Julia had been studying hard for the upcoming final exams during her freshman year at Florida State. She even sacrificed sleep and often didn’t have to eat. It all paid off though when she received a 98 on the precalculus test. However, there was one small plank in the cogwheel that Julia had not planned on – and that was Rhonda. Instead of studying for the test, Rhonda took off to Panama City with a group of girlfriends. She figured she could cram it all in the night before. Besides, she didn’t have to miss sleep – and she certainly didn’t miss any meals. Rhonda made a teary-eyed 56. She was furious and complained bitterly to the math professor, saying that it was just not fair for her to feel uncomfortable and of less worth than Julia, saying that her dignity and status in the class were in jeopardy. She also complained that it gave Julia an advantage over her when the GPA scores were tallied at the end of the semester and would give her an advantage when looking for jobs. Such immature extremism is not uncommon in universities. He agreed and decided to “scale” everybody’s grades. So instead of Julia receiving a 98 on the test she now received a 76. And instead of a 56, Rhonda received a 76. Oh how happy she was. The professor reasoned that all of his students should feel they have equal intellectual abilities and not be made to feel uncomfortable because someone else is smarter. He assured Rhonda that her dignity and status would not be compromised because of a low grade.
Does this socialist approach to test scores sound familiar? It should if you’ve been following the recent decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court. In the words of Justice Kennedy: “The State’s decision to give this class of persons the right to marry conferred upon them a dignity and status of immense import. But the Federal Government uses the state-defined class for the opposite purpose—to impose restrictions and disabilities.” The right for gay people to marry automatically gives them dignity and status? Mr. Kennedy, what on earth are you thinking? Marriage automatically confers dignity and status? Has our marriage and family worship society gone that far? What if I found my German shepherd having sex with the chocolate lab down the street? Would that confer on them dignity and status of immense import? Would we need to pass a law to protect their personal freedoms? What restrictions and disabilities does DOMA place on the gay community? Did the justices let money trump principle? I’m afraid so. The case involved the same sex marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer and their estate tax:
“When Spyer died in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but was barred from doing so by §3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which amended the Dictionary Act—a law providing rules of construction for over 1,000 federal laws and the whole realm of federal regulations—to define “marriage” and “spouse” as excluding same-sex partners. Windsor paid $363,053 in estate taxes and sought a refund, which the Internal Revenue Service denied.” http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf
You can substitute the characters in the above story with Windsor (Rhonda) complaining that if she was a man (Julia) she wouldn’t have to pay the $363,053. Instead of grades being leveled out, it was money. A married couple might have a dollar more than a gay couple. So it boiled down to greed and envy. The least common denominator approach to social and ethical matters is incompatible with Christian principles. Does America want to be a one size fits all cardboard box, a country that is indistinguishable from any other non-Christian country in the world?
The rulings should be a wake up call for all Christians in the country, a time to reflect on the only two authentic Christian lifestyles – marriage and celibacy. Protestant churches have traditionally been slow to respond to ethical dilemmas of the day. The definition of marriage needs to be continually discussed – giving affirmation and encouragement to those who have faithful marriages. And churches need to throw away the golden calves of marriage and family and give affirmation and encouragement to virtuous singles and those with the celibate gift. Instead of marriage and homosexuality, the choices need to be presented clearly as marriage and chaste celibacy.
We need not sugarcoat our words with comfort measures. The Bible is very plain spoken on matters of homosexuality. The Christian community doesn’t need to feel compelled to bring their standards down to the level of the court, down to the level of the least common denominator. Those men will have their judgement. Instead of responding to the recent court decisions with righteous indignation based on God’s word, the country’s religious leaders seem to have thrown up their hands in defeat and climbed aboard the rainbow train of gay pride. Russell Moore, the SBC’s ethics leader, called on all Southern Baptists to view this as an “opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does” http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/). This is an opportunity to speak the truth. Instead of sugar-coating, Christians need to respond with the definitive double-edged sword of the spirit which states “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9).”
At the heart of the matter is misplaced priorities. Yes, as Justice Scalia said, the worship of marriage and family really has gone that far – “The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.” America’s churches are largely responsible for this exalted conception of marriage. To keep their numbers and tithes up, they have bowed to the golden calf of marriage for so long that their eyes are blurred and they can’t see it. Just as the church took their eyes off the Bible and looked to the popular opinion of the masses, the Supreme Court took their eyes off the constitution and looked to their own flawed wisdom in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.