Various writers have rightly noted that the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage is an interpretation of the Constitution and its advocacy of equal treatment under the law. They have rightly pointed out that the decision is not directly based on any religion’s sacred text, but is rather a reflection of a national ethos rooted in our nation’s historic commitment that all persons are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.
A reading of the confirming opinion, however, does reveal a keen insight captured in the decision–an insight revealed in the Bible–namely, that marriage is defined in terms of covenant. And as such it combines privilege and responsibility.
Those who oppose the SCOTUS decision are doing so largely and most-often using a definition of marriage that arises from creation. When this is so, biology and anatomy become the interpretive portals. And from those doorways, opposite-sex marriage is quickly believed to be the defining element of the concept.
But when covenant is viewed as the norm (not only for marriage alone, but for all aspects of the God-human, human-human relationship), the portal becomes holiness, expressed in marriage through vows that commit those married to sacredness, monogamy, fidelity, and permanency. Holy sexuality is rooted in and defined by covenant, not creation. And when it is so viewed, it can be the privilege and responsibility of any two people who are willing to make the commitments that any marriage expects and enforces.
The SCOTUS decision is an interpretation of the Constitution, not an interpretation of the Bible. In that respect it is trans-religious and non-sectarian. But in defining marriage in a covenental context, the Court keeps marriage in the same high place where Scripture has placed it from the beginning until now. Far from diminishing marriage, it has kept its covenant core intact, offering the blessings and benefits of it to anyone willing to make marriage holy matrimony–what a government can only describe to is citizenry as “liberty and justice for all.”
I will continue these thoughts in a second post next week.