Here are my initial thoughts on today’s SCOTUS opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges and three other cases, which effectively makes “same-sex marriage” the law of the land.
Nothing substantial has changed. The Supreme Court did not suddenly create more homosexuals or instill a new desire in the hearts of sodomites to flout nature. That was already happening and will continue to happen. But, more importantly, the Supreme Court did not redefine marriage. Marriage simply is. It is woven into the fabric of creation, and it can only be described, either accurately or inaccurately.
Same-sex marriage does not exist.
What we have here is a failure to communicate—that is, a failure to understand and convey the relationship between natural law and positive law. Americans can pretend that two sodomites are married, and they can pretend that a civil order can be maintained by a mere consensus of a majority goaded and guided by bread and circuses and screaming talking heads. Human nature, post-Eden, will teach us otherwise. Is teaching us otherwise. Will continue to teach us otherwise.
Today's Supreme Court ruling will not draw down Divine judgment. Today's Supreme Court ruling is God's judgment.
“God gave them over,” says Saint Paul, in describing the cycle of sin that follows rank idolatry. People begin to ignore the natural law because God stops restraining them, through His mysterious power and mercy, from doing so, as a consequence of their refusal to acknowledge Him and their insistence on worshiping and serving themselves instead. Next comes perversity, and finally, reprobate minds. Apart from Divine mercy and restraint, we will eat each other.
In other words, the answer to “How could this happen so quickly?” is “Why didn’t it happen sooner, and what’s next?”
Interestingly, it was the work of the Encyclopédistes that galvanized and spread the anti-Christian Enlightenment. Theirs was a process of abstraction, organizing human knowledge according to the alphabet. Their program of liberating Europe from traditional authorities was based on defining and redefining. The what was expressed in the how. The medium was the message.
What now? Jeb Bush has already declared that he’s for traditional marriage. This costs nothing, because the Supremes have already spoken. (I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis's observation in his brief essay on "The Death of Words": "A skillful doctor of words will pronounce the disease to be mortal at that moment when the word in question begins to harbour the adjective parasites real or true." Traditional also fits the bill.
The usual arguments are already coming, suggesting a response at the polls. Protecting what’s left of our ability to exercise our religion freely in the “public square” is good. But culture precedes politics, and American culture has already been given over to a reprobate mind. Out of that mind come laws and public demands that turn morality on its head. The democratic process cannot teach us the truth about who we are and Who made us that way. It is a reflection of what we already believe.
Conservative Christians—evangelicals, Catholics, Missouri-Synod and Wisconsin Lutherans, Reformed, etc.—will want to draw up statements and documents at conventions and conferences, and there will be long lists of signatures and signatories. This qualifies as doing something, but to what end? The definition of marriage is "marriage." Documents that condemn error are a witness, but they are an incomplete witness.
Here’s where good can come out of today’s SCOTUS confirmation of American barbarism. Christians can wake up. Our dumbed-down, seeker-friendly, me-too, we’re not bigots, adult contemporary, pandering, doctrine-free, soundbite, entertainment-driven, non-confrontational, metrosexual, puerile, tepid, quivering, unserious Christianity must change. There is much work to be done. We must read, understand, and convey our historic teachings—first, to ourselves and to our children. But in order to do that, we must learn to read books (most of them old and some of them in Greek and Latin), meditate on deeper wisdom (beyond “How do I feel better?”), and study and employ winsome rhetoric. This must happen in churches and in homes led by fathers. Across the denominations, we must boldly maintain our disparate doctrinal convictions, yet unite on matters of agreement. (The Nicene Creed would be a good place to start.) And we must help one another.
The sweetness of the Gospel is only palatable after the bitterness of the Law. Our palates have been trained for so long on carcingenic saccharin that we’ve lost our taste for the richness of our heritage. Today’s ruling reminds us that our Faith is not saccharine but apocalyptic. Playtime is over.
Aaron D. Wolf (1973-2019) was Chronicles' executive editor. His writings have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. He was a frequent guest on Issues, Etc. (Lutheran Public Radio) and The Paul Youngblood Show (nta.fm), and has appeared on several other radio programs, including The Tom Clark Show (Wisconsin Public Radio) and Extension 720 With Milt Rosenberg (WGN).