Responding To The Supreme Court Rulings


Photo by Ben Earwicker Garrison Photography, Boise, ID www.garrisonphoto.org

Photo by Ben Earwicker
Garrison Photography, Boise, ID
http://www.garrisonphoto.org

There’s an old adage–something about closing the barn door after the horses are already gone. It’s a futile effort–the right action but done at the wrong time. In the same way, I suspect, any effort to size down Big Government, to corral the liberal bent that considers defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman to be discriminatory, is futile.

The Supreme Court rulings of last week that have opened the door more widely to “same-sex marriage” are symptoms, not causes. Scripture makes clear what the road away from God looks like, and if we’re honest, we can see a lot of America in it (warning–the following is not politically correct):

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Rom 1:18-27 – emphases added)

We are seeing played out in front of us these verses: rejection of God, the worship of self, and the resulting release by God, allowing people to act on all their sensual passions.

So, what is the American Christian to do?

There’s a verse in Psalm 18 that includes this line: “And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me” (v 4b). I think one response to an increase in ungodliness and a simultaneous decrease in influence that the Christian might have, is to be terrified. After all, the ungodliness is coming in torrents.

Terrified people either hide or go into fight mode. That’s why you see some Christians circling the wagons and others joining Tea Party rallies.

The Psalmist took a different tack:

In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (v. 6)

Clearly, when we’re confronted with ungodliness, we should be turning to God.

I think we tend to forget that ungodliness is a form of rejecting God. It’s not aimed at us, even though we may feel as if we’re getting caught in the backwash.

At the same time, I think we should continue to carry on with the assignment Jesus gave us when He returned to heaven to take His place at the Father’s right hand. He gave us a mission: to go to the world, every part of it, and make disciples.

This past Sunday my pastor, Mike Erre, preached on this very point. He highlighted the fact that we are to do as Jesus did (it’s what defines followers ;-). “[Jesus said,]’As You [God] sent Me into the world, I also have sent [my disciples] into the world’ ” (John 17:18).

So how did God send Jesus into the world? Not to coerce people to believe in Him. Not to beg them or bribe them or bully them. He invited and He served.

In essence He was obeying the two great commandments: to love God, to love our neighbors. This focus is important. Jesus didn’t invite people to follow Him because He wanted to have more disciples than the Pharisees or because He was raising an army to overthrow Rome. He invited people then to sit at His banqueting table, and He does so now, because He loves.

It’s not a big mystery: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Jesus followed that up by saying He and the Father are one:

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. (John 14:10)

In the gospels, in fact, we learn that Jesus laid down His life: no one took it from Him. God sacrificed His Son, Jesus sacrificed Himself.

All for love, that God might give the gift of grace to a people destined to die.

And that’s how we, His followers, are to love. That’s what our response to the Supreme Court rulings should be.

No Longer A Democracy?


Supreme_Court_US_2010Most history teachers are quick to correct people about the form of government established by the Constitution of the United States. It’s a republic, not a democracy.

Truthfully, since the 1960s the lines between the two have become blurred, as more and more states turned away from caucuses and closed door deals to choose Party candidates through the primary elections.

But nothing has been more democratic than the initiative process in California in which the people themselves decide on proposed laws and state constitutional amendments.

The initiative process brought Indian casinos to the state, the lottery, and medical marijuana. It even raised taxes while the state and its people were still reeling from the recession. California, it’s pretty clear, won’t be confused with a conservative state.

However, in 2000 Proposition 22, the Knight initiative, was passed into law, stating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This law, similar to the Defense of Marriage Act passed four years earlier by the Federal government, added protection to the Family Code which already defined marriage as “a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary.”

Over four and a half million voters passed this law–61% of those who went to the polls. In-court wrangling ensued. In 2008 the California Supreme Court lumped a number of these appeals together and ruled that the law was unconstitutional.

Immediately Proposition 8, an amendment to the California State Constitution known as the California Marriage Protection Act, was put on the ballot. Here’s the text in its entirety:

Section I. Title

This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”

Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution, to read:

Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

For the voter pamphlet then-Attorney General Jerry Brown renamed the proposition, “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.” He gave the following description in the election ballot summary: “changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.”

To this day the media refers to Proposition 8 as a ban on same-sex marriage.

Despite the changed terminology, despite a wall of media giants opposing it, the amendment passed. Over seven million voters decided in favor of the traditional definition of marriage–over 52% of those who went to the poll.

So how can a court undermine the state constitution?

It’s still a little baffling to me. The California Supreme Court upheld the amendment, but then a suit was filed in a Federal District Court in San Francisco.

On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8, stating it is “…unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause because no compelling state interest justifies denying same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.”

A merry-go-round of stays and lifting of stays followed, and in the interlude when Judge Walker unilaterally overturned the will of over seven million voters, a host of same-sex couples “married.”

The problem escalated when Attorney General Brown refused to defend the amendment in the appeals court. Another round of arguments cleared the way for proponents of the amendment, a county here in SoCal, to step up and defend the amendment. The California Supreme Court once again ruled in favor of the people, issuing an advisory opinion that the proponents of Proposition 8 did have standing, and could defend it.

However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 vote, declared the amendment unconstitutional.

The court found that the people of California, by using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw the right to marry they once possessed under the California State Constitution, violated the federal Constitution.

Of course, you need to remember that they only had the “right to marry” because the court had declared Proposition 22 unconstitutional.

The dissenting judge, Judge N. Randy Smith, noted in his dissent that states do legitimately prohibit sexual relationships condemned by society such as incest, bigamy, and bestiality, and impose age limits for marriage without violating constitutional rights . . . He wrote, “The family structure of two committed biological parents – one man and one woman – is the optimal partnership for raising children.” He also said that governments have a legitimate interest in “a responsible procreation theory, justifying the inducement of marital recognition only for opposite-sex couples” because only they can have children. (“California Proposition 8”)

Despite this ruling, the stay remained in place as the appeal went to the US Supreme Court. As you may know, that ruling came down yesterday: “On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to appeal a U.S. District Courts’ ruling that the proposition is unconstitutional. The state government had refused to defend the law.”

So there you have it folks: seven million Californians disenfranchised via a series of moves that would have made carpetbaggers proud.

We have a judge who disregarded the will of the people and an Attorney General who ignored the will of the people. And the Supreme Court, instead of standing up for the people, says, well, your state government didn’t defend your vote, so it’s as if you voters never had a say.

That whole process is not the way a democracy works. An oligarchy, with power in the hands of a few, yes. A democracy? . . . May it rest in peace.

Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm  Comments (15)  
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