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Two myths circulate about the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. The first is that it won’t make any difference to society at large. (How does it affect your marriage if your gay neighbors can marry?). The second is that you are a bigoted, homophobic who must be silenced if you support traditional marriage. Neither idea is valid, but so easy to repeat they may begin to sound true and paralyze believers from speaking out.
Are You An Alarmist?
Some people think you are an alarmist if you voice grave concern about what the Supreme Court just did to marriage. They say as one did, “This…is full throttle panic. ..We will wake up 20 years from now and wonder what all the consternation was about. Straight people will still be married; churches will still stand.” They are saying, ‘Your worries are foolish and stupid.’ They hope to embarrass you that you are panicked for nothing.
It is quite the opposite. All of us who don’t pay attention to this change are a little like the people sleeping peacefully on a Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor when unbeknownst to them bombers were already flying their way.
The First Amendment freedoms, particularly religion and speech, will face new legal lawsuits and pressure, now with the full tilt of the Supreme Court behind it. This isn’t just my opinion. The best legal minds of the country on both sides of the issue think so too. They agree that this new sexual liberation as constitutional civil right will be a train wreck for religious freedom and speech.
No First Amendment right is absolute. Its limits are tempered by other compelling state interests. What the free exercise of religion means will become an even more contentious and treacherous battlefield.
Since a constitutional right to same-sex marriage has been created, the battle will go immediately to the next stage, as hinted by the Solicitor General Donald Verrilli during oral arguments. When asked by Justice Samuel Alito if a new gay marriage right would require religious schools either to embrace it or to lose their tax-exempt status, Verrilli replied,
“You know, I-I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue.”
As Matthew J. Franck said, “ It was strangely gratifying to see Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas, in their dissents, give this matter their lengthy and considered attention. Thomas foresees “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty” in this invention of a new “right” of same-sex marriage, and Roberts noted how telling was the way in which Kennedy shrugged off such potentials:
‘The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. . . . The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.’
The ink wasn’t dry on the Supreme Court ruling before Mark Oppenheimer gloated in Time magazine that it was time now for churches to lose their tax-exempt status.
He said, “The property taxes they aren’t paying have to be drawn from business owners and private citizens — in a real sense, you and I are subsidizing Mormon temples, Muslims mosques, Methodist churches.”
Tax-exempt status is only one way that religions and religious institutions and people can be punished for their biblical views on marriage. Licensing, accreditation, loans, academic credentials, membership associations—perhaps even all the way to forcing clergy to perform same-sex weddings against their conscience. And that’s just a handful of legal recourses. Add to that the full weight of social stigma that will be heaped upon the religious who try to live by commandments we believe come from God—and you get the picture.
To get a sense of how serious this is, look at the volatile response when Indiana tried to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This law merely said that if the government were to substantially burden the exercise of religion, it had to do so for a compelling government reason and in the least restrictive way possible. The aim, according to Ryan T. Anderson was to protect the rights of all citizens equally “to live out their beliefs at home, in worship and at work without unnecessary government coercion.”
This should have been a no-brainer to pass because the Federal government has had a law just like this in place since 1993. Not so. Instead wild accusations and leaping rhetoric were aimed at the state. Boycotts were leveled. Corporations and civic groups said they’d never come to Indiana. In the end, Governor Mike Pence and the legislature simply caved under the pressure. The detractors won.
Jonathan Rausch is considered a more moderate advocate for gays—who penned with others a document “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both”. This sounds encouraging until you see his comment. “The First Amendment carves out special protections for religious belief and expression. That does not mean, of course, that Christian homophobes can discriminate as much as they want provided they quote the Bible. It does mean, at least for a while, courts and legislatures will strike compromises balancing gay rights and religious liberty, something they did not have to do with black civil rights. This makes gay marriage more complicated—legally, socially, and even ethically—than interracial marriage. And it means gay-marriage supporters will hit a constitutional brick wall if we try to condemn our opponents to immediate and total perdition.” [emphasis added]
So the moderate view is let’s not squash religious freedom all at once—just eventually. They would like to see “a religious conviction” to become a “second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus and not get up.”
Lawsuits and public pressure against religious freedom will abound in the day weeks and months to come. Like Justice Kennedy in his ruling, people will try to substitute an anemic version of a robust right that is essential to our freedom.
What we have learned from sad experience is that this movement to secularize America knows no limits because it is unbounded by natural law. Any means will do to achieve its end of remaking this society. If we have to shame you, boycott you, label you, shout at you, then so be it. The end is worth it. Any means will do to accomplish the end we want. What a dangerous philosophy.
When people say that this new ruling does nothing but confer dignity and happiness on those with homosexual tendencies, they miss something else or else they are fooling you, hoping you’ll believe them. The very nature of what marriage and family is has undergone seismic change.
When the Supreme Court redesigned marriage beyond its traditional, historical meaning, they opened up a door for unimaginable redesign. A boundary has been broken. If bestowing “dignity” on a bond is the new foundational legal argument, then why not redesign marriage even farther?
Justice Roberts said, “Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions.”
Why can’t this reasoning then be extended to any sort of polyamorous relationship? If the truth, as Roberts said is “today’s decision rests on nothing more than the majority’s own conviction that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry because they want to, and that it ‘would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” then almost combination of bonds could quality. Why not? We’ve lost our foundation.
In February 2015 Atlantic published an article lauding the efforts of Diana Adams, a polyamorous lawyer in Brooklyn who specializes in legalizing “nontraditional” families. She is especially excited about three-parent families.
An article this week introduces us to a married lesbian threesome who are hoping to have three babies—one for each of them.
What does losing a norm for what marriage is mean to our children as they grow up? Chaos and confusion. Who and how do they choose to marry in a world of dissolved norms? Will the bulk of children be raised in familyish sort of units that are vaguely unstable? Who knows? We kicked out the legs from under the stool.
Justice Roberts asked, “If an unvarying social institution enduring over all of recorded history cannot inhibit judicial policymaking, what can?” How can any standard hold for what marriage is or what a family is? How can any social experiment not be too radical to attempt with this new creative judicial standard?
The prophets in Family: A Proclamation to the World say it even more forcibly. “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
So if people tell us not to be alarmed, we have to answer that from both secular and spiritual evidence, it would be naïve not to be alarmed.
Are You a Homophobe?
We have also learned through sad experience that if you support traditional marriage you are loudly considered a homophobe and a bigot. We are scarcely beginning to see the ‘punishments’ that attend the so-called bigot legally and socially. You may lose your job, your position of trust or your opportunity to be a judge in California if you belong to the Boy Scouts, your friends. You may have to change your company policy so that no one can have an opinion so you will be appropriately diverse.
If you have the courage to actually use your voice to support marriage in public, you may get it between the eyes. In fact, even to give sound argument for supporting marriage, as we’ve always known it, is considered hateful. No one is more intolerant than the tolerance crowd.
Last Friday when my husband, Scot posted his article “10 Things You Can do in the Face of the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage” on his Facebook page, he got this response, “I am going to unfriend you. I will not tolerate bigotry with a false façade of religion.” Another one said “Bye Bye Scot Facer Proctor.” Our daughter voiced her support for traditional marriage on her Facebook page and a “friend” wrote, “You make me sick.”
That was only the beginning. I could continue with such gracious quotes—and these, of course, are merely unpleasant. People will experience much worse who support traditional marriage. (And isn’t it strange I can’t just say ‘marriage’ which is what I mean.)
But, let me be clear. The conviction that marriage is a heterosexual institution is not based on “phobia.” It is not based on hatred or dislike or bigotry or fear of any sort. No matter how many times charges of bigotry toward traditional marriage supporters are repeated in the media, by the people in high places, by the mucky-mucks, by the entertainment glitterati, they are not true. We do not have to believe or buy such slurs because it is the tenor of our little time in history.
We are neither bigoted nor unkind nor oppressive to solemnly declare that marriage is a union between a husband and a wife.
We who support marriage and continue to make it strong because of what it does for the well-being of children and society were doing this long before the issue of same-sex marriage was on the horizon. We already valued marriage and stood for it.
Because we are Christians, we may be tempted to think that the admonition to us to be “filled with the love of Christ” toward each other means, in fact, that we must also agree with this new philosophy—that, in fact, the only kind way to respond is to comply.
Some Church members, in fact, believe they are following Christ when they are not following the First Presidency’s lead on marriage. This is a poor understanding of both the nature of Christ’s love and who is the true head of this Church.
Jesus Christ is the one with open arms, who encircles us in the arms of his love, but he also insists on his way.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s words ring out for us, “Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions…
“We will see a maximum, if indirect, effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism which uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage…
“Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel..
“Brothers and sisters, irreligion as the state religion would be the worst of all combinations. It’s orthodoxy would be insistent and its inquisitors inevitable. Its paid ministry would be numerous beyond belief. Its Caesars would be insufferably condescending. Its majorities—when faced with clear alternatives—would make the Barabbas choice, as did a mob centuries ago when Pilate confronted them with the need to decide.”
Truly, there are prophets among us. Could Elder Maxwell have described our times better—the insistent orthodoxy of the same-sex marriage advocates, the inquisitors so numerous?
You Will be Assimilated
The goal for the new secularism that promotes same-sex marriage is to assimilate the rest of us. You will be assimilated is the message—either through hammering against your viewpoint or intimidation. We will call you names until you bow. But you will be assimilated.
When he held the big celebration at the White House to celebrate the same-sex marriage decision, President Barack Obama gave voice to this. He gave us, as religious believers, a nod, “I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue,” he said. “All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact. Recognize different viewpoints. Revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.” This was meant to soothe.
Then he went for the punch line, “But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple often painfully real change is possible…Shifts in hearts and minds is possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them.”
Get it? You backward ones who hold on to religious convictions, you too can move forward, abandon your conscience and shed those old ideas about society’s foundations and then move ahead with us. You will be assimilated.
We can’t be. Our religious conscience demands more. The God we worship is not an elected official who will go out of office. He is a Supreme Judge to whom we owe allegiance, whose wisdom we can scarcely comprehend.
But, he comprehends us, and the place we all find ourselves in now. With freedom of religion and speech, with marriage and family on the line, it is not the time to become quiet, no matter how intimidating.
Those who can get away with decimating what we love will do it if they can. They will probably go as far as we let them. Only our united voices can stop them. Fear of speaking up is assenting to the demise of the things we care about most. Our silence would be a cost more painful than we could bear.