Friday, July 17, 2020

If The Supreme Court Redefines Marriage Under the Equal Protection Clause Is Religious Freedom In Jeopardy?

**Since this essay was written, not only has the LGBT lobby been successful at redefining marriage to include same-sex marriage and won their Supreme Court battle on the grounds of "equal protection," they lobby has applied it's full force to deconstruct the social concept of gender. The organization that has successfully argued that homosexuality is "biological" is now working hard to convince the public that sex and gender are not connected or set and therefore not biological. The LGBT lobby seeks special protections under civil rights law for any variation of sexual and gender identity.

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*Written in 2011

As an important preface to this paper I quote the definition of marriage as it has stood for thousands of years across diverse religious and ethnic societies both ancient and modern.

My source, the 1828 Noah Webster English Dictionary which defined marriage this way:

MAR'RIAGE, n. [L.mas, maris.] The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity,and for securing the maintenance and education of children.

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I have been seriously disturbed by an increase in news accounts of Christians being labeled bigots and discriminated against for their sincerely held Christian beliefs about marriage. Of particular concern, peaceful religions are now regularly being compared to hate groups and labeled "religious extremists" because of their beliefs in traditional marriage. Reports of Christian Conservative leaders being disinvited from commencement ceremonies because of their support for traditional marriage. Reports of private business who are persecuted because of the owners religious beliefs that uphold the traditional definition of marriage. Alone these reports may seem isolated but Christians who opposes the redefinition of marriage find their beliefs in an increasing minority and are deluged with such attitudes throughout social media and the culture.

I believe that many who seek gender neutral "marriage equality" would not only like to redefine marriage in our society but would have religious objections to their goal labeled as bigoted -- labeling peaceful Christians as a dangerous counter culture of hate. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves but just as quick to silence those with a different view by applying labels like "homophobic" and "bigoted."

At the moment it seems the issue of "same-sex marriage" is a settled question with the majority of Americans who see no harm in redefining marriage. The LGBT lobby has been effective portraying same-sex parenthood as equivalent to being raised by opposite gender parents and most Americans are convinced that same-sex marriage will have no negative affect on the cohesion of traditional marriage. Even if all of these conclusions are true, very few Americans are asking whether "civil rights" for homosexuals will limit religious freedom for Christians, Jews, and Muslims whose doctrines teach that homosexual lifestyles are not in keeping with the bounds God has set for healthy family life.

The goal of the LGBT lobby is not simply to achieve legal equality in marriage but rather to stamp out any institutional thought, teaching, or practice that rejects their lifestyle. They seek to do this through the civil rights laws of our country which have the power to compel businesses, institutions, and individuals through non-discrimination laws. If you need proof of this all you need do is look at decades of political action against the private faith based organization the Boy Scouts of America. What LGBT activist seek is total acceptance that can only be achieved by stamping out what they see as bigotry in any institution public or private. This not a hidden agenda. The first step was to assert that homosexuality is as as natural as skin color or gender and that as such it deserves to be a special protected class such as those defined in civil rights act of 1964. Thereby providing punitive power against any business, institution or individual who exercises their religious liberty and freedom of association in any way that discriminates in favor of traditional marriage and sexuality. These businesses, institutions and individuals will be labeled a bigot, not just in the public square, but in law. Those organizations, such as religious schools or churches, that continue to teach that homosexuality is not moral will be considered to be engaging in hate speech, and any institutions that withholds membership or full fellowship to homosexuals will be guilty of discrimination against their civil rights. In this way the LGBT lobby will have the legal hammer they need to beat every organization in America that will not comply with their view of family life, gender, and sexuality.

The LGBT lobby is not satisfied with the public opinion trajectory that now seems inevitable to extending marriage equality by democratic means within a generation. They are not satisfied with religions who have welcomed same-sex marriage and gay clergy. They are not satisfied with the open teaching of homosexuality as natural and normal by an increasing number of public schools and institutions. They are not satisfied with the constant positive portrayal of same-sex couples in movies and media. They are not satisfied with hundreds of new laws and resolutions that require equality in the workforce, housing, and public accommodations. Instead LGBT activist have taken their battle for equality to the Supreme Court seeking a verdict that will bring them even closer to obtaining the legal hammer they need to forever enshrine their lifestyle as a protected class in constitutional law and civil right statues so that they can bring their view of sexuality to bear on every individual and institution.

For this reason Christians who hold sincere religious beliefs on this subject are not only concerned about the social consequences of redefining marriage and traditional family life but are becoming increasingly concerned about how the LGBT agenda may become a serious threat to our first liberty — religious freedom. If the Supreme Court rules as LGBT activists hope, the flood gates will open and test our most basic religious freedoms to teach, practice, and associate based on our most sincerely help religious beliefs. Religious organizations could face a wave of legal action on grounds that they are in defiance of national civil rights law and that their teachings, standards and regulations deny the civil rights of same-sex couples. I hope the Supreme Court considers this consequence when it deliberates this spring.

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An increasing number of Americans have been convinced that opposition to same-sex marriage on religious grounds is hateful and bigoted and deserves no consideration or protection. A question I often hear from supporters of same-sex marriage is, "Why should any religion be opposed to someone else's marriage?" The question itself reflects the reality that supporters of same-sex marriage see religious doctrines that are in opposition to homosexual lifestyles and same-sex marriage as bigoted beliefs. I have often wondered if my well intentioned friends who ask this question would support legal action to ban churches and religious organizations from teaching doctrines that oppose same-sex marriage? I hope that my friends who politically support same-sex marriage would hold back a moment and ask themselves if they support the full agenda of the LGBT lobby, which is to extend the special protection of constitutional civil rights to any variation of sexual and gender identity. If they do they probably have not considered how this will affect religious freedom -- the freedom to worship (believe, practice, teach, associate) God after the dictates of our own conscience.

Perhaps if more Americans better understood the sincerely held religious beliefs of Christians, they would be more tolerant of Christians like myself who cannot simply set aside their beliefs in matters both private and public. In an attempt to help those who do not believe any religious belief that discriminates against LGBT lifestyles in anyway could be described as "sincere," and thus have determined that there is no merit in protecting such religious beliefs under constitutional and civil law, I have added this next section as a lesson in what these sincere belief are and where they come from.


My personal opposition to same-sex marriage has two components, a societal component and a religious component. As a matter of public policy I oppose same-sex marriage on the grounds that marriage between a man and a women has been the bedrock of society for thousands of years because children are nurtured best by both father and mother in an intact nuclear family. My support for traditional marriage is informed by my religious beliefs but is also informed by millennia of practice and decades of research that show that children raised in intact nuclear families with a opposite gender parents fair better in every measurable way. While some recent research seems to indicate that children raised by homosexual couples also fair well, these studies are not as rigorous, are not time tested, and the data still indicates that children with a father and mother who honor marital vows is preferable.

Even without these modern studies and statistics there is overwhelming evidence throughout history and our modern society that the disintegration of the family is the leading factor in every major social problem that threatens our peace and prosperity. With marriage being the foundation of family life it is the disintegration of marital norms that is most to blame for the breakdown of the family. Therefore public policy that encourages men and women to form strong lasting family relationships for the nurture of children benefits society as a whole and the stability of generations strengthens our public institutions and is paramount to the health and stability of our society.


First I should note, as most are aware, Christians differ on doctrine and I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints so the below doctrines reflect our beliefs and differ in some ways from the beliefs of other sects. We recently met as a world wide church for our broadcasted 183 semi-annual world General Conference. Many of our church leaders took this opportunity to speak directly about the doctrine of the family to members of the church in 162 countries. I've chosen just teaching from this most recent conference to explain the foundations of our faith on this subject. Leaders of the church spoke in unison of God's definition of marriage and family life and warned of the consequences of turning away from marriage as God defines it, here are the excerpts:

(These statements of doctrine fully reflect my beliefs and convictions on this topic and represent the closely held religious views that an ever increasing majority of my country believe to be bigoted. None the less "me and my house, we will serve the Lord.")

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David A. Bednar (We Believe in Being Chaste) gave the most thorough and foundational explanation of our beliefs and doctrines on marriage and family life during the conference so I start with his words.

"After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden... God said “it was not good that the man should be alone” and Eve became Adam’s wife. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other."

"The eternal importance of chastity can only be understood within the overarching context of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan."

"The means by which mortal life is created is divinely appointed. “The first commandment … God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel."

"The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse... Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women”

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Boyd K. Packer (These Things I Know), President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned against the changing laws that weaken the moral fabric of society.

"We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are most spiritual. The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen... Latter-day Saints recognize the transcendent importance of the family... The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity."

L. Tom Perry (Obedience to Law is Liberty) greatly expanded on this subject, when he taught: "Today we find ourselves in another war. This is not a war of armaments. It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children."

"Prophets have consistently warned against violations of two of the more serious commandments—the ones relating to murder and adultery [Sexual sin outside the bonds of marriage as defined by God]. I see a common basis for these two critical commandments—the belief that life itself is the prerogative of God and that our physical bodies, the temples of mortal life, should be created within the bounds God has set. For man to substitute his own rules for the laws of God on either end of life is the height of presumption and the depth of sin."

Included in the arguments in support of the redefinition of marriage is are regular discussions of the deteriorating state of marriage as if to say that we should not oppose the redefinition of marriage because after all heterosexual couples abuse their marriages regularly and children are more often raised today in broken homes then in intact homes. I find this an extraordinary argument that in essence is saying that we should support the further breakdown of marital norms and the intact family in our society, denying even more children the stable nurture of both mother and father, because we are already failing our children anyway. Many want to remove children as a central point in the debate and assert that marriage has as its primary purpose the love and pleasure of adult rather than the welfare of children, of course the end result is the same. L. Tom Perry warned that "The main effects of these depreciating attitudes about the sanctity of marriage are the consequences to families—the strength of families is deteriorating at an alarming rate. This deterioration is causing widespread damage to society."

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As Mormons we have the unique belief that families are not merely created for earth life but that families are eternal and thus gender is an essential characteristic of eternal life. M. Russell Ballard (This Is My Work and My Glory) spoke to this unique Mormon doctrine that endows marriage with an even deeper significance in God's plan for his children.

"Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise [his] power... to establish an eternal family without a woman." This biological fact is also a spiritual absolute in God's plan for his children and while 'the world changes constantly and dramatically... God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws.“Wickedness never was happiness

Surely there could not be any doctrine more strongly expressed in the scriptures than the Lord’s unchanging commandments and their connection to our happiness and well-being as individuals, as families, and as a society. There are moral absolutes. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. These things do not change. In a world where the moral compass of society is faltering, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers." (L. Tom Perry, Obedience to Law Is Liberty)

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Mormons do not discriminate against same-sex attraction as far as sexual sin is concerned. The church teaches that any violation of the laws of chastity has the potential to destroy eternal progression as well as bring about the calamities foretold by ancient prophets. Richard G. Scott (For Peace at Home) warned young people of the dangers in the world that can prevent them from establishing Christ centered homes, these dangers have been often discussed by church leaders and paramount among them are the dangers of pornography and sexual promiscuity and perversion.

"There is real danger in the environment surrounding you. Your great potential and ability could be limited or destroyed if you yield to the contamination around you. Stay on the Lord’s side, and you will win every time. One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds."

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Speaking to the men of the church (but just as relevant to all) Robert D. Hales (Stand Strong in Holy Places) said, "We have the responsibility to stand strong... We are role models to the world, protecting God-given, inalienable rights and freedoms. We stand in defense of our homes and our families."

To the young men he added this sober council, "Young men, your fathers and grandfathers never faced the temptations that you face on a regular basis. If your father wanted to get in trouble, he had to go searching for it. Not anymore! Today temptation finds you! Please remember that!"

Years ago Elder Hales said these words to the youth, "The world has gone far afield... it has proceeded way, way out... What we and our children and our grandchildren have to remember is that the Church will remain constant, the world will keep moving—that gap is [becoming] wider and wider. … Therefore, be very careful. If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you will find that you are not where you should be.” But these many years later he noted, "Back then I could not have imagined how far and how fast the world would move away from God; it was impossible to understand that... And yet the standards of Christ and His Church have not moved. As He said, “The truth abideth forever and ever.”

"When we understand and accept this, we are prepared to face the social pressure, ridicule, and even discrimination that will come from the world and some who call themselves friends. Most of us know someone who would say, “If you want to be my friend, you’ll have to accept my values.” A true friend doesn’t ask us to choose between the gospel and his or her friendship. To borrow the words of Paul, “From such turn away.”

"We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of [God's] eternal plan. Sometimes we become the lightning rod, and we must “take the heat” for holding fast to God’s standards and doing His work. I testify that we need not be afraid if we are grounded in His doctrine. We may experience misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation, but we are never alone. Our Savior was “despised and rejected of men.” It is our sacred privilege to stand with Him!"

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However the political and social climate change, however the laws follow, this will not and cannot change my religious beliefs. I cannot reject or deny my beliefs and would dare not choose to succumb to the pressures of society or even the persecution of laws and surrender my faithful obedience to the dictates of my own conscience. I hope the Supreme Court will not push our nation to that place, that they will not open the way for the LGBT lobby to begin a campaign of stamping out religious freedom. Christians like myself will not give way to the unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as moral that which is not moral, to accept as natural that which violates the laws of nature. I will not be intimidated by their characterizing me as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable.

In conclusion it is essential that all who have read these declarations of my beliefs understand that central to the Gospel of Christ is the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself" and the council of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in which he lovingly guides, "As I have loved you, love one another."

There are many inside and outside of the Christian faith who see religious opposition to "same-sex marriage" as a repudiation of these teachings of the Master. As I stated before many see the fact that devout Christians will not set aside their beliefs on this subject as evidence of bigotry, but a bigot is one who "regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". So whether or not you consider a "sexual orientation" as a racial or ethnic group it is still incumbent on all Americans to examine whether the vast majority of peaceful followers of Christ are treating homosexuals with hatred before you could classify Christians as bigots for their religious beliefs. Christ himself taught by example how to treat all people with love, respect, and tolerance without condoning or accepting what he taught was sin. While Christ loved the sinner, he never loved the sin. He showed love and respect for all of God's children (whatever their sin) but he did not excuse sin, rather he forgave repentant sinners.

Our doctrine teaches that God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance and to enter His Kingdom we must be made perfect "even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." This is the central purpose of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior of the world, that through Christ all men might be sanctified and washed clean and made perfect in Christ. Therefore, while Jesus taught us to love one another he first taught us to "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart... soul... mind, and... strength" with "an eye single to the glory of God" and then instructed, "if ye love me, keep my commandments."

I will forever oppose the mistreatment of ANY human being without consideration of their gender, race, age, nationality, religion, political persuasion, or sexual orientation — the bulling, harassment, or violence against any person is a sin and an abomination in the sight of God — this is an unequivocal principle of my Christian faith as immutable as are the laws of Chastity which are foundational to my support for traditional marriage and my opposition to homosexual lifestyles.

While there will always be those who cannot reconcile these two beliefs as compatible I look only to the example of Jesus Christ to know that they are completely in harmony and that as a Christian I can be true to the laws of God in both defending traditional marriage and loving my neighbor.

Direct clarity on the doctrine of the Family as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be read in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

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