Recently the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases on the question of marriage. One is about California's Prop 8. Do Californians have the right to vote to define marriage? The second is the case on DOMA -- the Defense of Marriage Act. Is defending marriage constitutional? We'll find out. I suspect, as has happened too often of late, we'll find out that the nation believes that marriage is not worth defending. No, not right. That defending marriage is unconstitutional.
There are some odd things in this line of thinking. For instance, what does the government have to do with marriage? The concept was established from the beginning, long before governments were established. What does the government have to do with it? Beyond that, I'm pretty sure I haven't read anything at all in the Constitution about marriage laws. What does the Supreme Court have to do with it? Odd.
Some have suggested that Christians are hung up on abortion and "same-sex marriage". To some extent there is some truth to it. When there is a war, you fight where the enemy is attacking. Currently the enemy is attacking at the legal killing of babies and the primary social structure of marriage. That's where you fight.
I would suggest, however, that we're coming a little late to the party. Remember the story of Custer? His hardy little band of soldiers stood against all the Indians in the world and died. His reinforcements arrived ... two days later. Too late. That's us. We're rushing in to stave off the attack and save the day too late. Think about it. This "same-sex marriage" assault on marriage isn't new. It isn't even fresh. Marriage has been under assault for more than a century in America.
In 1914, Margaret Sanger (yes, that Margaret Sanger) pushed social reform to make contraception more available. You see, the society at that time thought contraception was a bad idea. They -- silly people -- thought that having children was a good thing (you know, like it says in the Bible) and that contraception would encourage promiscuity. It wasn't really until 1930's that the laws began to change. Planned Parenthood was formed in the 1940's. But it wasn't until 1965 that the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to prevent married couples (Get that? Married couples) from using contraception. Say farewell to "Be fruitful and multiply" and say hello to childbearing as part of marriage as an option rather than an expectation. And in the same stroke, given the ready availability of contraception, say farewell to a good reason to get married at all -- "It is better to marry than to burn with lust."
Feminism has been around a long time. At the start of the 20th century, feminism was largely concerned about the vote. It wasn't until the mid to late '60's that the so-called "Second Wave" hit. We called it "Women's Liberation". This was the point at which women started burning bras, getting out of the homes, and calling good wives "prostitutes" because they had sex with their husbands for reward. It hasn't eased up today. It has primarily just been institutionalized, ingrained, so that suggesting anything else would be considered barbaric and, of course, chauvinistic. Say farewell to the good wife of Proverbs 31 and the submissive wife of Ephesians 5 and say hello to the new "partnership", where two do not become one, but remain "equal partners" who can opt out when they're not satisfied with their cut.
Have you ever seen that old 1934 Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire movie, The Gay Divorcee? (It included zero homosexual behavior. See how language has changed?) Ginger Rogers wanted to divorce her husband. To accomplish this, she needed to have a reason. So she hired a man to spend the night with her (without actually being with her) so that adultery could be named on the divorce petition. Oh, we've come a long way, baby. In 1970 California inaugurated the "no-fault divorce". Prior to that, "We don't love each other anymore" or "irreconcilable differences" were irrelevant. Marriage was permanent and wasn't allowed to die without a fight. By 1983 every state but two had no-fault laws. In the 1800's the divorce rates were as high as 7%. By the 1930's they were up to 16%. By 1970 it hit 33% and exceeded 50% in the late 70's. We're no better now. Say farewell to "What God has joined together let no man separate" and "'til death do us part" and say hello to the temporary marriage -- "'til love do us part."
Today? Well, we've pretty much gone along to get along. Today the Church doesn't much care about contraception. How could I even ask such a thing? Of course it's a good thing! Today most of the Church believes that a wife should not submit to her husband. Mutual submission. That's the ticket. Two heads are better than one, you see ... unless the two heads are one living organism. And while the Church is not pleased with the divorce rates, we're not too agitated about them either. Divorce isn't optimum, we suppose, but it's to be expected. And, look, all that stuff about "for sexual immorality only" is certainly too restrictive. Adultery, sure, but also if he makes you feel bad or if she doesn't meet your sexual wishes (read "needs") or if he insults you or, hey, really whatever makes you feel better. We won't say anything. It's okay.
So now comes the last straw -- "same-sex marriage". We rise up and say, "No more!" Like the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, the marriage boat is in flames and floundering from multiple hits and we want to go to court and stop this travesty! Yes, it is a travesty. Yes, marriage is worth defending. Yes, it is wrong. But where were we when those first hits came in? And why do we think that now, having stripped marriage of just about every biblical definition it has, we can save it at this point? Having ingested rather than rejected every other attack along the way, why is this different? I'll still protest. I'll still raise the flag. I'll still stand. But if it weren't for the fact that marriage is God's institution, I'd say we're looking at the end of anything God had in mind for marriage. On the other hand, since it is His, I'm equally sure that God will retain some who remain married as He intended regardless of any public vote or ruling from the Supreme Court. I won't be counting on the government to defend God's institution. But I'll remain disappointed that some who consider themselves friends of Christ continue to fight against it.