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Supreme Court Marriage Decision: How Should We Respond?

October 17, 2017

By: Emily Conley



It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.



While there’s been much speculation about how particular Justices could rule, and a variety of possible scenarios have been discussed at length elsewhere, here are two of the most widely discussed outcomes:

  • The Supreme Court declares that states can affirm marriage as a one man, one woman union. This would mean that the Supreme Court upholds our freedom to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman - as it has been understood for millennia. It would also uphold the freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day through the people’s vote, not court mandate. It would also mean that the Court ruled according to law and precedent, and resisted demands to invent new constitutional rights.
  • The Supreme Court declares that all states must redefine marriage. This decision would mean that the Supreme Court strips us of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process, overrides the tens of millions of Americans who recently reaffirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman (31 states have voted to affirm marriage in their constitutions, while only 3 states have voted to redefine marriage), and tosses away the understanding of marriage’s nature and purpose that has been embraced for millennia by diverse cultures and faiths across the globe.

Obviously, the consequences of the two outcomes are vastly different. But how should we respond in either situation? I believe that in either case, our response should actually be the same.

As Ryan Anderson summed up recently, “Some say we should abandon the defense of marriage and retreat to only protecting religious-liberty exemptions ... Others go further and suggest that we should simply disengage with politics entirely, retreat to our own communities, and rebuild a marriage subculture there.”

But I agree with his assessment of what we should actually do:

“We must continue to witness to the truth about marriage, find new ways to make the reasoned case about what marriage is, and work to protect our freedoms to do so for the next generation. All of this must be done in service of the long-term goal of restoring a culture of marriage.”

1. Live Out The Truth about Marriage

Win or lose at the Supreme Court, there’s no doubt that many in our society don’t understand the truth about marriage; if they did, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Divorce, adultery, and cohabitation have done significant damage to the institution of marriage over the past several decades, and as Christians, too often we sweep those issues under the rug.

The truth of marriage put simply is this: marriage is creative, diverse, and beautiful. Marriage is a lifelong union between husband and wife. Humanity has always been, and will always be, composed of men and women. That can’t change, and that’s why the timeless institution of marriage can’t be changed by a court. Marriage celebrates humanity’s diversity, not only because of the complementary of the sexes in marriage, but because throughout history and across cultures, different races and ethnicities have always married.

2. Make a Reasoned Case for Marriage

In most cases, as Ryan points out, the argument for marriage hasn’t been heard and rejected – it hasn’t been heard. Sentiments like those of Fred Phelps’ signs have drowned out or mischaracterized the reasonable belief that marriage between a man and a woman is a unique relationship with a purpose. Chanting “Adam and Eve, not Steve!” does nothing to represent the truth that marriage is the union of a man and a woman or  that children benefit emotionally and psychologically  by being raised by both their mother and their father, and the real effects of same-sex marriage on children.

Win or lose at the Supreme Court, we need to continue making rational arguments for the good of marriage.

3. Protect Our Freedoms for the Next Generation

As we mentioned in the story of Barronelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips, same-sex marriage affects more than the two people getting married. Those who live out their belief in natural marriage are already facing punishment by the government.

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, we will have to do more to protect the freedoms of non-profits, churches, school children, and individuals.

Take Action:

Win or lose at the Supreme Court, ADF is committed to defending marriage and the people who are brave enough to take a stand for what is right, but we can’t do it alone.

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