A generation previous to mine remembers with great vividness the day that Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot John F. Kennedy as the president’s motorcade travelled through the streets of Dallas. Several years ago, I was preaching in Dallas and went to the very spot where that fatal shot was fired. My parents can tell you exactly where they were when they received the news that the president had been assassinated. We all remember seeing pictures in history class of the president’s wife dressed in black as the funeral procession carrying his cold body flowed by. It was a vivid reminder that more than the president had been shot. That bullet had taken the life of a dad and a husband. A marriage had been ended.
Yesterday, another Kennedy was in the news, and this Kennedy – an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court – has for all intents and purposes ended marriage as we know it in the United States. In 1996, the United States Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act. President Clinton, his own marriage troubled at times, recognized that there was a need for some federal standard as to the definition of marriage. States cannot be allowed to define marriage differently. There has to be a nationally recognized standard in place when “couples” move from one state to another (sorry, states right activists). Some things are so sacred, there has to be a national norm of acceptance, especially when evolving definitions are filtering into society. The Congress of 1996 and former President Clinton recognized this and acted with bravery to define marriage as it has always been understood – the civic union of one man and one woman.
Yesterday, Kennedy writing for the majority, voted to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for same-sex unions to be recognized in every state, regardless of whether that state has same-sex marriages in place. In my humble opinion, there are three major flaws with Kennedy’s argument.
First, he robs jurisprudence of any moral foundation. Kennedy states, “The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.” In doing so, he argued, the Congress had passed a law that “violates the due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.” In short, Kennedy is arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act was initiated solely because its advocates believed that homosexuality was morally wrong. Bull’s-eye! The reason that murder is outlawed is because its morality is in question. Lawmakers by definition are asked to make moral judgments. Indeed, the Bible says that lawmakers are to praise those who do well and punish evildoers (1 Peter 2:14). This implies, of course, that lawmakers make moral judgments. Ironically, when Kennedy takes the 1996 lawmakers to task for making moral judgments and calls them wrong for doing so, he himself is making a moral judgment. Such is the nature of the intellectual elite. Only they are allowed to say what is right and who is wrong.
This brings us to the second major flaw of the Kennedy decision. He ignored the will of the people. American government has always been “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Lawmakers represent the people who sent them to office. In a separate case, Kennedy ruled In the Proposition 8 case. The Court’s majority held that the plaintiffs in the case, representing the people of California, lacked legal standing to appeal the lower court’s decisions that found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. In 2008, a majority of voters in California passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in that state as the union of a man and a woman, effectively overturning a California Supreme Court ruling that had legalized same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in that case today means that the decision of the Federal District Court stands, presumably meaning that same-sex marriage will be legal again in California. In other words, instead of allowing the people to have any say in the legislative process, five judges can effectively overturn the will of an entire state. Scalia was right in his dissent when he argued that the Court had usurped the democratic process. Such is the very nature of liberalism. Liberal politicians and judges have forever thought that they know what is best. People are not smart enough to decide for themselves. They need government intervention. Well, government intervention came yesterday, and it came in a most intrusive way.
And this brings us to the third major flaw of Kennedy’s logic. The decisions handed down yesterday will create serious religious liberty challenges for churches, religious education centers, Christian institutions, and Christians at large. If homosexuality is no longer a moral issue, but a civic right, refusing to hire homosexuals will viewed on the same plane as a refusal to hire African Americans. A Christian couple refusing to rent an apartment to a homosexual couple will be seen as analogous to a landlord refusing rent to an Asian couple. These are frightening days for our ministries as five men have single-handedly undercut the very thing our churches are seeking to build – strong Christian families.
I love Ronald Reagan, and I would consider him to be one of the finest presidents our nation has ever had. There can, however, be little doubt that his most fatal flaw was made in 1988 when he nominated Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court. Is it any wonder that James Dobson has declared Kennedy to be the most dangerous man in America? A man like Lee Harvey Oswald can end the marriage of one Kennedy, but in this case, one Kennedy apparently can attempt to end the sacred marriage vows of an entire nation.