President Obama was correct when he said the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision landed like a thunderbolt. The decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage nationwide, is indeed a watershed in our national life. Although a majority of Americans now support gay marriage, many of us regard this decision as a moral and judicial tragedy.
From a legal standpoint, it represents five unelected justices’ imposing on the nation a new definition of marriage. The judgment is not rooted in sound legal principle but in the opinions of five lawyers arrogating to themselves the right to enact social policy. The Supreme Court has no right to redefine marriage for all fifty states, but that is exactly what it did.
From a moral standpoint, the decision is a complete subversion of the good, the right, and the true with respect to marriage. Marriage is the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. Its connection to procreation and children has been revealed to us in nature, reason, and common sense. The Bible further reveals that marriage is an icon of the gospel—a symbol of Christ’s covenant love for His church (Eph. 5:31–32).
The court’s decision attempts to turn all of that upside down. As a result, it stands against reason and common sense. More importantly, it stands against the purposes of the One who created marriage to begin with (Gen. 2:24–25).
Although I am disappointed with this decision, I remain confident that Christians will continue to bear witness to the truth about marriage—even if the law of our land is now arrayed against us. Still, many Christians are left wondering how to move forward into this new reality.
I am a pastor, and this question is exactly what I have heard from the people in my church. Our members by and large don’t have questions about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage. They get that. Nor do they have questions about their obligation to love their neighbors, to seek their good, and to be at peace with everyone (Mark 12:29–31; Luke 6:33; Rom. 12:18). They get all of that as well. Their question is how to live out what Jesus has called them to be when people treat them with hostility.
This excerpt is from Denny Burk’s contribution to the November issue of Tabletalk magazine. Click here to read it in full. Each month, Tabletalk features articles from trusted Christian authors and teachers, daily devotionals, and a companion digital edition. Subscribe now for our special 6-month offer and receive the complete November issue that explores The Christian Sexual Ethic as our gift to you plus 6 future issues (that’s 7 issues in total). Upcoming Tabletalk issues include studies on apologetics and Christian contentment. Subscribe now for $12.