Did the Obergefell US Supreme Court decision really change things for our society? If so, how?
The 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states changed more than just the definition of marriage. It changed the definition of personhood. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court made sexual orientation a protected civil rights category, and placed this under the 14th amendment, making sexual orientation analogous to race. But sexual orientation is a 19th century category mistake; it is not immutable or fixed.
After the Obergefell decision, gay-identifying journalist and author Jonathan Rausch seemed to speak for the nation when he wrote this: “The United States in Obergefell found at last a name for the gay soul—that name is no longer monster, nor eunuch, nor homosexual.” Prior to the historic Supreme Court decision, many people, including some evangelical Christians, believed that the only thing that would change if the Court overturned state bans on same-sex marriage was that same-sex couples could get married. This seemed fair. The American public was assured that same-sex marriage would allow for peaceful coexistence, upholding the melting pot of diversity. We were promised that the institution of marriage in no way depended upon heterosexual exclusivity—even though heterosexual exclusivity is a defining feature of marriage throughout all time and in all civilizations. But today, even those who were slow to face the facts behold a simple truth: certain categories of reality depend upon exclusivity to exist, and biblical marriage is one of those.
Exclusivity is not a popular idea. And yet belief in a a theistic God—one who created and intervenes into the lives of His people, controlling all events for our good and His glory; one who is self-existent, self-revealing, and personal—depends upon exclusivity. So does the gospel. And after Obergefell, we learned that so too does marriage. A biblical sexual ethic—heterosexual marriage that depends on the binaries of male and female—is at the center of the gospel, not at its margins. After Obergefell, the gospel is on a collision course with our culture.
The question that remains is how we will respond. Will we respond in real love—the kind that makes real friendships with neighbors and tells the truth of what God has called us to? Will we surrender the gospel for the false peace of just getting along and not making waves? Will we fall into bitterness and anger? The choice is ours.