The legalization of same sex marriage is not a sudden event, however. Judging by the reactions on both sides, it is certainly a seismic cultural shift, akin to Roe v Wade or the Plessy v Ferguson decision (legalized segregation). But it should not come as a shock to observant people of faith.
Society has been sliding downwards into the abyss for five decades, and the shudder you felt at the decision is society’s morality hitting bottom. Or so we hope.
The legal recognition of homosexual marriage is the fruit of a degradation of marriage which began in the 1960’s when the contraceptive pill drove a sword into the heart of marriage. Codified in Griswold v Connecticut, which legalized contraception use in marriage (yes, it was once unthinkable and banned by all major religious groups), the pill slowly sucked the life out of traditional marriage. Rather than assuming that children were at the heart of marriage, they are an option for couples pursuing careers, travel and the home of their dreams.
My next door neighbors on Long Island told me that they were getting a dog instead of a second child, to enable the husband to buy the boat of his dreams. The grandparents actually threw a baby shower for the puppy! Their lonely little guy used to gaze through the picket fence at my two girls playing in our yard. His father put up a six foot stockade fence to stop him.
When I sold purebred Labrador Retrievers, I quickly understood that I was cooperating in this childless culture. Many young couples would come to buy a dog to “practice being parents” and hold off the urge to procreate. I could see the seething resentment in the women’s eyes. I stopped breeding dogs and had another baby.
Procreation has been cut out of the very essence of marriage, and what remained of marriage’s God-given meaning and purpose was left to wither in public opinion until it became a loose association of two adults in love. Add five decades of the promiscuity of the sexual revolution, aided by no-fault divorce, and we arrive at a society with a 40% illegitimacy rate, where millions of confused, suffering children search amid the emotional ruins of the once-strong family structure for the love of a father and mother.
I taught in an inner city high school while I was engaged to be married. Not one of my students had ever met a person in their social circles who was married. We heterosexuals seemed to have no use for marriage, other than some nostalgic image on a Hallmark card. Marriage was up for grabs.
Times change, so why not marriage?
If companionship and not babies was the sole aim of marriage, and babies could be made in a laboratory (via IVF and surrogacy) by any one with the money to do so, what made marriage so unique that it could only be shared by one man and one woman?
The question became: Why not grant homosexuals the right to enjoy such companionship and economic security?
We allowed the same sex marriage lobby to frame the argument in terms of rights for adults, forsaking the needs of children. We wanted to be seen as fair, loving, tolerant people.That is how public opinion went from 80% opposed to same sex marriage to 50% in favor in a few short years. The institution of marriage was on shaky ground indeed.
So when the question is asked “who is responsible for the Supreme Court’s approval of same sex marriage?” the only honest answer is: I am. I did not fight hard enough against contraception, no fault divorce and for a traditional understanding of marriage. I did not feel badly enough for the children who suffer from the lack of traditional family structure to be their advocate even when study after study confirmed this. I did not fast and pray enough for God to change the hearts of all Americans who stood idly by, consumed with their entertainment devices, and allowed the family go on life support.
It was too lonely a battle to defend traditional marriage amid the disdain and mockery of my family and associates. Hollywood, academia, many churches and politicians had given way, so I did as well. I was censored on Facebook for a few days for posting an article on same sex marriage so I stopped posting on it. There were other battles to be fought, I thought. I was wrong. Nothing is more important than retaining our right to not only worship freely but to live out our faith in the public square.
I attended a lecture by a Little Sister of the Poor on the history of religious freedom in America. The right to worship as Catholics was not ensured in the Colonies, but thanks to fair minded James Madison the father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we have it in our most fundamental document. But then the majority in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision found a right to homosexual marriage in the Fourteenth Amendment, which did not exist. So much for the Constitutional protections!
But here’s the good news.
The battle is far from lost. Neither Roe v Wade or Plessy v Ferguson settled the matters they proposed to decide. They created movements which caused disruption in society until the wrongs they caused were rectified (the abortion industry is losing steam at this time). It took commitment, courage and faith to overcome the degradation of segregation. It will take perhaps even more effort to help homosexuals find love and healing within the arms of God and to restore the true meaning and beauty of God’s plan for marriage for heterosexuals who lost faith in it.
And thanks to many public declarations where Christians of all denominations and races have expressed solidarity with traditional marriage, we will find new friends at our side as we work to rebuild what has been torn down.
Good people of faith forged many alliances on the freedom rides, on the sidewalks of abortion mills and in the streets of our nation’s capital. We expect to be joined by fellow believers who did not believe us when we warned that the family was in trouble, as our freedom of conscience is drastically eroded. It will take sacrifice and pain, real pain. Will it take the arrest of our local clergyman for refusing to perform a same sex wedding to wake us up? Perhaps.
But the awakening is coming. The darkness of our culture of relativism has become sufficiently dark for the light of Christ to stand in stark relief.
As Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero, a martyr for the truth in El Salvador said,
The Church must suffer for speaking the truth. For pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to touch it and say, ‘You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted.
Please join me in praying, fasting, and bearing joyful witness to the love of Christ expressed in your marriage. We will join the battle this time.