In 1996, the United States Senate passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The bill said,
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
The Senate passed this bill overwhelmingly.
In 2008, a majority of Californians voted to amend the Constitution of the State of California to forbid official recognition of same-sex marriage. The official summary of the revision said, “Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” That same year, Barack Obama told Rick Warren that he opposed same-sex marriage on the basis of his Christian convictions.
Predictably, in 2009, Proposition 8 was challenged in the California Supreme Court, which ruled against it. It was also challenged in Federal District Court the next year, which ruled against. The Ninth Circuit upheld that ruling in 2012 and the U. S. Supreme Court denied an appeal in 2013, and the Ninth Circuit permitted same-sex marriages that year. In 2015, in Obegefell v Hodges, the U. S. Supreme Court overturned all state laws against same-sex marriage.
On November 28, 2022, the United States Senate passed (61-36) the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA), effectively codifying the Obergefell decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. The Senate bill now goes to the House where it is expected to pass and to be signed, with great fanfare, by the President. The RFMA says:
No person acting under color of law of a State may deny—
“(1) full faith and credit to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State pertaining to a marriage between 2 individuals, on the basis of the sex, gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals; or
“(2) a right or claim arising from such a marriage on the basis that such marriage would not be recognized under the law of such other State on the basis of the sex, gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals.
“(c) Enforcement By Attorney General—The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States against any person who violates subsection (b) for declaratory and injunctive relief.
“(d) Private Right Of Action—Any person who is harmed by a violation of subsection (b) may bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States against the person who violated such subsection for declaratory and injunctive relief.”
On November 15, 2022, the bill was amended to include the following language:
(1) No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.
(2) Diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises. Therefore, Congress affirms that such people and their diverse beliefs are due proper respect.
(3) Millions of people, including interracial and same-sex couples, have entered into marriages and have enjoyed the rights and privileges associated with marriage. Couples joining in marriage deserve to have the dignity, stability, and ongoing protection that marriage affords to families and children.
One analyst is claiming that the bill does not require all states to recognize same-sex marriage. If this is true, it means that the bill passed by the Senate this past Tuesday is substantially different from that which appears online, since the amended bill states:
(1) full faith and credit to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State pertaining to a
marriage between 2 individuals, on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals;
The clear intent of the law is to require recognition of same-sex marriage in all fifty states and in all the territories and districts of the United States.
Love Is Love?
One slogan used by proponents of this bill is “love is love.” This expression is defined by that compendium of contemporary idiom, the Urban Dictionary, to mean: “the love expressed by an individual or couple is valid regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their lover or partner.” As it stands, however, this particularly thoughtless expression not only builds the slippery slope but makes it extra slippery (see the resources below for more on this). What this expression signals is one half of the formula behind the Obergefell decision, that the basis of a marriage consists of two parts: affection (love) and consent. The claim is that if two “consenting adults” have affection for one another, society should not place any barriers to their marriage. Love is also apparently very personal. During his celebration of the vote, Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “celebrated passage of the bill by wearing a purple tie he wore to his daughter’s wedding to her wife…”.
There can be no denying that persons of the same sex may have affection for one another, but what are the consequences of defining marriage in terms of affection and consent? In his dissenting opinion in Obergefell, Justice Thomas warned about negative effects that decision would likely have for religious liberty. In Masterpiece v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Justice Thomas saw his warning come true. We have already seen multiple cases (covered in this space) where state civil rights commissioners and others have pursued legal action against bakers, florists, and those who refused to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. Those cases will continue. Though there are protections for religious liberties in the Senate bill, critics of RFMA, including Senators Lankford, Lee, and Toomey, as well as the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warn that it will adversely affect religious liberty.
There will be other consequences. In February 2020, the Utah legislative committee considered a bill decriminalizing polygamy, thus effectively reversing the condition of the state’s admission to the union in 1896. The Latter Day Saints Church has officially endorsed RFMA. They can see that there is nothing in RFMA that prohibits polyamorous and polygamous marriages.
Who would have thought, in 1996, that the Supreme Court in 2015 or the U. S. Senate in 2022 would completely reverse course. Given the speed with which our institutions are re-engineering society, can anyone be confident that there will not be a move to normalize pedophilia or bestiality? This space has already noted (see below) the movement to normalize pedophilia. Clothing designers are sexualizing children. University professors and others are advocating for “minor attracted persons.” It is being seriously argued that minors can indeed consent. What is there to stop further developments?
Nature Is Nature
The U. S. Supreme Court and the U. S. Congress may say what they will, but they cannot overrule nature. By nature (i.e., by creational pattern and divine intention), males belong to one biological sex and females to another. As Jerry Falwell once said, “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.” That is obviously true. As pagans, Jews, and Christians have known for millennia, marriage is an institution intended to recognize the union of a man and a woman. Politicians and judges cannot change that fact. Calling the corruption of marriage does not change the relationship of the word marriage with the thing it signifies: a union of one male adult and one female adult. The relationship signified by the word marriage is grounded in the nature of things. Only a union of males and females can procreate. The natural, creational pattern is for children to be reared and nurtured in a family composed with two heterosexual parents. The rise of the single-parent households does not change the definition of the word family any more than the existence of hermaphrodites changes the definition of male and female. These are exceptions that test the rule. They do not change the norm.
Nature (and nature’s God) can only be defied so long. In the 1970s, Jim Croce sang, “You don’t spit into the wind…”. That was universal human experience. Nature teaches us that it does not work. It produces bad outcomes. So it will be when Americans seek to defy nature. Some social scientists are observing bad outcomes already post-Obergefell. Children raised in households with same-sex “parents” will not be as healthy. That parents willingly take their children to see male “drag queens” do strip shows tells us that the sexual revolution has reached a Gomorrahan degree. Rebellion against God has consequences. Paul catalogued them quite graphically:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Rom 1:21–32; ESV)
Paul saw, in his day, the consequences of the temporal divine judgments against the sexual immorality of the Greco-Roman world. We see it in ours. Indeed, Paul’s indictment reads like a summary of the news.
Americans have long struggled with the very idea of nature. In a sense, America was a place where (or so we thought) nature could be remade. After all, we built great dams, re-channeled rivers. We came to think that nature is like plastic, that it can be remolded to suit our whims. It seemed, until the rise of the digital surveillance regime, that anyone could become anyone. A person could move from one part of the country to another, change his name, and become someone else. Americans came to think that nature was an arbitrary convention to be “deconstructed.”
That ethos is evident in Obergefell and in the RFMA. Nature is not endlessly plastic. The God who constituted nature is not plastic at all. Consequences, both temporal and eternal, are inevitable.
In a democratic Republic, however, it is the voters who must ultimately bear the blame for the institutionalization of the sexual revolution. Had enough Americans still believed that nature imposes upon us fixed norms and categories, they would have voted accordingly. It may be that some senators and represenatives surprised their voters. If that it so, we may see the consequences in coming elections.
If Carl Trueman is right about “expressive invididualism” (see his two recent books), then it seems likely that Americans have given up on nature in favor of what Thomas de Zenogotita calls “options.” Americans simply will not have their “options” limited. The development of the digital culture has created the illusion that we can make reality whatever we will. Of course that is false and, at some level, we all know it. Many of us will hear the words, “I’m sorry, there is nothing else we can do.” We all run out of options.
Americans may be divorced from nature, they may deny nature, but nature still is. Truth is. Reality is. Males are not females. There are only two sexes. Only heterosexuals can procreate naturally. The natural family is the core of any society. These are undeniable truths and they will out sooner or later. Let someone try to defy nature and see what happens. Some months ago I read about a person who identifies as a bird. She is a female human. She is not a bird. She does not have feathers. She does not have the same bone density or structure as a bird. It would be easy, if potentially harmful to her, to show that she is not a bird. Should she climb to a height and launch herself, she would discover very quickly that she is not a bird. Of course, we can all see that she is out of touch with reality.
We, Christians and non-Christians, have a right to expect legislators, judges, and policy makers to regard nature. This is why, until very recently, suicide was illegal in most places. A state has a natural interest in the preservation of a society and the survival of its citizens. Should the citizens all kill themselves, there would be no society.
Christians ought to be the first to embrace and articulate these truths in public and privately with friends and neighbors, but we should temper our expectations about a quick turn around (or a future, earthly glory age). The culture of “expressive individualism” did not simply appear. It was the result of a long campaign beginning in the middle of the 17th century. It took us a long time to arrive at collective, culture insanity and it will take just as long to leave the station and return to something like sanity. Those who recognize nature, who still retain their sanity, are free to campaign in favor of natural families and natural marriage and ought to do so. In the long term, we should expect to win this argument because we have a great ally: natural revelation, natural law, the nature of things, and millennia of human experience.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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- Office Hours: After Obergefell (pt 1)
- Office Hours: After Obergefell (pt 2)
- After Obergefell: The Slippery Slope Slides To Polyamory
- When The Slippery Slope Is Right Before Us: Obergefell Leads To Polygamy?
- Half-Way Down The Slippery Slope
- In The Middle Of The Slippery Slope
- Pay No Attention To That Slippery Slope Behind The Curtain
- It Was A Slippery Slope
- If It’s News Is it Still A Slippery Slope?
- The Normalizing Of Pedophilia Continues
- Removing The Stigma From “Minor Attracted People”?
- Resources On Religious Liberty
“In the long term, we should expect to win this argument because we have a great ally: natural revelation, natural law, the nature of things, and millennia of human experience.”
Soon and very soon: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.“
This full exhibition of the digital culture is not the blame for the monster in American society. The digital culture is an aid to assist the charge for unbelieving and autonomous justice! This illusion for autonomy and the humanistic ideal gained momentum long before the Bears beat the Packers.
The transcendentalism of the 18th ce, Emerson, etc. was a radical move–change of position in the decline of truth and the reality of nature and God. “Thus is was that, in Transcendentalism Unitarianism found a new ally, a new source of inspiration , and a new frame of reference which would enable it to outlive Deism, its original ally, and to gain a new religious, political and social prominence in America.”1 This mind revealed that God did not exits outside of human consciousness. The transcendentalist regimen sought to rebuild all previous theology, Calivinist, evangelical and Unitarian, resulting in an autonomous and humanistic system of thought and view of life. This battle invaded into American theology, New England and then the streets! There is no question that Transcendentalism inspired the liberalism or modernism which has dominated American theology during the first half of the twentieth century. “In the emergence of modern liberalism the democratization of theology, which began in the age of Jackson reached its dreary conclusion in the barrenness of evangelical vigor and scholarship which has characterized so much of contemporary theological activity.”2
Meanwhile, the worse was yet to come; Transcendentalism gave force for the new and mightier humanistic, autonomous General: The Theory of Evolution. Charge! – now we can make reality whatever we will!–Let the social radicalism begin!! Unlike the prior views – Darwinism was a clear denial of the biblical ideas of God and creation, and it was virtually an assertion that there was no purpose in life. The development of the digital culture (and NASA for that matter) has its home in Darwinism and or the theory of evolution! This religious monster in America became the basis for the perfection of society here on earth–without God! The Social Gospel – National Counsel of Churches – secular goals with biblical principles. Now the view is much wider and many gone that way. What is my point? The Theory of Evolution created the illusion that we can make reality whatever we will. The theory of evolution conquered the Christian ethic in America. The real basis for most of what we are witnessing today – this further decay in American culture–and its hatred for God is derived from an evolutionary view of life.
Let the remnant rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks – for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 C. Gregg Singer “A Theological Interpretation of American History” p 35
2 p 101