In response to the murders of the nine black Christians in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Confederate battle flag and, indeed, pretty much anything that has to do with the old Confederacy, from flags to statues of Confederate Civil War generals, to monuments to names on schools and public buildings, are being banned or are likely to be removed. Activists are demanding that the Jefferson Memorial in Washington be torn down because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. This one seems like a prairie fire that won't be going out for a while.
Then there was the Supreme Court's decision that pretty much ended all formal legal opposition to ObamaCare, save what would be an unsuccessful attempt at repeal, and that would have to be done legislatively, not through the courts. One can say that this was a very successful week, politically speaking, for President Barack Obama and the political Left.
Not surprisingly, the Left has launched an immediate victory lap. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post wrote that he "cheered the results" and called it an "acceleration of history." What he really meant was an acceleration of state power, and as a good Progressive, Dionne cannot enjoy enough statism.
However, while in today's society we tend to measure the success of things via political standards, that does not mean that the Law of Unintended Consequences is eliminated or that these events should be viewed in entirely negative or positive ways. The kind of political victories won by the Left means that there is going to be hell to pay for the losers, and I doubt the Left will waste any time. In today's post, I deal with the gay marriage decision.
Gay Marriage and its Aftermath
At one level, I believe that SCOTUS made the obvious decision regarding gay marriage and it is this: if people want for the State to define marriage, then we should not be surprised when political forces within the State decide to change its long-held meaning. After all, the State is justified by...the State.
What do I mean? Marriage is an ancient institution, and it has been practiced since humanity has appeared on the earth. Whether one holds to the Bible or to some other ancient text, we see that marriage has been a part of human society. To put it another way, marriage existed long before even the ancient state was in place, and certainly long before the modern state came into being.
Thus, for the modern State to "redefine" marriage is a bit of an absurdity, should one hold to the belief that human institutions have been around pre-state. Likewise, when conservatives pushed through various marriage amendments and the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s, they were doing, at least in principle, what gay marriage proponents have done through the legislatures and through the courts: using the state to define marriage.
I don't think I am making an absurd argument, and I certainly am not claiming that SCOTUS has done anything that is particularly revolutionary. After all, the State has always tried to reframe reality even if it was obvious that the real world was behaving differently than what state agents have been trying claim. Remember all of those non-existent harvests during Mao's Great Leap Forward, when millions of Chinese were starving to death despite Mao's claims otherwise?
Likewise, when conservatives tried to use to law to define marriage, they essentially were deferring to the government to declare the bounds and meaning of matrimony. While they might claim that they only were having the state affirm what already was in existence and understood to be true, once they permitted the state to write a definition, then it de facto was opening up things to where the state could change its definition. Which it did.
And don't think that the Left does not believe that the State is the true arbiter of marriage. The hardcore Leftist feminist Amanda Marcotte claims that any attempt to get the State out of marriage is an attempt to get rid of marriage altogether.
Unfortunately, we are not dealing in simple intellectual to-and-fro. The SCOTUS decision is going to have severe consequences for people who do not believe that marriage is whatever the legislature claims it is, and especially for people who define marriage through the Bible. Christians who do not believe that same-sex marriage is in accordance with the Scriptures will not face attacks solely from the non-believers; indeed, others who say they are Christians also will team up with the Left to go after them and their institutions. Even conservative/libertarian supporter of gay marriage, David Harsanyi, now admits that the legal fallout is going to be brutal.
In the aftermath of the SCOTUS decision on marriage, Sojourners, a publication of the "Evangelical Christian Left," declared: "This debate, at long last, is done." Please understand what this publication is saying: The STATE is the final arbiter of truth. That is the only interpretation.
After all, when SCOTUS in 1973 ordered all states to allow abortion on demand, that hardly ended the debate, but if Sojourners' logic is extended, then there is no more debate permit on the question of abortion. For that matter, any SCOTUS decision by definition ends all debate.
People who think like that, no matter how conciliatory the language might be on the Sojourners website, are not going to be sympathetic when the feds come knocking at church doors and at the doors of Christian colleges and parachurch organizations. In 1983, the Presbyterian Church USA (which is the "liberal" Presbyterian denomination) filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University when the Internal Revenue Service accused it of racial discrimination and stripped it of that status. (The SCOTUS upheld that ruling.)
The PCUSA filed the brief on the principle of religious freedom and the realization that the federal government should not be in the business of determining proper theology. I doubt seriously that when the IRS starts to act against churches and Christian colleges that don't support gay marriage, the PCUSA will be there to defend those organizations. Instead, the PCUSA, as well as most mainstream churches and outfits like Sojourners, will side fully and forcefully with the State.
Don't be deceived. The Obergefell ruling is not an expansion of freedom; it is a vast expansion of state power, and it will unleash the State to force conformity among people whose sets of beliefs do not coincide with those of Barack Obama and others in his administration. Will Grigg has stated it in a way that only he can articulate:
The Secret Police in Orwell’s dystopian society were employed by the Ministry of Love. In that ironic designation we find the genuine meaning of the insistent refrain that “love” triumphed when the US Supreme Court consummated the long campaign to bring the most intimate human institution fully under the state’s control.In one way, Sojourners is correct. The "official" debate is over, and as far as the American Left is concerned, anyone whose beliefs on same-sex marriage clash with those of the Left must be uprooted, hounded, forced out of their jobs, and perhaps into prison itself. We are not dealing with "tolerance" or anything like it. The Left now controls the American State wholly and demands nothing less than total subservience; even silence or holding quietly to a set of beliefs that contrast with the sexual views held by Barack Obama no longer will be tolerated.
Those presently celebrating the state’s “affirmation” of same-sex relationships are intoxicated by the knowledge that they are the “who” rather than the “whom” in Lenin’s famous formula (which defines the essential political question as “who does what to whom”). Like countless others they have been beguiled into believing that “liberation” is achieved by identifying with the exercise of state power, rather than being protected against it.
That the present institutional structure of American law does not yet allow for wholesale arrests individuals and closure of churches and other institutions which might disagree with Obama on sex and marriage does not mean very much. We know what representatives of this government have said in public, and we already know that Hillary Clinton has called for churches to change their theology on abortion.
It no longer matters what people actually might believe regarding same-sex marriage, whether or not they believe it to be a good thing. As a Christian who holds to the Scriptures, I do not see the Bible affirming such a marital relationship or even calling it marriage, but I also believe that if Christians want the State to define marriage, then they will have to live with whatever the State calls it. If my gay friends wish to call themselves married and are joined in matrimony by a State agents, so be it. However, we are long-past any point where any set of beliefs that might contrast with those held by the Powers That Be are going to be respected, and the adherents of those beliefs left alone. That I am willing to abide by the current State directives even if I do not believe Scripture condones such a marital relationship does not matter to the Left. I am an enemy and must be treated as such.
The Left that once was not afraid of opposing views no longer exists. The gloves are off, and SCOTUS has just given the State permission to begin to enforce a new sexual order.
This debate, at long last, is done.
This debate, at long last, is done.