The day of the Supreme Court’s now-well-known decision in Obergefell v. Hodges coincided with a trip my wife and I took to Montana to visit family. So the majority of it was spent chatting about the case, the decision itself, and the various ramifications that may or may not come as a result.
I’ll admit that I was “on the cliff”, ready to call time-of-death for America and prepare for the impending public persecutions. I wasn’t surprised at the ruling, but boy was I afraid of the havoc it could wreak on the lives of its dissenters.
Enter my wife, who will soon begin her third and final year of law school at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Conversations with her on topics like this always have an interesting dynamic — there’s me, reading/listening/watching all I can daily to learn more about the faith, and her, living and breathing only legal subject matter for the better part of 2 years.
This is usually how conversations like this go:
Usually, if the subject of the conversation itself isn’t causing the above reactions in me, her perceived boredom with the issue at hand will do the trick. It was definitely the case with the recent Obergefell decision.
But when I dug deeper into why she failed to utter a reaction resembling mine, I found, as always, an introspection and a consideration of the issue at hand that’s incredibly sensible and well-reasoned. Her reasons for a lack of reaction were part self-described gift from God to not buy into the hype, part explanation that the law is a LOT more complex and won’t fall apart with one ruling, and part recognition that nothing’s changed in the Divine Department.
The latter of the three is the one that us panicky folk should take to heart most to all. So I broke them down into four points:
1. God is still God, and we are still not.
It goes without saying, but it’s always a good reminder that we don’t have to be in charge. God has things under control. He still works in people’s lives like He did before, and He still works in our lives, too. Jesus’ death and Resurrection still redeems the world. Even if civil marriages are now being extended to gay couples, it’s not to say they’ll be any better (or worse) off than they were before, and God isn’t about to abandon any of them as a result of the decision of five people.
To remember that God is still God reminds us to have faith and to not despair, most of all.
2. The Supreme Court is not the arbiter of moral truth.
To quote Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.”
Justice Kennedy tells us that we don’t have dignity if we can’t get married? That we’re being kept from a basic human need? That our most profound hopes and aspirations are being thwarted?
We have inherent dignity, no matter what the government says. “Human dignity can be violated or disrespected, but it can never be taken away,” says Fr. Connor Danstrom.
Dred Scott was right, the Supreme Court was wrong – every person ought to enjoy the same freedom and ought not be enslaved. Wade & Casey were both right, the Supreme Court was wrong — babies ought to be protected from the moment they’re conceived to their birth. And so it is here: Marriage is an institution written on our bodies, and is meant to keep man and woman, husband & wife, mother & father together for life for the well being of the children that come from their union.
Those truths were true before, and will remain true forever, no matter what the High Court rules.
3. What needs to be done hasn’t changed.
No matter how much marriage changes, now or in the future, our call to evangelize hasn’t changed. Our call to live holy lives of prayer, sacrifice, service, and penance hasn’t changed. Sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church remains unchanged. Everyone still needs love, and everyone still needs the Gospel, the same as it was before June 26.
Perhaps most importantly, the Church isn’t going to change. Whether you’re bummed or relieved to hear it, it’s the same reality that has kept the Church around for twenty centuries and counting. Yes, there will be dissent from within. Yes, there will be efforts of attempted theological finagling to approve of same-sex unions in the Church. But the Chair of Peter and the whole Church remain protected by the Holy Spirit nonetheless. Those errors will lie “sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect,” as I’ve so often quoted from Chesterton.
4. The “So What?” Principle applies.
Let’s say that public persecution does happen. Let’s say we Catholics eventually are strung up in the public square for our beliefs, that the oppressors win and violence ensues. They win, we lose (or so it appears).
If we die as martyrs, to be perfectly honest, it would be pretty great. To be sure, I’m not hoping for that outcome in the least. But isn’t giving our lives for Christ what we’re already asked to do, even if that means literally giving our lives?
As Fr. Robert Barron so eloquently put it recently, “We take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. The Church has faced this sort of thing before—and we’re still standing.”
And so, as a result, I’m not fretting (much) about the decision that was made two weeks ago, thanks to some well-timed wifely wisdom. Without that wisdom, I would’ve been led sadly astray, worrying about ghosts, and trying to control what isn’t mine to control anyway. But now, thank God, that isn’t the case, and I think we all could benefit a lot by keeping these four reminders close at hand in times like these.
Thanks for reading! Click at the top of the page to get these in your inbox, and be sure to find me on Twitter and Facebook, too.