Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Second Chances Likely for Straight Marriage

It's a March marriage madness marathon, isn't it?

Two days in a row of Supreme Court debates over gay marriage.  And America's media is fomenting the hysteria on both sides of the issue.

On the one side, conservatives are fretting the corruption of our entire universe's history of heterosexual marriage.  On the other side, liberals claim that matrimonial love knows no gender boundaries.

And then there's satirist and perennial Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, who scoffs that "gays have as much right to be miserable in marriage has heterosexuals."

If you believe the media on either side of the partisan divide, our Supreme Court is going to rule on whether gay marriage is Constitutional or not.

But it's not!  Any way you want to look at these two cases before the court, the Supremes almost certainly will not rule on the Constitutionality of gay marriage in either Hollingsworth v. Perry or United States v. Windsor.  The court may even decide not to decide, and sent each case back to the appropriate lower court.  Indeed, if you want to believe that gay marriage is Constitutional, or it isn't, the court likely will not give you much satisfaction.  Even thought the parties in both cases themselves want the court to make that decision as well.

Confused?  You should be, if all you know about these two cases is what you've read in the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, Drudge Report, or any other populist rag out there these days.  It's almost as if these media outlets actually don't want the general public to know what's going on in America's high court.  Instead, they want you to consume their packaging of the news so they can sell advertising space, and the best way to do that is make consumers assume that everything is on the line here regarding gender in marriage.

And so far, it seems the American public has fallen hard for it.

Read the transcripts from yesterday and today, and although yes, both cases deal with gay marriage, you'll note that the justices are grappling with legal technicalities in the way each case has been brought to their bench.  Although there has been discussion before the justices on the merits of allowing or disallowing gays to marry, there's almost as much discussion among the justices on whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over what may be a states-rights issue.

For years, blacks have been complaining that gay rights activists compare gay marriage rights to civil rights, and now, depending on the Supreme Court's decision, perhaps we'll have at least some clarity on whether or not gay marriage is a civil right.  Which, of course, would inevitably lead to another round of lawsuits that could reach the Supreme Court.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  After all, some justices think we already are.  None other than the normally conservative Justice Alito mused yesterday whether it's simply too early to make a legal decision in the matter - certainly not an attitude conducive to a slam-dunk endorsement of hetero-only marriage.

Meanwhile, vitriol on both sides of this debate runs red-hot and unabated.  Read some liberal sources, and you'd think gay marriage opponents are so few and bigoted that their cause is laughable.  Fortunately, a personal friend of mine, J.C. Derrick, was out in front of the Supreme Court all day yesterday, documenting the goings-on for World Magazine, and he learned that New York Democrat Ruben Diaz brought 32 bus loads of heterosexual marriage supporters down from the Empire State to Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Let me repeat that:  a Democratic state senator from the South Bronx in New York City, Ruben Diaz, opposes gay marriage, and he led a caravan of 32 buses full of gay marriage opponents from New York to our nation's capital yesterday to demonstrate on behalf of heterosexual marriage.  Diaz's New York State Senate press release said it would be only 30 buses, but apparently more people joined the effort at the last minute.

Now, maybe all of those New Yorkers are as misinformed as anybody about what's going to take place in the Supreme Court's chambers regarding these two cases, but you likely won't have learned from many mainline news outlets that 32 bus loads of New Yorkers, led by a Democrat, were on-site in front of the Supreme Court yesterday, cheering for straight marriage exclusivity.  Facts like that simply don't fit into the normal way modern media likes to package and sell the news.

Which illustrates the reason why we need to be very careful about the information we consume.  Bias is rampant and endemic in most major national media organizations, corrupting both liberal and conservative resources for news.  If you're not cross-checking your sources for information, you won't realize how distorted your view of the world may be.

Then there's this:  According to Proverbs 16:23, "the heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips." (ESV)

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on either Hollingsworth v. Perry or United States v. Windsor, the debate over gay marriage isn't going away anytime soon.  Yet to what degree have we evangelicals allowed this debate to degenerate as much as it has - and solidify as much opposition against the sanctity of marriage - through our own corrupt hearts?  Or our own injudicious speech?  Our lips have certainly not been persuasive, have they?  How has our failure to live out Proverbs 16:23 contributed to the speed with which gay marriage has acquired such support and affirmation within such broad sectors of our society?

The Supreme Court will likely kick this can further down the road, back to the states.  And most of us will likely greet such kicking with relief.  But that scenario will also give us a second chance to do what we should have been doing all along:  living out a Christ-like faith based on love.  Love not only for people who view sociopolitical policy differently than we do.  Love not only for gays and people who lead lifestyles with which we may not agree.  And love not only for the spouses of the opposite gender that evangelicals have too duplicitous a history of divorcing, marring our claim to marriage's sanctity.

But above all, we need to live out our love for Christ, the only One who can give us hearts for the wise speech and persuasive lips that are necessary to better argue our cause.

Among our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even Supreme Court justices.

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