Religious leaders wonder what's next after gay marriage court rulings

Published: Saturday, June 29 2013 11:55 a.m. MDT

Ruth Langstraat, left and Roxanne Whitelight celebrate the Supreme Court's decision concerning the Defense of Marriage Act in Terry Schrunk Plaza. The couple were married in December 2012 in Vancouver, Washington. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Allison Milligan)

Allison Milligan, AP

In the wake of this week's Supreme Court rulings hailed by same-sex marriage proponents as a victory, religious leaders who have been traditionally opposed to same-sex marriage are speculating about what to do next.

"The Supreme Court has now ruled on two monumental marriage cases, and the legal and cultural landscape has changed in this country," wrote Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, as a guest columnist for the Christian Post. "But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the gospel?"

No matter what happens in the future as far as gay marriage is concerned, Moore said, "the gospel doesn't need 'family values' to flourish."

"In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it," he continued. "This is an opportunity for gospel witness."

Moore's position is that "same-sex marriage is on the march, even apart from these decisions, and is headed to your community, regardless of whether you are sitting where I am right now, on Capitol Hill or in a rural hamlet in southwest Georgia or eastern Idaho."

And that, he says, is an opportunity that should be seized.

"This gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place," Moore wrote. "Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st century culture. But is there anything more 'freakish' than a crucified cosmic ruler? Is there anything more 'freakish' than a gospel that can forgive rebels like us and make us sons and daughters? Let's embrace the freakishness, and crucify our illusions of a moral majority."

However, not all religiously oriented same-sex marriage opponents agree with Moore's assumption of inevitability for gay marriage. Another Christian Post columnist, author Eric Metaxas ("Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy") wrote that "there is nothing 'inevitable' about the redefinition of marriage."

He cited as an example the recent defeat of same-sex marriage legislation in the state of Illinois, noting that if ever same-sex marriage was "inevitable," it was in Illinois, "the bluest of blue states."

"Well, no one bothered to tell the state's African-American pastors," Metaxas said. "As Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage wrote in the National Review, the pastors 'worked hard to reach and convince African-American legislators to stand tall for the truth of marriage.’ ”

According to Metaxas, their efforts paid off, and "Illinois did not succumb to the 'inevitable.’ ”

While the author acknowledged that "we face an uphill battle" with regards to same-sex marriage," he asked: "What else is new?"

"In this battle, the church matters," he said. "All of the church. What happened in Illinois was the result of African-American pastors taking the lead. In other states it may require the leadership of Latino ministers. What matters is that all of God's people stand tall for the truth of marriage."

Similarly, Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org, insisted that the Supreme Court decisions, "while disappointing, should embolden proponents of traditional marriage to fight on with even more vigor while we can."

"Same-sex marriage advocates did not get what they wanted, namely a 'Roe v. Wade' for marriage," he said. "The future of marriage remains a dispute open to 'We the People.' The debate on marriage lives on."

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