The Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the legalization of same-sex marriage recently. This means that a decision concerning the re-definition of marriage will be forthcoming this summer. Notice that I used the term “re-definition” rather than “definition.” This is a key point. The Supreme Court is not being asked to define marriage, it is being asked to re-define it. Marriage was defined for all time several thousand years ago by an authority much higher than the Supreme Court. Consequently, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on this historic case, its decision will be wrong (unless, of course, the justices rule that they lack the authority to rule).
Re-defining marriage exceeds the authority of the Supreme Court as set forth in Sections 1 and 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Section 2 of the Constitution clearly states that “The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under this authority…” The functional phrase in this Section is “…arising under this Constitution…” The definition of marriage does not fall under the purview of the Constitution, and it never has. Our Founding Fathers did not define marriage, nor does the Constitution. No part of Section 1 or 2 or any other section of the Constitution empowers the justices to even hear a case in which their ruling is dependent on re-defining a concept that falls outside the limits of the Constitution.
Marriage is a concept that was defined several thousand years before the Constitution was drafted and before the United States even existed. The job of the Supreme Court is to rule on the Constitutionality of laws passed by Congress and legislative bodies in the various states. But its first responsibility is to rule on whether Congress or the legislative body in question had the authority to pass the law in question in the first place. While it is true that several states have passed laws allowing or proscribing same-sex marriage, those that have done so—regardless of whether the law in question allows or disallows same-sex marriage—have exceeded their authority. The only ruling of any body—legislative or judicial—concerning the definition of marriage should be that the definition is a settled matter and has been for several thousand years. God created Adam and then gave him Eve as a companion. He did not create Jane and give her Julie or John and give him James.
Historically, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to change long-standing definitions and other concepts that have stood the test of time. Re-defining the concept of marriage falls into an even more sacred category than other issues that have stood the test of time—a category that should off limits to even the Supreme Court. Just as the Supreme Court is not empowered to change the Ten Commandments, it is not empowered to change the Biblical definition of marriage. Surprisingly, there is some sentiment on the Supreme Court that the justices should not dabble with the definition of marriage. During oral arguments, Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out that defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman “has been with us for millennia. And it—it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh well, we—we know better.”
Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “Every definition that I looked up, prior to about a dozen years ago, defined marriage as unity between a man and a woman as husband and wife.” He went on to make the point that the justices were being asked to re-define what the institution of marriage is. He told the attorney representing same-sex marriage advocates, “The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship.” Justice Scalia pointed out that there was no society in history that permitted same-sex marriage until the Netherlands did so in 2001.
Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the most liberal justices on the court, made the point that the view that marriage was between a man and a woman “has been the law everywhere for thousands of years among people who were not discriminating even against gay people, and suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don’t want to change to do it. Why cannot these states at least wait and see whether in fact doing so in the other states is not harmful to marriage?” Although Justice Breyer does not appear comfortable with the Supreme Court re-defining marriage, he does appear to be comfortable with voters changing the definition at the ballot box. This approach is just as wrong as re-defining marriage in the Courts. By what authority do voters change a definition that was given to them by a higher authority—the highest authority?
Governor Mike Huckabee, in his new book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy writes that if we “…start redefining marriage, where do we stop? Can we stop? Are there any limits on what marriage can mean? For example, if a person is self-described as bi-sexual, equally comfortable relating to members of either gender, then by the very nature of the mandate to allow people to love anyone they want, shouldn’t a bisexual be able to have both a male and female spouse? Wouldn’t restricting that person’s access to both genders be denying the bisexual his or her marriage ‘equality’”? He then asks an interesting question. According to Huckabee: “Until the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a disorder. Was the change in the definition based on sound science and objective research, or was it in part the result of political pressure?”
This is not merely a rhetorical question. Consider the potential consequences of allowing politics to re-define marriage. In politics, any idea that can garner enough votes can be made legal. This being the case, how long will it be before marriage between an adult and a minor is legalized? How about marriage between a person and an animal? If you think this latter statement sounds a bit far-fetched, talk to someone over the age of 60 and ask that person how far-fetched it would have been in their youth to think that a man might marry a man or a woman might marry a woman. Also look around you at the bumper stickers on cars these days that say such things as “My dog is my child.” If one considers objectively the potential ramifications of allowing any man-made body to re-define marriage, the list of problems is endless. In fact, we are not capable of predicting all of the potential consequences. Perhaps the scariest of all the ramifications of allowing man to re-define what God has already defined is the amount of government control doing so will inject into our lives. If the government can legalize same-sex marriage, it can use its powers of enforcement to coerce American citizens into endorsing the concept. We see this happening already when Christian businesses are fined by government agencies for refusing to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies. In these cases, the government is saying, “Endorse same-sex marriage or we will punish you or even destroy your business.” Does anyone really want this level of government control in his or her life? If the government can require a citizen to deny his religious convictions or face severe penalties, the government can do anything it wants, and we are no longer the America established by the Founding Fathers. The only ruling the Supreme Court should hand down in the current same-sex marriage case is, “We have no authority to rule on this issue. It is already a settled matter.”