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Today is the Day

April 28, 2015

Well, if all goes as expected today is the day the Supreme Court hears arguments on whether a same sex marriage in one state must be recognized in another.  At last count, thanks largely to court verdicts, same sex marriage is legal in 37 states.  As always, nobody knows exactly what the court will do but most folks are betting that they will say, yes, this is a protected right.

Rallies to defend traditional marriage, and rallies to call for marriage equality, are taking place all over and both sides are presenting arguments showing that horrible calamity will befall our country if the court gets this decision wrong.  Of course, evangelical supporters of traditional marriage have an advantage in the calamity debate; they are able to invoke the wrath of God as their #1 calamity.

Left unexplained in this fearful prediction is why that wrath has not yet fallen on the 17 countries where same sex marriage is already legal and has been for some time.  I suppose that God’s lack of wrath on the 37 states that allow this can be explained by saying that God is a federalist and doesn’t concern himself with state issues.  Setting aside predictions, it seems the evangelical church faces one introspective question and one external choice if indeed the court extends marriage equality to all states.

Our first question should be whether we have wasted a huge amount of time, energy and resources in fighting a political battle to make our view of marriage the law.  For me that question has long been decided.  Whether they realize it or not, political activists are operating on the core assumption that government and political power is the answer to the problem.  No matter how much they dress it up as “standing for God;” no matter how much they call for prayer, they are still left with earthly temporal power as the focus.

I don’t see this in Jesus.  At a time when the national yearning of Israel was (to use a contemporary phrase) “take back our country for God,” Jesus seemed totally uninterested in that task.  I see no hint in the Gospels that make me think that Jesus was calling a people to himself in order to get a voting majority so he could promote his kingdom through political power.

The second question is, if this ruling goes as expected, what do evangelicals do now?  It appears likely that same sex marriage is about to join a long list of behaviors that we may not agree with but have to accept are the laws of the land.  On this list are adultery, sex outside of marriage, abortion, pornography and a host of other things.  In a typically merry evangelical way we often squabble as to what exactly is on the list.  Drinking alcohol, for example, seems to be trending down on the number of lists where it is opposed; divorce seems to be splitting into “good” divorces and “bad” ones.

So how would we live in a world where same sex marriage is the norm?  Well, for starters, we could stop using hyperbole.  I’ve seen arguments that the number of people getting married at all has been trending down since the introduction of same sex marriage.  Of course, this argument doesn’t explain how (a) marriages in states that prohibit it are trending down just as much in states that allow it and (b) just why two gays getting married is the cause of a heterosexual couple to not want to marry.

But most of all we need to make sure that, come what may, we are known as grace-filled followers of Jesus showing love to all and not petulant cry-babies who have been politically bested.  This is best accomplished when we remember that, in the eyes of God, the Supreme Court is not supreme at all – and neither are we.

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. I love your concluding sentence!

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