Marriage: It is what it is.
There is a debate going on in the United States regarding how marriage is going to be defined in the future. The debate is being carried on in legislatures, court rooms, churches and schools. People are expressing their views using the newspaper, blogs, talk radio, TV and the ballot box. The result of the debate will have permanent impact on the future of our Country and the future of every family. The debate will, perhaps more than any other issue of our day, define who we are as a nation.
Our nation was born out of certain basic beliefs and convictions.
Reviewing the founding documents of our Country, and grasping the attitudes of our Founders toward God and government, will reveal that our founding documents were rooted in biblical truth and teaching. They reflected what is called the Judeo/Christian Ethic. A people’s ethic is their system of moral principles and values, which establishes their national morality. Ours, in the United States is described as Judeo/Christian, because we use the Old Testament of the Scriptures which Jews and Christians accept as the Word of God and the New Testament of the Scriptures which Christians accept as the Word of God. And whether people can appreciate it or not we were established with a moral base. Principles from the Bible guided our Founders in establishing our Country.
Consider the significance of the following quotes from House Resolution 888 from the first session of the 110th Congress.
“The first act of America’s first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and lead Congress in the reading of four chapters of the Bible”
“In 1854 the United States House of Representatives declared, ‘It (religion) must be considered as the great foundation on which the whole structure rests…Christianity; in all its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions”
“Beginning in 1904 and continuing for the next half century, the Federal government printed and distributed The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth for the use of Members of Congress because of the important teachings it contained.”
“President Woodrow Wilson declared that ‘America was born to exemplify devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from revelations of Holy Scripture.”
“President Franklin D. Roosevelt not only led the nation in a six minute prayer during D-Day on June 6, 1944, but also declared that ‘If we will not prepare to give all that we have and all that we are to preserve Christian civilization in our land, we shall go to destruction.”
“President Harry S. Truman declared that, ‘The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul.”
Indeed, the most basic tenet of our nation is based on biblical teaching. We believe that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that Governments are to secure those rights. Who can miss that our Founders believed in a Creator? Who can miss that our Founders viewed the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as rights given by God? Who can miss that Government was viewed as a servant to the governed in order to secure for the citizenry their God given rights? Who can miss that since we held to the Judeo/Christian Ethic; it is obvious that the Creator which the Founders believed in was the God revealed in the Scriptures? These concepts are critical to the debate about marriage.
The Courts are playing a major role in the debate.
Since the earliest days of our Country’s existence thousands upon thousands of laws have been enacted intending to reflect in law, the fundamental principles established in our Constitution. Many of those laws have faced judicial review. Judicial review is a right claimed for itself by the U.S. Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Marshall in the Marbury v. Madison case, (1803). In deciding that case, for the first time in history, the Court declared a law (The Judiciary Act of 1789) to be unconstitutional. The concept of judicial review was not addressed in the Constitution. The Court was to have appellate jurisdiction over various kinds of cases, but it was not assigned the responsibility of deciding whether laws passed by the Congress were a proper reflection of the Constitution. Without going into all the arguments pro and con, many would say judicial review, which was thought to be a means of helping to define the checks and balances of our form of government, actually tilted government in favor of the Court becoming a final judge of what the Constitution means, rather than serving as an equal partner with the Executive and Legislative branches.
Some would say judicial review opened the door to judicial activism and perhaps to judicial despotism. Judicial review was to judge the constitutionality of a law, but in fact the Court has from time to time actually rewritten law, taking legislative prerogative out of the hands of Congress.
This practice is common for State Supreme Courts establishing state law, as well as the highest court in the land, nine people on the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing laws for the nation. Judges, either not knowing or not appreciating the views of God and government that were foundational to the establishment of the Country, have inserted their own ideologies into the decision making process. They have expanded the Constitution by interpreting it with their own purposes and views in mind. Without question the intentions of the founders have been perverted. It is no wonder that early on, some advocated the view that only “religious” people could serve in government. That sounds narrow and bigoted, but they questioned how a person who did not even believe in the existence of God could give much credence and respect to rights that were supposedly given by God. Nor would they understand that the God given rights would be abused and misused if they were not practiced with reverence for the God that gave them.
On too many occasions courts have issued judgments with no regard for the historical and cultural context in which our nation was established. The failure to acknowledge who we are as a nation has resulted and will continue to result in serious problems for the country, regarding marriage, family and many other issues.
Significant Court Decisions of the past:
The Dred Scott Decision:
In March of 1857, the U. S. Supreme Court voted by a 7-2 majority that neither a slave nor the descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, nor had any slave ever been a citizen. This decision rendered null and void the laws of some states that had allowed black men to enjoy the full benefits of citizenship. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution fully dealt with the issue and completely overturned the folly of the 1857 decision. However, when the Court spoke in 1857 their ruling was law, however we would point out that making it law did not make it right.
The Epperson v. Arkansas AND The Edwards v. Aguillard Decisions:
In 1968 The U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the banning of a teaching (evolution), because it contradicted religious belief violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. By 1987, the Court struck down a Louisiana law which, as this writer understands it, basically required equal treatment of evolution and creation science in the classroom. If one was going to be taught, then the other also had to be taught. The case was Edwards v. Aguillard. The Court concluded that including creation science would fulfill a religious purpose and therefore not be allowed. It is acknowledged in some of our most sacred national writings that we have rights given by our Creator, but we are not allowed to acknowledge in the classroom that He created. The decision to allow evolution but deny creation may have become law, but that did not make it right.
The Roe v. Wade Decision:
Many are familiar with the Roe v. Wade case. It related to legalizing abortion and was decided by a 7-2 vote of the U. S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. In essence the decision legalized abortion for any reason at any time during a pregnancy. While various states had laws regarding abortion, the case at hand contested the Texas law that prohibited abortion except to save the life of the mother upon medical advice. The majority opinion of the Court stated that the concept of liberty, guaranteed in the 14th amendment to the Constitution, had been interpreted to include the right of privacy and that the right of privacy was broad enough to include a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. The Court further concluded that the Constitution does not define the term “person” and the term “person” does not include the unborn. The Court ignored the scientific evidence regarding life in the womb and, as you know, when the Court spoke, their ruling was law, and in fact over rode laws in many states. We assert however, that making it law did not make it right.
Each of the Court actions listed above demonstrates how the Court has moved and acted outside of its stated constitutional authority and moved to the role of activism and perhaps despotism.
The Courts and Marriage
It was November of 2003 when the courts openly entered the marriage debate. The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled by a 4-3 decision, that state laws prohibiting same sex marriage were unconstitutional. The Court gave the legislature 6 months to enact law in harmony with their decision. Was that activism or despotism?
The Iowa Supreme Court recently overturned state law that limited marriage to a man and a woman. The vote was unanimous and interestingly, the Court used the equal protection provisions of the Constitution as a basis for their decision.
On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same sex marriage. The people proposed and passed Proposition 8 which amended the California State Constitution, stating that only marriage between a man and a woman would be valid or recognized in California. In May 2009 the Court allowed Proposition 8 to stand as a legitimate amendment.
It is currently reported that lawyers Ted Olsen and David Boies have filed suit in Federal Court on behalf of two same sex couples in California, claiming that Proposition 8 makes them second – class citizens in violation of the U.S. Constitution. This action will eventually take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court and the decision of the Supreme Court will affect the laws in every state. Will the Court refuse to hear the case? Will it play the role of activist or despot? Time will tell.
Legislatures and Marriage
On September 21, 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became federal law. It was passed by an 85-14 vote in the Senate and a 342-67 vote in the House of Representatives. It was signed by President Bill Clinton, who has previously stated his belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. DOMA basically insured that no state was required to treat a same sex relationship as marriage, even if another state did. Secondly, it affirmed that the Federal government may not treat same sex relationships as marriage. The members of Congress who sponsored the bill stated, “The bill amends the U.S. Code to make explicit what has been understood under federal law for over 200 years; that a marriage is the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and a spouse is a husband or wife of the opposite sex.” That statement recognizes the dominating influence of the Judeo/Christian Ethic on our Country from its earliest days. Thus far challenges to the law have been defeated in Federal Courts and the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear any cases.
State legislatures in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine have all passed laws legalizing same sex marriage. Legislation is being considered in New York and New Jersey. In the Pennsylvania Senate one bill has recently been introduced to legalize same sex marriage and one bill has been introduced to deny same sex marriage.
At this writing 29 states have enacted constitutional amendments to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
If laws defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman are challenged in court, they will be argued on the basis of the equal protection provisions of the 14th amendment to the Constitution, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause found in Section 1/ Article IV of the Constitution, which deals with equality of the states. The battle is far from over, but let us affirm again that making something law will not make it right.
The Bounds of marriage:
As we have just delineated, the bounds of marriage have been expanded in some states by judicial action and in some states by legislative action, to include relationships between two people of the same sex. In some other states action has been taken to limit marriage to a relationship between one man and one woman. From a purely cultural standpoint, one wonders how many realize, or even care, that some who now advocate same sex marriage also advocate near kin marriages, bigamy, polygamy and group marriages. There are some others who advocate permitting marriage between an adult and a child. Are any foolish enough to think these kinds of “marriage” scenarios are out of the picture? If the argument based on the equal protection clause of the Constitution validates same sex marriage, then it must also validate the rest of these proposed marital aberrations. We must reconsider who we are as a people and who we want to be in the future.
The simple truth is – Marriage is what it is. The God who gave us the unalienable rights acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence as well as the 5th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, is the same God who defined marriage. The relationship is described and sanctified in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 19, verses 4-6. We quote, “Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh’? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The message is clear and takes the reader back to the beginning of time and hence the beginning of marriage. Notice the elements of the marriage experience.
Have ye not read – The teaching is in the Scriptures.
At the beginning – This was God’s plan and intention at creation.
He made them male and female – The marriage partners are clearly identified.
For this cause shall a man leave father and mother – The first marriage established a pattern for the future.
The man shall cleave to his wife – The marriage is intended to be permanent.
They twain shall be one flesh – The marriage is far more than physical and emotional.
What God hath joined together – The marriage is God’s work.
Marriage is what it is. Marriage is a relationship performed by the hand of God between one man and one woman which is intended to last for life. Mankind is not asked to define it and certainly not to redefine it. Mankind is asked to honor it. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s vehicle for populating the world and extending the family.
There may be new laws, judicial opinions, state or national referendums, all declaring some other relationship to be marriage. But truth stands whether anyone believes it or not. It may fall in the street and be trodden under foot of men, but truth will always be truth. Truth is discovered not invented. It may be denied or even outlawed, but it can never be destroyed. A lie can be put into law, but making it law will not make it right.
Explaining the confusion
Not one of the matters we have referenced in this article would have ever been issues of concern, if we remembered who we were established to be as a nation. Indeed not one of the issues would have ever needed to be addressed in law. Each one would be easily resolved in the hearts of people who know and love the Creator who gave us our rights. Our nation is in confusion because she does not know who she is. She thinks running from the God who created her is enlightenment, and all the while she gropes in profound darkness.
An exhortation to the Christian
The Christian has great responsibility in this conflict over right and wrong. You may not surge to the battle front of political controversy, but you have the responsibility to be a living demonstration of God’s plan for marriage and family. Advocates for changing the definition of marriage often point at heterosexual marriages in mockery, because so many end in divorce. They say traditional marriage is not working, so they want to try something else. Let’s affirm God’s plan. His desire is that individual men and women save themselves in purity for their marriage to one of the opposite sex, and when they select a partner, they are to consider the solemnity of the marriage commitment. They are to choose wisely, because they are making vows that will guide them and govern them for the rest of their earthly days. Let the world see through your marriage, what God intended for all.
It may be helpful to some people to know that the American Psychological Association has recently backed away from pushing the concept that homosexuality is caused genetically. Some still talk of the “gay gene”. No such gene has been found and no such gene will be found. The APA stated in an earlier brochure on sexual orientation and Homosexuality that; “There is considerable evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.” Their latest brochure on the same topic admits there is no consensus among scientists on these issues and that while there has been considerable research on the matter, no findings have emerged to convince scientists that any particular factor or factors determine sexual orientation.
We include this information to clarify latest findings on this matter and also to encourage Christians to trust the teachings of the Word of God. Many times science catches up to the truth and on occasion will admit it.