My Thoughts on the Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage

I have been hesitant to write anything about the SCOTUS ruling which disallowed States to ban gay marriage, simply because I have seen how social media has been so consumed by it, and it is clearly an issue which people have made a dividing line, which greatly saddens me. My initial feeling was that it is a lose-lose to write anything on the issue for these reasons, but I keep returning to the idea that I should share some thoughts, since the purpose of this blog is to give a pastor’s voice on happenings in society.

So here are some thoughts:

I’m not surprised by the decision. It didn’t happen overnight. This is the culmination of things which have been in the works for a long time. The debate is basically between identity and practice. For some time now in our society, there has been a movement pushing to see homosexuality as an identity which a person is inherently given, and therefore not to act on it would be to betray who they fundamentally are. The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t say that homosexuality is a person’s fundamental identity, but that it is a practice – but not who a person is. A person may have inclinations towards certain behavior, but that doesn’t mean that they must act on those inclinations at risk of betraying who they are – rather every person must choose to deny certain inclinations and act on others, and the Bible says that homosexuality is a behavior which should be denied – not an identity which defines who a person is.

The Supreme Court’s decision marks a change in the cultural climate – where now homosexuality is to be celebrated and anyone who doesn’t celebrate it will be marginalized. Whereas historically in America, for the most part churches and religious organizations have been regarded in a positive light, that is less and less the case, as they are increasingly being portrayed as “hate” groups, unless they are willing to compromise convictions held for thousands of years. This change of climate is something American Christians are not used to, although it does exist in other places in the world – namely Canada and France.

The biggest implication for churches will not be in the realm of officiating or hosting homosexual marriages. See this article for more details on that.  The biggest implication in the long term for churches will be in the area of tax exempt status. Just this past week, Time published an article in which the author stated that “Now’s the time to end tax exemptions for religious institutions”. The author references a 1983 court ruling from a case involving Bob Jones University, which stated that a school could lose tax-exempt status if its policies violated “fundamental national public policy,” and states that in light of the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, this might now be applied to religious organizations.
That prospect seems daunting to many Christians, and I personally wouldn’t like to see that happen – but I do keep in mind that the early Christians had no money, no tax exemptions, they were considered an illegal religion for hundreds of years and were considered radical in their statement that Jesus was the only way to heaven.  And yet, the message of the Gospel changed lives and brought about love and new life, whether it was legal or illegal, preached in a tax exempt mega-church or an underground meeting.
You may not agree with the direction things are changing, but we can have confidence both historically and eschatologically of the victory of Jesus and the ultimate need of every person in the world for the Good News of the Gospel to give them new life.

5 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage

  1. Good commentary. I agree with your assessment but with one caveat: in the future the threat to the church may increase as the homosexual community is more emboldened by court rulings. If the court rules to strip churches of their tax exempt status, the next battleground may become marriage ceremonies.

    1. What do you think would be the potential attack on marriage that hasn’t already taken place? Do you mean that pastors might be sued if they refuse to officiate homosexual weddings? I think that is something which can be easily navigated by the advice given in the article from the Gospel Coalition which I linked to above.

  2. So you expect people to give up the intense love they feel for their husbands or wives not because their relationship isn’t happy and neutering, but because your god doesn’t approve of same sex attraction? You also expect gay people to give up the love of supportive families and communities because your religion defines it as sinful. You compare homosexual relationships to harmful activities such as alcoholism.

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. To be clear, it’s not the attraction that is the issue, it is the acting on the inclination. I may be attracted to any number of people sexually, which may be something beyond my control or choice – but it is my choice to act upon those feelings and desires or not. And I choose (as we all do) to suppress some desires and act upon others. That is the issue: not the attraction, but the action.

      Also, to be very clear: I do not think that people with same sex attraction are worse than other people. I do think it is possible to love people and disagree with their actions and choices. That is what God has done with me, for example: God loves me (and you to btw), but he doesn’t approve of all of my actions. That is why the debate is, as I say, essentially over actions vs identity. I believe that homosexual behavior (not attraction) is an action and a decision, not an identity.
      Fundamental to the Christian Gospel is the hope and belief that God gives us a new identity is Christ, which is our true identity.

      Our society has bought into the false assumption, that if you disagree with someone’s behavior, that you either hate them or fear them. I do neither. I suggest that Christians should love people as Christ loved us. But how did he love us? By loving us fully, while disagreeing with much of what we do – by telling us that we are not fine, that we are sinners who need to repent and align our lives with God’s plan and purpose and will, and yet by giving himself fully for us in the greatest act of love. Our calling is to love others in a like manner.

  3. Yes, I read the article and agree that there are steps that should be taken by the church to protect itself against possible civil and criminal charges. The gay community strongly believes that excluding them from any segment of social activity, by any organization, based upon their sexual preference, is a form of bigotry. Most of the media agrees with them. My concern is that even with the steps outlined in the article, that eventually the courts will be reviewing cases involving denial of service by churches to the gay community. If the church is stripped of it’s tax exempt status, it could ultimately be defined as a faith based business – no different than a bakery – and judged in a similar way.

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