I took time on Sunday, June 28, to share a response to the recent Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, a decision with profound implications. You will find hyperlinks throughout and some helpful articles listed below. My remarks appear below with only minor edits.
Response to the Supreme Court Decision in Obergefell v. Hodges
I wanted to take a little time in light of the decision that was rendered by the Supreme Court this week in Obergefell v. Hodges to share some thoughts [about it]. I was saddened but not surprised by the decision that was made and I wanted to take a few moments to respond as a pastor and as a follower of Jesus to that decision and to let you all know where we are with that.
Biblically: As followers of Christ we must always begin with “What does God say?” What does God say about life . . . what does God say about marriage . . . what does God say?
And what God says is that God instituted marriage as complementarian (man and woman). Jesus said, “marriage is from the beginning” (Matthew 19:4-6), and Paul reminds us that mysteriously, marriage between a man and a woman, reflects the relationship of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). When we retreat from marriage as defined by God, we retreat from God, whether we do that individually or collectively . . . and I think we’ve done that as a nation.
Historically: As Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation noted (and I thought this was extremely well said): “Up until the year 2000 (let that sink in), no political community on the face of the earth had ever defined marriage as anything other than a male-female relationship.” Chief Justice John Roberts said, “The Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?” Those are the words of Chief Justice John Roberts in the dissenting response on the decision …
Constitutionally: Justice Scalia noted: “But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003.” This is heavy duty!
Consequentially: I appreciate the words of Chief Justice John Roberts who said, “It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted.”
And friends we live in a day … when it is increasingly more difficult to do that — to be in a spot of political discourse and to disagree — because now to not "agree and affirm" means that you are a bigot, and that is increasingly more and more the case in our country. Sadly!
In summary, biblically, historically, constitutionally . . . five of the Supreme Court justices got it wrong. So what are we to do? What are we to do?
When I think about all that is going on, it is very clear that we are to continue to love God. We are to love him with our hearts, with our souls, and our minds (Matthew 22:34-40). And friends sadly, the Christian community has not done a particularly good job of loving God with our minds and thinking clearly and biblically, and generously dialoging on situations such as these.
What are we going to do? I would encourage you to refuse to engage in social media rants. They are often knee-jerk reactions and they don’t bring about a lot of good. They create enemies, they create disharmony. Relational discourse face-to-face is much more effective.
I would encourage you to remember Jesus’ words: “You will have trouble in this world … but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). I would encourage you to remember the words of Jesus: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). And I would encourage you with the words that were given to me by Hank Kreh (one of our elders) this morning . . . . He said, “Tommy, we’ve got to remember that it is not us vs them" . . . and he is so right. We wrestle not against flesh and blood” Paul tells us, but “against the principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world.” It’s not “us vs. them.”
So what do we do? We love people . . . regardless of their sexual orientation and regardless of their view on this decision. We’re going to love people. We’re going to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ: That God loves people and that God came to redeem people like you and me — far away from him — to make us a part of his kingdom. We’re going to continue to demonstrate that and we’re going to preach that.
Personally, I would affix my name gladly to a piece that was put together by a coalition of evangelical leaders assembled by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission entitled an “Evangelical Declaration on Marriage.” I think it is incredibly well done.
Honestly, when this came down, I got the heavies in my heart and in my soul. And then I was reminded of what God says through James. He says, “Consider it pure joy whenever you encounter trials of any kind" — pure joy. And as I understand James, he is saying “Have a good mood of the soul.” Why? Because when I open the pages of Scripture here is what I realize, God has the final word in the last scene. That is what Psalm 46:6 and Psalm 46:10 say. And God loves us and God walks with us through these times and he knows the end from the beginning and he is sovereign.
So Tommy, engage, love, speak truthfully, unashamedly, and with a good mood of the soul because you know the one who knows the end from the beginning and has us in his hands.
So I would ask you to join me in prayer for our country. It is a challenging time. And ask that God would show his incredible goodness and kindness.
The following articles were very helpful to me in better understand the decision, its implications, and in preparing my remarks for Spanish River Church.