The Tragedy of the Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage

When the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a constitutional right in its ruling in Obergefell v Hodges, few people seemed to notice that it did much more than address the subject of marriage. The ruling went far beyond that. It in effect opened the door for any and all sexual ‘orientations.’

In a statement buried in Page 8 of the text of the majority opinion, this is what was written:

“Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.”

This statement is far more than a contributing definition to the concept of marriage. It is a statement that gives potential justification for any kind of sexual activity. Whether or not this was intentional on the part of Justice Kennedy is conjectural, but if it wasn’t then it could become one of the most carelessly thought out statements uttered by a justice of the Supreme Court for at least three reasons:

First, it gives a blanket endorsement to ‘sexual orientation’ as an unqualified concept. The statement does not say that a ‘homosexual’ or ‘same-sex’ orientation is normal and immutable, but that ‘sexual’ orientation in itself has these characteristics. This makes any sexual orientation legitimate — at least in principle. So not only attraction to the same sex, but attraction to both sexes, to close family members, to young teenage boys, or to prepubescent or younger children can now easily be defended as simply one of many orientations. We now have judicial precedent!

Second, this decision far exceeds a defense of marriage by being a de facto defense of the normativity of all sexual orientations. Whatever a person’s sexual desire is inclined to can now be championed as ‘normal.’ Am I sexually attracted to my own sex? That’s normal. Am I sexually attracted to both sexes? That’s normal too. How about my mother? Normal. And what about young boys? Normal. Or young girls? That’s normal too. It’s just my sexual orientation. There’s nothing abnormal now about any sexual predisposition.

Third, this opinion of the Court has not only made all sexual orientations normal. It has also made them immutable. They can’t be changed. And really there’s no reason to change them if they’re all normal. Now I know there will be arguments about coercion and consanguinity and compatibility when trying to overcome the force of this statement, but once normativity and immutability have been established by a judicial decision, the lawsuits will be relentless until the implications of that decision are acknowledged. After all, that’s how we ended up with gay marriage as a constitutional right!

What is so tragic about this decision by our highest court is not merely the hubris reflected in it by redefining marriage. The real tragedy is the helplessness to which it has consigned people by normalizing what are abnormal and unnatural and that from a Christian perspective result inevitably in sad consequences for those who practice them.

The ruling has effectively left us without hope. And that is unconscionable.


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