Written decisions of our Supreme Court justices are called opinions. Justices who differ with the majority may write a dissenting opinion. But in contrast to all such opinions, the Scripture requires preachers to declare the very oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). This is a responsibility that no man should ever take up lightly, and so even the apostle Paul himself cried out, “Who is sufficient for such things?”
Momentous subjects should humble us. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court wrote in his dissent, “Just who do we think we are?” (Roberts, p. 3). This is a question that every mortal ought to ask far more frequently than we do, and yet, despite our objective unworthiness, God has called some men to speak the rising sun of His Word, however much the darkening clouds are gathering, and however much those clouds might think they are here to stay.
Consequently, in light of the Obergefell decision, a message taken from the pages of God’s Word must be declared to five justices of the Supreme Court, the five who voted with the majority in this decision. These were the five who vainly declared that there is a somehow a possibility of a genuine marriage occurring between two members of the same sex.
While this sermon is directed to you as office holders, it is a message declared in the open, in the public square, and so all others are also invited to hear and heed. I am speaking specifically to Justices Kennedy, Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer, but I summon all other Americans to take these things to heart as well. I call upon citizens of other nations to hear these words, and to pray for us. I thank the dissenting justices for their insights and faithfulness, calling upon them to remain faithful. And I call the mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes, and skies—all of which remain securely normal, just as they were created to be—to bear witness to this testimony against our nation’s legal corruption and rationalized descent into abnormal folly and sin.
Hear the text of Scripture. These are the words of God.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27).
A Summary of Scriptural Teaching:
As Justice Thomas noted in his dissent, our form of government was established in a recognition that God alone is the source of our rights. The State does not create or bestow our rights, but rather is solemnly charged to defend and protect them. In order to do this, the State must submit to a reality outside itself. As Justice Thomas put it, our nation began with “a vision in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth” (Thomas, p. 17, emphasis mine). That sentiment is fully in accord with Scripture and is a truth that is found in the first pages of Scripture. And, as we see in our text, this imago Dei is inextricably tied in with the fact of our creation as male and female. Just as a violin and bow are one instrument, and a lock and a key are one mechanism, and scissors are one tool, so also mankind created as male and female is one image. And as the Lord Jesus said in His teaching on this longsuffering subject of marriage, what God has joined together, no man should presume to put asunder (Matt. 19:6). What God has engineered may not be re-engineered by us.
Your majority opinion in Obergefell blithely sets that scriptural understanding aside, and does so with a sublime disregard for the profound issues that are at stake. You acknowledge that heterosexual marriage has been the norm in all human societies, right up until the last fifteen years or so. In acknowledgement of this, your majority opinion went so far as to provide exotic quotes from Confucius and Cicero, but you entirely ignored the biblical witness that you were actively engaged in rejecting. Confucius? You are rebels who do not yet dare name the object of your rebellion.
As a result, simultaneously—in dereliction of your solemn responsibilities as justices of the Supreme Court—you ignored the constitutional founding of our nation that was built upon that biblical understanding of the world. But understanding our constitutional founding was the particular focus of the solemn oaths you took when you were first sworn into the nests you have now fouled.
That biblical witness extended over four thousand years of revelation, from the first book of the Bible to the last, and that witness was then accepted and practiced by believing Christians for the last two thousand years. Acceptance of that biblical testimony was the foundation of all marriage laws in the United States. And you set all this aside for the sake of what you acknowledged to be a novelty, a novelty that is a mere fifteen years old.
When our fathers declared their independence from Great Britain, they acknowledged an important reality at the very beginning of their endeavor—they said “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes” of the separation. In attempting a far greater social transformation than what they had in mind, you have fallen far beneath them in your willingness or ability to explain what you have done. Far from showing a decent respect for the views embodied in our cultural tradition over millennia, you have modeled a careless and contemptuous dismissal of realities that are far greater than you. You have set aside millennia for the sake of a fifteen year fad, and it might as well have been a fifteen minute fad.
So here is the biblical witness you unsuccessfully tried to ignore.
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).
The law of Moses rejects such homosexual practice:
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Lev. 18:22).
Jehoshaphat and Asa were two Israelite kings who were commended by the sacred history for how they handled the problem of same sex decadence in their times:
“And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 14:24; cf. 15:12; 22:46).
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul is clear that homosexual desire is the dead end destination of all human ingratitude and pride. It is not a coincidence that all these grotesque parades in our major cities are called “pride” events. I dare say they are, but pride is no virtue, and neither is insolence, arrogance, or conceit. Because men would not honor God as God, and because they would not render thanks to Him, God in His wrath gave them over to their same sex desires. This kind of public frenzy is not just something that invites God’s wrath; rather, it is a sober indication that God’s wrath is being visited upon us already. Your legal reasoning is another example of the wrath of God resting upon our nation.
Here is what the apostle Paul says:
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26–27, ESV).
Not only are those who commit such perversions under the judgment of God, but so also are those who applaud and approve of them, as we can see just a few verses later (Rom. 1:32). Approval of vice is itself a vice. It is worth noting that the men of your Court voted against this monstrosity by a margin of 2 to 1. You women of the Court, however, were unanimous in your support of it. Or as Paul would say, even you women. Wisdom is vindicated by her children.
Lest anyone miss the point that is repeatedly made, from Genesis to Revelation, the apostle Paul says that those who live in this way are destined for spiritual destruction. This is therefore not a trivial issue—everlasting life and eternal damnation rest upon it.
“Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10, 1901 ASV)
In short, there are millions of Americans who believe what they believe on this subject, not because of some quaint customs and hang-ups they learned from their Victorian great-grandmothers, but rather because of their deep moral convictions about the authority of the Bible. We do have a high view of biblical marriage because for us it is emblematic of Christ and the Church. In your words it is “long revered” among us. That is true, but that is not all the truth. That is true, but it is only half the truth. As the citations of Scripture above make plain, we believe that homosexual acts are detestable to God and invite His judgment. Scripture reveals to us what marriage ought to look like, but it also reveals what it must never look like. And your decision has vainly sought to temporarily approve what God has forever condemned.
One of the dissenting opinions (Scalia, p. 6) notes that evangelicals make up a quarter of our nation’s population, and in this judicial rebellion you have welded your capricious version of what constitutes bigotry to our deep religious understanding of what the Lord Jesus requires of us. Nothing whatever that is good can come of this.
The dissenting opinions are not tentative in how they categorize the tyrannical overreach of this decision. It is called:
1. A “judicial Putsch” (Scalia, p. 6);
2. A violation “even more fundamental” than no taxation without representation was—it is social transformation without representation (Scalia, p. 6);
3. An approach that “the Framers would not have recognized” (Thomas, p. 2);
4. It is a decision that will have “inestimable consequences for our Constitution and our society” (Thomas, p. 18);
5. It is evidence of “irremediable corruption” in our legal culture’s approach to constitutional interpretation (Alito, p. 8);
6. It is a “naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government” (Scalia, p. 5);
7. The decision is “an act of will, not legal judgment” (Roberts, p. 3);
8. And it is a “threat to American democracy” (Scalia, p. 1).
All of these assessments are quite true, and significantly understated.
You attempted to acknowledge our sincerity in this quaint oppositional conviction of ours, but this patched-up conciliation gesture is belied by a decision that necessarily places us in the legal category of “bigots.” As Chief Justice Roberts noted, “People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment from the majority today” (Roberts, p. 28).
Why is this true? You have said that same sex mirage is “a fundamental right” (Kennedy, p. 22). You say that “democracy is the appropriate process for change, so long as that process does not abridge fundamental rights” (Kennedy, p. 24). Human history reveals “the transcendent importance of marriage” (Kennedy, p. 3). Marriage is “essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations” (Kennedy, p. 3).
But you also say this:
“Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here” (Kennedy, p. 19).
Later you say this:
“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions and those who adhere to religious doctrines may continue to advocate with utmost sincere conviction that by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons” (Kennedy, p. 27).
Shall we attempt to put all this together? It is the reasoning of your Court that citizens, motivated by decent and honorable religious principles, may continue to advocate with sincere conviction that the fundamental rights of their fellow citizens must be removed from them. You have written that wanting to rob someone of his fundamental rights is a decent and honorable aspiration. We may advocate for such a change, but must not ever be allowed to accomplish anything, for democracy may not be used to abridge fundamental rights. Nevertheless, religious believers, or those who oppose this decision for any other reason whatever, will have First Amendment protection as we argue for removing something of transcendental value from homosexual couples. Nevertheless, the Court still applauds the fulfilling centrality that we give to this understanding of marriage, as we seek to remove something essential from the hopes and aspirations of our fellows.
What your Court has actually done in settling this farrago of nonsense upon us is to place three options before us. First, either same sex unions will once again be rejected by all fifty states, with homosexuality therefore returning to the closet, or second, your decision will stand in all fifty states, and the faithful church in America will go off grid and underground in various ways, with all that implies, or third, the Union will come apart. From reading your opinion, you plainly do not know what you are doing or what you have done. When Scripture tells us that a throne is established by righteousness, it is the high end of folly to attempt to establish anything on the alternative foundation of wicked unrighteousness. “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: For the throne is established by righteousness” (Prov. 16:12).
So then. As various insightful warnings in the dissenting opinions made very clear, a narrow majority of your Court, by adopting this approach to constitutional law, was not discrediting the laws and practices it was striking down, but was rather discrediting and jettisoning its own moral authority. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Psalm 94:20). This frightful abandonment of moral authority by the Court is a reality with which all thoughtful Americans now have to deal. We will deal with it as the circumstances warrant, in numerous situations—whether as states, or cities, whether in families, churches, or individuals—but we must deal with it now. We do not have the option of returning back to normal, as though nothing significant or momentous has happened.
You imposed a slim majority decision on the entire nation because you have formally rejected the explicit teaching of our text. In other words, with regard to the substance of the case before you, you rejected the doctrine of mankind as created male and female, serving in this way as God’s created image bearer. Your decision is therefore morally outrageous, and is an implicit rejection of the doctrine that we have God-given rights at all. This is why your decision affirming same sex mirage is simultaneously a decision rejecting in principle the very concept of religious liberty. If we have human rights, it is because we are created in God’s image. There is no other possible foundation for them. But if you have functionally denied that this image has any standing in law, then you have implicitly determined that we have no standing in law.
But we need not make this point with inferences. We come to the second point. Not content with an implicit rejection of a solid scriptural foundation for human rights, you offered an explicit idolatrous substitute as the source of our rights, such as they now are. You said:
“The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era” (Kennedy, pp. 18-19).
To which Justice Scalia rightly replied, “Huh?” (Scalia, p. 8). To descend from a sublime recognition that human beings bear the image of God, and are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, to this pitiful and confused collation of hollow platitudes is beyond disorienting. You say that our rights come, not just from the ancient sources that you are (by the way) bluntly rejecting, but you dared to say—in a reasoned legal opinion, no less— that they also come from “a better formed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.” The decline of our republic can be marked in this way—from sound Supreme Court decisions, to wrong but meaningful Supreme Court decisions, to meaningless Supreme Court decisions. If that sentence is to be considered now as the source of our rights, then God help us all. Our rights now come, not from Almighty God, but from five Ivy Leaguers drunk on therapeutic feel-good gibberish. Our origami rights are to be folded for us by you five—fashioned delicately out of whatever kind of rice paper you select? In the name of God, no. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, no. In the power and authority of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of liberty, no.
There are many things that some might say against what I am declaring here. We are far gone in our rebellion, and so it should not be surprising to us that the apparent success of the rebellion will be stoutly defended.
We might be charged with inconsistency. It might be argued that this approach to law has been a long time in development, and we might reasonably be asked, “Why now?” We might be asked why we didn’t respond in this way when Roe was decided, for example. This is a reasonable question. We should have responded this way when Roe was decided. When you determined, in your black-robed wisdom, that American babies were not to be protected by American law, and were to be chopped up into small American pieces, our response, state-by-state, should have been to simply refuse to comply. If the lesser magistrates can create sanctuary cities in defiance of federal immigration law, then they certainly have the authority to create sanctuary states for the unborn. So your point is well-taken. We should have acted sooner. But if we are repentant for our earlier and culpable inaction, we have to show our repentance in our deeds, by how we respond now to this newest outrage.
Some might say to us, “Look. You lost. We prevailed. The best thing you Christians can now do is prepare to live in a post-Christian America.”
To this there are two responses. First, as Chesterton once put it in The Everlasting Man, “Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”
Losing does not disturb us, it does not unsettle our faith. This is something the Church generally does really well. Speaking frankly, we frequently lose successfully far more often than we succeed successfully. Losing is our secret weapon. The worst thing the devil ever did was succeed in having Christ crucified, for by that he secured the salvation of the world. If the rulers of that age had known what they were doing, they would not have seized the apparent victory that they seized. A servant is not greater than his master, and so it has always been this way for believers. This is one of the reasons we are called believers. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). What is it that overcomes the world? Is it not our faith (1 Jn. 5:4)? So you think you have won, do you?
And this leads to a second response, obviously related. We do not live in a post-Christian America. We live in a post-resurrection America, and there is nothing whatever that can be done to reverse that. Death no longer has dominion over Him, and so consequently the ways and customs of death have no dominion over us. Wisdom declares that all who hate her love death (Prov. 8:36), and in Christ Jesus we have been delivered from the death wish that drives all sin, including the sin driving this decision.
Third, you might say that the issue is now settled, simply as a matter of constitutional law. There is no legal avenue for us to pursue this any further. Christians believe that we should respect the law, and so we should respect the fact that there is no legal remedy now. That was one of the many examples of judicial arrogance found throughout your decision. Your opinion concluded with the phrase “It is so ordered.”
When we contemplate what it was that you thought you were ordering, we all start back with astonished looks on our faces. This hubris of yours contrasts poorly with the humility of King Canute, who once admonished the flattery of his courtiers and legal interns by having his throne placed right on the sea shore so that he might command the tide not to come in. When it came in regardless, despite his command, the king jumped up and said, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”
One of those eternal laws, incidentally, is the law that governs marriage, subject in no way to deep thinks of the Supreme Court. Triangles now have six sides. It is so ordered. Water shall now flow uphill. It is so ordered. Justices of the United States Supreme Court will never have to give an account of themselves before the Maker of Heaven and earth. It is so ordered.
A day is coming when all the contrivances, devices and rationalizations of men will melt before the presence of the Lord of Heaven. On that day, a day when every man will answer to Christ for his life, all five of you will in fact stand before Him. When you do, there will be no wooden bench in front of you. You will not have your robes on; you will all be entirely naked. There will be no legal tradition to support you. There will be no convoluted exegesis that will impress anyone. There will be no stately Supreme Court building to surround you. There will be nothing to hide behind, and nothing to hide in. And the God who knows and evaluates you will do so perfectly. He knows you better than you know yourselves. He sees straight through you.
Outside of Christ, there is absolutely no hope for anyone in that day . . . and all of us are going to be there. There will be nothing whatever that you will be able to do to fix things in that day. There will be no connections. No networking. No explanations. Just you and your Maker, your history of words and your Maker, your life and your Maker, all your legal opinions and your Maker. Every man and every woman and every child will be present there, and they will either be there in Christ or outside of Christ. There is no other alternative.
You have done your damage here, and it is grievous damage, but that does not mean that the moment of repentance is past. Manasseh was one of the worst kings that Israel ever had—just as you five are among the worst justices that our nation has ever seen. But God is the Lord, and He is the one who can turn the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1). That being the case, He can do so whenever it pleases Him. As it happened, He turned the heart of Manasseh near the end of his life, after all the damage to the nation was done (2 Chron. 33:10-13). While you are still breathing, you may turn to Him. And so long as the sun came up this morning, so long as it is called today, you are invited, urgently summoned, to come to Him. Do not harden your hearts, as was done in the wilderness.
Christ died and rose so that He might be glorified in the salvation of sinners, just as you are, just as all of us are. That death, and that resurrection, that gospel, is not irrelevant to this tangled mess we are now in. Christ died to save sinners, and you have just demonstrated that if ever any nation qualified for such a salvation, we do. Our business as preachers is to declare the gospel message—repent and believe. Repent of what? The answer is that we are to repent of sin, wickedness, folly, perversion, corruption, and self. Believe what? Believe that Christ died as a vicarious substitute, that He bled on the cross for all such convoluted follies, and that He rose again from the dead for our justification.
This is not an action plan. This is not a technique. This is the gospel of salvation. If you hear and believe, as you are commanded now to hear and believe, then the God of mercy will show mercy.
“And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.” (Jer. 33:9).
May the day arrive soon when we all will tremble for all the goodness that will rain down upon us. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.