Sunday, June 28, 2015

In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States, our nation has seemingly lost its collective mind.  The liberals are unceasing in suddenly heralding the decision as a triumph of civil rights, a mantra that hasn’t been sounded in a long time.

I wanted to make a couple of other points I mentioned in passing in a previous blog post.

First, the reason that such a decision was inevitable is because we have lost our God consciousness in this country.  There is no absolute authority. The Bible, and its moral code, is not revered.

I quoted favorably yesterday from the Court’s dissenting justices.  They rightly understood and eloquently wrote of the unconstitutionality to the majority’s decision.  They were acutely aware of the hideousness of this decision’s judicial overreach.  But it was very disappointing to hear their circumvention of the issue of same-sex marriage.

The lone exception was perhaps Justice Samuel Alito.  In Part II of his dissent, he did a commendable job of attacking the issue of same-sex marriage and gave a thoughtful defense of traditional marriage.  But the bulk of his opinion was also on the issue

Chief Justice John Roberts went out of his way to be sure everyone understood he was not objecting to same-sex marriage per se by writing:  “Petitioners make strong arguments rooted in social policy and considerations of fairness.  They contend that same-sex couples should be allowed to affirm their love and commitment through marriage just like opposite-sex couples.  That position has undeniable appeal…”

He then went on to state “Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us” and argues that “the people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples”  and unequivocally and forcefully states what his dissent is not about.  “It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples.”

And just why is it not about such?  When our founders spoke of the laws of nature and of nature’s God (Declaration of Independence) they were advocating a Judeo-Christian ethic, which advances one-man/one-woman marriage.

Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps the court’s most vociferous conservative firebrand, scathingly denounced the tyranny of the majority’s decision calling it a “threat to American democracy”, but was very surprising in his aloofness on the subject of traditional marriage:  “The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me.  The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes…”  Then he callously reiterated “it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage.”

Justice Clarence Thomas was a bit more benign, but still invoked this same objection that same-sex marriage wasn’t the problem, it was how it was being achieved.  He spoke of the “distortion of our Constitution” that “inverts the relationship between individual and the state in our Republic.”

So 3 of our 4 conservative judges could, so it seems, care little of what marriage is in our beloved nation.  It was the means they vilified, not the end.  And for me, this is a telling example of why a liberal majority could do what it did in the Obergefell decision.  If the conservatives have such little fear of God or Biblical consciousness, then what else could we expect from the liberals?

The Supreme Court of Texas had no problem talking freely of God and Biblical morality in the following case of Grisby v. Ried.  Granted, it was a judicial opinion rendered a century ago.  Yet, it is a great example of how America has lost its Biblical footing.

Marriage was not originated by human law. When God created Eve, she was a wife to Adam; they then and there occupied the status of husband to wife and wife to husband. When God created the first pair, He gave the command: "Multiply and replenish (people) the earth," which was enjoined upon their expulsion from the garden. When Noah was selected for salvation from the flood, he and his wife and his three sons and their wives were placed in the Ark, and when the flood waters had subsided and the families came forth, it was Noah and his wife and each son and his wife, and God repeated to them the command: "Multiply." All of the duties and obligations that have existed at any time between husband and wife existed between those husbands and wives before civil government was formed. The truth is that civil government has grown out of marriage; marriage by cohabitation, not by contract, which created homes, and population, and society, from which government became necessary to settle differences in matters of private interest, to protect the weak and to conserve the moral forces of society, to the support of religion and free government. In what respect does the contract of marriage of B and C contribute to their happiness? How does that marriage benefit society? It will contribute nothing to sustaining the dignity of the State, nor add to its citizenship. Such a contract, if it be regarded as such, is worse than a nudum pactum, for it is without consideration or obligation to or from either party. Such life is in defiance of the commands of God, and in disregard of every obligation to society and State. Such a transaction has but one element of a contract, mutual consent to do nothing for themselves, their country, or their God. The abstract theory has had little influence in the determination of causes except to confuse the judicial mind. Contract marriages exist when the parties, for some pecuniary or social advantages, have desecrated the sacred status by their union, and such marriages often furnish business to the divorce courts and scandals to society.
We need an awareness of God and an understanding of sin.  Yesterday’s decision was more egregious in that it defied God rather than circumventing the right of American’s to govern themselves and vote on a definition of marriage.  Yes we need judges like those of the 1913 Texas Supreme Court who understood that marriage is a sacred institution designed by God.   

We have become preoccupied with the marriage of homosexuals and not the practice of homosexuals.  The down side is that we, for the most part, have believed that as long as we do not codify this sinful choice into our marriage laws, we have done well.  We have not.  For far too long, homosexuality has been celebrated in America.  And homosexuality is overshadowed by the sin of abortion, an immorality that gets so very little attention these days.

We need revival.



Friday, June 26, 2015

United States Supreme Court Redefines Marriage

Today is June 26, 2015.  Another one of those dates that will stick out in Americans' minds for the rest of time.  Our nation's Supreme Court issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the "gay marriage" case that has now federalized the right of same sex couples to marry.  Very soon, we'll have other mixes of marriage, a man with 5 wives, two husbands and two wives, etc.  but that is another post for another time.

This is a very, very sad day.  Sad for personal reasons and sad for corporate reasons.  As a Christian who tries to follow God and obey the Bible, I cannot help but grieve for my nation.  My nation has defied the Lord and defiled His Word.  Marriage is not a right of the state.  It is sanctioned by God.  And in yet another realm, America has taken an official stand of opposing God.  That is a stance it will lose.  Abraham Lincoln bemoaned in 1863 that "we have forgotten God."  We have not forgotten Him, though.  We are actively warring against Him.  How foolish we are.

The Court was almost predictable with its 5-4 decision.  Anthony Kennedy was indeed the "swing" vote, siding with the liberal Stephen Breyer and the radical feminist Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Obama appointees Kagan and Sotomayer.  The four conservatives, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito each wrote their own dissenting opinions.  Something that is virtually unheard of.

The Court didn't really use the Constitution to justify its decision.  To be sure, they used the 14th Amendment's equal protection, due process clause, as the "legal" basis of their imperial edict.  But everyone on the Right and the Left knows exactly that these judges tinkered and gerrymandered our laws to fit a philosophical persuasion.

The Minority was scathing in their response.  Each dissenting judge took the unique step of issuing their own opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:

…this Court is not a legislature.   Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.  Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be…Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not.

Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage.  Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration.  But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening…The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment.  The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.

Antonin Scalia wrote:

I join the Chief Justice’s opinion in full.  I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy...

This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Clarence Thomas bemoaned the tinkering of "due process" to fit whatever judges want it to fit, then said:

By straying from the text of the Constitution, substantive due process exalts judges at the expense of the People from whom they derive their authority.

 And Samuel Alito gave a prophetic warning to the overwhelming number of Americans who do not share this viewpoint of marriage:

I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.
Chief Justice John Roberts had asked somewhere in his dissenting opinion, "just who do we think we are?"  We think we are better than God.  We think we are higher than the Constitution.  We are a country bent on doing our own thing, whatever that takes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Let Your Light Shine

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14 that we Christians "are the light of the world."  It is exactly what He said about Himself in John 8:12.  It is interesting that Jesus presupposes the darkness of the world.  As we 21st century American Christians wait with labored breath and faithful prayers for our Supreme Court's decision on marriage in this country, it is encouraging to remember Jesus' words.  He knows the world is a dark place and needs us.  It may get darker in the next couple of weeks.  It is already dark.  So let us shine.  Our country may redefine marriage.  But it cannot redefine us.  We are the light of the world.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Post-Flag Day Thought

Flag Day 2015 found me immersed in several quasi-crises.   And while I found some moments to honor the Lord by honoring my country by honoring the flag, I did not quite make it to my blog to post a tribute to Old Glory.  I simply want to pass along this thought from President Theodore Roosevelt.  Way to go, Teddy.  We could use you now.

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Reflections on the Death of a Saint

Today, I had the honor of officiating in the funeral of a precious church member.  She was 93 years of age and a remarkable woman.  One of our church's surviving charter members.  Her faith in God to endure the trials of an aging body was admirable.  Her sweet and gentle spirit was contagious.  Her reticence to be tied to the past but to live in the present was a joy.  I was glad today that she was a Christian.  "Sinner" is not a word that comes to mind when I think about her, but it is (was) a part of her reality.  And somewhere along her journey (around 12 if I remember the story rightly) she acknowledged that and owned that label--"sinner".

The Bible is clear about that.  Every single human being has committed treason against God.  We have rebelled; launched a coup; transgressed, usurped and dishonored a loving, gracious God.

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"   Romans 3:23
"There is none righteous, no not one" Romans 3:10
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way"  Isaiah 53:6

Perhaps you resist admitting just how bad you are.  I'm glad my friend didn't.  And the good news is that people who admit this do something else.  They reach out of Jesus.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  1 John 1:9

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved."  Romans 10:13

This saint did all of this and more.  And I'm so very glad.  I'm glad I got to talk about that--what we Christians call "her salvation experience"; and that this very sad day for so many was laced with a little joy that she is now "safe in the arms of Jesus."

A pastor gets many privileges.  For me, I count it a privilege to stand near the casket as family and friends file by for their last farewell.  I know some people have the "closed casket" but I'm partial to that last farewell.  I know some pastors hate that moment.  I do refuse to stand right at the head of the casket, which is where ministerial protocol suggests.  For me, that's too invasive.  I want to be close enough to be a help yet far enough to give someone their privacy.  I forgot how tearful and sorrowful those moments can be.  I heard tears and sobs and sadness today that reminded me of the sting of death.  Adam and Eve messed it up for us.  There was suppose to be separation and the curse and death.  But sin has a penalty... "for the day that you eat of it, you shall die."

But again, at the graveside, I was able to remind everyone that Jesus has the final victory over sin and death.  A precious saint is in glory with her Savior.  What a joy!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Just a thought...

A helpful and needed conversation with an old friend tonight stirred so many priceless memories.  I'm still in a quagmire of melancholy from being reminded of his distance from my life and the vacuum from that, so I'm only half sure of how this blog post will develop.  My path took me from his proximity and those shared experiences that bonded us.  And the convenience of closeness stopped.  And the burdens came and time did its number on our relationship.   Most of you know what I'm talking about.  So many good friends that you grow distant from along the journey of life but they will forever hold a special and irreplaceable position in your heart.  But talking tonight was like we haven't missed a beat.  We were both fixing dinner for our kids and not using frozen food or microwave ovens.  He is caring, intelligent, witty, giving, listening, attentive, provocative and loyal.  He introduced me a long time ago to G.K. Chesterton. 

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Isn't that an incredible thought?  Of God's tireless energy and monotony and care and attentive faithfulness?  Chesterton is one of the few who would think to call the Eternal God "younger than we".  I'm so glad I began the day with Psalm 90 "from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" and ended with this thought that "our Father is younger than we."  And, I get to end the day thankful for God's good, tangible gift of an incredible friend.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Captions Anyone?

Ok.  What would your caption for this picture be? 

On the heels of yesterday's capitulation by Boehner-led House Republicans on the Homeland Security bill without any conditions, which will fund the President's illegal amnesty program for illegal immigrants, mine is:
"Can you believe they think I'm a Republican?"