Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

If you haven’t heard by now, the Supreme Court issued its opinion regarding the legality of gay marriage today.  Here’s an excerpt from an article by the Chicago Tribune:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark victory for gay rights on Wednesday by forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it is legal and paving the way for it in California, the most populous state.

As expected, however, the court fell short of a broader ruling endorsing a fundamental right for gay people to marry, meaning that there will be no impact in the more than 30 states that do not recognize gay marriage.

The two cases, both decided on 5-4 votes, concerned the constitutionality of a key part of a federal law, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that denied benefits to same-sex married couples, and a voter-approved California state law enacted in 2008, called Proposition 8, that banned gay marriage.

The court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, which limited the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal benefits, as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

And, predictably, some church officials are having a fit.  Here are some excerpts from an article at USA Today:

“The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, . . . said in a statement.

. . .

The decisions have “highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates,” said a statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.”

Some are even praising this decision:

The Rev. J. Bennett Guess of the United Church of Christ, the largest Protestant denomination to come out in favor of gay marriage, praised the decisions as victories for both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages.

“The Supreme Court has underscored the central point that marriage is ultimately about the commitment between two people who love one another,” Guess said. “It is a great step toward full freedom and recognition for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.”

Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, of course.

But what I don’t understand is why anyone who considers themselves to be a believing “Christian” finds this decision very relevant one way or another.

Here’s why:  believing Christians are, ostensibly, those who take their understanding of the nature of God and of ethics from the Bible—and believe that Jesus Christ has reconciled them to God, bringing them into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And if this is true, they probably also understand that functions of the Church and functions of the State are foundationally—and irreconcilably—different.  In this light, any notion that we live in a “Christian nation”—whatever that means—evaporates.

Marriage, as a concept or institution, was first founded by God between Adam and Eve.  The scope of this union, marriage, was between these two people and God—and nobody else.

Now, here’s my point.  What legitimate role does the State have to do with marriage?  Anyone?  How is a decision made by an element of the State truly relevant to the Church?  I’d like to know.  Yes, it’s true, for the typical reasons of control and cash the State long ago usurped the role of arbiter to dictate who is or is not “married”.  But neither that, nor anything else done by any State agency has any effect on what remains true—that marriage is wholly within the sphere of the Church.  If the next proclamation by the Supreme Court establishes “marriage” between a hummingbird and a hibiscus, what relevance does this have?  Do you really believe that the federal government of the Usurped States of America must be in continual agreement with the Church?  Was Rome?

Rather than decry this decision or that decision made by an openly corrupt State, why not decry their meddling in affairs of the Church, of man, and of God in its entirety?  Tax benefits doled out as reward to some or penalties enacted against others simply play no legitimate part in marriage itself.

Thomas Jefferson was right to say that we do (and ought to) have a wall of separation between the Church and State.  These are entirely different spheres with entirely different purposes.  It’s time those that call themselves by the name of Christ begin more seriously considering the meaning of their citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.

After all, no man can serve two masters.

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