Thoughts About the Supreme Court’s Decision on Same Sex Marriage

Please bear with me while I share another religious/political post. These are few and far between for me, usually made when I have to get something off of my chest.

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage and what it means for the country. While it is the right decision, It is definitely one that is going to be divisive. The court has done the right thing in extending the right to marry to the LGBT community but it is going to create a large amount of discontent within parts of the religious right. It shouldn’t, but it will. I’m afraid it will also create discontent within parts of the LGBT community and its supporters.

The Supreme Court was right to strike down state laws prohibiting same sex marriages. I see it no differently than the civil rights struggles in the 1960s. The Supreme Court simply extended a basic right to same sex couples that normal couples have had for ages. There is nothing in this decision that changes anything for churches. The court has not said that clergy will have to perform same sex marriages, there is nothing that says same sex marriages will have to be performed within churches. This decision provides for civil marriages. Clergy and churches will be able to make the decision whether or not they should marry same sex couples, which is how it should be.

Unfortunately, this decision has the potential to create an extraordinary amount of discontent on both sides of the issue. This is a Sunday that finds me relieved that I’m no longer a Southern Baptist (or a member of other similar churches); I just know that there are preachers who have spent the last couple of days writing new sermons to pillory the Supreme Court. Likewise, there will be those within the LGBT community who are going to get upset when clergy and churches refuse to marry them and they will be equally as vocal with their discontent. In my opinion, both sides will be wrong.

As Christians, I believe it will be our duty to treat each other with respect, civility, and dignity in the example of Christ. I think one of the best responses I’ve seen is the response from Bishop Hartmayer of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah. There will be those who dislike the first part of his response in which he says the Catholic Church will not change it’s mind on same sex marriage, but all should agree on the second part of his response:

“However, this judgment does not dispense either those who may approve or disapprove of this decision from the obligations of civility toward one another. Nor is it a license for more venomous language or vile behavior against those whose opinions differ from our own.

This Court action is a decision that confers a civil entitlement to some people who could not claim it before. It does not resolve the moral debate that preceded it and will most certainly continue in its wake.

The moral debate however must also include the way that we treat one another – especially those with whom we may disagree. We are all God’s children and are commanded to love one another. In many respects that moral question is at least as consequential and weighty as is the granting of this civil entitlement.”

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