where you start determines where you end

Last Friday the Supreme Court expanded marriage, at least for now, to any two consenting adults. As Justice Roberts noted in his dissent, the court offered no reason why gender doesn’t matter but the number does. If the court is consistent, it will legalize polygamy the next time a polygamist sues.

Much has already been written about the court’s decision, but I want to make one point that has been overlooked. The culture may have a crazy, unsustainable definition of marriage, but the culture itself isn’t crazy. Its new definition is entirely consistent with its first principles.

Compare Justice Kennedy’s conclusion on gay marriage with his earlier statement on human freedom. In 1992’s “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey,” which upheld the right to abortion, Kennedy famously wrote, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Last week, Kennedy began his Opinion by stating, “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.”

Kennedy’s argument may be wrong, but it’s logical. If we start with the premise that we possess the right to define our own meaning, then we also have the right to define marriage however we want. Christians won’t defeat this argument by quibbling on the edges, with pragmatic arguments about what’s best for children (though these are important). We will only make progress by going right at the foundation.

If it’s true that we each possess the right to define the meaning of our own universe, then anyone can be and do whatever they want. Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner are not aberrations, but logical outcomes of our culture’s starting point.

So let’s challenge the starting point. Let’s explain that only God bestows human dignity and determines the meaning of our existence, and then let’s love and protect our families as if we believed it. Let’s hold our brothers and sisters accountable to their marriage vows. Their pornography, adultery, and divorce are not only hurting them and their families. They are also a direct hit on us, and Jesus, and our witness for Jesus in the world.

This is an exciting, important time to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Our lost culture needs us now more than ever. We don’t have to be spectacular to stand out. Just love our spouses, raise godly children, and generally have our act together, and we should have plenty of opportunities to help those who are living against the grain.

If the panelists on Sunday’s talk shows are any indication, our leaders don’t understand how gay marriage infringes upon the free exercise of religion, and they aren’t too interested in learning. The culture is coming for us, which will make our Christian witness even that much brighter. For years American Christians have wanted their lives to count for Jesus. Well, great news—now they do!

I don’t know if renewed devotion to our spouses and children will convert the entire culture, but it should give us opportunity to share the gospel with some. Our friends will learn the hard way that sin doesn’t work, and they may turn to us for help. Even if the only thing we achieve is stronger families, it will still have been worth it.

Last week the culture reached the logical end of its crazy starting point. The Christian starting point is even crazier. Let’s show them where that leads.

Picture by David. Sourced via Flickr. Used by permission.

8 Comments

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  1. End? Just a waypoint along the way I’m afraid. It might not be far off from the end, but after the next waypoint it is hard to say, because it gets pretty dark after that.

  2. Bob Dylan said it best: “It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’ there.”

    Thank you for some real hope and encouragement. This blog has fired me up about my marriage, and my witness.

    The rubber is meeting the road. Time to separate the hot from the lukewarm. Thank you for the light!

  3. Great response and exactly where my heart is. I cannot change people’s heart/mind through discourse, but I can try and live as authentically Christian as I can…allowing the light to premiate the darkness.

  4. Great perspective. Thank you for this light in a dark week. As John Piper noted, we Christians have known dark Fridays, but He has been known to do great things with those, hasn’t He?

  5. Thanks Mike. I hadn’t seen Justice Kennedy’s comments before, especially his 1992 quote (I was out of the country back then). It eerily echoes the Humanist Manifesto. To me, the gender identity aspect of the LBGTQ agenda is the most pernicious. Your insights here accurately describe why. It is amazing how the Genesis 3 story is redundantly repetitive over and over again (get the point?) in our human experience.

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