"Just who do we think we are?"
When I read those words in Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent from Friday’s ground breaking ruling purporting to redefine marriage, my first thought was, “We think we’re God.” The Obergefell v. Hodges case is just one more example of mankind doing our very best God imitation. To be fair, Justice Roberts was referring specifically to five members of the Supreme Court dictating the definition of marriage for the whole country. But they are just a reflection of our society as a whole. After all, we elected the officials that nominated and confirmed them.
We play God at the beginning of life, deciding whether a baby should be born based on convenience, and at the end of life, deciding when life is meaningful enough to continue living. With a doctor’s help, we attempt to change our sex if we don’t like the one God assigned us at birth. Plastic surgeons make a fortune taking away (or adding) curves on our God-designed bodies and faces. The “American Dream” has come to mean you can be your own god – if you just believe in yourself and work hard.
This is nothing new. We’ve been falling into the same trap since the Garden of Eden. Eating the forbidden fruit was our first grasp for omnipotence – believing the lie that God only made it off limits because eating it would make us like Him. We would not surely die, we would live forever! That began an endless cycle in human history, attempting to become our own “god” through self determination, and blindly believing one more time the deceiver’s two other basic lies – God didn’t really say the fruit was forbidden, and even if He did, there are no adverse consequences to eating it. Too late, we realize there really are consequences to disobeying the rules God set up for our own benefit. Those consequences lead us back to Him, and we begin the cycle again.
This merry-go-round with God is exemplified by the Children of Israel’s struggle with idolatry in one form or another throughout the Bible, but we see it in modern times too. Did God really say no-fault divorce is a sin? Even if He did, the kids will be better off if I’m happy. For that matter, did God even say sex outside of marriage is a sin? As long as you’re safe, there’s no harm in that either. Broken homes, fatherlessness, and a new generation afraid of commitment to anything more than virtual romance are just the beginning of the harvest we are reaping from these attempts to be God.
In America and most other affluent societies, we can have what we want, do what we want, and be what we want if we just work hard enough and believe in ourselves. Now our play-acting the Almighty has resulted in redefining the institution that served as the building block of our democratic republic and society since the Garden of Eden.
Just who do we think we are?
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