A Great Disappointment
Many people felt like me on Saturday after the marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges came down — a sense of loss and perhaps even fear. We trust God but maybe felt a little abandoned by Him. Perhaps some of you felt like someone expressed to me: “Thanks for nothing, God.” This is, of course, patently ridiculous on our part. I’m reminded of God’s response to Job:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
No, God does not “owe” us anything; quite the other way around. His gift of forgiveness and mercy is enough. He owes us no explanations.
The question I had when I awoke on Saturday morning, fully aware that we are living in a nation that no longer believes God’s law and that, as someone said, “valorizes sexual licentiousness,” was, “What do we do now?”
First, I think we have to be honest and acknowledge that this didn’t happen overnight. The culture has been on this journey since the 1960’s with a huge acceleration in the early 60’s and again in the last five years.
How did this happen? Well, I think a recent Pew poll gives us some insight. The summary stated, “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing. …” The number of Americans identifying as Christian is down almost eight percent since 2007. While the number of atheists, agnostics or those with no creed in particular is up almost seven percent.
We have become a less religious nation. Some people celebrate that. Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said we need to get over our outdated religious beliefs in order to rightly appreciate abortion. Addressing the Women in the World Summit, Clinton said, “[D]eep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”
Certainly, the leaders of the radical lesbian, “gay,” bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights movement would agree.
A Great Opportunity
What happens next must land squarely on the shoulders of the church of the living God. If pastors choose to ignore this attack on God’s earthly symbol of His relationship to His bride, the Church, then marriage in America, as God created it, is finished —not just from same-sex “marriage,” but for two other reasons. First, “gay marriage” isn’t the end of redefining. The next court cases coming will push for polygamy. Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged as much in his Obergefell dissent, and he went further to say that, under the Court’s logic, there will be no way of stopping it:
One immediate question invited by the majority’s position is whether States may retain the definition of marriage as a union of two people. Cf. Brown v. Buhman, 947 F. Supp. 2d 1170 (Utah 2013), appeal pending, No. 14-4117 (CA10). Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one. Obergeffel v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ____ (2015) (Roberts, J. dissenting).
In other words, Chief Justice Roberts rightly points out that the orientation towards creating children provided a basis for male-female marriage, but the new definition has no such foundation and, therefore, creates no argument against state recognition of any other arrangement among amorous, consenting adults. Polygamy certainly fits the same parameters as homosexual “marriage,” maybe more so because of the potential for children. We are now only making judgements about arrangements based on self-fulfillment; therefore, the door has swung wide open for almost anything.
It will shortly no longer be based on commitment. Radical homosexual activist Dan Savage believes “Monogamy is ridiculous” and that it “destroys more families than it saves.”
Therefore, there is no definition of marriage, really. The word will contort to mean whatever someone chooses it to mean, much like the new understanding of gender. Nothing is out of bounds for the new sexual moral relativists.
So, I return to the question I asked myself on Saturday morning. As Chuck Colson put it two decades ago in echo to Francis Schaeffer’s question several decades earlier, “How Now Shall We Live?” This is the question the church must continuously ask itself in order to influence the civil society of the day.
There is no question that difficult times are ahead. Some may want to do as St. Benedict did who retreated to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy to become a monk in reaction to the complete moral decay of ancient Rome. And there is a role for us to seek in prayerful holiness God’s blessing closeted away from civil society. But God has called some of us, through Concerned Women for America (CWA) and others, to be the salt of the Earth and the light in the darkness of public policy (Matthew 5: 13-16). This is our chance to shine brightly.
As Beverly LaHaye told us long ago, “God did not call [us] to win; He called [us] to fight. And [we] just have to be faithful to what He has called [us].”
I would suggest that just as William Wilberforce, the 18th century Member of Parliament, and his praying Clapham group, headed by Hannah More, met the culture head on using any tool at their disposal, so must we. Salt is a preservative. Long ago, Judeo-Christian values were used by our Founders as the guidelines for our laws. They did this not just based on mindless religion but on time-tested principles that protected citizens and allowed nations to thrive. So it is with pro-marriage and family laws.
A Call to Arms
Wake up Church! The majority of us must come out of our pews, clear our throats, and engage a lost nation. We must unashamedly share the Gospel of Christ and His love for all, regardless of our sin. We cannot, however, allow sin to be unchallenged as a valiant choice, blessed and encouraged by government. There is nothing loving about embracing not just the sinner but the sin, too. If we simply take a pass, how is that loving our neighbors? If individuals are not called to repentance, society will continue to suffer due to the further breakdown of the family and so will the Church. The issue is not really just about people being free to marry whomever they choose; it is also about requiring us to affirm that choice. That, we can never do.
As Peter and the Apostles told the authorities on the day of their arrest for preaching the Gospel in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” Let this be our CWA motto going forward, whatever power comes against us: “We must obey God rather than men.” The purpose of the church is not life coaching and lattes. It’s about seeking to do the will of a God who is both compassionate and just.
This is no time for us to shrink from the culture, but a time for boldness, because what is being promised to them will not satisfy. Advocates for moral relativism have over reached. We have an opportunity to lead!
For those in the Church who 1) believe that they are called to be salt and light, and 2) wish to protect their children from the coming culture clash that may have dire consequences for jobs, schools, and churches, here is what we must do:
CWA was founded on prayer and action. Never before has 2 Chronicles 7:14 meant so much to me:
[I]f my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Note that it is a call to repentance for God’s people. The healing of our nation begins with our own repentance. Our own treatment of God’s model for the sacred marriage bond devalued it long before homosexual activists began to gain traction. The levels of divorce, infidelity, abuse, cohabitation, and brokenness in Christian marriages are reflective of the society at large. Our marriages do not seem that different to the world. We have wandered so far away from God’s directives that our relationships do not seem particularly worth preserving as an institution. So first, we must repent of our own sin!
Our Short-term Goal — The First Amendment Defense Act
The number one, immediate priority is to protect the religious freedom of those who will continue to regard marriage as only the union between one man and one woman, according to the Word of God. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) have introduced legislation to clarify and strengthen religious liberty protections in federal law to safeguard from government retaliation against those individuals and institutions that promote traditional marriage.
The First Amendment Defense Act (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would prevent the federal government from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, organization, or business just because of their beliefs on marriage.
An example of this type of discrimination arose during oral arguments in Obergefell and was acknowledged by the Chief Justice in his dissent, noting the dangers we face:
Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today. Obergeffel v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ____ (2015) (Roberts, J. dissenting).
The First Amendment Defense Act would guard against that type of abuse. It would also, for example, prohibit the IRS from threatening to strip churches of tax exempt status because of their views on marriage.
This legislation and others similar to it should be at the top of our list for the immediate future at the federal and state levels.
Individual churches also should be sure to develop clear and concise governing documents that spell out their beliefs on marriage. You and I should make this a priority in our home churches. Mario Diaz, Esq., CWA’s Legal Counsel, has developed a brochure offering some guidance on what steps to take and giving practical language that your church can use. Titled “Marriage and the Church,” this is an indispensable resource.
Our Long-Term Goal: Overturn Obergefell, Constitutional Amendment
As with Roe v. Wade on abortion, we must overturn the Supreme Court’s overreach in Obergefell and restore states’ rights. To do this, we must appoint Justices to the Supreme Court who will repudiate the Court’s current power grab and restore the proper judicial restraint envisioned by the Founders. This has heavy implications for the next president of the United States. We need a firm commitment to appoint someone with a clear track record of adherence to the principle of judicial restraint and the text of the Constitution.
We must also begin to lay the ground work to pass a constitutional amendment restoring states’ rights. This can be done 1) by a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate and the ratification of three-fourths of the states (38), or 2) proposed by a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the States and approved by three-fourths of the states. This is not an unrealistic goal. Remember that 33 states passed their own marriage amendments before it were struck down by the courts.
Given the current cultural climate, we want to pursue the first option available under the Constitution (going through the House and Senate), avoiding a convention of the states. All approved amendments to the Constitution have passed through this process, and we believe it is the most effective way to avoiding unintended consequences. This strategy would throw the question back to the states, and there would be work to be done from there. Incidentally, this strategy would also work to limit abortion by allowing the states to choose.
There are approximately sixty million Evangelical and faithful Catholic women in this nation. If we choose to engage in an issue, we can affect change. Unfortunately, not only are we not all engaged, the vast majority of us are not even registered to vote. The next election could affect your job, your ability to operate a business, your child’s curriculum, your church’s tax status, or worse.
Our next president will likely appoint 2-4 Justices to the Supreme Court. Whether or not the next Court continues to legislate from the bench will be decided in November of 2016.
Work with CWA’s “She Votes” effort to do voter registration drives in your church. Give your pastor copies of CWA’s brochure, Political Guidelines for Churches and Pastors, explaining your church’s rights and ability to legally engage. Voting your values is the minimum you can do to protect your family and our freedoms.
And finally, some of you may be called to stand firm on your faith via civil disobedience. Local officials called to issue licenses may have to decline. Local businesses forced to participate via commerce must follow the dictates of their consciences and not man. Certainly pastors and clergy must decline. CWA supports your right to conscience.
Regardless of how you are called to act, I propose that act we must. Let us prayerfully consider our next steps and then move forward in service to God’s transcendent truths. Chuck Colson said it this way, “Remain at your post and do your duty — for the glory of God and His kingdom.” That is exactly what we must do.
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