So where are we? We have undoubtedly opened a large can of worms here, and the aftermath of this decision is not yet clear. In reading the majority opinion, one comes away with the impression that the court has protected same sex marriage by bringing a civil argument to bear and all but ignoring the religious implications. After all, marriage is both a legal institution and, in some religions, a sacrament. Equal protection under the law will require States to issue marriage licenses and perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the sexes of those seeking to get married.
Let me offer you a story from my own experience. A few decades ago, my fiancée and I decided that it was time to affirm our life commitment to each other by becoming united in wedded bliss. Because she was of the Episcopal faith, I agreed to be married in the Episcopal Church. We began the process of locating an Episcopal priest to provide the ceremony and soon found one. He advised us that we would go through a series of counseling sessions in order to determine if we should be married. We immediately protested that both of us were quite sure that we were ready to be joined in holy matrimony. Then the priest explained that the counseling was not to question our resolve but to determine whether we should be a married couple in the eyes of the Lord and the church. If he came away feeling that this union was not right, he would not perform the ceremony. This spiritual counsel and examination was a function of his duties as a priest in the church.
This experience leads me to the question how the Supreme Court ruling will be applied. Is a church now mandated to marry all comers regardless of the beliefs of that church or the Bible which informs its teachings? Clearly, the Bible has been unequivocal on its position regarding same sex relationships. Are the congregants now supposed to toss their Bibles in the gutter? Are their ministers to tell them to just tear out the pages that no longer apply but keep on believing? The church is at a critical fork in the road concerning whether it will adhere to its tenets and lose nonprofit tax status, or adopt governmental edicts and retain funding. In religion, credibility is everything and those who subscribe to a religion and its church will be watching closely to see if their church takes a principled stand despite the possible economic repercussions. For many, their future with the church will hinge on the path it takes.
Some of you may believe that the gay community’s interest in legal marriage is confined to securing the same rights as those afforded to straight couples, and to relieve the stigma attached to being gay. For a few in that community, that may be true, but I suspect for the majority it is not about the legalization of marriage—it is about obtaining an admission of guilt and nothing will stop them until that admission is secured. Every avenue of challenge that can be found will be followed and exploited. You can bet the churches will be confronted, tested, and prosecuted either in the court system or through the strong arm of the government in order to force them into compliance. Once the church has caved and lost all latitude on making decisions regarding marriage as a sacred rite, the admission of guilt will be a trophy waved by the conquering heroes of the gay community. Might I also add that the progressive element of our nation that seeks to move us all into a socialist utopia will also be applauding loudly at their success.
I mentioned earlier that the direction and stance of the church is critical on this aspect. The challenges will come and soon. First the feds will strip the church of its tax-exempt status and move to treat it as a business. If that fails, the challenge will progress through the court system, possibly back to the Supreme Court where the government shall act as the plaintiff and use an endless supply of taxpayer dollars to prevail whether the taxpayers like it or not—just as it did in this initial ruling. How the church responds to this challenge will define the future of religion in the lives of many Americans. I hope those religious leaders who are in control can see the coming storm and realize that their tax exempt status should not supplant the principles and teachings that form the bedrock of their institutions. To capitulate to secular concerns (funds and moral relativism) would be to totally undermine the credibility of religion—exactly the outcome the progressives desire. The legal right to marry is only a stepping stone to the greater goal of undermining religion and the church. That may not be the goal of the gay community, but it most certainly is the goal of those who are using them in that effort.
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