Thoughts on DOMA
In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act
Recently the SCUSA struck down the 3rd part of the DOMA passed by Congress several years ago in an attempt to define marriage as between a man and a woman at the federal level. This law did not restrict states from passing their own laws in regards to defining marriage. We have seen several states, pass legislation that allows same-sex partners to either marry or enter into “civil unions” which bestows practically all the benefits legally given to heterosexual married partners at the state level. Colorado has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but a new law allows civil unions, bestowing many of the same rights as marriage.
What does the SCUSA decision mean?
DOMA itself basically said states did not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where it was legal
- For instance, my wife Casey and I were married in North Carolina, but our marriage has been recognized in Virginia, California and now Colorado
- Similarly driver’s licenses are recognized across state lines no matter the issuing state.
- DOMA deemed states were not required to recognize same-sex marriages in the same way
DOMA also states the federal government would only recognize marriages between a man and woman
- The term “spouse” can not be applied to same-sex couples
- This is important for several legal rights and in issues such as tax filing and protections
This so-called “third clause” is what SCUSA ruled on.
Two women, (Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer,) legally married in Canada and then moved to New York where their marriage was viewed as legal
- Thea Spyer died leaving her rather substantial estate to her partner, Edith Windsor
- The surviving partner attempted to claim the “spouse exemption” on the estate taxes
- The IRS denied the exemption based on the 3rd clause of DOMA: a same-sex partner could not claim “spouse” status
- Amounted to a payment to the IRS of nearly $400,000
SCUSA deemed the 3rd Clause unconstitutional in a 5-4 ruling, arguing it violates the 5th Amendment and deprived Edith Windsor of her liberty to be in a relationship with whom she chooses
It made no specific ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage at the federal level
- The Court’s lack of ruling on this, basically choosing not to rule on this, means it is still up to each individual state to determine whether or not to legalize same-sex marriages or civil unions
While not going so far as to say the federal government deems same-sex marriage and civil unions legal (which is ultimately a function of the Congress), it is a step in that direction
What does this mean as a Christian?
First we must talk about the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sin.
All sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sin
- Fornication, (sometimes referred to in the bible as “sexual immorality) or sex before marriage, is considered a sin. (Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21, Acts 15:20)
- Adultery, sex while married with someone who is not your spouse is a sin. (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:27-28, 1 Cor. 6:9)
- Homosexual activity is no more or less sinful than heterosexual sin outside of God’s plan, but it is still sin. (Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9)
Christians often have a bad habit of viewing homosexuality as “worse” than other sin
- Christians tend to “go up in arms” against those living a homosexual lifestyle, but do very little towards the heterosexual couple that’s sleeping together outside of marriage
- Christians also have a very bad habit of forgetting Romans 3:23, that says ALL have sinned and fallen short. I like to call this the “equal opportunity clause.”
- We’re all in need of Jesus’ grace and forgiveness, all of mankind.
God’s design for sex is in heterosexual marriage
- Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
- Jesus reaffirms this verse in Mt. 19
- Any sexual act outsides of this definition of marriage is sin
Also, we must understand, sin is anything that separates us from God and is a commitment of “cosmic treason” against the Creator
- All sin leads to death (Romans 6:23)
- Murder to gossip
- Societal consequences may vary, but the spiritual consequences do not vary
At the same time:
- Leviticus 20 specifically calls homosexual activity as a sin
- Romans 1 says the same thing, specifically speaking to lesbianism as well
There is no caveat for “loving relationship” as a reason to defy the guidance God has given us when it comes to our bodies and our sexual activity
God made our bodies and declared heterosexual, marriage as good and the only right place for sex
So as Christians who believe the bible to be the word of God, this is what we believe in regards to homosexuality
- Let me reiterate, at the same time, sin is sin…
- active homosexuality is no worse or better than any other sin that all of mankind struggles with
- I like to put it this way, little old Sister Sally that gossips about everyone is just as much a sinner as the mass murderer. Again, societal consequences may differ, but spiritual consequences do not.
How do we respond?
The typical Christian response usually falls on two sides
1) Hardened, politicized war as seen in the early days of the pro-life movement
- Not usually motivated by love
- Violent, or at the least, vitriolic protest
2) Conversely: allow culture to dictate theology, which usually results in moving away from orthodox Christianity in favor of “getting along”
Both are wrong
As Christians, I believe we must:
- Hold to a biblical view of sex, marriage and family that is not condemning but enticing
- Contend for love and heterosexual marriage to be seen as a beautiful and desirable thing
- Cultivate caring relationships with those in the LGBT community so as to have a foundation to express the love, grace and acceptance of Jesus (this should be the case throughout our lives, not only with those of the LGBT community)
- Lovingly stand firm on a biblical foundation, even though it is more and more outside the cultural norm, of one man, one woman, married for one lifetime
- Understand the battle is spiritual not physical, according to Ephesians 6:12
- The wrong response of a politicized war aims to battle the physical side of this issue and that’s not where the real war lies
Let’s fight the SPIRITUAL battle while lovingly and with care leading people to Jesus