While the church and many others have argued that traditional marriage is of God’s design, an institution that embodies a man and a woman joining together, they lost that battle yesterday when SCOTUS ruled in favor of gay marriage.
And while the ruling appeared to be a joyous occasion for many nationwide, the church was left with many questions. In particular, how will the ruling affect religious freedom?
In December of 2014, Christianity Today conducted a study on Americans’ view of the government’s involvement in the marriage ceremony. Here is an excerpt from the study:
Six in 10 (59 percent) disagree with the statement, “Marriage should be defined and regulated by the state.” About a third (36 percent) agree. Five percent are not sure.
Those who identify as Christians (37 percent) are more likely to agree than the nonreligious (30 percent.) Evangelicals are less likely to disagree (55 percent).
About half of Americans favor a split between civil and religious marriage.
Although our nation’s views on the LGBT community have rapidly shifted due to a change in cultural norms, many evangelicals have been at odds with American culture over same-sex relationships for years. And while the ruling doesn’t change who God is and what he calls the church to do, it’s inevitable that civil marriage and religious marriage will clash as individuals and churches are faced head-on with demands to participate in civil marriages between gay couples — a conflict that could very well lead to religious persecution, a freedom our nation has worked so hard to protect.
In saying that, here’s a key section on religious views from the majority ruling:
“Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”
Here’s another key section on religion from the majority opinion:
“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
Justice Clarence Thomas opined the following on religious liberty in his dissent:
“Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect. Numerous amici—even some not supporting the States—have cautioned the Court that its decision here will “have unavoidable and wide-ranging implications for religious liberty.” Brief for General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists et al. as Amici Curiae 5. In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Id., at 7. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.”
How do you think the SCOTUS ruling will affect religious freedom? Will it be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy or will this ruling force church and state to find common ground and establish peace? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.