The Supreme Court of the United States has announced that, in the coming months, it will consider two cases that deal directly with the definition of marriage. The Court will take up the issue of Proposition 8, in which lower courts invalidated the will of the people of California to legally define marriage as between one man and one woman. The court will also take up the case of the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Department of Justice has refused to defend under President Obama.
What this means is that, on a legal level, 2013 will be a very important year for the institution of marriage as publicly defined in the United States of America. It’s also, therefore, a very important year for the issue of religious liberty. As we have seen with the HHS mandate, any exemptions will not be sufficient to protect the long-standing freedom of conscience that religious Americans have enjoyed.
In addition to speaking out whenever we can, we must also remember that the Supreme Court will not able to solve the marriage problem in America. Don’t get me wrong. What they decide in these two cases is extremely important. Still, if traditional marriage is upheld legally, marriage as an institution is still collapsing around us practically. Cohabitation is on the rise, divorce is normal, and the birthrate continues to dive.
So, it’s important that we ask: what else can we do?
Churches need to educate their congregation on what marriage is. It’s stunning to me how many Christians think marriage is primarily about personal happiness. It’s not. And once we embrace that false notion, the institution has already been dangerously redefined.
Churches need to surround young couples preparing for marriage with older couples who can mentor them. The benefits here will be mutual.
We need to pray for government officials, including the Supreme Court, in this particular area. There will be other challenges regardless of how these two decisions turn out.
We need to stay married. Period. Christians need to embrace that marriage is bigger than couples, bigger than personal happiness, bigger than we think. Marriage is how God builds and rebuilds civilizations. It’s really that serious.
We need to financially support a broad range of organizations and ministries that are working to rebuild the personal, social, legal, and cultural status of marriage. The victory will be won only when Americans have, in the words of Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, “embraced the beauty of lifelong married love.”