The recent decision of the Supreme Court forcing recognition of same-sex “marriage” on the remaining states who have not abandoned reality for fantasy was tragic and demoralizing. As a Christian who loves his country, I grieve for the many, many people that will be hurt as a result and for the further confusion of the meaning of marriage. As I have written before, marriage teaches us truths about ourselves, and a misunderstanding of what marriage is leads us to misunderstand ourselves. This misunderstanding was evident decades before same-sex marriage was even imagined as a viable political potentiality.
It is easy, and perhaps even somewhat proper, to become disheartened by such flippancy regarding a matter so important to the healthy functioning of human society. It is tempting to retreat, to become silent, and to mourn in secret. Worse, it is tempting to give in to self-pity, fear, and stubborn pride – “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.”
The day after Obergefell v. Hodges, one of my closest friends got engaged (to someone of the opposite sex, I suppose I must say now); my joy was so much greater than the sorrow I felt for the legal decision. I was surprised by this – pleasantly surprised, but I wanted to understand why. Surely a Supreme Court decision calling evil, good and unreality, reality – and forcing it on those of us still under sane government – is more monumental than just another good old traditional engagement and future marriage.
But it is not. Every marriage is monumental because it represents the joining of both halves of humanity into a sacramental and metaphysical unity that opens the door to new, infinitely valuable life as the couple joins with God in an act of creation. Marriage – man and woman joined for life in a conjugal and procreative union – is how God made man “at the beginning” when it was not good for man to be alone.
But marriage has had no shortage of challenges. Early on in man’s history we see the rise of polygamy and concubinage. Moses allowed divorce because of Israel’s “hardness of heart.” Adultery and fornication involve the marital promise of “one-flesh” union with no intention of keeping that promise. Marriage – and faithfully married couples – remain despite all these challenges and will remain despite the silliness of the bare majority of the American Supreme Court.
Christians should have hope, despite this legal setback, because our faith embraces reason and reality and extends our grasp of both. Obergefell v. Hodges is a work of faith that rests on nothing more than wishful thinking. Hope in such faith is as doomed as leaning on a spider’s web. “Marriage is honorable in all,” “signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church.” Marriage cannot be destroyed or injured by such foolish legal fantasies; only society will be damaged.
This truth became even more clear to me during evening prayer that night. The Anglican office for evening prayer in the Book of Common Prayer contains a line thanking God “above all, for Thy inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.” By his Incarnation Christ united those baptized into his death to himself and reconciled them to the Father. Christ is our portion and in him we are made new; in him we are made more real than this transient world and its illusions and delusions. This world will be made new, but we Christians have hope as we say with the prophet Jeremiah,
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
The tragedy of the Supreme Court’s decision pales in comparison with the hope of glory we have in Christ. This hope of glory can be seen in the love between a man and woman joined in the sacrament of marriage “signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church.” Marriage is a foretaste of what is to come. Christians have not lost the marriage argument; as St. Paul reminds us “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” We are victorious in Christ; we do not need legal affirmation – we have been merely trying to help those not so fortunate to also see the glory. We will continue to try to help, but it is not unlikely that those in opposition will turn again and rend us as they become more empowered.
Reality is ours, the glory that is to come is ours. Our sadness is for others’ pain.