Category archives: Marriage

WATCH: In 6 Minutes, Local Pastor Shares Why the Supreme Court’s Marriage Case Matters for Us All

by Josh M. Shepherd

May 19, 2015

How can an evangelical pastor address current issues that affect his congregation? Reverend Bill Shuler, lead pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia, led by example in a recent sermon – addressing the cultural shift on the definition of marriage.

His sermon on May 10, entitled “Scattered Seeds,” centered on how God can redeem His people in seasons of struggle. In an aside about how the next generation faces a barrage of influences hostile to faith, Rev. Shuler spoke on tolerance, God’s heart of love… and why believers cannot ignore how changing views on marriage policy can affect their religious freedom.

Why does it matter what the Supreme Court has to say in a matter of days in regards to marriage?” he begins, then proceeds to answer the question – starting at the personal level.

The Bible speaks way beyond tolerance,” he says. “The Bible commands us to love people, no matter their decisions. I’ve counseled people for what is, this year, now 30 years of full-time ministry. I’m commanded to love unconditionally, no matter who comes into my office.”

Jesus is truth and love,” Rev. Shuler preaches. “We are commanded to love. But I want you to know, we are commanded to walk by standards that are found in the scriptures and we must stand upon those.”

So the Supreme Court will make a decision,” notes Rev. Shuler, turning to national policy and its potential effect on believers nationwide. “In the days ahead, it is very possible that the government may become all the more intrusive when it comes to churches.”

Following a brief historical account of the often-misunderstood separation of church and state, Rev. Shuler gives a few real-life examples of intrusions beginning to happen. “Now the concern is, the government can demand of the church that you hire people who may not abide by the standards of the scriptures.”

Or, [the government can demand] that you must marry a couple even if the couple does not line up with the definition of marriage in the scriptures.”

What will the response be if we don’t do that?” Rev. Shuler considers. “We love people, but we cannot make that compromise. This is where we don’t know for certain yet what will happen.”

He presents one scenario: “Tax-exempt status could be taken away. Are you ready to support the church and the Gospel even if we’re not tax-exempt, because we stood on our convictions?” Another possible result, he says, could be “churches lose their buildings.”

I’m not here to stir up something where we’re getting scared,” he says. “But we need to take this seriously. I believe that in this generation, if you don’t take it seriously, your children and grandchildren will look at you and say: Why didn’t you do something when it all was turning?

We need to know where we stand,” he concludes the brief discussion. “We love everybody. We should treat everybody with respect and love. There should not be a sense of treating people with some sort of unique disdain solely to those people because of their decisions.”

We still stand for holiness and righteousness,” he says, pointing to his Bible. “And we believe this to be the authoritative Word of God, and this is where we stand.”

In regards to the court case, Rev. Shuler leaves his congregation with a point of action. “We will see what happens on this, but we need to pray.”

Josh M. Shepherd serves in communications at the Justice House of Prayer DC, an evangelical missions organization serving Washington, DC and the nation through ongoing prayer and strategic activism. He and his wife Terri are also Capital Life Church members.

The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 28, 2015

In a somewhat unusual alliance, “35 religious leaders representing Catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal, Orthodox and Mormon churches” have issued an “Open Letter … to All in Positions of Public Service” concerning same-sex marriage. As noted by Religion News Service, Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington Area also signed the letter.

Among the signatories are National Association of Evangelicals president Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson; the Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone; Archbishop of San Francisco; Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod; Most Rev. William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore; Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Here are two excerpts from the document:

The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition …

The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good.”

There is much to commend here. Christians who believe in the Bible’s unalterable teaching that marriage exists as the union of one man and one woman should always and often be articulating publicly this truth, and doing so in the irenic manner of this letter.

With that said, this “open letter” is, perhaps, so “open” as to be innocuous: Addressing no one in particular, I fear it will have the effect of shouting out of a window on a stormy day. Additionally, although it mentions this week’s oral arguments on same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court, it nowhere calls on the Court to rule against mandating that all 50 states accept the redefinition of marriage being demanded by the advocates of such. The letter’s omission of calling on the Supreme Court to decide this issue consistent with the Constitution and the natural law tradition (supported by Protestants and Catholics, in sometimes different but still important ways, alike) seems rather odd.

The letter does raise an important question: What of the fear that the law could require churches, synagogues, and mosques to hold, and the clergy who lead them to perform, same-sex wedding ceremonies?

At present, legal protections exist, but churches need to be aware of them and also how to protect themselves from potential litigation. That’s why the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber, has written a new FRC Issue Brief, “How are clergy protected from being forced to perform same-sex marriages?”

At the same time, FRC’s allies at the Alliance Defending Freedom have drafted “Seven things All Churches Should Have in Their Bylaws,” which lists how church bylaws can protect religious institutions from potential litigation with respect to same-sex marriage and related matters.

I applaud the signatories of the “Defense of Marriage” for issuing this letter, even though its potency seems modest given its rather amorphous audience. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in June, people who believe the Bible will keep on standing for Scripture’s truth and doing so with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

March for Marriage on Saturday, April 25th

by Leanna Baumer

April 20, 2015

With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of state marriage laws on Tuesday, April 28th, supporters of natural marriage plan to gather in Washington, D.C. on April 25th to rally and pray for the Court. Saturday’s “March for Marriage” will begin at noon in front of the U.S. Capitol and finish at the steps of the Supreme Court. Schedule, map, and speakers can all be viewed here.

2015 March for Marriage

For the past two years, state and federal courts have dealt with the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2013 United States v. Windsor decision, mostly choosing to ignore the limits of the holding and instead imposing judicial redefinitions of marriage on states where voters have previously chosen to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman. (FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg has written previously regarding Windsor’s narrow outcome). This spring, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to correct the course of lower courts and reaffirm its previous declarations that marriage policy “[b]y history and tradition” has been “treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”

Given the profound costs to the rule of law, federalism, and First Amendment freedoms that will result from a judicial redefinition of marriage imposed on all fifty states, the Supreme Court would be wise to leave to the democratic process a policy question nowhere answered in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, when polled earlier this year by WPA Opinion Research, that’s precisely the outcome 61% of Americans said they wanted to see. Saturday’s March for Marriage will offer thousands of Americans the public opportunity to remind the country and the Court that marriage has profound public importance and deserves the careful definition and debate that can only occur in the democratic process.

Hate, Love, Truth, and Homosexuality

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 16, 2015

Hate is sin.

Hate is disobedience to God. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15).

To rage against, physically or verbally abuse, belittle, or diminish the humanity of homosexuals is hateful.

To disagree is not hateful.

To stand for truth is not hateful.

To make arguments about human sexuality and marriage from sociological and demographic data is not hateful.

To object to the legal redefinition of marriage is not hateful.

To oppose efforts to redefine marriage in law is not hateful.

To believe in the uniqueness of male-female complementarity is not hateful.

To herald the Bible’s teaching that sexual intimacy is reserved for the covenant of one-man, one-woman marriage is not hateful.

To assert that any form of sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful is not hateful.

To affirm the Bible’s teaching that whatever one’s sins (sins as defined by the eternal, final, clear, and sufficient revelation of Scripture), they separate him or her from God is not hateful.

To proclaim that the rejection of God’s grace in Jesus Christ means eternal punishment is not hateful.

To tell others that God became man in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, that He lived a sinless life, died an atoning, substitutionary death, rose bodily from the grave, is alive today, and that He offers forgiveness to all who will trust solely in Him as Savior and decide to follow Him as Lord is not hateful. It is the most loving thing one can do.

All of the above are Christian teachings. They are not culturally conditioned or theologically malleable.

Those of us who are Christians love people too much not to graciously but unhesitatingly speak God’s truth in God’s love (Ephesians 4:15).

And those of us who believe these things will not be silenced about them or fail to live according to them in our personal, public, or professional lives.

Any of them. Ever.

It’s a matter of love for God and those He has made in His image. The stakes are too high and the costs too great to refrain from talking about the One filled with grace and truth and His will for all of our lives.

Stakes and costs more important that social acceptance, secure employment, personal loyalties, or political viability.

Eternal stakes and costs, which we have weighed in the balance and found far weightier than anything this world can offer. Upon them we have based our lives. Upon them we stand.

Where do you stand?

Marriage and Conscience Act critic reveals his own hypocrisy and desire to discriminate

by Travis Weber

April 14, 2015

In a recent opinion piece on Louisiana’s Marriage and Conscience Act (HB 707), state representative and speaker pro tempore Walter J. Leger III tries to dictate morals to his constituents, but only ends up exposing his hypocrisy and desire to discriminate. Against who? Against religious people he doesn’t agree with, such as Richland, Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman, who has happily served gay customers but doesn’t want to be forced to service a same-sex wedding, and the owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana, who received death threats for simply holding traditional views on marriage. These people have never discriminated, but Rep. Leger doesn’t care. Why? Because he’s not interested in stopping discrimination. He’s interested in eliminating dissent and conforming all thoughts to his.

As if that wasn’t enough, Rep. Leger abuses American history and our founding documents, claiming what is “happening today in Louisiana with the proposed Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act is a perversion of the lawsthat have been established to reflect the beliefs of a moral and religious people.”

I’m not sure how that is. The Marriage and Conscience Act will protect the consciences of a minority group of citizens. This is the very purpose of the entire Bill of Rights. Besides, a “moral and religious people” would hold no belief but the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Indeed, that’s why our country has never seen anyone even seriously suggest the idea that marriage could be between two people of the same sex for over its first two hundred years. If someone is not reflecting the views of a “moral and religious people,” it’s those who want to destroy the entire idea of marriage and family, and then violate the consciences of those who disagree by making them support the idea.

Rep. Leger pharisaically tries to decree the “correct” religious views to his constituents. Instead, he ends up insulting them and revealing what he’s really about.

Indeed, it is “moral and religious” people who now need protection. And it is these people who HB 707 would protect. All the bill would do is prohibit the government from taking “any adverse action against a person” due to that person’s “religious belief[s] or moral convictions[s] about the institution of marriage.” HB 707 would prevent the government from discriminating against people because they believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and would prohibit the government from using its heavy hand to condition tax treatment, contracts, and other benefits on a person’s acceptance of the “acceptable” view in support of same-sex marriage.

HB 707 would also help protect those with religious objections to being forced by the government to play a part in same-sex marriage ceremonies under threat of fines and imprisonment.

This is too much for Rep. Leger, who has taken it upon himself to claim that “[m]oral and religious people do not discriminate.” As if that settles it. It doesn’t, and Rep. Leger glosses over the real issue and the bill’s protections as laid out above. The only one talking discrimination here is Rep. Leger, who’d want to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with him (and who would be protected by this bill). The Marriage and Conscience Act would protect people from such discrimination at the hands of an intrusive government. Rep. Leger would rather remove their protections, and potential expose them to fines and imprisonment because they simply want to act in accord with their consciences.

People sharing Rep. Leger’s agenda showed their true colors recently in Indiana, where they harassed the family that owns Memories Pizza with death threats for simply holding traditional views on marriage. This family was minding their own business, just trying to live quietly and in peace and make a living. But reporters came to them and asked them about their religious views and how they exercise their faith. Only when asked did family member and owner Crystal O’Connor explain, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no … . We are a Christian establishment.” Yet at the same time they made clear their establishment would continue to serve any gay person who walked in.

As a result of expressing their views on this hypothetical situation, outrage against this family ensued on the internet. Their business was trashed on Yelp. A high school girls golf coach in Indiana tweeted “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many failed to grasp that the owners stated they would serve anyone who walked in; they just wanted their religious views protected. Consequently, the O’Connors closed their pizzeria temporarily. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor told reporters. Kevin O’Connor told the L.A. Times, “I’m just a little guy who had a little business.”

Thankfully, the family had some supporters, and their shop appears to be re-opening. But this incident exposes the danger we are in and highlights the need for laws like HB 707 to protect those like the O’Connors who increasingly are holding a minority view.

If we can’t even protect unpopular views in law, and instead people are allowed to mete out mob justice like this more reminiscent of scenes overseas than in the United States, we are in serious trouble. The gravity of this matter only further highlights the need for laws like HB 707.

It is people like Barronelle Stutzman, who need the protection of laws like HB 707. Barronelle has happily served gay customers. She just doesn’t want to be forced to service a same-sex wedding, which her faith teaches her is wrong. Nevertheless, Barronelle was recently fined for refusing to use her floral skills in support of a same-sex union. She just doesn’t want to be forced to violate her conscience. But without a law like HB 707, she is left at the mercy of the all-powerful state should it seek to coerce her to act against her beliefs.

What would Rep. Leger say to Barronelle? In his opinion piece, he claims, “[f]ederal and state laws already exist to protect religious liberty.” Actually, there are no “federal and state laws” which would protect people such as those protected by HB 707. Rep. Leger is flat wrong here.

The only support he offers is his hyperlink to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—which compounds the foolishness of his claim—for he is apparently ignorant of the fact that the federal RFRA does not protect against state-level action (which is the very reason states have been trying to pass their own RFRAs).

Alas, Rep. Leger also tries to be a theologian, claiming to be “appalled at the length to which some people will go to ignore the lessons of love and acceptance that Jesus lived and died for and twist them into an excuse to discriminate.” His exegetical errors aside, the point of civil laws is not to dictate individual moral behavior, but to protect individual rights and freedom (even for those we disagree with). He should be ashamed at misrepresenting God’s Word in this manner, and more ashamed at using it to suppress views he doesn’t like.

He then brings out this sledgehammer: “Would we have stores place “Heterosexuals Only” signs in their windows where “Whites Only” signs once hung?” Ah, yes…. Of course that would be horrible. But who can point to any law which would permit that? All HB 707 does is protect against government discrimination against people based on their beliefs on marriage.

Rep. Leger continues, “[p]reventing a business from discriminating does not hinder the freedom of the business owner to hold his sincere religious beliefs in his heart and in his home. A business operating in the public sphere, relying on public infrastructure, is not at liberty to pick and choose who it will allow to be its customers. Either it is open for business or not.”

Rep. Leger apparently thinks the First Amendment only applies in the “heart” and “home.” It seems we can assume he is for taking away the First Amendment rights of the New York Times corporation to speak and report freely? If not, well why would he take away someone’s religious rights just because they want to make a living? If he would, he’s just discriminating against religion specifically.

Those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman are increasingly becoming a powerless minority, especially in the face of media voices, big business, academics, and government elites who look down upon their views. All HB 707 does is protect these relatively powerless people from government discrimination against them based on their beliefs on marriage.

Rep. Leger again exposes his ignorance for criticizing Indiana for passing “similar legislation.” Indiana had actually passed a RFRA very similar to the federal one Rep. Leger hyperlinked when claiming “federal and state laws already exist to protect religious liberty.” Moreover, Louisiana has had a RFRA for some time. Has Rep. Leger spent energy criticizing it?

As if this wasn’t enough, he then insults the people who need the protection of HB 707 by inferring they are racists—as they would bring up “evil apparitions from the Deep South’s dark past.”

Rep. Leger closes with: “[r]eligious liberty by right should and ought to be protected, and it is.” He’s correct that it should be protected, but wrong that it currently is. HB 707 would protect it. Yet Rep. Leger opposes HB 707.

Rep. Leger can’t (and won’t) be allowed to get away with the heavy-handed moralizing of telling believers their religion really means differently than they think it does. He can’t (and won’t) get away with the hypocrisy of claiming he is against discrimination, while at the same time himself discriminating against religious views he doesn’t like by seeking to strip believers of potential protections like HB 707.

Rep. Leger simply can’t claim to support religious liberty and oppose HB 707. He must pick one or the other.

No, Redefining Marriage Will Not Help the Economy

by Peter Sprigg

April 2, 2015

In coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will be flooded with “amicus curiae” (“friend-of-the-court”) briefs detailing the specialized arguments of a variety of interests on whether they should redefine marriage to include same-sex couples in all fifty states.

One of the strangest arguments was submitted on March 5 by “379 employers and organizations representing employers.” It boiled down to this: the Supreme Court should force genderless marriage on every state — in order to save us same paperwork.

You see, many corporations now give benefits, such as health insurance, to the same-sex “domestic partners” of their homosexual employees. If those employees are not legally married, however, the benefits are treated differently for tax purposes, which complicates the accounting.

For this, we are supposed to change the definition of our most fundamental social institution.

The employers’ brief includes other arguments as well — although they are even more nebulous. For example, they claim that “discrimination impairs an employer’s ability to compete for the best workforce.” If this is true, however, you would think companies with internal nondiscrimination policies and domestic partner benefits would want to retain that competitive advantage — rather than demanding that the courts forcibly level the playing field.

The brief claims that homosexual employees will not want to relocate to states where they cannot legally “marry” a same-sex partner. If this were such an important factor in being able to obtain “the best workforce,” however, you would think it would show up in macroeconomic data.

For example, growth in jobs, personal income, and population are some key measures of a state’s economic health. We can also gauge a state’s commitment to the natural marriage of one man and one woman or to the genderless redefinition of marriage by the results of the democratic process there. There are thirty states in which the people voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their state constitutions. There are ten states which did not adopt such a limitation, but which instead changed the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples via the democratic process (either a legislative vote, popular referendum, or both), not through a  court order.

If the theory that redefining marriage aids economic competitiveness is correct, then we would expect the ten states that voluntarily redefined marriage to be disproportionately represented in the fastest growing states, while the thirty that acted to defend natural marriage should suffer.

The data show the exact opposite. The top ten states in personal income growth between the second and third quarters of 2014, as reported by the Department of Commerce in December, did include three of the states that freely chose to redefine marriage — New York (at #6), Washington (7), and Hawaii (with an amendment that prevented the courts, but not the legislature, from redefining marriage) at number 9. However, four of the top five states in personal income growth were marriage amendment states — Texas (1), Utah (3), Arizona (4), and Nevada (5).

Among the top ten states in population growth from the 2010 census to July 1, 2014, two (Washington at #6, and Hawaii at #9) were marriage-redefining states. However, all eight others, including all of the top five (North Dakota, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona) were marriage amendment states.

Finally, among the top ten states in job growth, according to June 2014 projections by Kiplinger, all ten were marriage amendment states (North Dakota, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Florida, Oregon, Georgia, and South Dakota). If anything, these data suggest that redefining marriage may hinder economic growth, not help it.

Some may argue that it doesn’t matter if the redefinition of marriage arrived via democratic process or court order — what matters is that same-sex couples now get civil marriage licenses. However, being among the twelve remaining states that have never issued such licenses did not stop Texas from ranking first in income growth, and second in both population and job growth. It did not stop North Dakota from ranking first in both population and job growth; nor did it stop South Dakota from being in the top ten in two of these categories or Georgia from being in the top ten in one.

The economic argument for redefining marriage is not, strictly speaking, a legal or constitutional argument at all. It is a political argument, which the 379 employers are welcome to make before the legislatures or the people of the states. One thing I would hope that all Americans would agree on is this: the Supreme Court cannot — it must not — make its decisions on constitutional claims based on what the Justices (or anyone else) prefers as public policy.

However, we should be especially wary of making such decisions based on assertions that are so easily shown to be empirically false.

Depression, Divorce, and Hope

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 25, 2015

Graham Moore won the Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of “The Imitation Game.” In a moving speech upon receiving the award, he spoke candidly of the depression that haunted his youth. Here’s what he said:

When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

Moore’s parents were divorced. Could this have contributed to his depression? “Children whose parents divorce will exhibit more anxiety and depression and antisocial behavior than children from intact families,” write social scientists Pat Fagan and Aaron Churchill.

Divorce is related to increased depression and anxiety for both boys and girls of all ages,” they write. Quoting from a study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, Fagan and Churchill note that “boys with divorced parents tended to be more depressed than those from two-parent families regardless of the psychological adjustment, level of conflict, or quality of parenting manifested by their parents.”

Depression is a growing problem among our youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females.”

There’s so much hope: As Graham Moore movingly said, everyone fits in. And with counseling, appropriate medication, the love of parents and family and the support of true friends, young men and women can get through the pain of depression. Most importantly, the knowledge that there’s a loving God can sustain even in the darkest moments.

The link between divorce and youth depression seems to be a real one. It’s just one more reason for couples to work through their problems and find healing for their marriages and their children.

Judge relies on decision upholding government¿s ability to regulate marriage as it suppresses conscience objections to same-sex “marriage”

by Travis Weber

February 19, 2015

Yesterday, in the consolidated cases of State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, a Washington state court judge held that a small wedding vendor defendant engaged in impermissible discrimination in seeking to honor her religious beliefs and not support the promotion of a same-sex wedding ceremony with her services.

In granting the plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment, Judge Ekstrom of the Benton County Superior Court elevated nondiscrimination laws over free exercise and free speech rights.

In holding that “[f]ree exercise is not … without its limits,” Judge Ekstrom relied on the Supreme Court’s proclamation in Reynolds v. United States that “[l]aws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices… . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? The permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.”

True, the Supreme Court in Reynolds stated as much.

Equally interesting is the language from Reynolds which Judge Ekstrom excised from his quotation:

Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice? Or if a wife religiously believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her dead husband, would it be beyond the power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice? So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed.”

I don’t know why Judge Ekstrom chose to describe the Free Exercise Clause by quoting from Reynolds. Perhaps he thought it was his best source of authority; that seems unlikely though given that the decision is over 100 years old and is criticized right and left as “outdated.” Perhaps he thought he was being clever by using another case involving a rejection of religious rights in the context of sexuality.

If the latter, it’s quite ironic that the authority a judge relies on in restricting the rights of religious objectors to same-sex “marriage” is the same authority upholding limits on traditional marriage for the good of society.

For the Court in Reynolds rejected a free exercise challenge to a law criminalizing bigamy, and in doing so, noted the state’s significant interest in regulating marriage:

it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important feature of social life. Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law. Upon it society may be said to be built, and out of its fruits spring social relations and social obligations and duties, with which government is necessarily required to deal.”

Today, if a state tried to uphold its natural marriage laws by relying on Reynolds it would be criticized loudly and clearly.

Regardless, Reynolds actually proves the utility and workability of strict-scrutiny religious rights frameworks being debated today, as the hypothetical human sacrifice and burning of the dead scenarios mentioned in Reynolds clearly would be barred by a compelling government interest, while other religious rights not seeking to override a compelling government interest would be protected under such frameworks. This is precisely the balance needed to sort out valid religious rights claims from invalid ones, and protect conscience objections like those of Ms. Stutzman — especially since judges like Judge Ekstrom won’t.

Freedom is Defined by Virtue, Not Sexual Impulses

by Christina Hadford

February 19, 2015

Freedom is man’s ability to pursue freely God’s plan for him; slavery is man’s self-subjugation to his appetitive soul. Today’s culture has confounded the two, inadvertently defining man and measuring his freedom based on his sexual drive.

Last week Stella Morabito wrote about the plurality of sexual identifications accepted and even promoted today: pedophilia, BDSM (bondage/ domination/ sado-masochism), transgender children, incest, bestiality, group sex, and anonymous sex (to name a few). Like many opponents to gay marriage predicted, re-defining marriage as anything other than a sacred bond between one man and one woman will inevitably lead us down a slippery slope in which all sexual exploits are permissible in the name of freedom.

President Obama’s crass advertisement for women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it” makes this case in point. Supposedly, a girl’s ability to have casual sex with a range of men empowers her; a mother’s decision to kill her unborn child indicates her individual agency; a woman’s choice to sleep with other women means she is an equal member of society. This sentiment has seeped into wider discourse. Now, people identify themselves by their sexual orientation, and interpret their freedom based on whether they can fulfill these desires without limits. This distortion is degrading, debilitating, and downright disgusting.

Defining a person’s freedom in terms of her sexual desires and actions reduces her to an animalistic state. The trademark of humankind—both man and woman—is their logic. Animals experience an urge, and go to all limits to satisfy that urge. Humans share the sensual desires of animals, but are additionally endowed with a sense of reasoning and restraint that should ultimately dictate their appetites. As Aristotle said, “[T]he good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, or if there are more kinds of virtue than one, in accordance with the best and most perfect kind” (Nicomachean Ethics).

In addition to the backwardness of reducing man to an animalistic state, defining freedom in terms of sexual passions is inherently restrictive. Ultimately, we are all constrained by our bodily limits. It is impossible for two men to conjugally unite to produce offspring; it is impossible to have pedophiliac relationships and not profoundly wound an innocent child; it is impossible to have healthy and respectful sado-masochistic relationships. The human body is limited, and defining man in terms of his body inescapably confines him.

Freedom is, however, very achievable as long as it is properly defined. As Aristotle indicated true freedom is the absolute pursuit of highest virtue; specifically, it is the spiritual and corporal surrender to God’s omniscient and benevolent plan for man. Because God is all-powerful, pursuing God’s plan—whether or not it is sensually fulfilling to man—will manifest boundless interior and spiritual freedom. It is high time our society stop accepting any and all sexual desires in the name of freedom. A man with uncontrollable sexual impulses will not achieve freedom by society affirming his actions; rather, he will achieve freedom after he is offered loving and compassionate counsel away from his sexual slavery.

Lesson from Obama Deception on Same-Sex “Marriage”: Watch What He Does, Not What He Says

by Peter Sprigg

February 13, 2015

News broke this week that former Obama political strategist David Axelrod has published a book in which he admits that, as Time magazine put it, “Barack Obama misled Americans for his own political benefit when he claimed in the 2008 election to oppose same sex marriage for religious reasons.”

It may well be that adopting this posture was effective in reassuring some moderate to left-leaning evangelicals, and socially conservative pastors and members in African American churches, who were drawn to Obama’s historic candidacy but would not have supported a redefinition of “marriage.”

Mr. Obama continued to publicly oppose a redefinition of marriage until he announced a change of heart in 2012.

The revelation that Mr. Obama’s position was one of convenience rather than conviction comes as no surprise to Family Research Council. President Obama’s actions have always spoken louder than his words, and his actions always belied his claim to oppose same-sex “marriage.”

As early as August of 2008, shortly before then-Senator Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President, I wrote something that seems to be essentially what Axelrod is now verifying:

. .  [I]t is clear that Obama’s supposed “opposition” to “gay marriage” is a matter of political strategy—nothing more.   All it means is that he is unwilling, for political reasons, to make legalizing it a policy priority for which he will actively campaign.”

Below is reprinted in full the piece that I wrote for FRC Action (which is still available on the web):

Obama Backs Same-Sex “Marriage”

By Peter Sprigg
FRC Action
August 2008
http://www.frcaction.org/get.cfm?i=WX08H01

 

In recent weeks, there has been a spate of stories suggesting that Barack Obama has begun moving to the center.   On issues ranging from the Iraq war to terrorist surveillance to gun control, Obama has been moderating some of his previous liberal positions.

But there is at least one issue on which Obama has been moving steadily to the left.   In fact, it’s now fair to say it—Barack Obama supports same-sex “marriage.” All that’s left is for him to admit it.

You may not find a statement anywhere from Obama in which he comes right out and says, “I support same-sex marriage.”   In fact, on March 2, Obama said, “I will tell you that I don’t believe in gay marriage … . I believe in civil unions … . [but] I don’t think it should be called marriage.”

But when Obama says, “I don’t believe in gay marriage,” what is he really saying?   The evidence suggests that he is not saying what most people would mean by that statement-namely, that there is good reason why marriage, in principle, ought to be defined as the union of one man and one woman.

In fact, when you examine it closely, it is clear that Obama’s supposed “opposition” to “gay marriage” is a matter of political strategy—nothing more.   All it means is that he is unwilling, for political reasons, to make legalizing it a policy priority for which he will actively campaign.

For example, Obama has more than once endorsed the analogy, often used by activists, between homosexual “marriage” and interracial marriage.   He told The Advocate, “I’m the product of a mixed marriage that would have been illegal in 12 states when I was born.   That doesn’t mean that had I been an adviser to Dr. King back then, I would have told him to lead with repealing an antimiscegenation law, because it just might not have been the best strategy in terms of moving broader equality forward.”

Presumably, Obama supports legal recognition of his parents’ marriage-so the comparison would suggest that he supports legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” also, but worries only that the current campaign for it is not “the best strategy.”

When the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage” in May, it would have been a perfect opportunity for Obama to display “centrist” credentials.   To be consistent with his stated position on the issue, Obama should have condemned the court’s decision, while endorsing the status quo of the generous “domestic partner” benefits already granted under state law.   Instead, his campaign announced that Obama “respects the decision of the California Supreme Court.”

Are there any policies safeguarding man-woman marriage that Obama will endorse?   Not constitutional amendments, since he has declared, “I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.”

What about the federal Defense of Marriage Act?   This is the 1996 statute, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which defined marriage for all purposes under federal law as the union of one man and one woman.   It also declared that states would have no obligation to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states.

Obama favors complete repeal of this law, which would open the door for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and California and grant domestic partner benefits to federal employees, and would in effect allow California to redefine marriage for the entire country.

I haven’t found any evidence that Obama supports statutory provisions at the state level to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, either.   He joined the Illinois State Senate the year after that state adopted its Defense of Marriage Act.

The final nail in the coffin for Obama’s supposed “opposition” to same-sex marriage can be found in a letter he wrote to a California “LGBT Pride” group on June 29.   Obama concludes the letter by saying, “I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks.”

To summarize, Obama supports granting 100% of the legal rights and benefits of marriage to homosexual couples; opposes virtually any legal means available of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman (calling them “divisive and discriminatory”); “respects” courts that unilaterally overturn the democratically determined definition of marriage; compares legalizing same-sex “marriage” with legalizing interracial marriage; and “congratulates” homosexual couples who have entered into legally-recognized civil marriages.

This is not the description of someone who opposes same-sex “marriage.”   Obama supports same-sex “marriage”—and he should be honest enough to say that to American voters. 

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