Rev. DeVries is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church in Wingham, Ontario, Canada.
We Have Met the Enemy
The cover article of the September 22, 2004 issue of Christian Renewal is entitled “The Present State of Unions—How we got here; where we’re likely going,” by Barbara Curtis. It is an article well worth reading in its entirety. She aptly points out that we are in the present battle against the legitimizing and legalization of same-sex marriage not only because the homosexual community has been busily and successfully advancing its agenda. She correctly asserts, I believe, that much of the blame for the undermining of God’s ordinance of marriage must be laid at the door of the churches. Barbara Curtis writes:
Here’s how Frederica Mathewes-Green, a writer on early Christian spirituality and cultural commentator, sees it:
“It’s heteros who made marriage into a garbage dump. The ubiquity of soft porn, the 50% divorce rate, the sexualizing of little children, all of these have been destroying marriage for decades now, and it’s not evil gays who did it. That we wake up and start shouting when some male couple asks for a marriage license is pathetic. Homosexuality does not pose a temptation to straights, that is, 98% of the population, yet the institution of marriage has been dying very efficiently without them. The loss of the label ‘marriage’ as applying only to hetero couples is a very grave step and must be opposed, but in some ways it’s like finally chiseling the date on a tombstone.”
Hold that thought. Then consider that historically, the purpose of marriage was the procreation and rearing of children. Not just Catholicism, but all denominations forbade birth control.
But by 1930, the Anglican Church became the first to change its tune, declaring that “Each couple must decide for themselves, as in the sight of God,” about “scientific methods to prevent conception….”
The other Protestant denominations quickly followed suit—giving up any hope of affecting the world and instead becoming conformed to it.
As a result, the concept of marriage in America changed, from an institution based on maintaining the well-being of the family and children to a couple who are already complete and may or may not want children at all.
Even putting aside questions of the value of children—God’s word calls them blessings and rewards, while we think nowadays in terms of financial liabilities and distractions—we can see the first shift in marriage from surrender and selflessness to “Have it your way.”
And nothing says “Have it your way” like divorce, once an option only for the hardest hearts, now quick and convenient, thanks to the 1975 no-fault divorce law, which enables either partner to undo the marriage vows regardless of the desires or needs of the other partner or children.
The results are clear: While 14% of white women married in the 1940s eventually divorced, 50% of women married in the 60s and 70s have already divorced, with more to come.
It doesn’t help at all that Christians of all persuasions have not upheld the sanctity of marriage. A 2001 study by Barna Research Group showed the divorce rate for believers was pretty much the same as for others—33% to 34%.
And how many pastors—even in high and lofty places—have put years of anti-divorce preaching behind them in order to sever their own marriage ties?…
The article concludes:
Which brings me back to this point: Yes, same-sex marriage may work to undermine the institution of marriage, but not nearly as much as it has already been undermined by contraception, casual sex, cohabitation, divorce, and abortion—all the times individually and collectively we have chosen selfishness over selflessness.
With studies indicating Christians are very much part of all of these problems, it’s hard to feel righteous when addressing the problems with gay marriage.
The truth is, we’re very much a part of the prevailing ethos of “Have it your way!” We’ve put our desires before the needs of others and tried to conform God’s plan for marriage to fit what’s comfortable for us.
What we didn’t realize [was] that in so doing we were helping pave the way for gay marriage. For, once we began saying no to God’s plan for marriage, others could as well.
Well said. But, sadly, one hears scarcely a whisper of acknowledgment from churches, also conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches, in this regard. The failure of churches to exercise the keys of the kingdom and the failure of churches to maintain the truth of Scripture concerning marriage and family, perhaps especially as regards divorce and remarriage, have contributed greatly to where we stand at the present time.
As Barbara Curtis makes plain, “we’re pulling some very heavy—and largely unexamined—baggage as we go.” May God grant us grace humbly to confess our sins and failures in upholding God’s ordinance of marriage. How true it is, as stated long ago by a comic strip character, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”
The article referred to above by Barbara Curtis also demonstrates the horrendous usurping of power by the courts in recent years. Her article begins:
Ten years ago, mainstream America didn’t find the idea of homosexual marriage alarming—they just found it absurd and preposterous. Now the joke’s on us.
And it’s not over by a long shot. In fact, it won’t be over until gay marriage isn’t confined to a handful of states and a few renegade towns, but has become the law of the land, probably through a Supreme Court coup similar to Roe v. Wade….
In 1960 all fifty states had laws against sodomy. Forty-three years later 37 states had repealed those laws, but 13 still had them on the books. All were invalidated on June 26, 2003, when the Supreme Court struck down 6-3 a Texas anti-sodomy law.
Many saw the writing on the wall, including Justice Antonin Scalia, who warned that the ruling would lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage, imposed against the will of the people through the courts.
Sure enough, on February 4, 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, ordered the state legislature to rewrite the state’s marriage laws to allow for same-sex marriage. With victory at hand, some renegade towns—most noticeably San Francisco—jumped the gun and began issuing marriage licenses not backed by proper legislation. On May 17 Massachusetts became the first state to officially grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In the first week alone, 3000 same-sex couples came from far and wide to tie the knot.
Two months later, under pressure from President Bush and traditional family organizations for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman (as opposed to two men, two women, one man and six women, one woman and her dog, and who knows what else we haven’t thought of), our Pontius Pilate Senate washed its hands of the matter by voting not to vote—thus turning the issue back to the states and the courts.
In a post-Roe world, it’s easy to see where this is going. By August 2004, 46 states were home to same-sex couples returned from Massachusetts nuptials, all of whom want their marriages recognized in their own states. The first suit has been brought in Florida, by Rev. Nancy Wilson and new wife (well, new legally, but according to the Sarasota Metropolitan Community Church, “her spouse of 25 years”).
Several states have already begun voter initiatives to allow citizens to inform their legislature of their will, but even if they pass, many are already doomed to die. Consider the case of California’s Defense of Marriage Act passed in 2000, 61% to 39% across the state, with only four of 58 counties opposed. The ultra-leftist California legislature refused to act on it. And while many other state legislatures will gladly underwrite the will of the citizenry in this matter, many state courts will promptly strike down the laws they’ve written.
Which means in several years we’ll end up with a patchwork of state laws having to do with same-sex marriage (the reason why the left is suddenly touting states’ rights). As in the case of Roe v. Wade, or the more recent anti-sodomy case, some group like GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders—MDV ) will step in and challenge one state’s law before the Supreme Court. And with the present composition of the Court, in all likelihood any state laws prohibiting or limiting gay marriage will be struck down.
Sad to say, things are not different in Canada. In a recent Communique of the Christian Heritage Party, National Leader Ron Gray entitles his article with the question, “Who really rules Canada?” His answer:
Of this you can be very, very sure; it is not the nation’s ordinary citizens.
Canada is no longer a democracy. For years this nation has been an oligarchy: a self-serving rule by self-perpetuating cliques.
The late Pierre Trudeau greatly admired Plato’s vision of “philosopher-kings”—visualizing himself as the ideal, of course. His disdain for the common people then ushered in real philosopher-kings: judges, appointed to office for life and answerable to no one. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, entrenched in Canada’s Constitution, carried the hidden seeds of power for these philosopher-king-judges, like a ticking time-bomb. The judges of that day toyed with it, and no one objected. They went a little further; still no opposition was raised.
In the last decade, the judges have vaulted into the saddle—wearing spurs.
There is no longer any pretense of “separation of powers” or of adherence to principle. Political correctness now controls our nation. The judges, impervious to criticism, carry forward a radical Secularist agenda as proxies for the timid Cabinet which anoints them.
Close behind the judges are the apprentice philosopher-kings—a few highly politicized civil servants.
Not only do we have judges re-writing laws—and even the Constitution itself; now the taxman is arrogantly telling the church what may and may not be spoken about when an election is in the air: social policy is off-limits, and so are topics identified with the policies of any political party. Should a priest or pastor have the temerity to teach church doctrine on a controversial subject like abortion or same-sex marriage to his congregation, CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) threatens that it might revoke that church’s right to issue charitable tax receipts.
Note that agencies that have supported terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah are still active as “charities”—as the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm observed,
“All animals are equal; but some are more equal than others.”
Of Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “Four Freedoms”—Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—the first two are now on the endangered species list in Canada. Ask Scott Brockie, Chris Kempling, Hugh Owens, Don Spratt, or Ken Campbell. All these men have been persecuted by the Political Correctness cops.
Where today does one find civil servants—politicians and judges—who consider themselves to be the “ministers of God” (Rom. 13:6)? Where does one find such “ministers of God” who realize that they have a very limited calling—to protect the upright citizens and to punish those who do evil (the criminals)? Certainly the philosopher-king-judges of our day do not want to recognize the limited calling they have. Many of them appear determined to mold society according to their humanistic and anti-christian vision.
But God will not be mocked. For, in spite of themselves, they are His ministers. And they will be judged as such. They are held accountable before God now and will be also in the day of judgment. Disobedient “ministers of God” shall receive to themselves damnation. As we sing from Psalter number 223 (a versification of Psalm 82):
Where’er His creatures gather
the unseen God is near;
Let rulers fear their Ruler,
their Judge let judges fear.
How long, ye earthly judges,
will ye pervert the right?
How long shall wicked persons have favor in your sight?