The citizens of California stoked national debates when they passed Proposition 8 back in 2008, defending marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court has now heard oral arguments attacking this law’s constitutionality. They also heard a second, similar case on the nation’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). No matter how they rule, the issue reflects a deepening fracture in the bedrock of society.
Since the Supreme Court is not supposed to make law but to interpret it, the justices had the option simply to let the California law stand and leave it up to each state to decide the issue of the definition of marriage. Or the Court could determine that the U.S. Constitution requires all states, including the 29 that currently prohibit homosexual unions, to allow gay and lesbian couples the opportunity to “marry”—in essence redefining marriage. No matter what their ruling, these debates at the highest level of government show the world how far the United States has moved from its Christian roots.
The main argument for striking down the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act is that the U.S. Constitution grants each state the right to decide for itself. In that case, federal benefits would then extend to same-sex couples in states that recognize homosexual unions as “marriage.” This result highlights the challenge of relying on governments to promote righteousness, especially when local, state, and federal governments have conflicting views, or each branch clashes with the others.
The Court’s deliberations come on the heels of the British House of Commons’ vote to legalize homosexual “marriage” throughout the UK. That bill must move through other parliamentary steps, including a vote in the House of Lords, before it can become law.
With these deliberations, two of the greatest Christianized nations in history have opened Pandora’s box. What if a man wants to marry more than one woman or a consenting minor or even an animal? Where does it stop? And whose opinion counts in such matters, anyway? Once society abandons God’s absolute definition of marriage, anything goes.
If marriage is officially redefined, it could hurt religious freedom for all. Churches, religious organizations, and perhaps Christian-owned businesses fear they may face punitive action by the government if they do not support whatever some rogue branch of the government defines as marriage.