Our #constitution begins “We the people…” One of its purposes is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
The dissenting opinions in the same sex marriage ruling, stress the danger resulting from activist judges, judges that make decisions based on their own ideas of right and wrong as opposed to Constitutional law. Liberty, rights, and power were all tied up together in our Constitution by its framers. How much of this liberty (the peoples’ power) is being taken from us by judges that interpret law through glasses of their feelings rather than by the Constitution!
Dr. Ben Carson has talked about the possible need to impose #TermLimits on justices. But term limits would bring with it its own danger. A president would still be free to appoint people that think as he/she does and still stack the court, perhaps to a worse degree than happens now. To have the legislative, judicial, and executive branches ALL aligned with one party based on an election would not be a good thing. Term Limits might be a beneficial depending on how they would be implemented.
Really, the problem is a mindset by liberals and conservatives that each of their points of view is the only right point of view. We each want people in power that can make our viewpoint law. Thus we get activist justices, a legislature that won’t compromise, and a growing divide within “The People.”
What does it mean when we say we govern ourselves? On one extreme with minimal government, we would have anarchy with everyone doing what he/she wants to do. On the other end of the spectrum, the State would be ruled by a king (or judicial court?) telling us what we can and cannot do. Our ancestors fought so that we could rule ourselves through ELECTED representatives. Have we lost our most important Liberty by judicial revision of our #constitution?
In his #dissentingopinion, one of the ways Chief Justice Roberts addresses the Court’s #gaymarriage ruling concerns the issuing of marriage licenses. The Court now requires that States issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
This requirement does not mention churches. However, as long as pastors sign marriage licenses as part of their church’s marriage ceremony, the ruling will involve those churches. So, how can a church avoid the problems related to traditional marriage’s incompatibility with the Court’s ruling? How will the Church separate itself from the government’s decision on the meaning of the license? Does God’s definition of marriage depend upon the government’s definition of the marriage license?
As Matthew 22:21 (“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”) implies, we live under a 2-fold order, God’s kingdom and man’s kingdom. As much as we may wish it another way, our President, Congress, and Courts are part of Caesar’s kingdom. Nevertheless, we need to be informed and participative in our governmental processes.
Until recently, the roles of the three branches of our Republic have been clearly defined with Congress representing the people. The ruling by the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage, in the view of Justices Scalia and Roberts has changed that. This is something about which we should ALL be concerned, whether supporters of same-sex marriage or not.
As Justice Roberts states: “…this Court is not a legislature… Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise ‘neither force nor will but merely judgment.’”
Over the next few weeks, let’s look at the dissenting opinions from the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. (If you go to the ruling page, note that the majority opinion and each dissenting opinion start at page number 1.) Rather than the usual statement—“I respectfully dissent”—these opinions broke from the norm by saying “I dissent” while others left the phrase out altogether. Additionally, the dissenting opinions use somewhat disrespectful language. This accentuates the divisive nature of the ruling. What does that mean for people believing that marriage is between one man and one woman?
The first thing to note is that none of the dissenting opinions was based on God’s one man / one woman design. While Roberts and Alito reference religious tradition for marriage, ALL of the dissenters use the Constitution to frame their arguments which, of course, is what they are supposed to do. In the strongest terms, they show how the decision diminishes the role of the people and increases the power of the Court at the expense of the Constitution. But, in their opinions is a “heads up” to organizations supporting traditional marriage.
To start this series, here are three quotes from Justice Roberts’ dissenting opinion.
“Although they [the majority] discuss some of the ancillary legal benefits that accompany marriage, such as hospital visitation rights and recognition of spousal status on official documents, petitioners’ lawsuits target the laws defining marriage generally rather than those allocating benefits specifically.” [p 24]
“Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage. Ante, at 27. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.” [p 27-28]
“…the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38.” [p 28]
What implication does this hold for Christians (and those of other beliefs who hold to the traditional view of marriage)?
There are three frames of reference: the majority opinion that same-sex marriage is a good thing, the dissenting opinion that the court has no business defining rights and that this is a matter for the states, and the third being that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.
None of the dissenting opinions in this case directly addressed the validity of the traditional view.
While there is some rationale for government defining a civil union for purposes of “ancillary legal benefits,” this opinion went much further by actually redefining marriage. This puts the State at odds with the Church.
Unless churches can find a way to separate their practice of marriage from the term used in the Supreme Court ruling, they will likely face legal issues in the future, including maintaining a tax exempt status.
Both Ann and Bekah face crises in their lives. Ann is deposited in San Francisco when her destination had been Nantucket. During the California Gold Rush, a ship’s course might be diverted to San Francisco where the vessel might be abandoned as the crew seeks riches on the gold fields. Bekah must deal with unexpected trauma as mentioned last week.
Dealing with trials becomes easier when we start to believe that God really has the answer and that answer is found in Jesus.
What happens when someone experiences a radical rebirth while attending a church that considers that rebirth too extreme? The month of June features “The Evangelists.” During the great awakening, this was a common situation. But it is also experienced in churches of most any denomination even today.
Most of us over thirty were raised believing in the American Dream, that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and prosper through hard work, determination, and initiative. Where is God in that equation? Is material success really what should drive us? What happens when someone decides to sacrifice it all to serve the Lord? (See Radical by David Platt.)
A friend’s daughter is a case in point. She and her husband both had six figure incomes and were moving up in their respective professions. But when God convinced them he had something else planned for them, they sold everything, gave up their jobs, and moved to South America to start a school and reach people for Jesus. How do you think the world saw that decision? What would people in your church think if someone, sitting next to them in the pew, took that path? Seeking our own American Dream, how many of us would even consider the possibility that God may be calling us to something similar?
What happened to Bekah in 1850, happens to girls today. It’s an indication that there is something wrong with the world. Like the irritation of a splinter in your finger that won’t go away. We don’t always see it; it’s not often front page news. But it’s there.
Ah Toy was a woman who followed her husband to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. When he died in route, she became the mistress of the ship’s Captain. Once in San Francisco, she started a business in high demand with miners who left their wives in the East to work the rivers of California. Sometimes, the ladies employed were more children than women.