First, this decision was entirely predictable. Anyone paying attention to the momentum of the same sex marriage tidal wave in our society and to recent rulings by the current Supreme Court would have seen that this was almost inevitable. Even in a larger sense it is consistent with the direction our culture has been marching relentlessly for the past 50 years. This is merely one more step down a path our society has been taking for a long time, and is continuing to travel at an accelerating pace.
Third, to state the obvious, this decision will have some large effects. As Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent it will have “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.” My guess is that in the short term churches will not be significantly impacted, though that may happen eventually. But in the near term parachurch organizations, especially Christian schools and colleges, are going to find themselves facing some hard choices. In his majority decision Justice Kennedy gave lip service to the need to respect religious liberty, but then he immediately stated that where the rights of citizens are impacted by such liberty (the right to same sex marriage, for instance) the government must step in and protect those “rights.” In other words, Thomas is right, religious liberty will get ruined.
Both Justice Alito and Justice Roberts observed that the ruling bodes ill for those who follow the Bible’s teaching. Roberts said the court’s decision will be used to “portray everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted.” Alito wrote that it will be used to “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” They both see very clearly that anyone who holds to the truth of the Bible had better expect to be viewed as a Neanderthal and treated accordingly.
Finally, then, how should I respond? First, by remembering and being encouraged by the ultimate truth that Jesus is Lord. This decision does not come as a surprise to him. Nor is it any threat to his rule over all of creation. He is still on the throne. Psalm 2:1 says, “Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing?” Verse 4 says, “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” If my Lord laughs at such opposition, perhaps I should too. Maybe what I most need to do is calm down and trust in him. I need to believe that God is bigger than the Supreme Court and that nothing is going to prevail against his kingdom.
This decision fosters in me a sense that I am not really welcome here. As a follower of Jesus I most definitely am an outlier in our land these days, likely to be, as Alito said, the target of vilification at some point. But maybe that’s not all bad. Perhaps that sense of being an outcast can remind me that this is not my home. As much as I love America, my first allegiance must be to the Kingdom of God. And in fact, no country on earth is really home for a follower of Jesus. We will never feel truly at ease until we are at home in our Lord’s kingdom. So in the meantime, what should I do? Keep following Jesus. I should respond not with despair, or anger, or ugliness, but with faith. And in faith I should continue to love people with gentleness and kindness, people of all genders, classes, nationalities, races, and, yes, sexual orientations. I must let the grace and peace of Christ rule in my heart and in all my relations with all people.