May I urge you to read this letter carefully? It has been written with a fervent prayer that you will recognize the urgency it conveys. It deals with a decision that is about to be announced by the U.S. Supreme Court, dealing with the definition of marriage. In late June or early July, the Justices will reveal their decision to either affirm the definition of marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman, or it will redefine this institution to include same-sex unions. If marriage is to be reconfigured in the law, which court-watchers predict is almost certain, every dimension of the culture will be adversely affected. It will be one of the most momentous rulings in U.S. history, tantamount to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. As we know, that terrible ruling 42 years ago divided the nation irreparably and has resulted in the deaths of 58 million babies.[i]
I do not recall a time when the institutions of marriage and the family have faced such peril, or when the forces arrayed against them were more formidable or determined. Barring a miracle, the family that has existed since antiquity will likely crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. This is a time for concerted prayer, divine wisdom and greater courage than we have ever been called upon to exercise.
For more than 50 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the destruction or redesign of the family.[ii] Many of these objectives have largely been realized, including widespread support of the gay lifestyle, discrediting of Scriptures that condemn homosexuality or sexual immorality, muzzling of the clergy and Christian media, inclusion of gays and lesbians in all branches of the military, granting of special privileges and rights in the law, overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia, indoctrinating children and future generations through public education, and securing all the legal benefits of marriage for any two or more people who claim to have homosexual tendencies. By promoting what is known as LGBT, we must remember that the “B” stands for bisexuality. That would include acceptance of sexual relations between both genders in groups and among every category of sexual expression outside the bonds of marriage. Now the proponents of LGBT seek to legalize gay and lesbian marriage, which could mean anything or nothing in a few years.
These objectives seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, but they are now within reach. We in North America and Europe are not simply "slouching towards Gomorrah," as Judge Robert Bork warned in his best-selling book; we are hurtling toward it. The old earthen dam that has held and protected the reservoir of Judeo-Christian values since the days of our Founding Fathers has given way. Traditional marriage is the last bulwark to fall.
Let’s put this issue in perspective. The institution of the family is one of the Creator’s most marvelous and enduring gifts to humankind. It was revealed to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and then described succinctly in Genesis 2:24, where we read, “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” With those 20 words, God announced the ordination of male-female marriage, long before He established the two other great human institutions, the church and
At least 5,000 years have come and gone since that point of origin, yet every civilization in the history of the world has been built upon it. Despite today’s skeptics who claim that marriage is an outmoded and narrow-minded Christian concoction, the desire of men and women to “leave” and “cleave” has survived and thrived through times of prosperity, famine, wars, peace, epidemics, tyranny, and every other circumstance and human condition. It has been the bedrock of culture in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and even Antarctica. Given this history, one might begin to suspect that something mystical exists within human nature that draws the sexes together—not just for purposes of reproduction as with animals—but to satisfy an inexpressible longing for spiritual bonding. Indeed, how can it be doubted? Clearly, our loving Creator placed the desire for intimacy and companionship deep within men and women—and referred to everything he had made and pronounced it “very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
Admittedly, there have been various societies in history where homosexuality has flourished, including the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire. None of these civilizations survived. Furthermore, even where sexual perversion was tolerated or flourished, the institution of marriage continued to be honored in law and custom. Only in the last few years has what is called “gay marriage” been given equal status with biblical male-female unions. In fact, to date only 18 countries in the world recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.[iii] America appears on the verge of becoming number 19. God help us if we throw the divine plan for humankind on the ash heap of history.
The impact of experimenting with the meaning of marriage is no longer speculative. We can see where it leads by observing what has happened in Scandinavian countries. Leaders in Norway, Denmark and Sweden first embraced de facto marriages between homosexuals in the 1990s. The consequences for families in those countries were devastating. The institution of marriage began dying, with most young couples cohabitating or choosing to remain single. More than 80 percent of children in some areas of Norway were and continue to be born out of wedlock.[iv] It appears that tampering with the ancient plan for males and females spells doom for the family and for everything related to it.
To put it concisely, marriage represents the very foundation of human social order. Everything of value sits on that base. Institutions, governments, prosperity, religious liberty and the welfare of children are all dependent on its stability. When it is weakened or undermined, the entire superstructure begins to wobble. That is exactly what has happened during the last 45 years. The American people didn’t demand the sea change that is occurring. In fact, the populations in 31 states voted individually on the definition of marriage. Every one of them affirmed it as being exclusively between a man and a woman.[v] Those proclamations were ensconced in their state constitutions.
Now, however, many of those popular elections are being overridden by imperious federal judges who are changing the course of history. In mid-2012, only six states had legalized same-sex marriage. Now, three years later, there are 37, and the Supreme Court is poised to make it 50![vi] Whatever happened to Abraham Lincoln’s pronouncement in the Gettysburg Address that ours is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”? It is rapidly being replaced by a government “of the courts, by the courts, and for the courts.”
How did this happen to us? How could such a great and freedom-loving people have allowed themselves to be dominated by a handful of unelected, unaccountable, arrogant and often godless federal judges, who have been appointed for life and continue to violate the democratic process? It is an ominous development. Was it the desire of the Founding Fathers when they designed this great representative form of government? Hardly!
Thomas Jefferson warned repeatedly about the emergence of an out–of-control judiciary that would destroy the Constitution and, along with it, America’s fundamental freedoms. He first became alarmed when, in 1803, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision called Marbury v. Madison. It allowed the Justices to rule on the constitutionality of every legal issue, both inside and outside the government, giving themselves unrivaled imperial power.[vii] The concept of “checks and balances” that was intended
to keep one branch from eclipsing the other two was no longer in force—at least not with regard to
When Jefferson recognized the full implications of the Marbury decision, he wrote this prophetic statement: “It is a very dangerous doctrine to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions. It is one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”[viii]
BINGO! What we have today, 235 years later, is an oligarchy (meaning rule by a small cadre of elites). The courts simply strike down laws and policies they don’t like, whether their opinions reflect the provisions of the Constitution or not. Furthermore, the activist judges and those who support them have turned the Constitution into what they call “a living, breathing document,” in which its actual words no longer mean what they say. The Constitution “evolves,” they tell us, to fit the biases of the court. The people are no longer given the opportunities to vote on issues that matter to them, or to elect representatives who will do their bidding. That is not what the Founding Fathers designed for us.
The Marbury decision in 1803 continued to agitate Jefferson for many years. Nearly two decades later he wrote: "The Constitution . . . is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”[ix] “It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression . . . that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped.”[x]
Jefferson issued one more warning in 1823, just three years before his death. This time, however, he was not simply predicting the rise of an imperious court; by then he had observed it firsthand. Jefferson said, "At the establishment of our constitution, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous . . . ”[xi]
Now, the misfortune that worried Jefferson has produced for us a culture of death that is steeped in moral relativism. We are victims in our day of the grab for power that should have been squelched two centuries ago. Since then, the Supreme Court has overridden the will of the people, regularly and without apology. Every time the Justices convene as a body it is like a mini-constitutional convention in which the meaning of the foundational document is changed without the consent of the governed. Henceforth, their pronouncements are the ultimate law of the land.
Let’s get to the bottom line. If the U.S. Supreme Court redefines marriage to include same-sex unions, I guarantee you that it will not be the end of the matter. An avalanche of court cases will be filed on related issues that can’t even be imagined today. Here are a few that we can foresee:
1. Religious liberty will be assaulted from every side. You can be certain that conservative churches will be dragged into court by the hundreds. Their leaders will be required to hire people who don’t share the beliefs of their denominations and constituents. Pastors may have to officiate at same-sex marriages, and they could be prohibited from preaching certain passages of Scripture. Those who refuse to comply will not only be threatened legally, but many will be protested and picketed by activists. Perhaps this is a worst-case scenario, but maybe not. Prison is also a possibility.
2. Christian businesses and ministries will be made to dance to the government’s tune. We’ve all seen examples of photographers, bakeries, and florists being required to serve at gay weddings, on penalty of closure or bankruptcy. This kind of legal oppression is coming all across the nation.
3. Christian colleges may be unable to teach scriptural views of marriage. Any non-profit Christian organization that opposes same-sex unions, including our own, will likely lose its tax-exempt status. Many will be forced to close their doors.
Do these consequences sound draconian to you? If so, consider an editorial published in the New York Times a few weeks ago. It was written by liberal columnist, Frank Bruni, who insisted that Christians must be “made” to change their church doctrines on sexual morality. He actually wrote, “Church leaders must be made to take homosexuality off their sin list.” [xii]
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, wrote this in response to Bruni’s statement: “These activists aren't after a "live-and-let-live" policy. They're on a march to force all Americans to celebrate and affirm what they do under the penalty of law.”[xiii]
Indeed. I wonder if Frank Bruni has read the Bill of Rights in the First Amendment to the Constitution.[xiv]
Now let’s look at what the law may require of parents and their children in the future:
4. Here’s an example of what is to come: A few weeks ago, President Obama actually demanded legislation prohibiting parents from seeking professional therapy to assist their children who were dealing with sexual identity crises.[xv] What business does this man have telling parents how to help their confused and disoriented kids even after they have been abused and exploited sexually? This is outrageous! In some states, counselors can lose their licenses if they try to assist their troubled children in this way. These intrusions appear to be forerunners of things to come.
5. Any professional with a state license of any kind may be stripped of his or her right to practice or do business if he or she doesn’t conform to the court’s biases on same-sex relationships.
6. Textbooks for children of all ages will almost certainly be rewritten and republished to illustrate gay and lesbian marriages.
7. The most outrageous interference with parental rights will come from public schools that require children as young as five to be taught gay and lesbian concepts. It will matter not that this teaching will contradict the beliefs and convictions of parents. This could become a requirement in every public school by judicial decree.[xvi] It is already the law in California and Massachusetts.
There are many other things I could write about at this crossroads of history. Let me summarize my concerns this way: Down one path are millions of strong and vibrant families with their children growing up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Down the other path is a nation drifting away from its spiritual roots in a culture that will teach a dangerous ideology to today’s younger generation and those yet to come.
What can we do to save the nation? Prayer is our only hope, but it is a powerful one. Even at this late hour, the Lord could still respond to the petitions of millions of godly people. Shirley and I are among those who are praying for a miracle. Will you join us?
God bless you. And may God bless America.
Before I close, I want to share a portion of a speech given by my great friend, Professor Robby P. George.
It appears, below. He is a Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a graduate of Harvard School of Law. He also has a Ph.D. from Oxford University. He is one of the most brilliant people I know. On Good Friday last year, he spoke to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Professor George is a committed Catholic scholar, and I am an Evangelical, yet I find myself in complete accord with his speech.
I hope you will be blessed as you read his address about standing boldly in defense of the Gospel.
Robert P. George Speaks at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.
And if one, in fact, does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable.
But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go—he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.
Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel—ashamed of the good, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted—even hateful. These currents bring pressure on all of us—and on young Catholics in particular—to yield to this insistence. They threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil good. They command us to conform our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.
Do you believe, as I believe, that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life? Do you hold that the precious child in the womb, as a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, deserves respect and protection? Then, powerful people and institutions say, you are a misogynist—a hater of women, someone who poses a threat to people’s privacy, an enemy of women’s “reproductive freedom.” You ought to be ashamed!
Do you believe, as I believe, that the core social function of marriage is to unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union? Do you hold, as I hold, that the norms that shape marriage as a truly conjugal partnership are grounded in its procreative nature—its singular aptness for the project of child-rearing? Do you understand marriage as the uniquely comprehensive type of bond—comprehensive in that it unites spouses in a bodily way and not merely at the level of hearts and minds—that is oriented to and would naturally be fulfilled by their conceiving and rearing children together? Then these same forces say you are a homophobe, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!
To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship—heavy costs.
What was once normative is now regarded as heretical—the moral and cultural equivalent of treason. And so, here we are.
You see, for us, as for our faithful Evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded. Yes, he had been greeted—and not long ago—by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King. But all that is now in the past. Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over. Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message. “Away with him,” they shout. “Give us Barabbas!”
So for us there is no avoiding the question: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I unwilling to stand with Christ by proclaiming His truths? Oh, things were easy on Palm Sunday. Standing with Jesus and His truths was the in thing to do. Everybody was shouting “Hosanna.” But now it’s Friday, and the days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. Jesus is before Pilate. The crowds are shouting, “crucify him.” The Lord is being led to Calvary. Jesus is being nailed to the cross.
And where are we? Where are you and I? Are we afraid to be known as his disciples? Are we ashamed of the Gospel? Will we, like all the other disciples, flee in terror? Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to “fit in,” to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak. Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire: “Jesus the Nazarene? I tell you, I do not know the man.”
The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter—“surely you are this man’s disciple”—it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife? These teachings are not the whole Gospel—Christianity requires much more than their affirmation. But they are integral to the Gospel—they are not optional or dispensable. To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life. And it is a Gospel of family life, too. And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.
These forces tell us that our defeat in the causes of marriage and human life are inevitable. They warn us that we are on the “wrong side of history.” They insist that we will be judged by future generations the way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow south. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices—our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong. The idea of a “judgment of history” is secularism’s vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.
One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God—the God of truth, the Lord of history—that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on “the right side of history.”
One thing alone will matter: Was I a faithful witness to the Gospel? Did I do everything in my power to place myself on the side of truth? The one whose only begotten Son tells us that He, and He alone, is “the way, the truth, and the life” will want to know from each of us whether we sought the truth with a pure and sincere heart, whether we sought to live by the truth authentically and with integrity, and—let me say this with maximum clarity—whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?
The Gospel is true. The whole Gospel is true. Its teachings about life and marriage are true—even its hardest sayings, such as Christ’s clear teaching about the indissolubility of what God has united and about the adulterous nature of any sexual relation outside that bond.
If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that, “I do not know the man.” If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are not ashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him—even to Calvary.
And we bear witness by our fidelity to the greatest truth of all, namely, that the story does not end at Golgotha. Evil and death do not triumph. Yes, it is Good Friday, but the One, who became like us in all things but sin, conquers death to redeem us from our transgressions and give us a full share in eternal life—the divine life of the most blessed Trinity. The cross cannot defeat Him. The sepulcher cannot hold Him. His heavenly Father will not abandon Him. The psalm that begins in despair, Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtani, ends in hope and joy. Easter is coming. The crucified Christ will be raised from the dead. The chains of sin will be broken. “Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?”
I grew up as a Catholic in a Protestant culture. The Protestants of my boyhood were what we today call Evangelicals. In those days, the religious differences between us seemed vast, though today the personal and spiritual bonds we have formed in bearing common witness to marriage and the sanctity of human life have relativized, though, of course, not eliminated, those differences. We now know that Evangelical Protestants are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ—separated from us in certain ways, to be sure, but bound together with us nevertheless in spiritual fellowship. Growing up, I admired the strength of their faith, and their willingness openly to profess it. And I loved their hymns. One of the most familiar ones contains a vital message for us Catholics today. You will recognize the first verse:
On a hill faraway, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; I love that old cross, where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain.
And the chorus goes: I will cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.
Yes, there’s the story. Christ must endure the sufferings of Good Friday to fulfill His salvific mission.
But Easter is coming. And we, who cherish His cross, and are willing to bear His suffering and shame, will share in His glorious resurrection. We who cling to that old rugged cross will exchange it someday for a crown.
And then comes the next verse, and how perfectly it captures the attitude we must adopt, the stance we must take, the witness we must give, in these times of trial if we are to be true disciples of Jesus:
To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear. Till He calls me someday, to my home far away, where forever His glory I’ll share.
And I’ll cherish that old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.
By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.
Used by permission. https://americanprinciplesproject.org/social-issues/robert-p-george-speaks-at-national-catholic-prayer-breakfast/
[ix] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, September 5, 1819. Manuscript. Thomas Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (116.00.01) (Digital ID# us0116_1, us0115_0, us0116_2, us0115_3)
[x] The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Andrew A. Lipscomb. Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821. Vol. 15, pp. 33132.
[xi] Thomas Jefferson letter to Monsieur A. Coray, October 31, 1823.
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