- - Sunday, June 30, 2013


Culture challenge of the week: Supreme denial

Last week’s Supreme Court’s decisions on marriage were truly outrageous. But the damage done is partly our own fault.

Let’s be clear, first, on what the court did. The “Supremes” set the stage for gay marriage to resume in California and struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, clearing the way for gay people’s demands for federal marriage benefits.

These decisions, in the words of dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia, were “jaw-dropping.” They put the Supreme Court in the role of supreme moralizer, free to disregard the Constitution and the will of the American people.

The decisions themselves were a victory for gay messaging and political manipulation. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, for example, framed the court’s rulings in the language of “love” and “equality,” saying, “Gosh, it feels good to have love triumph over ignorance, equality triumph over discrimination.” (Got that? If you support marriage as the union of a man and woman, you’re either ignorant or discriminatory.)

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion intentionally demonized Americans who support traditional marriage. He drew the absurd conclusion that defining marriage as the union of a man and woman must be intended to “inflict an ‘injury and indignity’ on gay couples so severe that it denies ‘an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.’”

In other words, the majority of the Supreme Court has contemptuously slapped the “bigot” label on all believers in traditional marriage.

So where does this leave us?

While the decision is infuriating — and legally indefensible — it doesn’t change the truth.

As Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary reminds us, “God created marriage and he has defined its parameters, regardless of what the majority of Supreme Court justices might think.”

Put differently, Agudath Israel, a national Orthodox Jewish organization, observed in a statement that although “society’s mores may shift and crumble eternal verities exist. One is marriage, the union of a man and a woman. Its sanctity may have been grievously insulted by the High Court today, but that sanctity remains untouched.”

How to save your family: Rebuilding begins with us

We who embrace the truth about marriage must do some serious soul-searching in the wake of these decisions. The legal battles will continue and the public debates will rage — and we must seek to win on these fronts.

But we must own the reality that all of us helped pave the way for these decisions, by our own failure to hold up heterosexual marriage as something to be desired and preserved.

Perhaps that failure began in our own homes or families, with our silence as couples we know too easily fled the hard work of marriage. Perhaps that failure took root in our children’s hearts and our neighborhoods, as they saw us criticize spouses, give in to the temptation to cheat (whether actually or virtually, through pornography) or treat each other badly.

Did we shrug our shoulders at couples or grown children who shunned marriage in favor of living together, conveying the impression that marriage doesn’t really matter?

Make no mistake, the coming months will batter and bruise those of us who believe in the truth about marriage. We will prevail because God’s truth will always prevail. But our mission and our strength will be to lean on the truth — and to live it more authentically.

That means we must be outspoken in our support for troubled married couples, encouraging them to seek counseling well before the point of no return. We must encourage pastors to step up to the plate and prioritize marriage-strengthening ministries within their congregations.

Those of us blessed with good marriages must make time to mentor young couples — engaged, newlyweds and young parents — sharing the wisdom we’ve learned about long-haul loving. We must talk to our children, youth groups and students about the beauty of God’s design for marriage.

Marriage — the real thing — is a beautiful blessing from God. But we must live it, breathe it and teach it with a renewed fervor. Our future depends on it — no matter what the Supreme Court says.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]

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