On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States redefined marriage and effectively legalized homosexual marriages in all 50 states. The next day Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. explained the decision:
Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday is a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman and in a five to four decision the nation’s highest court has now imposed its mandate redefining marriage on all fifty states.
As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.”
The majority’s argument, expressed by Justice Kennedy, is that the right of same-sex couples to marry is based in individual autonomy as related to sexuality, in marriage as a fundamental right, in marriage as a privileged context for raising children, and in upholding marriage as central to civilization. But at every one of these points, the majority had to reinvent marriage in order to make its case. The Court has not merely ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry—it has fundamentally redefined marriage itself.1
This is not the place to analyze the legal merits of the majority’s decision to legalize homosexual marriage. But we can make the observation that almost everyone agrees that the decision, by redefining marriage, opens the way to the legalization of polygamy. Chief Justice John Roberts argued this point in his dissent, as Mohler explains:
The Chief Justice…pointed to another very telling aspect of the majority opinion. The Kennedy opinion opens wide a door that basically invites looming demands for the legalization of polygamy and polyamory. As Chief Justice Roberts observed: “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.” Striking, indeed. What is perhaps even more striking is that the majority did not even appear concerned about the extension of its logic to polygamy.
As the decision approached, those of us who have warned that the redefinition of marriage will not stop with same-sex unions were told that we were offering a fallacious slippery-slope argument. Now, the Chief Justice of the United States verifies that these concerns were fully valid. You can count on the fact that advocates for legalized polygamy found great encouragement in this decision.
There is much proof for Mohler’s assertion that the decision has encouraged advocates for the legalization of polygamy. CBS News has reported that a Montana man, Nathan Collier, “said…that he was inspired by [the] U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.” Politico.com, a major mainstream source for news on the internet, published an article by Fredrik deBoer in which he argues for the legalization of polygamy. Here is an excerpt:
While important legal and practical questions remain unresolved, with the Supreme Court’s ruling and broad public support, marriage equality is here to stay. Soon, it will be time to turn the attention of social liberalism to the next horizon. Given that many of us have argued, to great effect, that deference to tradition is not a legitimate reason to restrict marriage rights to groups that want them, the next step seems clear. We should turn our efforts towards the legal recognition of marriages between more than two partners. It’s time to legalize polygamy.2
The Supreme Court’s decision also jeopardizes the ability of Christians to maintain and express their belief that homosexuality is a sin. Mohler writes:
The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia. Justice Clarence Thomas warned in his dissent of “ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”
One of the most dangerous dimensions of this decision is evident in what can only be described as the majority’s vilification of those who hold to a traditional view of marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman. Justice Samuel Alito stated bluntly that the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” According to the argument offered by the majority, any opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in moral animus against homosexuals. In offering this argument the majority slanders any defender of traditional marriage and openly rejects and vilifies those who, on the grounds of theological conviction, cannot affirm same-sex marriage.
Currently, both houses of the US Congress are considering a bill called The Equality Act. The proposed bill “seeks to expand the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s protections against racial and sex-based discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”3 This “anti-discrimination” bill “would prohibit discrimination against LGBT persons in categories ranging from employment and housing to education and jury service, and would broaden where discrimination would be illegal in a public accommodation to include everything from shopping centers and banks to travel agencies and funeral parlors.” This bill does not appear to limit religious freedom, at least not overtly. Personally, I do not see why a Christian would object to a business transaction with an LGBT person any more than they would any other person who may be living in some other kind of sin.
But, it is a concern that society now views condemnation of homosexuality as bigotry that is akin to racism. Perhaps on a city, state, or national level there will be “anti-discrimination” laws that take away the freedom of churches to express their disapproval of homosexuality.
It is reasonable to be concerned that the LGBT community will continue to seek to silence any criticism of homosexuality. Dr. David Murray explains the reason that the LGBT push so strongly for homosexual marriage: “Gay marriage is not primarily about gay marriage; it’s mainly about silencing gay consciences.”4 Murray explains that “few homosexuals and lesbians marry when given the legal opportunity.” This leads to the question of why the LGBT has so insistently demanded the right to marry. Murray found the answer to this question by reading The Trouble with Gay Marriage, an article written by Brendan O’Neill about the homosexual marriage movement in Ireland.
O’Neill explains in his article that the main reason for a vote to approve homosexual marriage in Ireland was to make “people feel good” and relieve “adult anxiety.” Murray takes O’Neill’s conclusion that same-sex marriage is about soothing homosexual consciences and explains why this is so important for homosexuals. He writes:
The answer lies in, where the Apostle Paul explains what desperate measures that homosexuals (and other unrepentant sinners) take to silence the voice of their conscience. They hear God’s prohibition and condemnation in their consciences, hate it, and do everything they can to shut it up—including, in our own day, getting gay marriage legalized everywhere, even if relatively few ever make use of it. Because, in most cases, it’s not about the right to marry; it’s mainly a vain attempt to muffle the inner voice of conscience by multiplying and amplifying external voices of approval.
Of course, this attempt to sooth the consciences of homosexuals and lesbians is vain. Murray explains: “In effect [Rom. 1:18-32] says that even if gay marriage is legalized everywhere, and even if every dissenting voice is extinguished, gay consciences will still scream ‘Wrong!’ and ‘Guilty!’ Deep inside they will still know ‘the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death’ (Rom. 1:32). That’s the ‘nagging shadow’ that forever stalks gay consciousness.”
Because of the need to drown out their consciences with public approval, it is unlikely that the LGBT community will be content merely with the legal right to marry. They want the church’s voice of opposition to be turned into a loud voice of approval. And already there are many in the church who are giving such approval.
The More Things Change…
So the Supreme Court has brought a change—homosexual marriage is now legal in the United States. But things really have not changed that much. Explains Mohler:
In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.
We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God’s truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.