Posts Tagged ‘ freedom of religion

Supreme Court’s Same-sex Marriage Ruling Seriously Harms Religious Liberty

America changed. What we used to celebrate on the 4th of July is the inception of a government by the people and for the people, citizens of equal value under God as ensured by the rule of law – the Constitution. For the first time since the Dred Scott v. Sandford case fueling a Civil War, the Supreme Court issued a decision presuming upon a different definition of liberty, thereby trampling rule of law with rule of a few (nine to be exact). This is not my interpretation alone but that of the four dissenting justices all of whom felt so strongly about it that each one wrote their own dissenting opinion with exactly the same concern. Furthermore, each one highlighted that this shift in the understanding of liberty and self-government will have significant and broad implications for the free exercise of religion.

All people of faith now have a problem. If you support the long enduring definition of marriage or even if you don’t, we all have a problem. If you support the protection of self-evident inalienable rights such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech you have a problem. If you enjoy living

Justice Thomas

Justice Thomas

according to the teaching of your church or enjoy supporting ministries that engage in education or services that promote your beliefs, such as pro-life pregnancy centers, you have a problem. This is not hyperbole or fear tactics to raise money—we don’t do that. This is the interpretation of some of the best legal minds in America including four of the nine Supreme Court justices AND those that brought the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015. As Justice Thomas reminds us in his dissent, “Numerous [briefs]—even some not supporting the States—have cautioned the Court that its decision here will ‘have unavoidable and wide-ranging implications for religious liberty.’”

On June 26 the Supreme Court of the United States released their decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) regarding whether the Constitution provides for a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Alito in his dissent warned, “Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.” Based on a narrow majority (five

Justice Alito

Justice Alito

justices out of nine) they ruled in favor of the redefinition of marriage and that a State has no basis for withholding that ‘right’ to homosexual couples. Justice Alito summarized the court’s ‘profoundly incoherent’ logic: “This reasoning is dependent upon a particular understanding of the purpose of civil marriage….its argument is that the fundamental purpose of marriage is to promote the well-being of those who choose to marry. Marriage provides emotional fulfillment and the promise of support in times of need. And by benefiting persons who choose to wed, marriage indirectly benefits society because persons who live in stable, fulfilling, and supportive relationships make better citizens.” This line of reasoning supports the majority’s mandate (i.e. legislation) requiring that all 50 states license same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

By redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, which no other society had ever considered doing in the history of mankind before the Netherlands did it in 2000, the court ruled unconstitutional at least 30 States traditional and democratically chosen definition of marriage thereby undermining America’s political process that is designed to protect our liberty. This decision robs the people of their constitutional democratic privilege and represents the largest case of judicial legislation since Roe v. Wade struck all laws prohibiting abortion in all 50 states. Many in fact have referred to the Obergefell decision as the ‘Roe v. Wade of Marriage.’ But it is much worse. Roe v. Wade limited its scope by disallowing the Federal government from funding or forcing the provision of abortion services for individuals or states. Like Obergefell, Roe short circuited the national democratic process and made it illegal for states to outlaw abortion. But even Roe’s limited action (compared to Obergefell’s overreach) in attempting to settle a cultural question with the stroke of a pen created a cultural rift heretofore irreconcilable. What consequences should we expect

Justice Scalia

Justice Scalia

from Obergefell if its scope is so much more sweeping? The following statement made by Justice Scalia in his dissent possesses a ‘WOW factor’ never before articulated by a sitting Justice to my knowledge: “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” Earlier he clarifies stating, “This [Obergefell decision] is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”

Also Roe v. Wade did not have the power nor the potential for a mass violation of what the Founders deemed so important as to place it first in a list of Constitutional Amendments in a document called the Bill of Rights, namely: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Obergefell inherently threatens these foundational principles, as Justice Thomas ominously warns the decision carries with it, “…ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

The reason for the dissenting justices concerns over the threat to religious liberty is that the majority in fabricating the fictional right to same-sex

Chief Justice Roberts

Chief Justice Roberts

marriage had to redefine the court’s long history of the very term ‘liberty.’ Government does not confer liberty upon people (as it has just done with same-sex couples) according to fashionable political trends. The court is supposed to understand that America’s legal understanding of personal liberty is largely negative, meaning liberty is freedom from government, not positive meaning benefits provided by the government. If nine unelected justices can redefine ‘liberty’ in order to fabricate rights there is no limit to its power over the people. To put it more clearly, if judges can create and confer new ‘rights’ then those upon which they are conferred are not actually free self-governing people with inherent dignity but rather subjects of a servile state. Freedom then becomes a fiction the ruling elite uses to quell and lull the public into compliance to their agenda. If the people of the United States allow this ruling to stand then rule of law as citizens subject to a Constitution is supplanted by rule of man and we are no longer citizens but subjects to the whims of the powerful. As Chief Justice Roberts noted, “If an unvarying social institution enduring over all of recorded history cannot inhibit judicial policymaking, what can? But this approach is dangerous for the rule of law.”

To the decision’s wide-ranging implications for religious liberty the Chief Justice goes on to say, “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.” He gets more specific: “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.)

Even if losing tax-exempt status were not a problem, the condescending and demeaning way that people of faith are portrayed portends worse things to come. Those who uphold the ‘enduring definition of marriage hav[ing] acted to ‘lock…out,’ ‘disparage,’ ‘disrespect and subordinate,’ and inflict ‘[d]ignitary wounds’ upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. Ante, at 17, 19, 22, 25. These apparent assaults on the character of fair-minded people will have an effect, in society and in court…it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted. Ante, at 19.” Justice Alito confirms the Chief Justice’s grave concern foreseeing that, “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy….The implications of this [paralleling of same-sex marriage to the equal treatment of African Americans and women] will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent….I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

CompassCare along with many Churches, act in ways informed not by government but by God. It is our religious liberty and freedom of speech that has protected CompassCare and other Pregnancy Centers nationwide from being dragged into court at the whim of a political activist. And if we do find ourselves under legal attack we usually prevail based on the principles of the freedom of religion and speech found in the First Amendment. If we support and actively promote natural marriage and gender roles we are now at risk. When the free public exercise of religious liberty is called into question in part it is called into question as a whole and that is exactly the point the four dissenting justices each made in their own way. We have been warned, and warned not by some talk show, conspiracy theory, or alarmist but by Constitutional lawyers and members of the highest court in the land familiar with philosophy, history, law and culture.

While we implicitly understand as thoughtful American citizens (by the sovereignty of God—See Romans 13:1-7) the harrowing implications of allowing the redefinition of liberty from its traditional meaning as ‘freedom from government’ to ‘benefits permitted by government’ it is important that we remember two things: 1) This is not just a case of the world acting like the world. We ignore it to our detriment and the detriment of the future of godly families and 2) We must prepare for direct persecution by being convinced about what we believe about the purpose of mankind and marriage, readying ourselves to courageously speak the truth publicly.

1) This is not simply a case of the world acting like the world. This case is about the nature and purpose of marriage as Chief Justice Roberts noted, “The real question in these cases is what constitutes ‘marriage,’ or—more precisely—who decides what constitutes ‘marriage?’ He lamented that the court ordered the ‘transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia…Just who do we think we are?” The majority agreed with the petitioners that marriage should be redefined in order to include same-sex unions. The redefinition did not simply cut against the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage but against ALL religious and cultural understandings of marriage from time immemorial! Marriage is not just a Christian institution. It is a primordial reality that predates all government and is required for the stability of all organized societies. As Justice Thomas quoted from John Locke in his dissent, “The first society was between man and wife, which gave beginning to that between parents and children….that to the institution of marriage the true origin of society, must be traced.”

2) We must prepare to resist in the evil day as the Apostle Paul exhorted believers in Ephesus, “…and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore…” (Ephesians 6:13b-14a). In order to stand firm we must first know what we believe. Government did not create marriage but it does have an interest in preserving it if the government wishes to ensure a future presence for the nation it represents. Marriage is the mechanism that generates and educates tomorrow’s good citizen. States do not have an interest in sanctioning the deviant sexual appetites of adults so that they feel better about themselves, even though none of the states restrain them from doing so (implying the traditional legal definition of liberty as that freedom from physical restraint). The purpose of mankind is to glorify God. In fact the Constitution is founded upon this principle in order to derive the concept of God-given inalienable rights. From this concept of rights that are common to the nature of man-made-in-God’s-image we get ‘dignity.’ Because of the nature of man we each have inherent worth that cannot be given or taken away by a government. This inherent value of each person is the basis for human dignity. Yet as Justice Thomas noted again, “…the majority goes to great lengths to assert that its decision will advance the ‘dignity’ of same-sex couples. Ante, at 3, 13,26,28.” He goes on to assert, “the government cannot bestow dignity, and cannot take it away.” He concludes his dissent with an ominous warning, “[The Court’s] decision will have inestimable consequences for our Constitution and our society.”

We must hold to the understanding that God’s creation as well as God’s word defines marriage as the comprehensive union between one man and one woman that is exclusive, permanent and has the potential to generate new human life. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27), and “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). We must remember that the basic unit of civilization is the family, not the individual. We must remember that God means something very specific by male and female in terms of who we are and how we are to reflect his image with those natural roles in family and society. The family is the first institution in the history of man, and therefore is the primary community in all society.

And believing these things now puts us at risk for persecution. After Paul was stoned and left for dead in the town of Lystra instead of receiving encouragement by the disciples he gave encouragement in Acts 14:22, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” And writing to Timothy, Paul spoke of his experience at Lystra among other places setting the expectation that, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). What this means for us is that we must search our souls for any vestige of the misconception that liberty has anything to do with maximizing individual desires and feelings of happiness which is the basis of the courts deeply flawed decision. To reject marriage by redefining it serves only to undermine the dignity of humanity and the stability of civilized order. We must reignite our passion for true godly family and repent of any cultural worldliness we allow lodging in our souls. We must recover our submission one to another, rededicate ourselves as fathers and mothers, rethink ‘financial security,’ careerism, and even contraception. We must remember that our spiritual well-being is found not in bowing to a government agent’s lesser view of man and liberty but being willing to defend a higher view. Not for ourselves but for the sake of our fellow man both generally and specifically to the glory of God. We must get acquainted with the idea that our fellowship with Christ will become a fellowship in His sufferings and remember that this is a high privilege for which the Holy Spirit will empower us. As Peter encouraged the Gentile believers: “…but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13).

How then shall we live in this New America? Repent, take up our cross to follow Jesus, and endure.