I haven’t written much on the topic of gay marriage in recent months because I felt that pretty much everything on the legal merits had been said ad nauseum. I also had little pretension or doubt as to what the outcome of the Supreme Court case would be, though I was eager to see what rationale the Court would use as it created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
This morning, knowing that the decision was pending, I spent time in the temple praying for peace and clarity regarding the opinion. As I did so, I again received a reassurance that I have received frequently over the past several months. Ultimately, while there are reasons to despair over the changes that have swept the nation, we should be filled with hope because the Lord is in charge.
While many are celebrating today, I know that many others are afraid of the impact this decision will have on the Church and the cause of religious freedom. And many are wondering how to respond as our views increasingly become a minority position. While these thoughts are purely my own, I hope that some of what I express in this post will provide comfort and consolation for those who are anxious as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have frequently warned that when the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage (which it did today), it will be this generation’s Roe v. Wade and lead to a never ending cultural war on the topic. I sincerely hope not. Though I have frequently and strongly spoken up against the legalization of same-sex marriage, I hope that the fighting will recede and that those who see the urgent need to defend the family from decay and destruction will be able to move on to fighting for other pro-family measures.
I have long believed that the fight over same-sex marriage is a symptom and not a cause of the decay of respect for marriage. It started decades ago with no-fault divorce, rampant birth control etc., and the legalization of same-sex marriage is the natural and foreseeable consequence of those changes. When large portions of my generation no longer see marriage as something sacred or special, is it any wonder that there would be no principled reason to preserve the traditional understanding of marriage? We have been fighting a vanguard battle against the forces of Satan even though he has long overrun our defenses.
Is all lost? No! Just as God has done time and time again throughout history, he will turn Satan’s advances into victory. Just as Satan thought he would frustrate Gods plan by precipitating the fall, Satan always believes victory is in his grasp. Satan is always wrong. God will turn this defeat into a victory for the Gospel. I don’t know exactly how, but I am certain this will happen. It could be through newfound opportunities to partner with those we have fought with, or it might come in some yet unforeseeable opportunity to pass meaningful legislation to help and sustain all families. And it is even possible that good will come directly from the decision, in the form of a new wave of interest in marriage and new opportunities to preach regarding eternal families. Or it might come in some completely unexpected fashion. Regardless, it will come.
We have as a church fought valiantly over the topic of same-sex marriage. This was a necessary fight even though it was a losing fight. We can’t simply retreat, but must fight where the culture and the society stands. And I believe that our efforts and great sacrifices have been accepted by the Lord and will be consecrated for our good and for the good of society. Given the growing hostility to traditional views on marriage, there is no doubt that there will yet be members asked to sacrifice jobs, opportunities or friends in the battle. We must never be afraid to stand up for what God and for the truth. Our core doctrines are unlikely to change absent an unexpected but never impossible revelatory shift. We must defend and proclaim them.Yet, in light of the Church’s conciliatory efforts in Utah and elsewhere I do see the Church moving beyond the issue and finding new ways to stand up for the family.
I don’t see any of this as a retreat or betrayal of values. I don’t think the church is merely acceding to pressure. But the Lord has yet greater plans for his church. Our church is one that will stand when necessary, but will not sacrifice it all on a last stand– until that is the last stand against Satan at the Savior’s coming. For some who believe that we must all be martyrs for our opposition to same-sex marriage, this will come as a disappointment perhaps. But no single issue will prevent the spread of the gospel throughout the world. Calumny may defame, but the church will continue to spread to every clime and sound in every ear. The standard of truth still stands strong. Despite temporary setbacks and defeats I am optimistic that the future will be much more glorious than the past.