“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing,and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”
“Casey at the Bat” by Ernest L. Thayer, 1888
“The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?”
Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissenting opinion of the Supreme Court's ruling that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage (New York Times, June 26, 2015)
Disclaimer: If you read any farther than this sentence remember that this blog of mine, that I'm sure is read regularly by my mother and my wife and irregularly by few others contains, as stated in the header, “the musings and mutterings of a minister at times captivated by the mystery of the faith.” These are my eclectic thoughts about all things that I care to comment on. I don't pretend to speak for all Christians or the fellowship I serve or even those I have coffee with regularly. If you happen to read this post and are offended by it, save your outrage for me alone. Don't lump all evangelicals together and write us all off as “haters” simply because I fail to articulate my thoughts in an effective or meaningful way. Pastor Martin
So, it's happened again. The Supreme Court – and really, only 5 people on that court – has changed the lives of 320 million Americans by ruling that whatever else the Constitution may or may not say it guarantees the right of same sex couples to get married. It doesn't matter if your state has certain laws on the books that prevent such unions, the clerk of courts is now authorized to issue a wedding license to gay couples just like every one else.
Obviously there are a lot of people – gay and straight – who are happy, no elated about this decision. It's only fair, right? Why shouldn't gay folk be permitted to enter into legally recognized unions like heterosexual couples? They're people too. But in Mudville – well, at least this corner of this street in Mudville – let's just say I won't be adding a rainbow hue to my profile picture on Facebook anytime soon.
Here's a couple things that I'm musing about today about yesterday:
• In the morning, one of the leading news stories was naturally the pending decision of the Supreme Court. Every time the news media runs a story on this issue of gay marriage invariably they air pictures of gay couples kissing in some court house at the conclusion of their wedding. Honestly, as a straight man, that moment usually weirds me out. Yesterday I looked up from my lap top to watch that segment and, as expected, they showed a gay couple – this time two women – concluding their wedding with a kiss. I went back to whatever I was working on and a minute or two later it occurred to me that I hadn't been bothered by that sight at all. It looked normal. Of course couples kiss after they get married.
I make my bread and butter by preaching the Bible, of articulating what it says to the people who have made The Refuge International their fellowship. This means I read it a lot and quote it literally every Sunday of the calendar year. And yet yesterday while watching the news I didn't even blink an eye when one woman kissed another in a display of nuptial happiness. I think that's what they call desensitization. And if I guy like me who reads the Bible a whole lot can be desensitized about a matter like this, what about the guy who rarely cracks the Scripture or hears only snippets of it on Christian radio but watches a lot of TV?
• Our son, a senior at UW-Superior, called me in the late afternoon asking me to pray for him. “I am distressed about this Supreme Court ruling” is what he said. Apparently he had been out to lunch with some friends when in walked another friend who is gay and as his companions expressed how happy they were for him because of the Supreme Court's decision, it became a decidedly awkward moment. How can you feign happiness for someone when all you really feel is grief? And why didn't I feel the same? Why didn't I drive around yesterday with a belly full of anguish of another benchmark passed on the road to national perdition?
Maybe because I'm not surprised. It's only my opinion but socially speaking evangelicals aren't really changing the morays of the way people live. They may be coming to our seeker-sensitive services, jam to our music and appreciate our Lord's message of love, acceptance and forgiveness but they may still cohabit with their partner and do stuff that might make some of us other, more traditional folks blush. So of course a culture that embraces tolerance (which is a good thing) but at the same time is increasingly ignorant of the Scriptures (which is bad) eventually reaches the point we are at today. It's inevitable. And it's another indicator that we have moved into a post-Christian society.
In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for public schools to make children pray an official school prayer. I'm okay with that. Over the last four years I've subbed enough at our local elementary school to observe how inattentive kids are when they are asked to stand each morning to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Imagine if on top of that they were also asked to pray a prayer? Regardless of how well written a lot of kids would mutter their way through this obligatory entreaty without so much as a thought of what was going on (sort of like the Pledge today).
But just because it's unconstitutional for a public school employee to lead their class in prayer doesn't mean that there isn't prayer in schools going on. There is. Every time lunch is served certainly there are some kids somewhere who silently bow their heads in thanks. There's nothing illegal about that. At the same time public schools by and large have a rule that allows students to gather together outside of class to read the Bible or pray together. It's called the Bill of Rights and so long as they don't make a nuisance of themselves, it's totally acceptable.
So now let the marrying begin – or resume as in 13 states same-sex marriages were already legal. So be it. There are other things in our country that are legal as well but that does not make them right. For my part, I will continue to teach those in my care what the Scriptures have to say about marriage – that it is a sacred union between a man and a woman. Of all other arrangements – relations between two men or between two women – it refers to as “unnatural” and “sinful” (see Romans 1:26-31). But of course it's not acceptable these days to talk about sin unless it's about your own. Otherwise, mind your own beeswax.
This post is not intended to change anyone's mind about the matter. First of all, I don't think I have a large following and my words probably will go unnoticed in the flak of commentary that already peppers the internet. Second of all, there is no argument that is ever won on social media. Just lots of venting, posturing, finger-pointing and “in-your-facing” and I have no stomach for that sort of thing. No, I'm just trying to articulate a response to this judicial act without coming off sounding as a self-righteous, ignorant redneck. But I suppose that's impossible. People will believe what they will. Maybe the best apologetic these days to an ever increasing secularism is to love well and live righteously even if it means I look more and more like an Amish guy coming into town on his horse and buggy.