Regular readers will note that I did not have my regular Sunday reflection yesterday. This is a Monday reflection — a leftover, part of the aftermath. And it is so by deliberate design. Today, we are facing the aftermath of one of the three or four most lawless rulings in American Supreme Court history. The same-sex marriage decision is not just an affront to the Constitution and to faith traditionalists; it is a direct threat to religious liberty, as Chief Justice John Roberts and others noted here, with this being the key line from Roberts’ dissent:
“The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion [not just ‘advocate’ it]. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”
In that light, all of us as people of faith — whether we agree with same-sex marriage or not, we are all eventually in the same boat when religious liberty is threatened — must be aware that the scope of our guarantees against government abuse just got shrunk.
In that light, there will need to be a lot of very, very hard thought by some exceedingly intelligent lawyers (and others) about how best to defend the rights of churches and faithful individuals. And it will not necessarily be about “same-sex” rights; the grounds for battles over religious liberty are vast and varied.
In the short term, then, this little reflection will not analyze this past week’s Gospel or Epistles; nor will it offer any insightful answers or plans as to what to do next. Those will take time.
Instead, I merely offer, as the solace upon which we always can and must rely, the first verse of one of my three all-time favorite hymns — which happens to be the one with which we ended my church service yesterday:
Oh God, our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.