The recent Supreme Court decision allowing for same-sex marriage throughout the US has exposed what many have known for a while: true religious freedom and sexual “freedom” can’t coexist for long.
Life may not seem any different just a few weeks after the Supreme Court decision, but even a number of Supreme Court justices said the decision would lead to trouble for the religious and other dissenters:
“Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences…It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Justice Samuel Alito
“In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” Justice Clarence Thomas¹
The tension between religious and sexual freedom stems from tension between worldviews. The secular mindset thinks anything that restricts freedom of the individual (specifically with sexuality) is a sin. The Christian worldview says sex apart from God’s plan in marriage (one man and one woman for life) is a sin.
For a society to truly experience freedom and prosperity, it needs virtue. That’s the thesis of Os Guinness’s book, A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future. He was a recent guest on the Eric Metaxas show where he unpacked the message of his book, critiquing the Bush and Obama administrations’ failure to guard vital freedoms, including the freedom of conscience. Here’s an especially powerful snippet of their conversation:
Os Guinness: “You can see that freedom of conscience, which is America’s great contribution to human rights, is more under threat from his [Obama’s] administration than anything in all of American history. This is the most disastrous administration for freedom of conscience in all of American history.
Eric Metaxas: And where do you see that most specifically?
Os Guinness: In terms of same-sex marriage, the gay issue. You’ve got […] the White House who talks of everything as a zero-sum game. Anything that contradicts gay rights has to go. Well, if you play like that, whenever rights are clashing with other rights, you have to have reasonable accommodation: negotiation.
But if you say one new right trumps all other rights, what you’re really saying is that rights are not rights—they’re a power game. And that’s what the White House has done and it’s absolutuly disastorus, a total undermining of the very concept and foundations of human rights.
Eric Metaxas: I shudder to agree with you. It is a frightening thing.
Frightening indeed (to a point). We do live in a new era with a new political power.
I am thankful that any earthly power is temporary and under the Sovereign and mighty hand of the Almighty One with all authority and dominion. I am also thankful that God will remain faithful to us—like He has so many other Christians throughout the centuries living in a fallen world. I’m also thankful that persecution can be a means for us to receive blessing and a way to deepen our fellowship with Christ.
Even when society loses virtue and we lose freedoms, let us never lose sight of God’s promises to His people and our call: to remain faithful to our Lord no matter what.