The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that redefined marriage and overruled states' rights has prompted confused and concerned Christians from around the nation to contact Focus. One of the most popular questions we've received is, "What can be done to reverse or respond to the ruling?" Read more.
We're hearing from many Christians who are concerned, confused and wondering what to do next, following the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.
That may describe you, too.
Focus on the Family's judicial analyst, Bruce Hausknecht, is a leader on the Thriving Values™ team, and brings decades of legal experience and sound analysis to the many topics impacting the family, including marriage and religious freedom.
We've asked Bruce to reply to one of the most frequent questions we're receiving: "What can be done to reverse or respond to the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges?"
Here are a few of his suggestions:
The U.S. Congress can pass a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman. Thirty-eight states must then ratify it.
A future Supreme Court can overturn the Obergefell decision. This would hand the issue back to the states to resolve.
U.S. Supreme Court justices could be impeached. While this is possible, it is not likely in this instance, as impeachment is usually reserved for crimes or corruption.
Congress can pass laws to protect citizens and organizations from government hostility where the definition of marriage is concerned. On June 17, 2015, the pending "First Amendment Defense Act" was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) in their respective chambers.
States can pass laws to protect pastors, churches and religious organizations from being forced to solemnize, celebrate or provide goods or services for any marriage ceremony that violates their conscience, as Oklahoma and Texas have done.
Christians need to think forward to the 2016 elections. The next president and U.S. Senate could nominate and confirm up to four of the nine Supreme Court justices — who have lifetime appointments — and up to one-third of all other federal judges.
Bruce has also recently authored an easy-to-use resource kit entitled, "Religious Freedom: Protecting How We Practice Our Faith."
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there is a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The Court's sweeping ruling has the net effect of legalizing same-sex marriage at the federal and state levels across the entire country. The ruling effectively negates 31 state marriage amendments plus other states' laws safeguarding man/woman marriage, and imposes a Roe v. Wade 50-state mandate, requiring every state to license and recognize same-sex marriages.
Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the liberal wing of the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision that one-man one woman marriage laws violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The majority decision, written by Kennedy, held that marriage is a "fundamental right" guaranteed by the "due process" clause of the 14th and can't be denied to same-sex couples.
Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor joined in the majority decision.
Justices Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas each filed dissenting opinions.
"This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it."– G.K. Chesterton, The Superstition of Divorce
Marriage brings together the two halves of humanity — male and female — to form a family. Women and men are different; both are good, necessary and valuable. They complement each other — spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically — and marriage uniquely unites a man and a woman so they become "one-flesh."
Marriage is more than a living arrangement: It's a formula that brings a mom and dad together to raise children. Children who grow up with their biological, married mom and dad do better in so many areas of life: education, health, finances and emotional development. There is a mountain of social science data to support this. Moms and dads are not interchangeable and children have a right to both.
The societal cost to tinkering with marriage has been huge. The deconstruction and dismantling of marriage through no-fault divorce, cohabitation and absent fathers has caused tremendous damage to individuals, families and society. Experimenting with marriage doesn't have a good track record.
Marriage is about more than romance or legal benefits: It's about children. Marriage unites a husband and wife to each other, and also to their children. Marriage keeps the couple who made the baby, with the baby. While not every marriage has children, every child has a mother and a father. We work to encourage marriage to ensure that kids grow up with their mom and a dad.
Children who live with their married father and mother are much less likely to live in poverty. Marriage is the ultimate "social justice" issue; the best way to eliminate poverty is to work toward strengthening one-man, one-woman marriage. As President Obama stated, in a Father's Day Speech in 2008, "We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison."
Redefining marriage affects freedom — including religion and speech. When the government changes a law, it puts all its weight behind enforcing that law. In states with marriage redefinition, important freedoms are already being lost. See "9 Ways Redefining Marriage Impacts Your World."
Redefining marriage impacts every aspect of society — including media messages. From Glee to Honeymaid Graham Crackers, and from The New York Times to Modern Family, our advertising, news, television and movies already promote and celebrate homosexuality. We can expect our children to see even more of this if the U.S. Supreme Court redefines marriage to be something it's never been before.
Children and religious freedom will be most negatively impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court decision redefining marriage:
Harms Children: Redefining marriage denies children of same-sex couples either a mother or a father. Decades of social science research has shown children do best when they're raised in a home with their married mom and dad. Government policies should reflect the benefits of both a mom and a dad.
Forced Closures: Faith-based adoption agencies are being forced to close their doors when faced with laws and mandates requiring them to violate their religious beliefs by placing children in homes with same-sex parents. This pressure will increase in the coming days.
Legal/Public Challenges: Christian business owners – photographers, bakers, inn keepers, florists and others – who politely decline to use their talents and businesses to participate in same-sex ceremonies experience harassment, legal challenges and crippling fines.
Parental Rights: Parents who want a say in what their young children are being taught in school about homosexuality have found legalized same-sex marriage is a "trump card," which overrides their parental rights, leaving them no say in the matter.
Tax-Exempt Status: Pastors and churches will eventually face pressure to perform and celebrate same-sex marriages or face government retribution, such as the loss of tax-exempt status, or possibly be prosecuted for discrimination.
Accrediting/Licensing: Private religious school accreditation, professional licenses and even employment criteria will increasingly require affirmation of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as a condition for approval.
Counseling: There will be a continued push to ban counseling for teenagers who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, and who desire therapy to address this.
Grant Exclusions: Faith-based charities that adhere to God's design for sexuality, marriage and family will be excluded from government grants that help serve the poor and needy at home and abroad.
Endangered Freedoms: Freedom of speech will become endangered as the government passes regulatory and even criminal laws punishing Christian views of marriage, deeming it as "hate speech" in any type of media, including radio, print, television, and the Web. This is already the case in Canada and the U.K.
Those who adhere to a biblical view of sexuality, marriage and family will need to increase their efforts to share this truth with love, as opponents of God's design push to silence and penalize supporters of one-man, one-woman marriage.
First and foremost, we must remember: God is sovereign. His design for marriage has always been ― and will always be ― between a man and a woman. Ultimately, no court can change that truth. So regardless of legal outcomes, Focus on the Family will continue to address the importance of one-man, one-woman marriage to families, society and especially for children who have a right to both a mother and a father.
We've also culled together for you a list of highly applicable resources to help you assess and respond to coming changes in our culture:
3 Helpful Tips For Discussing The Marriage Decision: The U.S. Supreme Court Ruling will be the talk of the town for media commentators, court watchers and political pundits. So, what about your world? Will you engage family, friends and co-workers about the ruling? And, if so, how will you approach the topic? Read more.
Help Protect Your Church/Ministry from Sexual Orientation/Gender-Identity Lawsuits: Alliance Defending Freedom has released a legal guide for churches, Christian schools and other Christian ministries to help shield them from lawsuits. Download this free kit. Dig deeper: More helpful resources for churches.
Teach Your Children About God's Design For Marriage: Don't assume your children will understand or agree with biblical marriage just by attending church or youth group. They're bombarded at school, online and with friends and peers with messages, such as "Marriage is whatever you want it to be." But what does God have to say about it? And why should we care? Download this two-part kit and start reclaiming the culture, one marriage at a time!
Rightly Navigate The Culture: When you take advantage of any number of Focus on the Family's Thriving Values resources, you'll be better equipped to engage the culture with God's wisdom and grace.
Join our Thriving Values Facebook Community for immediate results, timely articles and resources to share, and much more!
Contact Your State Family Policy Council: Get involved locally with one of our network of 38 state policy councils (associated with Focus on the Family). Grassroots support and legislation is one of the most effective ways to turn our nation around, as well as preserve First Amendment rights for future generations.
"How to Talk to Your Children About Homosexuality"
(All Scripture references are in English Standard Version)
Marriage is depicted and woven throughout all of Scripture ― from the creation account in Genesis to the Song of Solomon, and on into the teaching of Jesus and Paul to the final culmination of a wedding feast in Revelation. Here is a small sampling of some key passages; read and see the importance of marriage between a man and a woman.
1. Genesis 1: 26-28 ― God makes humanity in His image, male and female.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
2. Genesis 2:15; 21-25 ― God creates woman for man and man for woman and institutes marriage.
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." …So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
"This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man."
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
3. Song of Solomon, the "Song of Songs" ― The entire book is a poetic celebration of romantic and marital love and commitment. Here are just a few lines from chapter two:
He – The Lover
As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among the young women.
She – The Beloved
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
4. Matthew 19:3-6 — When asked about divorce, Jesus points back to Genesis and creation, highlighting both the permanence and the male-female component of marriage as designed by God.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
5. Ephesians 5:22-33 ― Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. Just as Jesus did, Paul quotes Moses' writing about marriage in Genesis and adds that marriage is a picture of an eternal reality – Christ's union with His Church.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
6. Revelation 21 — This chapter paints a picture of a coming wedding between Christ, the bridegroom, and the Church, His bride. Here are a few examples from chapters 19-22:
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
"Talking to Your Church About Homosexuality"
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If you've been a supporter of Focus on the Family® for any length of time, you know we're committed to promoting and strengthening God's design for marriage and family – through ministry to individual couples and families, and through speaking into the culture.
Whether it's educating, equipping and empowering a husband and wife, so they can raise healthy, resilient children or it's working with state-based groups to champion marriage and family in state legislatures, we are committed to being a trusted voice on whom you can always rely.
This guide helps parents address one of the most challenging political, social, moral and personal topics of our day. And while this resource is designed for parents, the principles, real-life scenarios and possible responses are equally useful for grandparents, Sunday school teachers and Christians who have children in their care.
As 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts, Christians — in all ages and stages of life — need to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that they have. This includes articulating why God's design for marriage matters and why it's in the best interest of children and all of society. With this in mind, Focus on the Family has created this FREE two-part "Teach Your Children About Marriage" resource to get the conversation started. FREE Download.
Society seems to be struggling with a question “what is marriage?” Are there consequences to changing the definition from one-man, one-woman marriage to something else entirely? Some of the most common questions are answered in this easy to understand eBook. FREE download.
How vulnerable are ministries, churches, religious nonprofits and individual Christians now that a new concept ―"sexual liberty" — is trumping religious freedom? Take proactive measures: Prepare today for the legal intrusions some of your fellow believers and Christian leaders around the country have already faced, and for other threats on the near horizon. FREE Download
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