DOMA: Whose Opinion Counts?
This week, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments on two cases that dealt with the subject of marriage. Not the traditional marriage most people relate to and understand, but what is now called “same-sex marriage.”
On [March 26] the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against a law which amended the California Constitution to state that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Then the next day, the court listened to legal arguments both in support and opposition of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, adopted by Congress in 1996, a federal law which defined marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” It’s curious, isn’t it, why the federal government 17 years ago felt compelled to “defend” marriage, even if only by defining what people for thousands of years had always understood!
However, these days not everyone agrees with that definition! Slowly but surely, the definition of marriage is changing in the United States. At the core of these two cases is whether or not two people of the same sex can be legally recognized as being married.
So, who has the authority to make this decision?
Right now, those debating the topic are looking to the Supreme Court. Its authority is not insignificant! As a judicial body, it carries great credibility in this country and around the world.
During arguments on Wednesday, one of the justices, Elena Kagan, was dismissive of the principle of actually considering “morality” in deciding this case. She cited the fact that when adopting the Defense of Marriage Act 17 years ago, the U.S. Congress “decided to reflect and honor the collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”
Her implication was very clear: The collective judgment of “morality” is not a proper premise, or sufficient authority, for establishing law!
But what about the “collective judgment” of a people as a source of authority?
In the ongoing argument, lawyers, educators and politicians have been quoting surveys conducted by the PEW Research Center, CNN, FOX News and other sources, showing that between 52-58 percent of Americans now accept and support gay marriage!
A CBS News poll just released this week concluded that less than a year ago 51 percent of Americans were against legalizing same-sex marriage, and now 53 percent support it—a four percentage point swing in less than a year! Thirty-three percent of those who now think same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry say they once held the opposite view. So, is majority opinion now the new authority?
And then you have “tradition” as an authority. Many argue that most societal traditions support the time-honored “one man, one woman” definition of marriage. Opponents scoff at tradition, though, as old-fashioned—totally irrelevant as a source of authority.
So, who, or what, should we look to as the authority for making such a huge judgment? Is it Congress, the states, the courts, public opinion, tradition?
But we should ask ourselves, “Have all sources of authority, have all relevant opinions, been considered in this debate about homosexuality and same-sex marriage?”
The fact is, there is one Individual whose opinion about marriage and relationships you seldom find referred to by the lawyers, educators and politicians who are debating—and deciding—this topic.
It’s very clear: More people are impressed by the changing views of the public and the court’s opinion than they are the view of Almighty God—the very One who created us and, upon the creation of male and female, immediately ordained the institution of marriage!
So what about you? Whose view of marriage will you embrace? Does God’s opinion count for you?
Will it be the evolving opinions and mores of human beings? Or will it be the opinion and view of the Creator God?
For Life Hope & Truth, I’m Doug Horchak.