Trouble Ahead for U.S. Churches?
The Supreme Court is an anomaly. It is neither "Supreme" (since it can overrule itself at any time, and also be overruled by statute or constitutional amendment) nor -- after yesterday's decision -- a court. Here is how Justice Scalia described it in his dissent to the same-sex marriage decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) -- it consists of
... nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.Yesterday, two Catholic and three Jewish Justices -- two Californians and three New Yorkers, four of them graduates of Harvard and one a graduate of Yale -- purported to discover a constitutional "right" to marriage. This maneuver preempted the various State legislatures who had been dealing with the question, and now makes it impossible for any legislature (Congress included) to change, modify or eliminate the "right", as it is a federal constitutional one. Unless and until the Supreme Court reverses its own decision, or until three-quarters of the States pass an amendment, it will stay as is. Keep reading
American Tragedy: Now Gird Up Your Loins
Today, June 26, 2015, a day of national tragedy, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered what should rank as the worst decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the lifetime of every living American (rivaled only by Roe v. Wade) and at least one of the two or three worst decisions since the Court's inception (compare the Dred Scott case).
Five lawless judges (all four Democrat-appointed judges: Obama's Sotomayor and Kagan; Clinton's Ginsburg and Breyer; and one traitor appointed by Reagan: Kennedy) defeated four Constitution-abiding judges (four of the five Republican-appointed judges: Bush Jr.'s Roberts and Alito; Bush Sr's Thomas; and Reagan's Scalia) to foist "gay marriage" on all 50 states. Five unelected lawyers have acted as legislators and imposed their arbitrary and extreme leftwing ideology on all the American people, culminating the judicial tyranny over the past two years that has preempted the democratic process.
Chief Justice Roberts is right in declaring this ruling to be “an act of will, not legal judgment.... Just who do we think we are?" Justice Scalia is right in saying that this ruling is "a threat to American democracy." Justice Alito is right in warning that the decision "will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.... The implications [of comparing traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women] will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
Unless this decision can be reversed soon through the next two presidential elections and the retirement/replacement of renegade SCOTUS judges (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the first up), this will turn out to be the greatest American tragedy for the civil liberties of persons of faith, for the cause of sexual purity in the United States, and for the lives of persons struggling with same-sex attraction. Prepare for a reign of persecution and abuse of people of faith as hateful, ignorant, and discriminatory "bigots" and the moral equivalent of racists in every area of life in which people of faith intersect with the secular realm, individually and in their religious institutions, with a profound negative impact as well within most mainline denominations. Keep reading
Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage
As I write this, the Supreme Court has handed down what will be the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage, redefining marriage in all 50 states. This is a sober moment, and I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling. The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?
First of all, the church should not panic. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom.
Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures. Keep reading
With Same-Sex Decision, Evangelical Churches Address New Reality
The tone of the worship service was set at the start. An opening prayer declared it “a dark day.” The sermon focused on a psalm of lament. In between, a pastor read a statement proclaiming the church’s elders and staff “deeply saddened.”
In downtown Chicago, as in several other cities around the country, Sunday was marked by jubilation, the annual gay pride festivities made more celebratory by Friday’s Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. But here at Wheaton Bible Church, a suburban evangelical congregation that draws about 2,600 people to its five weekend worship services, it was a day of sorrow.
“I came in with a great sense of lament, because of what happened on Friday,” the church’s teaching pastor, Lon Allison, told worshipers before reading a statement declaring, “We cannot accept or adhere to any legal, political or cultural redefinition of biblical marriage, nor will we conduct or endorse same-sex ceremonies.” The dramatic shift in public opinion, and now in the nation’s laws, has left evangelical Protestants, who make up about a quarter of the American population, in an uncomfortable position. Out of step with the broader society, and often derided as discriminatory or hateful, many are feeling under siege as they try to live out their understanding of biblical teachings, and worry that a changing legal landscape on gay rights will inevitably lead to constraints on religious freedom. Keep reading
New: Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian
On Friday, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can now marry in all 50 states, setting off a flurry of reaction by Christians and virtually everyone else on social media and beyond.
Ed Stetzer wrote a helpful background post to the shift in opinion that led to the decision and included links to a number of other leading articles in his post.
The social media reaction ranged from surprising to predictable to disappointing to occasionally refreshing.
I write from the perspective of a pastor of an evangelical church in a country where same sex-marriage has been the law of the land for a decade.
That does not mean I hold any uniquely deep wisdom, but it does mean we’ve had a decade to process and pray over the issue. Keep reading
New: Why Gay Marriage Is Good (and Bad) for the Church
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act serves as a boost to ongoing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.
Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all.
For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide. But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again. Keep reading
New: What Your Church Needs to Know--and Do--about the Court's Marriage Ruling
By now, you have heard the Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision that imposed a 50-state same-sex marriage mandate. Pastors and churches have exhibited a great degree of uncertainty preceding this moment, wondering what the effect will be on their ministry. Now that the decision has been released, though, we can respond with greater clarity.
Here are the immediate things you need to know. Keep reading