Today, the Supreme Court issued its ruling regarding various issues regarding same-sex marriage. The 5-4 rulings were as follows:
- They ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, signed by President Clinton in 1996) unconstitutional. The ruling states that DOMA wrongly, according to Justice Anthony Kennedy, “instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.”
- They dismissed an appeal of Court of Appeals overturn of Proposition 8, which under California would exclusively define marriage as between a man and a woman. Chief Justice John Roberts: ““We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend a state statute when state officials have chosen not to.”
- As a result of striking down DOMA, the so-called “same-sex” marriages may now receive federal benefits—but only in states where this type of ‘marriage’ is legal.
Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissenting remarks, wrote:
“Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”
Yes, the ruling was limited, but the ruling spoke volumes. Congress passed DOMA, the voters of California passed Proposition 8—but now the tone of law has shifted.
Trevin Wax recently published an article entitled “Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church.” I borrowed a phrase from this article to use as the title of this blogpost because I couldn’t do better and I like the attitude. In addressing the threats this ruling brings to religious liberty, he gives the good news and the bad news:
The bad news: As the norm of marriage shifts, individual Christians will find themselves in situations where they face penalties for refusing to violate their conscience. We’ve already seen this take place when Christian caterers, for example, feel conflicted about taking part in a same-sex wedding. Threats to religious liberty are not good news for the church, because they cause us to spend time and energy in preserving “space” for us to live according to our religious convictions without fear of reprisal.
The good news: These threats may bring about in the church a much-needed change of mindset. It’s time we recognized we are no longer the “moral majority” and embrace our identity as the “missional minority.”
My friends in Great Britain and Romania tell me it’s a noble task to serve Christ when you are clearly in the minority. Though the challenges often seem insurmountable, God’s people have the opportunity to learn how to love those who oppose us, to serve and suffer under governmental or cultural bigotry, and face hatred with respect and kindness. So let’s recognize our minority status and learn to serve those who we’re called to show God’s love.
We do not have a seat at the political table as we once did. We may have been a majority, and leveraged that to believe we were right because more believed in biblical principles and morality. For that reason, many identified as believers because it was culturally expedient. It was considered a ‘winning team.’
And for that, I’m glad.
We do not follow Christ because of any man-made perception of popularity. We must follow Christ in spite of being a minority. Our faith in the eternal, virgin-born, perfect, crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus will become more powerful and potent because for a change it may actually come at a cost. We have an opportunity to step outside the church walls and show the world what it’s like, following Jesus and trusting in His Word.
Missional minority! Yes, Trevin—I’m bringing that saying on-board. For that, I thank you!