American Tragedy – Gird your Loins – Robert Gagnon

  By Robert A. J. Gagnon

June 26, 2015

Today, June 26, 2015, a day of national tragedy, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered what should rank as the worst decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the lifetime of every living American (rivaled only by Roe v. Wade) and at least one of the two or three worst decisions since the Court’s inception (compare the Dred Scott case).

Five lawless judges (all four Democrat-appointed judges: Obama’s Sotomayor and Kagan; Clinton’s Ginsburg and Breyer; and one traitor appointed by Reagan: Kennedy) defeated four Constitution-abiding judges (four of the five Republican-appointed judges: Bush Jr.’s Roberts and Alito; Bush Sr’s Thomas; and Reagan’s Scalia) to foist “gay marriage” on all 50 states. Five unelected lawyers have acted as legislators and imposed their arbitrary and extreme leftwing ideology on all the American people, culminating the judicial tyranny over the past two years that has preempted the democratic process.

Chief Justice Roberts is right in declaring this ruling to be “an act of will, not legal judgment…. Just who do we think we are?” Justice Scalia is right in saying that this ruling is “a threat to American democracy.” Justice Alito is right in warning that the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy…. The implications [of comparing traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women] will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

Unless this decision can be reversed soon through the next two presidential elections and the retirement/replacement of renegade SCOTUS judges (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the first up), this will turn out to be the greatest American tragedy for the civil liberties of persons of faith, for the cause of sexual purity in the United States, and for the lives of persons struggling with same-sex attraction. Prepare for a reign of persecution and abuse of people of faith as hateful, ignorant, and discriminatory “bigots” and the moral equivalent of racists in every area of life in which people of faith intersect with the secular realm, individually and in their religious institutions, with a profound negative impact as well within most mainline denominations.

As individuals, people of faith will be aggressively indoctrinated, fined, denied advancement, fired, intimidated, and subjected to ceaseless verbal abuse in public and private schools, at institutions of higher learning, at places of employment in public and private sectors, and throughout the main communication organs of the media and entertainment industry. Their institutions and businesses will be set on a collision course with the state: denied government funding, contracts, and loans; denied accreditation and tax-exempt status; and subjected to government harassment.

Contrary to what deceived and deceiving proponents of “gay marriage” have argued, homosexual relationships will not be tamed by marriage but rather will destroy it and render it meaningless. The institution of marriage will not so much conform homosexual activity to the Christian understanding of marriage (lifelong, monogamous, procreative, balancing the sexes) as be transformed over time to accommodate to virtually any type of adult-consensual union. It will eradicate the very basis in creation and nature for defining marriage as complementary of body and monogamous: a male-female foundation. Taking account of sexual differentiation at any level, even opposition to cross-dressing and “transgenderism” and sex-distinguished bathroom facilities, must now be treated as malicious.

Gender confusion in the young will be regularly promoted by the government, schools, and media. Along with it will come an increase not only in homosexual or transgender identification but also in homosexuality itself. Following in the wake of that will be the attendant, disproportionately high rates of measurable harm associated with homosexual practice, including high sexually transmitted infection rates and high numbers of sex partners over the course of life (mostly for males; marriage won’t tame this but rather will be redefined to accommodate an “openness” to other sexual liaisons), as well as high relational turnover and the mental health complications that come from such breakups (especially for females; marriage won’t stop that either but rather will be redefined to view such short-term “marriages” as the new norm). Add to this the complete severance of even the pretense of a procreative norm. The cheapening effect on marriage, reduced to little more than voluntary friendships that come and go, will stimulate an even more precipitous decline in marriage rates among heterosexuals.

The four dissenting Justices follow in the political footsteps of no less a Founding Father than Thomas Jefferson:

“To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions … [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so . . . and their power [is] the more dangerous, as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots” (Letter to William Jarvis, Sept. 28, 1820).

“The great object of my fear is the Federal Judiciary” (Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, 1821).

“One single object… [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation” (Letter to Edward Livingston, March 25, 1825).

The dissenting judges also have a legacy in Abraham Lincoln, who in his First Inaugural Address in 1861 warned the nation in connection with the Dred Scott decision:

“The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”

Sadly and ironically, in asserting themselves so recklessly and with such hubris into the millennia-old institution of marriage (a point, incidentally, made by Scalia), the Lawless Five will stimulate massive distrust in the institution of the Court, whose Justices, like a collective Humpty Dumpty, make the Constitution and statutory law mean whatever they deem it to mean.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

The Lawless Five have indeed become the masters of the Fourteenth Amendment, making it say what the formulators and electorate (and nearly everyone else for the century-and-a-half that followed) never even dreamed it could say in order to reconfigure an institution grounded in the Scriptures and natural law long before the Constitution and its amenders ever existed. We have come to a point where the country is ruled by an unelected, unresponsive, and ideologically arbitrary oligarchy. My children have learned today that they cannot trust the system of government under which we now operate.

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The Lawless Five have ventured arrogantly into the realm of morality. Their view of marriage is opposed to no less a moral authority than Jesus of Nazareth. Those who like to say that Jesus changed the Law of Moses fail to note the direction of change. The Six Antitheses of the Sermon on the Mount make clear that the change is not toward greater license but toward greater demand, making the law more internally self-consistent (Matthew 5:17-48).

When Jesus addressed the issue of marriage in more detail (Mark 10:2-12; parallel in Matthew 19:3-9), he quoted Genesis 1:27 (actually just a third of it: “male and female he [God] made them”) and 2:24 (“For this reason a man may … be joined to his woman and the two shall become one flesh”). These two texts stress the foundational character of a male-female prerequisite of the marital/sexual bond. Consistent with the Six Antitheses, Jesus directs change toward greater demand, not greater license, appealing to the twoness of the sexes, “male and female,” as a basis for limiting the number of partners in a sexual union to two, whether serially (no remarriage after invalid divorce) or, implicitly, concurrently (no polygamy).

Once the two halves of the sexual spectrum are brought together, moderating the extremes of each sex and filling in the gaps, a third party (or more) is neither necessary nor desirable. In ancient Israel women had always been bound by a strict monogamy requirement (no polyandry, i.e. multiple husbands) and did not have right to unilateral divorce. Jesus declared that the Law of Moses had accommodated to male “hardness of heart” in permitting them multiple wives. No longer, Jesus said. In effect: “I’m closing that loophole by appeal to God’s male-female prerequisite in creation.” The duality of the sexes in sexual union is the foundation or predicate for limiting the number of partners in a sexual union to two.

For those who question that this was what Jesus was doing in citing Gen 1:27c and 2:24, we have a nice history-of-religions parallel from a sectarian Jewish group known as the Essenes (the Qumran community was a monastic nucleus for “town Essenes”). In a document known as The Damascus Covenant written more than a century before Jesus’ time, the Essenes forbade polygamy (“taking two wives in their lives”) among their members because “the foundation of creation is ‘male and female he created them’” (Gen 1:27) and because “those who entered (Noah’s) ark went in two by two” (Gen 7:9; DC 4.20-5.1). In other words, they appealed to the same one-third of Gen 1:27 to which Jesus would appeal more than a century later, as a basis for revoking an allowance for polygyny (multiple wives). They correlated this verse with a reference to the Noah’s ark narrative where the precise phrase “male and female” reappears in connection with an explicit “two,” True, they didn’t go as far as Jesus’ later extension to invalid remarriage after divorce (it is easier to prohibit concurrent polygamy, polygamy proper, than to extend the principle to serial polygamy, divorce-and-remarriage for any cause). Yet they did use God’s intentional sexual design of “male and female” in Gen 1:27c  as a basis for arriving at a principle of duality in number.

The Essenes called this “male and female” element of sexual ethics “the foundation of creation.” That is exactly how Jesus is viewing it. That makes Jesus’ view of a male-female prerequisite for sexual unions, extrapolated from God’s creation, an essential part of his teaching, foundational to all other principles in sexual ethics (as we would expect in dealing with creation). Homosexual practice is an obvious direct assault on that foundation because it disregards a male-female prerequisite as having any foundational significance. Indeed, it violates it. That makes homosexual practice a greater violation of God’s will at creation than polyamory, which is a violation of a principle only secondarily extrapolated from a male-female requirement.

To propose, as some revisionists now do, that “gay marriage” and the elimination of a male-female prerequisite is a new work of the Spirit overlooks the fact Jesus moved in the opposite direction by tightening the implications of a male-female requirement. It is likely, then, that those who view “gay marriage” as a new work of the Spirit have confused a work of the flesh with the work of the Spirit and disregarded the Lordship of Jesus Christ so far as the definition of marriage (and thus acceptable sexual relations) is concerned.

Granted, in addressing a ruling by SCOTUS we are dealing with a civil, not religious, matter. Yet five renegade Justices now claim to be able to pronounce authoritatively on a moral matter in the absence of any clear direction from the Constitution of the United States. As Scalia put it in his dissenting opinion, “They (the majority of Justices) have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.” Marriage as an institution is older than the Constitution, by millennia. The framers of the Constitution had no desire to change the definition of marriage inherited by them from the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, much less the most foundational element of all: the male-female prerequisite accepted by virtually all religious and civil traditions worldwide. In pretending to be moral arbiters for us all in the absence of (or, perhaps, in spite of) clear direction from the Constitution, these five Justices have stepped outside their field of expertise and jurisdiction into a sphere where a citation of Jesus’ own views becomes appropriate.

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This ought to be a day of national mourning and a day of rededicating ourselves to live sexually holy lives, repenting of what we have failed to do and now doing what we still can as a city on a hill and a light for the world to restore constitutional liberty and personal morality to the nation and its institutions.

I am not saying that Christians should be driven by fear of what the state can now do to us. No, Christians must always exhibit the boldness of speech that characterizes free people of the commonwealth of heaven. Christians should respond in faith rather than fear in this moment of American Crisis.

Jesus has assured us, “Look, I am with you all the days till the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), just as God assured his people Israel: “He will go before you. He, Yahweh, will be with you. He will not abandon you or leave you. Do not be afraid and do not be terrified” (Deuteronomy 31:8). We know how the End turns out. God wins. God’s name will one day be revered as holy by all, willingly or not. God’s kingdom will come. God’s will shall be done on earth as it is even now being done in heaven.

So let us clothe ourselves with the whole armor of God (truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer) to engage this struggle that is not merely against “flesh and blood” but against “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:10-20). And as Jesus reminded us, if you are going to have fear, don’t be so much afraid of human beings, who can (at most) kill only the body. Fear God “who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Let us take to heart the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8: No “pressures of life or tight straits or persecution” or “any other created thing will be able to separate us”—those of us who are under the controlling influence of the Spirit of Christ—“from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “Rather, in all these matters we are super-conquerors through the One who loved us.” For God “cooperates” with the Spirit who prays within us, working “for the good in all things for those who love God,” the good consisting of “being conformed to the image of his Son.” Who among us does not want to look more like Jesus and to resemble his beauty, the beauty of a life given over wholly to God?

Among my favorite verses are these: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? The One who did not spare his own Son but handed him over (to death) for us all, how will he not also, together with him (Jesus), graciously bestow to us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). If God offered even his very Son for us, in order to redeem us, he will not spare us any truly good thing now. He will continue to lavish his grace on us. He loves us more deeply than we can fathom for endless ages.

Yet this is not a call to moral sloth. On the contrary, “Let us not be bad in doing what is good for in due time we will reap (our harvest of eternal life), if we do not slack off” (Galatians 6:9). As the ancient image conveys, this is a time for “girding up our loins.”

Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon Press).

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