With the Supreme Court making the wrong decision to impose its own definition of marriage on all the states, and therefore nullifying the votes of millions of Americas who have a reasonable belief about marriage, a lot of resources have been circulating around the web. Here are a few I was proud to help contribute to that may be of help to you and your church as we sort out what the decision means for local churches and the future of ministry.
Along with Denny Burk, I was pleased to co-author the SBC’s recent resolution affirming the SBC’s beliefs about marriage. Titled “On the Call to Public Witness On Marriage,” Burk and I write with several purposes: to reaffirm the SBC’s beliefs about marriage, and our resolute stand to persist in that belief no matter what consequences follow. As we write:
RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention calls on Southern Baptists and all Christians to stand firm on the Bible’s witness on the purposes of marriage, among which are to unite man and woman as one flesh and to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.
Secondly, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission convened an important statement titled “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage.” I was pleased to be a signatory. It’s an important statement with a diverse coalition all proclaiming one central truth: Marriage is something that can’t be redefined. You can sign it, too; and I urge you to do so. A sampling of the statement:
As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.
Third, in making sense of how we’ve gotten to where we are where we are on marriage, I wrote an essay at ERLC.com titled “The Roots of Marriage’s Redefinition.” The essay makes both a biblical and natural law argument that the redefinition of marriage began long ago when culture began to experience marriage’s goods apart from marriage itself. A sample:
In general, a “redefinition” occurs when the composite structure of an entity’s essence or nature has been altered, added to, or subtracted from. What does “redefinition” mean as applied to marriage? In the case of marriage, a redefinition occurs when the goods of marriage are removed from the marital union itself and experienced elsewhere in a substitute, and cheapened form. A “good” is an irreducible feature that is good for its own sake and stands on its own. This will be explained further below. Once the goods of marriage are capable of being actualized apart from marriage, marriage’s composition and poise retain less attractional pull. For the sake of this article’s argument, let us assume that marriage’s goods are threefold: Romantic union, companionship, and procreative capacity. As this article will argue, once these goods were all de-coupled from the bounds of marriage, the likelihood of marriage’s further devaluation and redefinition were inevitable.
Fourth, in the aftermath of the court ruling, I went and read the opinion and its impact on religious liberty. I did a quick write-up titled “Supreme Court and Religious Liberty: Reason for Concern” at ERLC.com; and plan to write additionally on the subject in the coming week. A sample:
According to Roberts, the majority’s support for religious liberty doesn’t square with how they’ve characterized those who disagree with same-sex marriage. In short: How can religious liberty be upheld if it’s the source for hardship that the Supreme Court is seeking to protect? Who will win—hurt feelings or religious liberty?
Fifth, two years ago, Ryan T. Anderson and I wrote a story for Focus on the Family about why millennials, despite the consensus that they’re okay with same-sex marriage, should continue to believe the truth about marriage. I think this lengthier article is important given the circumstances we’re now in. Titled “Refusing to Stay Silent: A Millennial Case for Marriage,” it’s available here to read in full. A sample:
So, we’re optimistic for two reasons. First, as young people settle down, marry and have kids, they’ll develop greater appreciation for what makes a marriage and for the gendered nature of parenting. They’ll come to see that husbands and wives aren’t interchangeable, and that mothers and fathers aren’t either.
Second, if we are correct about the likely harms of redefining marriage, then even a season of experiencing genderless marriage and its consequences in some places will lead to a reassessment. After all, the harms of divorce and non-marital childbearing led to the marriage movement of the 1980s and ’90s.
Sixth, I helped organize a joint venture with the ERLC and Alliance Defending Freedom in a document called “Protecting Your Ministry.” It’s a clearinghouse of resources and model language for churches, schools, and other ministries to protect the integrity of their ministry from potential legal headwinds. It’s available for free at ERLC.com/store.
Seventh, the ERLC did a spectacular job in resourcing and equipping people and churches on a Christ-like response to a bad ruling. All the resources the ERLC has developed is on a single page for easy viewing and access: ERLC.com/SCOTUS.
Eighth, Eric Teetsel and I co-authored a new book titled Marriage Is: How Marriage Transforms Society and Cultivates Human Flourishing (Nashville, B&H: 2015). In it, Eric and I attempt to argue that evangelicals should give more attention to marriage—not simply because it offers each person their “happily every after,” but because marriage is God’s blueprint for a healthy society in which persons are cared for and all people prosper. In the coming years, Christians are going to have to give a defense of why marriage matters at all—not just for Christians, but for the world. This is our attempt. It’s currently on sale at Amazon.