According to the National Journal (http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-opinions-20150428) the Supreme Court is split on the same-sex marriage issue. The conclusion of the article points to the 14th Amendment stating it will be the deciding factor.
The 14th Amendment is one of three “reconstruction” amendments, passed after the Civil War to insure that the rights of blacks would be protected in our Constitution. There was more to them though. The three amendments had a serious impact on state rights reaching far beyond the protection of the rights of blacks now that slavery was abolished.
There are several paths that have been traveled to get us to this point in time that starts with the church’s failure to protect marriage as a “religious institution”.
For centuries church disciplines has strict codes regarding marriage. Some churches refuse to conduct marriage to individuals who are not professing Christians. Marriage was not seen as a right in the Church and the role of God in marriage, especially related to the covenant with God, required scriptural guidelines be adhered regarding this covenant. Churches exercised an authority in granting marriage. The same held true with Church Membership, Confirmation, Baptism and Communion. The Church has always had the authority to make the deciding rule regarding any of these matters and the governance on those issues is recognized in the 1st Amendment where Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. On these matters Congress had no authority. The authority of the church is restricted to the Authority of God, not to the whims and will of the people at any particular moment in time. Like our Government, our church leaders may be democratically elected, but those elections do not translate into democratic application of the Rule of Law. Both our government and the Church is accountable to a higher authority.
To our founders this was Natural Law through revealed Law which both recognized and adhered to God’s role in the creation of those Laws. Our founders recognized the need for religion in the provision of a moral compass for the nation. Our form of government was only possible through a moral and virtuous people. Our founders also realized that it was not the Governments responsibility, certainly no the Federal Government, to interfere with the Church.
With marriage, all of this began to to change as the church allowed for the Institution of Marriage to become secularized, effectively removing God from the covenant relationship of marriage. If such a thing could happen to marriage than it can happen to the other doctrines in our Churches.
Our Constitution limits government to enumerated powers. Congress is supposed to only act in the areas enumerated to them and in those areas, as Madison explained in Federalist 39, we had a National Government. In all other areas the Government was to be Federal with the remaining powers (10th Amendment) reserved to the States.
The passage of the 14th Amendment changed that. It granted authority to the Federal Government to override state laws if those laws, in their minds, violated principles in the Bill of Rights. The 14th Amendment contains an enforcement clause which states (Section 5): The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
This has been interpreted to grant the Federal Government an authority to override State Laws if they believed those state laws violated civil rights. That means before the Federal Government can intervene there must be a State Law that identifies that violation. It shifted from Congress having the power to the Courts, something not provided for in section 5 of the 14th Amendment. For activists promoting same-sex marriages, State laws regarding marriage provided them with exactly what they needed; it provided them with the tools necessary to challenge the states authority to define marriage.
Prior to the 14th Amendment, state laws concerning religious expression were immune from intervention by the Federal Courts but following the 14th Amendment and the more recent free interpretation of that amendment by the courts, once a State goes into that realm, the courts are then used to by-pass the limitations of the Constitutions and with respecting the 10th Amendment. As soon as a state passes laws, those who wish to destroy original intent turn to the 14th Amendment to destroy the protections previously afforded to the state. Since Roe V. Wade and Engel v. Vitale anti-church elements have turned their focus on undermining the independence of the Church and placing the Church under the control of the Federal Government.
The problem here is that if the courts determine that same-sex marriage is legal, does that translate into a Church’s civil responsibility to abide by that law. It is further aggravated because if it establishes that this is the case, then the government has established a National Doctrine related to Church Marriages and is therefore establishing a National Religious institution regarding marriage in absolute violation of the 1st Amendment. That was the actual intention of the 14th Amendment;, it was designed to do exactly that. While it was promoted to protect the rights of blacks after slavery was repealed; it was the Progressive tool necessary to begin to interfere in State Laws outside the enumerated powers and in violation of the 9th and 10th amendments. There was still another stumbling block.
Senators were elected by State legislative bodies which made our Senators accountable in preserving State Rights. That had to be undone. The 17th Amendment provided them with that means in turning our Senate elections into direct elections and effectively removing one of the checks and balances established in the formation of our government in the protection of the rights of the States.
The notion that marriage is an inherent right is in violation of the principles of Natural Law. Inherent rights are rights we are born with and do not require the consent of a third party. In order to be married it requires consent between two parties. From a purely religious point of view it also requires the consent of God. That consent is found in the written word of scripture and the church, in America, was given the Liberty to establish its own laws regarding its governance.
The rights of Life, Liberty and Property are not dependent rights that require the consent of anyone else. They are individual rights and they are independent. Laws are then enacted to protect those rights which prevents others from violating those independent rights. Murder is illegal because it violates my independent right to life. Theft is illegal because it violates my independent right to Property. Any law contradictory to those protections violates my independent right to Liberty. That includes limitation of my freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association.
The principle of freedom of association allows for the denominational differences within our churches. Not all churches have the same laws regarding Marriage, Baptism Communion and a variety of other doctrinal positions. As an American I am free to decide which church aligns to my personal positions and then, only with the permission of the church, to become a member of that body. I am not to be forced by government into such an association nor is the church to be forced into that association by laws of government. Church Membership, like marriage, is not a right-it is a consensual contract between two agreeable parties that the government isn’t supposed to be involved with.
If I don’t not have the authority to force someone to marry me who will not consent to that arrangement, I do not have the authority to delegate to any member of government, Local, State or Federal, any authority which would force any institution, especially regarding the church, to conduct a service of marriage without the consent of that institution.
If a church, on the other hand, determines that it recognizes same-sex marriage, then my rights of association, based on my personal religious conviction, allows for me to make a determination if I will continue to associate with that church.
If the Supreme Court makes a ruling in favor of Same-Sex Marriage then churches who doctrinally disagree are left with no course of action except to change their doctrine or to engage in civil disobedience regarding that law.
Our Founders wanted to assure that we would never have a national religion. The recent abridgements through the 14th Amendment that allows for mandated insurance that provides for abortion in the Affordable Healthcare Act is yet one more instance of attempts to develop National Policy regarding religious principle. It is part of a broader plan to Institution a singular religious viewpoint.
If churches can be forced, by law, to conduct same-sex marriages can churches also be forced to provide Communion to those who do not adhere to the principles of the faith in that church? Those who despise the church would be welcome to see such laws but those same principles can be translated into other institutions. Wouldn’t organizations which promote vegetarian food choices be required to accept meat-eaters into their ranks who could then rise up to subvert the principles of association in the vegan organization and then undermine what vegans embrace?
As ridiculous as that analogy may seem to you, it is foundationally based on the same principle.
I admit to being frustrated with the churches willingness to surrender to the government in their doctrinal positions or in turning to government to advocate, by law, those doctrinal positions. In my opinion, those decisions should have remained within the realm of the churches and the governing bodies of those churches.
In my opinion, when the PC(USA) (Presbyterian Church USA) made their determination on gays in the church, individual churches rose up and began to separate from the denomination. That is how this should be playing out and the only position regarding this concerning government outside the church is for them to stay out of it entirely. It then becomes a matter for individuals within the church to align themselves, through the free exercise of their association, with the religious institutions which most adhere to their convictions. Do we really want the government to step in to determine whether or not the individual churches had a right to disassociate? And yet, a federal court ruling in support of same-sex marriages carries that same implication.
My personal opinion is that same-sex marriage violates scripture. Others disagree. A church that openly embraces same-sex relationships is a church that I cannot, nor will I ever align myself with. I am, in no way, demanding that all churches or any other institution, for that matter, embrace my position. On the contrary, those advocating for this as a right are demanding that I align myself to their viewpoint. One of those views embraces tolerance and the other does not.
While I believe that the Constitution forbids a redefinition of the word Marriage if they are going to go into that realm then they must do so in a way that conforms to the origin and intent of the institution of marriage and that is within the context of the Church as revealed to us through scripture. To me, this is not a debate for government to consider, it is only a debate from within the church and my personal conviction lies firmly in the belief that scripture is clear. If the Supreme Court rules on this they may reject the state’s authority to make such a rule but they cannot force churches to redefine the institution marriage. If they do, then they have institutionalized a particular religious viewpoint and in doing so have nationalized that as the Religious Doctrine of the United States. We then become a theocracy. The church MUST remain free to determine whether or not they will allow for same-sex unions. As an individual, I must then determine whether or not that church is upholding the principles of scripture.
That is the way it was supposed to work. Some churches have taken strong positions on divorce and refuse to marry previously married individuals to different partners who have undergone a divorce. We are then required to make a decision as to whether or not we can find conformity to our own convictions and the position of the Church. We must remain free to exercise our right of association in that determination.
Those same personal religious convictions tells me that whatever two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes and lives in none of my business. That is between them and God and, under my faith principles, I’m not the one who holds anyone else accountable to God. I must remain free to identify same-sex relationships as sin while also accepting that God will intimately by the judge on these matters. All of us, after all, have sinned. Churches must also remain free to determine if that sin can be ignored in the institution of Marriage. If so, they must make the case for that belief not forced into subjugation of government to ignore what they believe is scriptural authority regarding same-sex relationships and sin.
As to the church, my sentiment is simply this. The church has a responsibility to serve as an educational force in upholding scripture and teaching scripture to the people. There is a simple warning in scripture that I believe applies here. Luke 17 (1-3)
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
There will be those who interpret that to justify embracing same-sex marriage but in its context Jesus is addressing the obligation of training up our children in the path they should follow. The admonition is against proclaiming false doctrines which could endanger the immortal soul of the child. The offenses that will come refer to the offenses against God and Scripture, not in our being offended because God’s word doesn’t align to our particular viewpoint. When our worldview conflicts with scripture, then it is our worldview, in God’s eyes, that is wrong. If we refuse to align that view to scripture then that we become the offending party.
You can reject that viewpoint and you can embrace the notion that there is no God nor are we accountable to him outside the church. You cannot claim there is no God or reject you accountability to Him and remain within the Church. You become a contradiction. You can, however, choose to reject the church. You have that freedom. Within the Church, to accept those positions is heresy and has no place in the Church. Within the Church, our responsibility is to align ourself to scripture, not to make scripture align itself to us.
My faith principles teach me that I am ultimately accountable to one authority and that authority is God. When government, whether Church Government or otherwise, violates that authority then it is my right, it is my duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for my future security. For the Church who believes as I do that scripture teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman and the law requires them to betray that faith they have no course but Civil Disobedience.