On June 26, 2015, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy issued an opinion that effectively eliminated the definition of marriage from the laws of the United States. (And no, the Supreme Court did not redefine marriage; the definition of marriage is the relationship between one man and one woman. That was the definition on June 24; and it will always remain the real definition. It is simply no longer recognized in the laws of the United States).
The effects of this opinion are numerous. Some of those effects will be felt within weeks; others will not be fully felt for years.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of effects from the Supreme Court’s opinion; nor are they predictions of what will happen. They are effects that have been occurring in the wake of the attempts of other countries to eliminate the definition of marriage from their respective laws, and therefore should not come as any surprise should we experience them in the days and years ahead.
Here are some of the most chilling effects of this decision (in my opinion):
- The marriage rate in the United States will plummet more rapidly—the marriage rate in the United States has already slowed dramatically. Given the drop in the marriage rate in countries like Norway and Sweden in the years following their removal of the definition of marriage from their laws—not to mention the state of Massachusetts in the years since the definition of marriage was removed from their laws 11 years ago—it should come as no surprise that the Supreme Court’s opinion will not increase the marriage rate in the United States. Marriage is just a piece of paper, the thinking goes. Why bother with it?
- Therefore, more children will be born out of wedlock—if the marriage rate plummets, then it would follow that more children will then be born out of wedlock. That has been the case in Norway and Sweden; and it should come as no surprise to Americans when the number of children born out of wedlock increases.
- The Government will become more involved in families and child-raising—the government will have a greater role in providing for those children born out of wedlock. The government will also have more input in determining what constitutes a family; we should not be surprised to see some state contrive a law that expands the definition of family like California’s new 3-Parent Law.
- The bullying and intimidation of those dissenting will escalate—it is already costly to publicly state that marriage is only between one man and one woman, and to live that out in the public square. The vitriolic name-calling and acts of violence began in the aftermath of the passing of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008; it has continued until today with increasing numbers of people losing their jobs, losing their businesses, and losing their homes. The push to silence any dissent will only be bolstered by the events of June 26, 2015.
- Many churches, and many Christians, will capitulate—Paul warned Timothy of the dangerous times he would face (2 Timothy 3:1-9). Many will become lovers of pleasure and the praise of people more than lovers of God. It should come as no surprise when we witness more and more of these churches and these Christian leaders have “epiphanies” and suddenly declare that homosexual behavior, and therefore their desired definition of marriage, is somehow okay.
Those five effects are chilling. But I do see a ray of hope.
The price for obediently following Jesus Christ went up dramatically on June 26, 2015. The good news is that there will be a significant number of people who will be willing to pay that price. Those will be the people who will turn and go right back into the culture that kicked God out and become the counter-culture—the “principled resistance” (to borrow from Mat Staver). They will be the ones to re-introduce to this foundering society a message of hope: the life-improving, world-changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They will be the ones to introduce a novel idea: to limit the understanding of marriage to be an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. They will be the ones to purport the novel idea that life finds its genesis in the person of God Almighty, and that it begins at conception and ends at natural death. Counter-culture. Principled resistance to that which is being accepted as “normal.”
They will be the ones who will not be unlike Paul and Silas, whom the people of Thessalonica described as “turning the world upside-down” (Acts 17:6)—only they will have the job of turning an upside-down world rightside-up.
I for one am ready to begin that work. Who’s with me?