Three SCOTUS Quotes Christians Need to Keep Handy

In the Obergefell v. Hodges decision of 2015, Justice Anthony Kennedy, arguing for the majority, promised that

religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.

But the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, saw things differently in his dissent. He issued a warning:

Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. The majority offers a cursory assurance that it does not intend to disparage people who, as a matter of conscience, cannot accept same-sex marriage.  . . . That disclaimer is hard to square with the very next sentence, in which the majority explains that “the necessary consequence” of laws codifying the traditional definition of marriage is to “demea[n] or stigmatiz[e]” same-sex couples. . . . By the majority’s account, Americans who did nothing more than follow the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history—in particular, the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage—have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,” “disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. . . . These apparent assaults on the character of fair minded people will have an effect, in society and in court. . . . 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.”

Justice Samuel Alito said, similarly, that the Obergefell decision would

be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African–Americans and women. . . . The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent. . . .

I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

I would like to add that Christians should not be bigots. Or hypocrites. If we oppose someone else’s sin, of any kind, we’d better oppose our own. And we’d better oppose that sin for reasons beyond the merely political or tribal. Let’s show that we are fair-minded—in other words, that we love our neighbors enough to listen and understand before speaking. That love may defuse some of their holy rage against us. Blessed are the peacemakers.

But as always, there is more than one ditch available. It isn’t bigoted to disagree, or to call sin sin. We’ve got to be willing to take the cultural catcalls, and worse, and stand firmly on revealed truth. Our love will not defuse all their rage. There is a grand battle going on between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. We’re not exempt from its slings and arrows, even if they sometimes feel outrageous.

(HT and edited quotes: Randall Smith in Public Discourse)

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

Leave a Reply