, served the hurting, and preached Jesus. Maybe we should follow that example this Sunday. And next Sunday. And the next.’ Christians have erred, he said, in responding to cultural changes with anger.”
Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today, “Ministry Leaders and Experts Respond to the DOMA and Prop. 8 Rulings”
“Proponents of same-sex marriage are hailing [the June 26] rulings as a turning point for the institution of marriage and, indeed, the debate will continue. That’s why, especially in the days to come, the Church will have a new opportunity to shine its light into a confused culture. It is time for everyone who supports the natural definition of marriage to recommit and affirm the sanctity of their own marriages. We must humbly confess the damage we have done to marriage by our own collective careless treatment of it. As we continue to distance ourselves from God’s design for marriage and family, Christians will need to take their oath and commitment to marriage more seriously. Though the divorce rate among committed Christians is lower than among the general populace, it remains far too high. The single greatest argument we can present to the world on this issue of marriage is to personally live out marriage in all its God-ordained fullness and radiant beauty.”
Jim Daly, Focus on the Family “Why I’m not despairing over the marriage rulings”