Many Christians have been appalled over the recent USA Supreme Court’s ruling concerning the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as well as their decision regarding California’s Proposition 8 and how this will affect the future of the traditional family.
DOMA was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1996. The law allowed states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Act, which in effect barred same-sex marriages from receiving federal marriage benefits, was unconstitutional.
The DOMA court case is traced back to Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same-sex couple living in New York, who were lawfully married in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. Same-sex marriages are legally recognized by the Canadian government.
In 2009, Spyer died, leaving her estate to Windsor. Since the State of New York recognized their marriage, Windsor sought to claim the federal state tax exemption for surviving spouses. But Section 3 of DOMA barred her from doing so since it provides that the term “spouse” only applies to a marriage between a man and a woman. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said the exemption did not apply to same-sex marriages.
As it turned out, the IRS not only denied Windsor’s claim, but told her she had to pay over $363,000 in estate taxes. This is what led to the file suit against the federal government in The United States v. Windsor case. Because of the Supreme Court’s latest DOMA ruling, some advocate that Windsor should now get her money back.
Originally in 2008, Proposition 8 which says, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,”was voted on and passed in the state’s elections. But it was appealed by opponents and ended up in the Supreme Court. As it turned out, by default it upholds a trial court’s declaration that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Based on the court’s ruling, state officials are believed to allow same-sex unions to resume.
The Supreme Court’s opinion on Proposition 8 reads, “We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.”
Many believe these two landmark decisions will not only enable legalizing same-sex marriage in California, but that it could ultimately open the way toward legalizing it nationwide. Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, expects that the court will ultimately approve of the legalization of same-sex marriage from “coast to coast.”
And yet, in the midst of this news, Bible-believing Christians are facing it as a challenge with a positive mind and hope to reverse the ever-increasing decline in traditional marriage and family values.
One organization that is doing its best to uphold and encourage these values is Focus on the Family founded by Dr. James Dobson. In their e-newsletter to which I subscribe, I received an appeal from the organization’s president, Jim Daly, regarding their current undertaking, The Family Project™. It is a bold effort to help strengthen marriages and bring hope to families worldwide.
In his appeal, I found Daly’s comments most intriguing and encouraging. Here are some excerpts from the newsletter:
Together, the Court neglected to uphold the will of the people through their elected representatives in Congress and the public votes of more than seven million California citizens.
Yet, however disappointing the rulings may be to those of us who embrace natural marriage, the decisions should not elicit a spirit of despair.
To be clear, the Court rulings responded to two complex cases asking narrow legal questions. Legal experts will spend days dissecting the pages of opinion and case law. And yet, for most Americans, the big picture is more of what the Court did not do:
It did not create a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage as it did for abortion in 1973.
It also did not declare same-sex marriage a civil right on the order of ethnicity or nationality.
Today’s two rulings do not touch the 38 states across our nation that enshrine natural marriage as law. And the two rulings don’t diminish the job of the Church to proclaim God’s truth to a culture that desperately needs it.
The critical role of man-woman marriage is not diminished by these rulings today. The essential need for children to have both a married mother and father is not lessened by the opinions.
Proponents of same-sex marriage are hailing today’s rulings as a turning point for the institution of marriage and, indeed, the debate will continue.
That’s why, especially in the days to come, the Church will have a new opportunity to shine its light into a confused culture.
It is time for everyone who supports the natural definition of marriage to recommit and affirm the sanctity of their own marriages. We must humbly confess the damage we have done to marriage by our own collective careless treatment of it. As we continue to distance ourselves from God’s design for marriage and family, Christians will need to take their oath and commitment to marriage more seriously. Though the divorce rate among committed Christians is lower than among the general populace, it remains far too high.
The single greatest argument we can present to the world on this issue of marriage is to personally live out marriage in all its God-ordained fullness and radiant beauty.
I applaud the efforts that Daly and Focus on the Family are making to give us hope for families today. At least they are not sitting by and bemoaning the disastrous direction the leaders and citizens are heading in their decisions. It will take a lot of work and prayer for believers to take their stand according to God’s Word, especially as we see both America and Canada giving up their moral standards.
Even though we are told in the Bible that “perilous times” will come before the return of Christ (2 Timothy 3:1-7), we are also told the Good News of the Kingdom will go into all the world before the end of the age comes (Matthew 24:14). If we can use the opportunity presented with these endangering social shifts to uphold the traditional values for the sake of our families and practice the Biblical standards for strengthening marriages, then we would do well to share the Good News in any way possible. Please keep this issue in your daily prayers and activities. I believe it’s part of what we’re told as Kingdom Seekers to do until our Master comes for we’ve been assigned, “Occupy till I come!” (Luke 19:13).
Good News to you!