A collection of powerful religious groups joined forces this week for a full page advertisement in the Washington Post. The coalition, consisting of the Liberty Counsel, the Common Good Foundation, and Vision America Action, used the space to vow allegiance to God above the law of man: “We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”
At reference, of course, is the impending decision on the legality of state gay marriage bans. A ruling is expected by the end of the month, and the legal community believes that the conclusion is all but foregone. Gay marriage will effectively be legalized in all 50 states, changing the definition of that union permanently. The Christians behind the ad say that won’t keep them from abiding by the old definition.
“We implore the court to not step outside of its legitimate authority and unleash religious persecution and discrimination against people of faith,” the ad said. “We will be forced to choose between the state and our conscience, which is informed by clear biblical and church doctrine and the natural created order. On this choice, we must pledge obedience to our creator.”
Among the signatories are some of America’s most prominent religious leaders. Included are Franklin Graham, Alveda King, Bishop E.W. Jackson, and Dr. James Dobson.
God’s Law or Man’s?
While it’s unlikely that the ad will have any affect on the court’s ruling, it does spotlight an interesting dilemma for conservatives opposed to gay marriage. The rule of law has been central to conservative thought for as long as it has been around. Conservatives often eschew the concept of civil disobedience, preferring to change things through the system rather than create chaos on the ground. When it comes to gay marriage, though, many Christians are torn.
This divide has even shaken the Republican primaries. Mike Huckabee has gone on record to support state officials who disregard a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. On the other side of the coin, Rick Santorum has said that the way forward should be legislation and voting. And of course, this ad indicates that top Catholics and Protestants prefer Huckabee’s approach.
When you force people to choose between their religious beliefs and the law, you create unnecessary strife. There are plenty of ways we can accommodate same-sex unions without changing the definition of marriage. By taking this route, the Supreme Court is not just overreaching, they are actively stomping on traditional Christian beliefs. With that in mind, one can hardly blame the faithful for standing against injustice.