Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Death of DOMA


"It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race." So wrote Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling, declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency. "In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us."

Scalia's barbed defense of traditional marriage makes him a hero to many on the religious right.  Three of his colleagues concurred with his position, of course, as the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act lost by the narrowest of margins down clearly partisan lines.  

Wherever folks make a claim for America as a Christian nation, there is deep lament this morning.  God will punish us for our iniquity, some claim.  How can anyone possibly condone homosexual marriage when it's so clear in His Word that it's contrary to his will and his love?

What happened in the gay marriage debate is quite incredible really.  A populace simply changed its mind and did so with blinding speed.  In Minnesota, for instance, as late as 2006, 54% of the people opposed gay marriage.  By last fall, 51% favored it.  What brought about such a sea change will be analyzed for a long, long time.  What's clear, however, is that we live in a new day and that yesterday religious conservatives lost.

Scalia's sharp criticism could well have been written about someone on the other side of the argument just a year or two ago, when the political tables were turned. In some places, anyone who dissented from the majority view--that gay marriage is an abomination--could well have been and probably was regaled similarly:  "Hate your neighbor or come with us."

As of today, things have changed.

One of the new speakers the TED website featured lately is a man named Dan Pallotta, who talks about fund-raising for non-profits.  His argument goes like this:  we expect non-profits to act, well, differently; we love corporations who make big money, but we're uncomfortable when non-profits determine that their greatest success will come by way of marketing ventures that corporations routinely create and use.  We want our non-profits to make money by selling pies, not mass marketing.  That's dirty.  That's crass.

I thought his presentation interesting.  I rather disliked his blaming American Puritanism for the problems he locates in our minds and souls, but it was an interesting argument.  At the beginning, he referred quite tangentially to the fact that he was gay and in a committed relationship; but his being gay had nothing to do with the problems he located, or the solutions he offered.

It's very difficult for me to argue that Mr. Pallotta and his companion should somehow be kept from the same legal arrangements and financial structures that any couple have or are promised.  Quite frankly, I don't think the Bible counts on this one--sounds apostate, I know, but this isn't a theocracy and it hasn't been since 1630 or so, when the Puritan's attempt basically failed.  Why shouldn't they be able to benefit, legally and financially, from their commitment to each other?

Slippery slope arguments are all slippery, but that doesn't mean they're wrong; and there is a slippery slope here.  If marriage is defined primarily as a sexual union, then I, like many others, find it difficult to understand how we can continue to keep those radical Mormons from practicing polygamy, something their religion, they claim, clearly supports.  I too wonder where we might be going.

But I also recognize the hate good people--good Christian people--have often harbored for gay and lesbian human beings.  Everyone knows that thousands of people get married every day of the year with little thought for the Creator of heaven and earth, people with little or no faith whatsoever, people who believe basically in themselves.  Can anyone really argue that marriage basically is a "Christian" institution?  

I also know that divorce rates among Christian people aren't a whole lot different than they are in the public square, and that good Christian people quite regularly avoid Christ's own directive about marriage, especially about marrying again after divorce.  

We pick and choose when it comes to the Holy Bible, and we always will because every last word of it requires our spin, our interpretation.  Even the disciples--four of them--told slightly different stories.

This morning, the sun rose beautifully.  I don't know if what Justice Kennedy said for the majority yesterday will set God's teeth on edge or lead him to hurl fiery bolts of lightning, but I think not.  What happened yesterday forces Christian people to do what they always have done--to work hard at determining what it means to be obedient to God's call to love others in our time and place.  There's nothing new about that.  

The death of DOMA forces us--all of us--to accept each other, especially those too many good Christian people have often found unacceptable.  

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Problem runs deeper then loving a sinner. With this most public school and some Christian schools will be forced to teach our kids what a "family" is. Those teachers will have to cover homosexuality with young kids when they learn what a family is. Acceptance and normalcy will become the real issue here for our kids, blurring what God truly has called a sin. They will be taught that they can choose their sexuality however they want and it will be ok no matter what they choose. This is not a slippery slope, it is a cliff.

Anonymous said...

I "love" Dexter my pet dog! Should we not be allowed a legal marriage?

JW Dirkse said...

Maybe God is just deeply sad like the father that wants what is best for his children only to have them reject his advice and guidance. He wants more for us, but we insist on doing it our way and labeling anyone who disagrees a hater. God doesn't often send the lightening bolt, but actions do have mental and physical consequences for the individual and community. I've seen the consequences of drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex in the lives of my own children. I ache clear to the bone.

Anonymous said...

Please list the Bible verses that you are referring to in respect to the following paragraph ...
"and that good Christian people, etc. .... especially about marriage again after divorce."

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Remember the old song "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God" Why is it that we know so little about the "Families" of Jesus apostles? What kind of families do you suppose the were?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Annony # 3 has a "list of the Bible verses" about Who Jesus followers were "married" to and about their families, as it seems that this is really Important.

Anonymous said...

Is the gender of Dexter relevant to your Question? I think you are barking up the wrong tree, as they say.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the pro-gay people on this blog respond to whether or not our schools should teach about married gays being a legitimate family. Should we teach our kids that it is ok to be gay and that they should choose their own sexual orientation?

wes said...

Doesn't it bother people that these were the EXACT same arguments used against inter-racial marriage?!

Gay marriage is in no way a slippery slope towards polygamy. It is does not now, nor will it ever, allow people to marry their pet dogs. (Though I'm sure Dexter is very nice).

We have lots of laws that discriminate against animals. In exact same way that there's nothing immoral or unconstitutional about denying a dog a driver's license, there's nothing wrong with denying said dog a marriage license.

And there's nothing wrong with a law the limits the number of people to a particular institution. I'm in a coffee shop as I write this and there's a sign by the door that says "Limit: 54 people." No problem.

But there would be immoral and unconstitutional if this coffee shop's sign read "Limit: 54 white people" or "Limit: 54 men." And that's what DOMA did. It hung a figurative sign outside marriage that read "Limit: 2 hetrosexual people."

The supreme court -- very rightly -- simply deleted the word "hetrosexual." That's all.

Ending that discrimination doesn't in any way impinge on anyone's individual religious or personal freedom.

David Rupert said...

To call out "Gay marriage" as wrong doesnt mean we "hate" gays. It's just that marriage is primarily a religious institution (that the state has adopted) and now they are redefining what it is.

There's no hate there.

Anonymous said...

If you are implying that the apostles may have been gay, i think you should view Jewish law in the time that Christ was on earth

Anonymous said...

I've read what all you men/women have to say....what does our FATHER have to say. I Cor. 6:18-20.: "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. DO YOU NOT KNOW that your body is a temple of the HOLY SPIRIT, who is in you, whom you have received from GOD? You are NOT your own, you were BOUGHT at a price. THEREFORE HONOR GOD with your body. AND, I COr. 6: 9-10; Do you not know that the wicked WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of GOD? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral nor idolators or adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders WILL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.............there is IDEAL and REAL my friends, and there are man's laws and GOD's laws, WHICH WILL YOU CHOSE?

wes said...

In the choice between man's laws and God's laws, I myself have chosen the latter. But that's my choice. Other people are allowed to make their own choices. That's what freedom is all about.

Anonymous said...

So, I take it, you are fine with the moral decay of our country then? Thanks wes for your input.

Anonymous said...

and 1 more THANG....you talk about FREEDOM. Why is it in schools across the country that the BIBLE is forbidden and the Koran is being forced upon the kids to learn and become indoctrinated to it? Just wondering, ya know!

wes said...

Whatever are you talking about?

The country is not in moral decay. No more so than it was 10, 50, 100 or however many years ago you care to compare to. For everything you can name that's gotten worse I can name at least one that's gotten better.

And it simply isn't true that kids across the country are being indoctrinated by the Koran. Religious freedom is in the constitution and is alive and well. Religious institutions of all sorts are free to establish schools. Parents are free to decide whether to send their kids there . . . or not. Everyone can choose to go to whatever church or mosque or synagogue they want. Or not. So what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

I Cor. 6:18-20 & I Cor. 6: 9-10

To the blogger that quoted the scripture texts I want to thank you. The worst lies we tell are the ones we believe in ourselves. God set the record straight on this issue and our government and schools can do whatever they want.

"Parents, raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." I am in the sunset of my life at age 64 and have raised 4 kids (home-schooled) and they are all married now with Christian spouses.

Thank you Lord! Each of you have personal decisions to make. If you want the government to teach your children, go for it. (I am retired public school teacher.) Your children will be taught that homosexuality and promiscuous sex are normal and are just some of the options...

God save this nation!

Anonymous said...

I am still waiting to hear if the gay rights supporters think that it will be ok to teach our children in school that gay married couples are a family and that it is ok for our children then to pick their own sexuality. It is a simple question.. Please let me know your thoughts

wes said...

I don't consider myself a gay rights supporter. I'm a constitution supporter and equal rights supporter -- even when people use their rights to do things I don't condone and wouldn't want to do myself -- and for that reason I totally support the rights of two consenting adults of the same gender to marry if they so choose.

That said . . . I have two kids and no one needs to teach them the reality that families look all sorts of ways. They see it every day. They know kids with two moms, kids with only one parent, couples with no kids, etc. My daughter's best friend is an ethnically Vietnamese girl who was adopted by a white man and black woman. People are free to judge those family units if they so wish. But it is a fact that they are families.

I personally haven't talked to my kids about picking sexuality and would strongly prefer that schools avoid that topic.

The bottom line is that parents should educate themselves as best they can and then take responsibility for teaching their children as best they can.

My kids are in public charter schools and happens sometimes that they are taught things I've disagreed with. So we talk about it. We review what the school taught. I say what I think. And then we do some research in the Bible or in scientific literature or whatever the appropriate sources are.

For their whole lives kids are going to hear all sorts of things -- at school, in the media, from their friends -- and some will be right and some will be wrong. A parents job isn't to completely shelter them from that (which is impossible anyway) but to give the grounding, knowledge and moral center to be able to tell the difference.

Anonymous said...

Text message from GOD, getem' everyday when I open up HIS word, Rev. 3:15-16.

Anonymous said...

I personally haven't talked to my kids about picking sexuality and would strongly prefer that schools avoid that topic.

"The bottom line is that parents should educate themselves as best they can and then take responsibility for teaching their children as best they can.

My kids are in public charter schools and happens sometimes that they are taught things I've disagreed with. So we talk about it. We review what the school taught. I say what I think. And then we do some research in the Bible or in scientific literature or whatever the appropriate sources are."

Wes, you are pie in the sky.

The influence in public and charter schools is overwhelming. Group norming rules! Not, what does God require?

"Parents raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

I spent 30+ years in public education and when kids in their formative years age 4 on up to age 18, are indoctrinated according to the government's and world's standards they have no choice. Peer pressure is enormous and you are not there when needed to guide and direct.

Young plants started from seed need to be"hot-housed", then hardened, and then put out in the garden to grow. Kids are no different. they need parental proximity.

One thing Christians seem to over-whelming agree on (which is very little), by 90% - 10% margin, is that it is okay for their covenant children to be trained in pagan public schools.

Your thinking is damaging many young kids born to Christian parents.

Anonymous said...

Kind of interesting to realize that today, too many young people are choosing to live together as marriage is "just a piece of paper". Now we see, homo-sexual couples, desiring what couldn't be theirs before, the little piece of paper called marriage. Now, it will be interesting to see that if that little piece of paper in the homo-sexual couples has a 50% success rate as well.

wes said...

What's with all the anonymous posters? . . .

My thinking is exactly what ultimately benefits kids born to Christian parents.

Because my thinking places the primary responsibility of raising kids on those parents (who, if they are doing their jobs right, will raise their kids rooted in Christian values). You are totally right, kids desperately need parental proximity. The challenges they face growing up (peer pressure, etc.) are enormous.

Those who argue that homosexuality is immoral and therefore the government should ban gay marriage -- they are the ones hurting Christian families. Because they are making government an arbiter of morality. If you are a Christian, or anyone whose morality does not align with those who hold governmental power, you lose in that equation.

So . . . yeah, our local charter school is wonderful. It is good (though not perfect) at preventing group norming. They instill a love of reading and hands-on learning. (Last year my 9 year-old built a robot in tech class. How cool is that!) They teach nothing about religion or sexuality, which is great -- we cover that in church and Sunday school and at home.

That works for us. For someone else, maybe a church based school or home schooling works better. Great. I'm all for it.

This is what I wish some one would answer:

If we are all free to pursue our own happiness then don't we all win? How does it hurt you if a gay couple that's already living together is allowed to legally marry?

Anonymous said...


"If we are all free to pursue our own happiness then don't we all win? How does it hurt you if a gay couple that's already living together is allowed to legally marry?"

God calls that sin, pure and simple. They are modeling a lifestyle to our children that God does not approve of.
Gay marriage weakens the entire family structure and ultimately our society.

wes said...

" They are modeling a lifestyle to our children that God does not approve of."

So would you support national laws forbidding people from coveting their neighbor's house and mandate that everyone honor their mother and father? Would you outlaw citizens from bowing down to a carved image? Jail those who take the Lord's name in vain? Those all deal directly with God's commandments (and so are arguably more significant sins).

Look, the rest of the people on this blog might want to live in a Christian version of Iran, where priests make the laws based on their interpretation of the Bible and force everyone to live by them. I do not. That's the antithesis of what this great country is about.

However many gay couples there were modeling their lifestyle before DOMA was overturned, there are exactly that many after. However strong your family structure was with DOMA, it is exactly that strong without.

I fail to see the means through which another person's right to choose marriage has an impact on your own.

Anonymous said...

What about a business that does not believe or want to support gay couples with company benefits? The government will now be able to force them to do that. How does that effect the business's freedoms?

Anonymous said...

Wes, we are a nation of laws which are based on the 10 commandments.... right? Nobody ever said the USA is a theocracy... you seem to intimate.

wes said...

To the first anonymous poster:

Individuals have the right to pursue happiness. Business do not.

Additionally, the business argument works both ways. More than 300 major American companies (Marriott, Morgan Stanley and Johnson & Johnson among them) filed supreme court briefs SUPPORTING gay marriage because they wanted to give equal rights to gay couples and felt that DOMA prevented them from doing so.

That said, businesses in this country are way over regulated and I'd totally support freeing them up to give their employees whatever benefits they wished regardless of marriage status.



To the second anonymous poster:

We are a nation of laws based on the constitution and our Declaration of Independence. The authors of those documents most certainly had the 10 commandments as one of their inspirations.

Thankfully, the U.S. is not a theocracy. My point was that if you start advocating for laws solely because of what the Bible says then you are essentially advocating for a theocracy. That's a legitimate point of view, but it's one that goes against what our country was founded to be.

Anonymous said...

Wes wrote:
"I don't consider myself a gay rights supporter. I'm a constitution supporter and equal rights supporter -- even when people use their rights to do things I don't condone and wouldn't want to do myself -- and for that reason I totally support the rights of two consenting adults of the same gender to marry if they so choose."

Wesley, do you support the rights of those who murder innocent pre-born children at the alter of convenience?

I do not understand your logic? I think you need to re-think your under-pinnings.

Wes said...

The logic isn't hard to understand:

• We are a country in which every adult citizen, regardless of sexual orientation, is free and equal under the law.

• Denying marriage to an entire class of citizens based on their sexual orientation is discrimination.

• Allowing a person of one sexual orientation to marry the consenting adult of their choice doesn't subtract from the rights of a person of another sexual orientation to do the same.

Therefore, gay marriage should be allowed.

I'm not sure why you are bringing abortion into the equation. But -- and this should be obvious -- murder shouldn't be allowed because it takes away the rights of another individual (eg. the right to life). Giving a gay person the right to marry doesn't interfere with your own right to marriage one bit.

Anonymous said...

My marriage is not affected directly by gay marriage but I never said it was, but my tax money [social security benefits etc.] will be spent on a counterfeit marriage arrangement which God did not ordain.

Abortion was brought into the equation because it is a good example of an act that is permissible under man's law but not under God's law. As with abortion, gay marriage may be permissible under man's law but not under God's law.

This is not a matter of rights or discrimination, it is a matter of being obedient to God.

Anonymous said...

Pastors will be sued for not performing gay marriages and public schools will be required to teach students that gay marriage is legal and a viable option.

The societal impact was obvious in Sodom.

Wes said...

There are lots of things permissible under United States law that are not under God's law. Are you seriously saying our country should become a theocracy and align the two? Do you really want everything that's written in the Bible to become the law of the land?

I'm utterly amazed at how all the anonymous commenters on this post are ceding to the government power over morality. You are equating what our government allows its free citizens to do with what they should do. Whatever happened to practicing personal responsibility? To giving every individual the right to pursue their own happiness? Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.

So, if you think gay marriage is wrong, don't enter into one. If you seek to live in obedience to God -- and I'd hope everyone would -- then live in your hearts and in your lives in accordance with His laws and teachings.

Are you all really so free of sin that you feel you can judge other people and impose your own righteousness upon them?


As for the other points:

• Your social security money is already going towards marriages that weren't ordained by God. Because many marriages aren't conducted in a church. This is yet another reason why government should get out of regulating marriage altogether.

• Gay marriage has been legal in at least one jurisdiction in the United States for 10 years now. Find me a credible account of a single pastor working for a church who has been successfully sued for not performing a gay marriage. It hasn't happened. It won't happen. Pastors can, and do, decide all the time whom they will and will not marry.

• Gay marriage appears nowhere in the story of Sodom.

• As a matter of fact, gay marriage either will or will not be a legal and viable option in any particular state. That fact is readily available and public knowledge whether schools teach it or not.

Anonymous said...

Wes, you have expended more energy than anyone I know defending one's right to sin and calling it freedom. Would Jesus do the same?

I trust you have better things to do with your time.

Wes said...

Jesus most certainly would -- Matthew 25:40.

It is exactly HIS example that gives me my energy.

Anonymous said...


Matthew 25:40

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I do not think gay marriage is what Jesus had in mind in this verse when he referenced, "you did (it)for me." Since when does approving gay marriage benefit Christ?

JW Dirkse stated in the third post that "God is deeply sad like the father that wants what is best for His children only to have then reject His advice and guidance- "... but actions do have mental and physical consequences for the individual and community. I've seen the consequences of drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex..."

Anonymous said...


Matthew 25:40

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I do not think gay marriage is what Jesus had in mind in this verse when he referenced, "you did (it)for me." Since when does approving gay marriage benefit Christ?

JW Dirkse stated in the third post that "God is deeply sad like the father that wants what is best for His children only to have then reject His advice and guidance- "... but actions do have mental and physical consequences for the individual and community. I've seen the consequences of drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex..."

J. C. Schaap said...

Please feel free to continue, but I just want to say that I think the discussion this post created has fostered some thoughtful conversation which has, somewhat surprisingly, more light than heat. And for that, I thank you all deeply!