One does not have to be a homophobe or bigot to believe that the Supreme Court made a tragic error today in creating out of thin air an imaginary right for gay marriage. Friday’s landmark mistake will have legal, sociological, and spiritual consequences for years to come.
First, consider the legal ramifications of Friday’s decision. By enshrining gay marriage as a “civil right,” the Court will be opening a floodgate of litigation against individuals and businesses that refuse to honor same-sex marriages because of religious convictions. After all, if gay marriage is a civil right, then anyone who opposes it is guilty of a civil rights violation. We have already seen bakeries, florists, and wedding chapels sued and, in some cases, put out of business because of their refusal to participate in gay wedding ceremonies. Expect these suits to accelerate exponentially now that progressives have been emboldened and armed with a Supreme Court decision.
Additionally, we can expect both civil and governmental actions against religious institutions that refuse to honor gay marriage as a civil right. During the oral arguments for this case on April 28, Justice Samuel Alito asked the Solicitor General for the Obama administration, Donald Verrilli, if the a decision expanding the definition of marriage would require religious colleges to offer housing to same-sex couples or risk losing their tax-exempt status. Verrilli responded repeatedly, “I don’t deny this is going to be an issue.”
It’s going to be an issue not only for religious colleges but also for churches that refuse to honor same-sex marriage. I am repeatedly confronted by the straw man argument that “No one is going to hold a gun to pastors’ heads and force them to perform same-sex marriages.”
Friday’s Supreme Court decision represents a collective shaking of our fists in God’s face saying, “We don’t care what You say about life’s most important relationship. We know best.”
No one is predicting that will happen, but I believe that ultimately churches that refuse to honor same-sex marriage may face government sanctions—including the loss of their tax-exempt status—for refusing to honor same-sex unions.
Again, Justice Alito pointed out in the oral arguments that in 1983 the Supreme Court upheld the revocation of the tax-exempt status of a religious organization—Bob Jones University—for prohibiting interracial marriage. If gay marriage has now been elevated to a civil right on par with interracial marriage, what rationale would government have for not revoking the tax-exempt status of any religious organization that does not recognize same-sex unions?
We don’t have to guess about the sociological implications of Friday’s decision. Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, contends that the legitimization of same-sex unions in Scandinavian countries has caused the heterosexual marriage rate to drop dramatically, while the number of children born out of wedlock has risen, resulting in numerous societal problems.
The reason for the drop in the heterosexual marriage rate is clear: if marriage can be redefined to include any and every relationship, then why bother to marry at all? Anytime you counterfeit something, you cheapen the value of the real thing, and gay marriage is “counterfeit marriage” (In fairness, heterosexuals have also been cheapening the value of marriage for years through adultery and divorce.)
As a Christian, I am most concerned about the spiritual implications of Friday’s decision. During the oral arguments for this case on April 28, Justice Kennedy noted that the traditional definition of marriage “has been with us for millennia. It’s very difficult for the Court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better.’”
Friday, the Supreme Court said in essence, “We know better than God how to define marriage.” For thousands of years both Christians and Jews have believed in both the Old and New Testament definition of marriage that was written by Moses and affirmed by Jesus Himself when He said that God “made them male and female ... For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:4-5).
Jesus taught that sex was a gift from God between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship. Any variation from that—premarital sex, adultery, polygamy, unbiblical divorce, or homosexuality—is a deviation from God’s original plan for sex. Friday’s Supreme Court decision represents a collective shaking of our fists in God’s face saying , “We don’t care what You say about life’s most important relationship. We know best.”
While Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court is tragic, it is ultimately irrelevant. Regardless of what the Supreme Court justices declared Friday, the Judge of all of the universe has already issued His decision: marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman. And there is no appealing that verdict.
Dr. Robert Jeffress is pastor of the 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas and also is a Fox News Contributor. His daily radio program is heard on 800 stations nationwide and his weekly television program is seen on more than 11,000 stations and cable systems in 195 countries.