This morning the Supreme Court handed down their decision ruling on the nationwide legality of same-sex marriage. Quite a few of my friends and acquaintances celebrate this, and quite a few of my friends and acquaintances do not. In my reading today, I have come across a variety of responses within those two streams. There are some Christians who are angry, even vitriolic, over the decision. On the other hand, there are LGBTQ folks and their supporters who do not understand why anyone might be a conscientious dissenter to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
What you will find below is a curated list of articles and a video that demonstrate what I consider good responses from biblical thinkers. I provide short introductions on who each person is and the subject they discuss in their article or video. I will update this list in the days and weeks ahead as more helpful articles, letters, or videos come up. I prepared this for Christians wondering what a good response is to the news and for non-Christians who might want to understand what we think and why.
“Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage” – opinion piece by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention via The Washington Post.
Moore explains the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision for future cultural debate, legislation, and so on, but he also explains the insignificance of the decision on core matters for Christian life and faith.
A supporting video, “Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage,” was released today by Moore through the ERLC YouTube channel. It ends on an important note, that Christians and churches are not to respond with yelling and anger, but rather with the love of Jesus. Borrowing from his Washington Post piece, we must speak with the “accent” of Jesus. We must speak the truth in love, and we must speak love with truth.
“So-Called Same-Sex Marriage” – article by John Piper, theologian, preacher, and retired pastor from the Baptist General Conference.
Piper gives a short-hand account of the biblical view on humanity, God, sin, and salvation. He explains that Christians do not support same-sex marriage because it is a push to institutionalize a sin. Sin kills the soul, and so we need a Savior from that sin and its consequences. In my reading of his books and listening to his sermons over the years, I can tell you I believe John Piper’s concern for those who are not saved.
“Mohler responds to Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision” – article by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mohler’s article covers much of the same ground as Moore’s, though it has several distinctive features. I would highlight for you what I believe is Mohler’s wise assessment of what this means for the future of religious liberty, even the near future of religious liberty. Again, I agree with what Moore asserted in the Washington Post, that Christians should not panic, but I believe these two writers agree that today’s Supreme Court decision has implications for Christians, Christian-owned businesses, churches, and Christian schools that will be argued and decided in public discourse and eventually in the court system.
Here is a supporting article to many of the points Mohler makes about the potential future of America based on looking at the ten years of legalized same-sex marriage in Canada, “Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada” by Bradley Miller. I don’t know anything about Miller, but the history he recounts is very interesting and eye-opening.
“Black Christian Leaders Respond to SCOTUS Ruling on Same-Sex Unions” by Jemar Tisby, writer, and president & co-founder of the Reformed African American Network.
Tisby collected statements from several black Christian leaders on the SCOTUS ruling. Maybe the most interesting to me is the last one from Phillip Holmes, co-founder of RAAN, on love.
“Don Carson Responds to the SCOTUS Ruling on (So-Called) Same-Sex Marriage.” This is from the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, hosted by Tony Reinke. It usually features John Piper, but this special episode is an interview with Don Carson, writer, preacher, and always a gentleman scholar. Run time is ~18.5 minutes, available streaming or as a download at this link or through the “Ask Pastor John” podcast.
In the early part of the interview, Carson covers pretty much the same topics as I have done here. The latter part of the interview is a discussion of potential problems for Christians from the SCOTUS ruling. I agree with Carson on this, that the most realistic threat (or, at least, the nearest) is to para-church organizations and Christian schools (especially those less tied to particular denominations or outright non-denominational).
“Christians React to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage: 9 Key Findings” by Barna Group.
Barna Group is a well-known research group, having conducted thorough surveys for years. On July 1st, they released this data on how American Christians have reacted to the SCOTUS decision. Most of this data isn’t too surprising. What DID surprise me is the significant percentage of Christians under the age of 40 finding so much in common with Christians over 40. I thought we were more fractured than that.
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When I read these articles, I did not sense anger or hatred. These are people expressing their worldviews calmly and considerately. So on that count, please reconsider whether “bigot” is actually a helpful term at any level of discussion with those who are disappointed by the SCOTUS decision. Recent statistics say that around 70% of Americans claim Christianity as their religion, and many of those are conscientious dissenters, like myself. Religions are defined by their traditions. (Oh, and are all traditions bad? Let’s remember that the baggage associated with this word thanks to the Protestant Reformation and recent decades is not the only way to understand that term.) Many religions base their traditions on their holy writings. This is the way in Christianity. The Bible shows that sin spiritually kills humanity by separating us from God. It is, in a sense, a rebellion against the King of creation. Jesus died, was buried, and came to life again to pay our penalty for that sin. This is how Christians think of the world at large. The Bible defines many sins. One of those is homosexual behavior. Christians dissent from this SCOTUS decision because it is an institutionalization of sin, putting it on a pedestal. Why would we celebrate something that kills? Our entire worldview is based on the idea that sin kills and we need Jesus to save us from it. Christians struggle with sin every day, losing many battles, but winning a few, as well, by the grace of God. We seek salvation from our sin, we seek to be changed from our previous sinful habits and mindsets into the habits and mindsets that characterize Jesus Christ, and we seek to bring those who are willing with us away from sin and into life.
This is historical, biblical Christian thinking.
So to the angry Christian yelling quotes from Leviticus today, I say calm down. Look in the Gospels and see how Jesus spoke to people. How many times was he angry and shouting? Those moments are rare. How did Paul and Peter respond to the courts of their day? Paul especially suffered specific and physical persecution. How many times is he angry and shouting in the book of Acts? I would argue that number as zero.
To the non-Christian who might want to understand what we believe and why we dissent from the SCOTUS ruling, this is what I have to offer. If you want to engage in a kind discussion on the issue, I will happily speak with you in kindness and sincerity. If not, I hope that at least my brief thoughts and the items I listed above help you understand me and people like me to a better degree.
6 thoughts on “What Some Conscientiously-Dissenting Christians Think About the SCOTUS Ruling and Why”
Reblogged this on misterjoshuaray and commented:
A great collection of relevant articles on the Court’s landmark decision today from Moore, Piper, and Mohler.
Thanks, Josh! I’m glad you found the collection helpful.
Terror attacks kill more than 60 people world-wide today, June 26, 2015.
For those who might need a little more perspective…
Thanks for the list!
I hope you find it helpful. 🙂
Of interest: data on acceptance of same-sex marriage specifically and then homosexuality in society generally (two graphs) via Religious News Service’s Tobin Grant. http://tobingrant.religionnews.com/2015/06/30/ranking-churches-on-acceptance-of-homosexuality-plus-their-reactions-to-scotus-ruling/
Granted, the data is from 2007, but the author suggests that the statistics are probably largely the same for 2015.