With Friday’s news of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding gay marriage, questions abound. What is marriage? Why is marriage so important? How can a court of nine people make such a weighty decision for 320 million people? What will this mean for Christians (and other religious people) who disagree, not on the basis of prejudice but conviction? As I write this blog, the color bar at the top of my WordPress screen is the color of a rainbow. Google’s home page has this statement, “YouTube and Google are proud to celebrate marriage equality. #ProudtoLove.” Today, the White House’s Facebook page colored the White House with the colors of a rainbow.
With so many loud voices, how now shall we think?
What is marriage? Friday the high court weighed in on something that predated the existence of this country and the existence of American culture and all other cultures. As Christians we believe that God created the world, then he created marriage. God created man and woman and determined early that marriage should be between a man and a woman. For this reason marriage is called sacred. As such it is the pillar of civilization, the cornerstone of societies. Jesus affirmed the centrality of marriage (Mark 10, Matthew 19) and even considers the church to be his bride. In his earthly role he assumes the position of the bridegroom wooing us to himself. When the foundational fiber of civilizations is redefined by a court of nine people for a nation of 320 million, what happens to the course of that nation?
How can a court of nine people make such a weighty decision for 320 million Americans? I turn to Ravi Zacharias for help. Zacharias, referring to Paul Tillich’s philosophy of cultures, says we must determine which culture we are. We have three choices.
- Theonomous culture (theos:God; nomos:law) The law of God is so embedded in our hearts that we all think in the same categories. The culture of India (with Hinduism) approaches this. We don’t believe in theonymous culture in the west.
- Heteronymous culture (heteros:another; nomos:law) The mainstream of the culture is dictated to by the leadership at the top. If you look at Marxism in secular terms it is a heteronymous culture. The handful controls the masses. Islam (Saudi Arabia, Iran)–the people at the top tell the masses what they will do.
- Autonomous culture (autos:self; nomos:law) Each person dictates their own moral prerogatives. Zacharias talks about a conversation with someone who disagreed with his opinion: “If we are an autonomous culture and I answer your question are you going to give me the privilege of my autonomy too, or as soon as I give you my answer you will switch to a heteronymous mode and dictate for me what I must believe as well?” That is the sociological dilemma. If A disagrees with B, B wants to enforce his/her principles upon A.
The court’s decision on Friday was a heteronymous expression of power. The leadership at the top dictated how 320 million people must think. Rather than allow states to hold referendums and the people’s voices be heard, nine people attempted to redefine a building block of civilization. As an autonomous culture, this should greatly concern us.
How Now Shall We Think?
I appreciate the words of George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God:
Politics reflects culture, and culture reflects religion. If you are concerned with the political drift of American culture, preach the gospel! As it sends out roots in the lives of believers, the seed of the gospel will change hearts and minds.
You are privileged citizens of a blessed nation. Use your citizenship well! Seek the common good. Advocate for the last, the lost, and the least. Speak the truth in love. And vote for candidates and issues that reflect a biblical perspective on issues. The difference in so many conflicts in American politics and culture turns on who turns out to vote.
If you are troubled with the Supreme Court’s decision, keep perspective! In this and every other matter, always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).