Christian leaders are warning the United States Supreme Court to expect massive resistance if they trash marriage between one man and one woman when they rule in June. Possible presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee join Franklin Graham, Pastor John Hagee, and National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson as signers of the Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. The pledge is authored and signed by James Dobson, Focus on the Family; Rick Scarborough, Vision America Action; and Matt Staver, Liberty Counsel. They write: “We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line…We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve.”
Many Americans will be appalled that faith community leaders dare to place their judgment of constitutionality above that of the Supreme Court. “Is not the Supreme Court the last word on law in America?” they would ask. The answer is “No.”
The Constitution makes no mention of judicial review of laws adopted by Congress and signed by the President, much less a right to re-write law. Judicial review – the prerogative of the Courts to decide whether a law is consistent with the Constitution – was an innovation when introduced in the famous 1803 Marbury vs. Madison case. It has been more-or-less universally accepted prior to the present emergency, but it imputes neither infallibility nor omnipotence to the Supreme Court. The Court reversed itself in the 1954 school desegregation case Brown vs. Topeka Board. No serious person would defend Court rulings in cases like Dred Scott (1857) or Plessy vs. Ferguson (1897). Plessy, of separate-but-equal doctrine infamy, was repudiated by the Court itself; but Dred Scott – permitting escaping slaves to be re-taken even on free soil – stood until passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments. Still standing is the recent decision upholding Obamacare after Chief Justice Roberts re-wrote the law. There is nothing like infallibility in the Court.
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Even President Obama and his allies have decried the 2010 Citizens United ruling as perverting the Court’s mandate – although multitudes applaud it – in yet another showing that the Supreme Court is not the default last word on law in America. So what is the present emergency, and how might we address it creatively?
Making same sex marriage normative is a fundamental change to the core of our culture – any culture. Thus, cultures who embraced homosexuality, like Ancient Greece, never embraced gay marriage. While it is over the top to call procreation the sole purpose of marriage, the opportunity to birth and raise children in the parents’ image is the surest expression of humanity-created-in-God’s-image we can imagine or produce. This is not narcissism – unless parents are really sick – but our best chance to walk in the Image of God by sacrificing ourselves for our children. We are male and female for this purpose, needing one another to complete one another as the other gender – and only the other gender – embodies the being each lacks in our incomplete individuality. Sperm and egg sacrificing individualized existence is no accident. Render that particularity irrelevant by judicial fiat, and we lose a lot.
The destabilizing effect on families is evident in those nations with legalized gay marriage, while the promised benefits of health and longevity for gay married couples have proven a horrible mirage. Gays brought suit against Canada in 2009 in a vain effort to blame the very government who gave them what they wanted by normalizing their unions. Add the tangential plague of persecution that already stalks Christians – like the Oregon baker facing $135,000 in fines – who decline on conscientious grounds to cater to them in the US, and we see glimpses of the train wreck the Supreme Court may unleash in its decision.
Dobson declares: “The institution of marriage is…the foundation of the entire culture.” Staver adds, in the event the court rules against marriage: “Yes, I’m talking about civil disobedience…I’m calling on people to not recognize the legitimacy of that ruling because it’s not grounded in the rule of law. They need to resist…in a peaceful way – as much as Martin Luther King, Jr. resisted unjust laws in his time.”
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Scarborough says: “We’re facing a real constitutional crisis if the Supreme Court rules adversely…For me there’s no option. I’m going to choose to serve the Lord. And I think that thousands of other pastors will take that position and…millions of Christians.” Let us first pray the Supreme Court operates rationally. Failing that, let us pray Scarborough is right about the millions. The good news – regardless – is that the God whose will is that none should perish wins in the end. I checked the back of the book.
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