Tag Archives: marriage

What is the big deal about the Supreme Court and marriage?

Last Friday night, the White House in Washington, DC, was bathed in the colors of the rainbow as the President of the USA expressed his delight with the decision of the Supreme Court in Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al. The decision ends with these words:

The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

The words “that right” refer to the alleged right of homosexuals to marriage, a right carved out of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The word them refers to the plaintiffs in the case, all of whom desire to be granted marriage licenses or the recognition of marriage licenses authorizing a union of homosexuals to be called a legal marriage. The judgment that is reversed is an appeals court’s determination that no such right existed.

The lights on the White House and the nationwide frenzy that followed the announcement of the decision celebrate the belief of many that this decision compels every state in the union to recognize and license a union of two gays as if it were a marriage.

Many activists who advocated for this outcome belittled those who pushed back against the whole idea that any union other than that of a man and a woman could be a marriage. Activists scornfully accused Christians of trying to force Christian views on other people when the Christians simply declined to be part of wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples. LGBTQ activists, many of whom are atheists, produced complex theological arguments to prove that Christian refusal to participate in a wedding ceremony for a gay couple was hate-powered unwillingness to be loving and Christlike. Blog posts and op-eds tried to equate sexual attraction with Christlike love which, they argued, was all they wanted. In the final paragraph of the decision, Justice Kennedy joined their mournful complaints, saying, “[The hope of the plaintiffs] is not to be con­demned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civiliza­tion’s oldest institutions.”

I respectfully submit that lonely homosexuals are not the only people who suffer loneliness and the desire to cure it with a bizarre sexual union. While we were all treated after the decision to photographs of ecstatic brides kissing brides or grooms kissing grooms, other people whose sexual orientation or gender struggles have not been included in the nationwide conversation were still all alone. If loneliness is the problem, and marriage is the solution, then it must be noted that there are many lonely people besides homosexuals. The trans community. Pedophiles. Polygamists, or wannabe polygamists. A father dating his eighteen-year-old daughter. All of these people are lonely, and every one of them believes that one or more companions in some relationship they want to call a “marriage” would rescue them from loneliness.

Writing the decision of the majority, Justice Kennedy pretends to throw the Constitution a bone carved out of the Fourteenth Amendment, but dissenting opinions by Justices Roberts and Scalia reveal the deceitfulness of that claim. Justice Roberts says:

Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the oppor­tunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

Justice Scalia says:

When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so.

Scalia later says:

They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amend­ment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.

Keep your eyes open. Blog posts and news reports already are airing complaints that this new cure for loneliness and new right to same-sex marriage is being applied too exclusively. The cry is simply, “If marriage is for homosexuals, why not for me?” How can you blame them? Where in the 33 pages of the court’s decision do you find any logical justification for denying marriage to any of these people, or to anyone else, for that matter? If marriage is by court decree the cure for loneliness, how can any lonely person be denied that consolation, in whatever form he finds most consoling at the moment?

What is the big deal about the Supreme Court and marriage? The big deal is that redefining marriage sends shock waves into every part of the culture. This decision will shred the fabric of the culture in a thousand different ways. It is hard to imagine anything that will not be touched by redefining the foundation of families.

For Christians, the problem lies in the way the culture perceives religions. The secular view is that a religion is about dealing with concepts labelled “religious” or “spiritual,” all of which secular thinkers confine to defined worship spaces. Christians do not confine their faith inside a church building. They live their faith all day every day wherever they are. For Christians, words and deeds are testimonies to their obedience to Christ. They rely on the Bible for guidance in word and deed. If the Bible tells them that something is a sin, they make diligent efforts to avoid it. Even though no human being is ever sinless, Christians believe that we all have an obligation to Christ to reject sin in our lives.

The big deal is that Christians believe the Bible is their guide for faith and life—life, daily life, not just church service. They read in the Bible that God ordained marriage as the union of one man and one woman. They read that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. The Christian’s call to be Christlike mandates that a Christian not instigate or participate in a union of homosexuals. A Christian who believes and lives by the Bible cannot call a union of homosexuals a marriage.

When Christians are asked to participate in any respect in the formation of such a union, they must decline because of their deeply held religious convictions. Among the things that constitute participation are things like providing flowers or music or wedding cakes or art or other elements that celebrate that union. When Christians decline to take part in a wedding ceremony for homosexuals, they are not trying to prevent the couple from marrying; they are simply declining to be part of that ceremony. They are exercising their faith, living by the principles of their faith, when they take this position. Many people act as if by declining, Christians are attempting to force the couple to join the Christian religion. That misconception creates serious problems with the refusal of Christians to participate in something that the court calls a right established by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment was written to give former slaves all the rights of citizenship. Nothing in that amendment suggests that the Supreme Court is authorized to redefine the social structures of human society. Every citizen has the same privileges and immunities, the same right to due process and equal protection of the laws, according to that amendment. That amendment nowhere redefines marriage. When that amendment was passed, people all over the world agreed that marriage was the union of one man and one woman, and neither the authors of the amendment nor those who ratified it had any notion that within its words lay a new definition of marriage.

There is a huge threat inherent in the decision that extracts a right for homosexuals to marry from the rights in the Fourteenth Amendment. The rights in the Fourteenth Amendment are rights generally classified as Civil Rights. The threat is that while the First Amendment to the Constitution is supposed to protect citizens from state oppression when they act on their convictions, actions that limit or deny Civil Rights have been exempted from First Amendment protection in the past. By redefining marriage within the boundaries of the Fourteenth Amendment, the court’s decision threatens, rather than protects, the right of Christians to live by their faith principles—that is, to exercise their faith. John Roberts in his dissent says:

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. Ante, at 27. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

If the omission of the word “exercise” alarms John Roberts, it certainly alarms me.

The redefinition of marriage by the act of five justices on a court is cause for alarm. The potential changes now implied by the new definition will likely shock even the most avid advocate for same-sex marriage and will certainly horrify many citizens. The implied threat to people who have long held the religious conviction that the unions authorized by this court decision are immoral and sinful is seriously alarming.

That is the big deal about the Supreme Court and marriage.

March for Marriage

Don’t miss the chance to march virtually in the March for Marriage today. Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman. Every child deserves a mom and a dad. Retweet with the hashtag #marching4marriage
I am marching virtually for marriage in Marathon, FL. You can march and speak wherever you are.

When in Doubt, What do you Do?

pediatrician with baby edited

A generally accepted principle of Christian living is that when people feel confused about the right thing to do, they should prayerfully look for an answer in the Bible. Christians are taught that the Bible is clear enough for a child to understand important teachings, and there is plenty of evidence of this truth. Christians also discover, as they mature in the faith, that there is depth and complexity in the Bible that baffles people with astronomical IQs. There is plenty of evidence of this truth as well. For this reason, Christians learn to look for mentors to help them prayerfully study the Bible and listen for God’s guidance. It all boils down to a problem: people of faith may or may not agree on the right thing to do in every situation.

Recently a pediatrician, Dr. Vesni Roi, in Michigan was faced with a situation in which she was uncertain what to do. Two lesbian women who live together in a union they call a marriage selected her for the care of a child yet to be born. The article that reports the story does not make it quite clear who would give birth to the baby. The articles do report that after reviewing the credentials of numerous pediatricians, the two women decided to ask Dr. Rio to care for the child.

When the time came for the child’s first visit, six days after birth, the women were told that Dr. Roi had decided not to accept the baby as her patient. She referred them to another pediatrician in the same practice. She explained in a handwritten note to the women that her decision was made after considerable prayer. Her expressed reason for the decision was stated in her note: “I feel that I would not be able to develop the normal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.” While the note never mentions the issue of homosexual union, the two women consider the decision to be a rejection of homosexuality, even though as one of them pointed out, it could not be about the sexual orientation of the baby, since the baby was too young to have expressed any sexual orientation. Since all conversation about the care of a newborn would necessarily take place with the adult (or adults) charged with the care of the child, it makes sense to conclude that, when the doctor referred to the “patient doctor relationship” in her note, she was saying that she did not feel she could have the same relationship with the two women that she would normally have with the parents or guardians of a child in her care.

Why would she feel this way?

Dr. Roi’s bio includes earning an undergraduate degree from Livonia’s Madonna College, a private Catholic school, in 1987. While graduation from a Catholic institution does not necessarily mean that she is Catholic, her behavior suggests strong Christian background. Secular thinkers do not pray through moral and ethical decisions. If it is proper to conclude that her concern about the patient doctor relationship is rooted in the homosexual lifestyle of the two women, it seems highly likely that Catholic teaching of Christian principles for life figured in her choice. No reports consulted as background for this post ventured to say one way or the other.

The central issue appears to be whether a person of faith who engages in the normal Christian practice of praying about a decision is justified in acting on the guidance received that way. Can the culture permit people of faith to act on the guidance they receive through prayer? Or, must the culture suppress the free exercise of religion if it hurts someone’s feelings? The uproar surrounding this story makes it clear that some people believe that nobody has the right to do what Dr. Roi did. Some even appear to believe that there should be a law forbidding Dr. Roi to make such a choice.

While secular thinkers leap from Dr. Roi’s action to allegations of discrimination, that is a very simplistic reaction to the story. Dr. Roi is a person of faith who did what people of faith do. Christianity is not the only faith that turns to prayer for guidance in making decisions, but in the US, it is probably the most visible religion that considers prayer vital to faith. Dr. Roi prayed about her decision.

Since secular thinkers reject the existence of God, they have no use for decisions based on communion with God, but among Christians, this practice is, nevertheless, central to the faith. Sermons, books, seminars, devotional guides and discipleship mentors all teach Christians to pray when they do not know what to do in any situation. Dr. Roi demonstrated that she not only believes in prayer, but she also acts on prayer. Many is the Christian who has, on one occasion or another, expressed regret that, having prayed about a matter, he did not act according to the guidance received. Dr. Roi engaged in prayer according to the full definition of prayer; she asked for guidance, and she listened until she received it.

Dr. Roi is living her faith. That is exactly what the First Amendment to the Constitution is written to protect. The Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” To pray and to act on the guidance received is the free exercise of religion. American citizens all should applaud the fact that the Constitution is working exactly as it should in Dr. Roi’s case.

One more point. The two women who wanted Dr. Roi to care for a baby felt hurt by Dr. Roi’s decision. There is no question that such a thing would hurt anyone’s feelings. However, part of being an adult is learning to deal with hurt feelings. Hurt feelings do not justify tyrannizing a nation. In this case, not only are the hurt feelings not justification for tyranny, but there is also a completely satisfactory solution for the problem. Even though the two women do not get exactly what they wanted, they will get what they need. They were referred to a competent doctor, and their disappointment in not getting their first choice does not justify an attempt to deny free exercise of the faith of a citizen.

The important issue in this story is that citizens of the United States of America have the right to live their faith. If Dr. Roi had alleged that God told her to beat the women or kill the child they care for, nobody would believe that she was exercising her faith. It would be an exercise in madness. However, Dr. Roi simply listened to God in prayer and acted responsibly, not leaving the women without care for the baby but actually making a professional referral to a well-qualified colleague, something she is entitled to do for any reason whatsoever.

May God protect and sustain the freedom he has given each citizen in the USA. May it long remain the land of the free.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: Pediatrician with baby
Source:http://pediatriciansareawesome.wikispaces.com/What+does+a+pediatrician+do%3F
License: Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License
Photographer not named

Free Speech? Of Course. Suppress Only Wrong-Headed Speech

 

People have freedom of expression, blah blah blah, but until we make those people pay for their wrongheaded beliefs, they’ll continue to hold them. Tony Woodlief at Patheos

It has not always been the case that someone expressing a viewpoint with roots in Christian teaching was accused of discrimination. It has not always been the case that someone expressing a viewpoint different from the majority was accused of discrimination. The new wrinkle in the culture is that someone expressing the majority viewpoint, Christian or not, is accused of discrimination. The really new wrinkle is that someone who supports a viewpoint validated in millennia of human history is accused of discrimination.

This is what is happening to people who support the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

 Something more mind-boggling could hardly be imagined.

The concept of marriage as the union of a man and a woman has never been questioned throughout human history till now. In fact, except for dictionary devotees, the specification that the parties to a marriage will be a man and a woman has not needed to be discussed. It has not been a uniquely Christian idea that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Archeology and paleontology alike demonstrate that humans have always viewed marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and humans have always considered marriage to be the foundation for a family. Only recently has it become necessary to argue about what constitutes a marriage or a family.

What happened to the culture?

Human society has many ongoing arguments. Who ought to be in charge, and how ought a group of people figure out who should be in charge? What is worth fighting about? What is a fair fight? There are a lot of arguments that are not yet settled. But the definition of marriage and family were settled so far back that except for the revelation of the creation story in Genesis, nobody would know how marriage began. The record of human life on earth shows that marriage has been the normal basis for family in all human groups, almost as if it were written on the human heart.

That fact meant that until very recently, anyone who used the word marriage did not need to define it or qualify it. The word itself was sufficient to convey the intended meaning. It also meant that until very recently, nobody would have had any reason to write laws about the language used for marriage or sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue of sexual orientation was settled by the recognition that normal human beings are attracted to the opposite gender, and the gender of a normal human being is the gender of the DNA (of which there are only two options – male or female). All other expressions of gender, sexual orientation or sexual union were abnormal simply because they were not normal. It wasn’t discrimination to recognize that fact; it was plain common sense. It still is. Unfortunately, plain common sense does not seem to be valued very much in the language of marriage, family, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The fact that a marriage was expressed as a union of a man and a woman throughout human society meant that when religions used this definition, it was not regarded as privilege, oppression or discrimination. It was considered normal. Any other definition would have been regarded as bizarre and would have resulted in ostracism of its practitioners for engaging in behavior equivalent to wearing aluminum foil hats.

Where do Christians get their definition of marriage?

Christians use this definition of marriage for the same reason as humankind at large; it is normal. However, when the definition is challenged, as is common in contemporary cultural disputes, Christians actually have a basis for defending their contention that it is normal. They don’t rely on the fact that people have used this definition for thousands, perhaps millions, of years. They rely on the revelation of the Creator, God Himself. The Bible records that God created humans male and female and ordained marriage as their proper relationship. God further ordained that they produce children within that relationship and nurture them to adulthood, each generation teaching the next the things they needed to know in order to have good lives – God’s truths, skills for daily living, and so forth. Human failing and wicked acts have not changed God’s truth: marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

What justifies suppression of anybody’s speech?

Which brings the subject back to freedom of speech. The culture is busily attempting to suppress the freedom to speak of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Someone recently said that the culture war is necessary in order to make speaking of heterosexual marriage as unacceptable as suggesting that slavery is good. To that end, the army of LGBT activism persuaded Mozilla to fire a man whose only crime was to express his legitimate view on the definition of marriage. To that end, JP Morgan quizzed its employees to determine who is and who isn’t an ally of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. To that end, the Department of Justice demanded that employees not only tolerate homosexual colleagues but also express their delight at the opportunity to support their lifestyle choices. Freedom of speech necessarily requires the culture to permit people of all viewpoints to express their viewpoints. There must not be penalties for expressing minority viewpoints. There must not be penalties for expressing majority viewpoints.

Yes, the majority must be free to speak of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Because most American citizens, the majority of the population, holds the traditional view of marriage, those citizens must be just as free to express and act on their definition of marriage as the minority, a very tiny minority, who want marriage to include homosexual union, polyamory and bestiality. The US Constitution protects the right of a man to donate money to a political action group that promotes traditional marriage. Marriage. The only marriage that is marriage. The Constitution says that people have a right to their opinions and a right to express their opinions and a right to advocate for legislation in keeping with their opinions.

To have an opinion at odds with the latest Twitter hashtag campaign ought not to be grounds for dismissal from a job or for exclusion from the cultural conversation. Tony Woodlief points out that the culture wants the dissenting opinions on the subject of marriage, or any other subject in fashion at the moment, to be gone. Snuffed out. Squashed. Shut down. The only real way to defeat that objective is to be tireless in support of one’s viewpoint and be willing to pay the price the opponents will impose. Woodlief is right. Those who never give up their unwanted opinions will be made to pay, because the opposition will continue to exact the price. Those who support normality and common sense must be willing to pay in order to continue to hold their views.

What should we do?

The opposition says, “People have freedom of expression, blah blah blah, but until we make those people pay for their wrongheaded beliefs, they’ll continue to hold them.” We who love the Lord and trust the Bible for guidance in faith and life say, “People have freedom of expression, because God gave people this right, and we will advocate for the preservation of that right for as long as it takes.”

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2014/08/the-new-truth-squashes-dissent/#ixzz3AN3PIF4h

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2014/08/the-new-truth-squashes-dissent/#ixzz3AN3PIF4h

How Can Christians Avoid Rehabilitation by Government?

Just last week we all read with anxiety the report that in Oregon, the State Labor Commissioner is mulling a plan to “rehabilitate” business owners who refuse business in a way deemed discriminatory. The case that propelled this idea to the front pages is that of a Christian baker who refused the order of two lesbians planning a wedding. The Christian declared that his Christian principles forbade him to participate in sin. The Christian quoted the Bible as his basis for this decision. Every Christian knows that the Bible is a Christian’s guide for faith and life, because it is the revealed word of God. Every US Christian knows that the First Amendment protects Christians in the “free exercise” of their faith. Aaron Klein, the Christian baker, acted in full confidence that he was protected by the First Amendment when he exercised his faith, choosing to live by the teachings of his faith.

Apparently, in Oregon, the First Amendment to the US Constitution is unknown. If it were honored and upheld, the Kleins would not be facing fines and rehabilitation, actions commonly imposed on Christians in countries like China, Vietnam and Uzbekistan, but previously not imposed as penalties for the free exercise of religion in the USA. The notion of rehabilitating people who refuse to act against conscience is the direct consequence of the ongoing re-education of the citizens in the form of politically correct speech.

The Kleins should have known that they would be under a threat from the first time someone called the union of homosexuals a “gay marriage.” The word “marriage” has a definition, and the union of homosexuals is not it. For as long as there have been humans on earth, the definition of “marriage” is “the union of one man and one woman.” Because that is the definition, it isn’t possible to use the modifier “gay” with this word, because “gay” means “homosexual.” There can be no such thing as a homosexual marriage, and that means that there can be no such thing as a gay marriage. Homosexuals can engage in sexual activity, but that activity does not change the definition of marriage. Christians have made an effort to avoid using the term “gay marriage” simply because it is an oxymoron.

However, in the culture, shortly after homosexuals began telling Christians that they would be “on the wrong side of history” if they opposed “gay marriage,” LGBT activists introduced a new term in the glossary of political correctness: “marriage equality.” This term leaped right past the argument about whether there could even be such a thing as a “gay marriage,” and pretended that the argument about the definition of marriage was already over. Operating as if “marriage” could be anything somebody wanted it to be, LGBT activists proceeded to the argument that it wasn’t fair to deny legitimacy to gays who want to marry and be just like everybody else. It sounded a lot like my children begging to go to a movie I have forbidden because of its moral depravity. They cried, “But Mom, everybody else is going, and we won’t even know what they are talking about. It’s not fair!” The LGBT activists propounded exactly that argument: everybody else gets to be married and we want to be married, too.

For all their efforts to make the “everybody else” argument be about love and fairness, it should be noted that the masks came off when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had to recognize the union of two lesbians as a marriage, because somebody somewhere said it was so, and it wasn’t about love or fairness or any of that; it was about money. The argument then boils down to this: no matter what the majority of the citizens of the USA think, if anyone is married by anyone to anyone, the federal government is obligated to recognize the marriage and administer benefits – read “money” – accordingly.

This travesty of justice is rooted in the re-writing of the definitions of words we all thought we knew very well: “marriage” and “equality.” It turns out that in the secular mind, which dominates the culture and dominates government, people are free to redefine words whenever the current definition doesn’t feel good, and when the definition changes, laws which were written on the basis of the definition at the time suddenly mean something different.

Which leads back to the Kleins. The Kleins define marriage in a way that is perfectly legitimate according to their faith, and more to the point, they use a definition which was in place when they established their business and made their decisions about the way they would operate their business.  They, like many other people in the US, thought they knew what a marriage is, and when they included wedding cakes in their suite of baked products, they thought they knew what a wedding is, too. The fact that a few very aggressive political activists have promoted and sold an idea that has no legitimacy in reality does not change the moral foundations on which the Kleins make moral choices. They don’t need to be re-educated; the culture needs to be re-educated.

The Kleins are actually victims of a bigger problem than a law that interprets their actions as discrimination. Their problem is bigger than activist redefinition of words. The Kleins are victims of voter apathy. Poll after poll after poll shows that considerably more than 50% of the voters define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Poll after poll after poll shows that the concept of “gay marriage” and of “marriage equality” are unpalatable to most voters. Yet every time there is an election in which the voters can speak, the voters who oppose the LGBT agenda stay home in droves. When the voters who oppose the LGBT agenda simply go to the polls and vote, the LGBT agenda always loses.

History shows that when the LGBT agenda does lose, the activists simply become more active. The battle against LGBT activism and its constant assaults on morality is exhausting. Voters who want the definition of marriage to be left alone get tired of fighting the pressure. No matter the agenda, all activists rely on this truth about human nature to get what they want. They always have the energy of pent-up anger, the pitiful, plaintive cry that “it’s not fair,” and the willingness of a certain percentage of the population to believe that the loudest noise is the most righteous cause. Voters who want to retain the present status are accused of being old and thinking old and dragging the society down by their old-fashioned silly ideas.

Unfortunately, this battle will never end. In a football game, when the home team digs in on the five-yard line to prevent the opposing team from scoring, there is a clock. No matter how difficult it is to “hold that line,” the battle will end eventually. The same is not true of the battle for marriage. Those who want to protect marriage and preserve it as God ordained it are now destined always to be digging in on the five-yard line. Opponents of marriage have the bit in their teeth. They will not accept any defeat as final. No matter how often they lose at the ballot box or in court or in the public forum, they will not stop. Defenders of marriage as the union of a man and a woman must sign up for the long haul. Voters who are tire of being asked to vote about this and related issues must never assume that anybody else will even go to the polls. Every voter who supports marriage must consider the civic duty to vote as a sacred responsibility.

Christians want to live by their Christian principles, and Christians believe those principles must govern every thought, word and deed, at home, at church, in business and in the voting booth. If Christians truly want to be free to continue living by their principles instead of being rehabilitated, they must recognize that the blessing of citizenship in a representative republic creates an obligation of participation as a voter. The only hope of avoiding the institution of government rehabilitation or re-education or whatever euphemism the activist choose is to vote while that right still exists. Reject rehabilitation. Vote in every election.

If you didn’t vote the last time you had the opportunity, why not?