Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:48

Upholding Marriage

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court attempted to create a new category of so-called “rights” in the U.S. Constitution and in advance of Independence Day, a study, conducted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center in partnership with USA Today, found that that one-third of Americans can’t name any of the rights that the First Amendment guarantees.  According to a USA Today story, less than two-thirds of survey respondents – 57% vs. 68% a year ago -- were able to cite freedom of speech as one protected by the amendment. Only 19% were able to cite the freedom of religion, down from 29%.

I have aired a variety of conversations on The Meeting House about the Supreme Court ruling legalizing so-called “same sex marriage.”  I want to summarize some of the concerns expressed by Christian leaders and commentators.  One of the leading ones is the audacious attempt to redefine an institution that has been established by God Himself, and it is very clear - marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

 

Another is the override of the democratic process.  Voters in some 30 states had authorized their state constitutions to include an amendment defining marriage in that way.  As Emily Belz reported in a story for WORLD Magazine, Chief Justice Roberts said, “Just who do we think we are?”  He declared: “This is a court, not a legislature.”

 

Another area of concern relates to the creation of a new so-called “right.” Several months ago, Dr. Jerry Johnson, President and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, wrote: “For those who think sexual liberty trumps religious liberty, they need to be reminded that the free exercise of religion is explicitly framed into the Constitution. The same is not so for sexual rights, especially not a revolutionary redefinition of marriage.”

 

Moving forward, there is concern about the threat to one of our fundamental rights, built in to the First Amendment - the freedom of religion. I think it’s unfortunate that in that survey I mentioned earlier, less than a fifth of respondents identified religious freedom as one that is protected by the Amendment.  According to Belz, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said:

 

“The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”

 

Belz pointed out that Roberts didn’t buy that, writing in his dissent, “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage,” adding, “The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses. … Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.” 

 

So, where do we go from here?  Guests on The Meeting House highlighted how people of faith can respond to this ruling.  At the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando, I spoke with Doug Napier of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who stated, “...It’s not a settled social issue; maybe ‘settled’ as a matter of law according to 5 out of 9 of the Supreme Court justices, but that’s a bare majority, and just like with Roe v. Wade, it was not a settled issue then, it still isn’t.” 

 

Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, author of the new book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, related how those who believe in the sanctity of marriage should follow the example of the pro-life movement.  He shared three ideas with me:  1) the pro-life movement saw Roe as judicial activism and has never accepted it as the truth, and said that the same thing needs to happen regarding marriage, 2) the pro-life movement worked to ensure their rights of conscience were protected, and 3) he said that the pro-life movement bore witness to the truth about the unborn child, and similarly, it’s important that we rebuild a strong marriage culture.  

 

At ICRS, I interviewed Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research, who offered these thoughts in response to the court ruling: “...I hope we’re going to show and share the love of Jesus to a world that needs the love of Jesus…”  He cautioned against panic and lashing out in fear or anger, encouraging believers “to speak winsomely and graciously...,” adding, “The mission field has changed, but the mission hasn’t changed.”  In our conversation, he said those who hold a perspective on marriage consistent with the Scriptures are part of a “convictional minority.” 

 

We have opportunities to live out our faith in a profound way: to declare the truth, to demonstrate the love of Christ, and to devote ourselves to building stronger marriages than ever before.

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:51
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