Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Same-Sex Marriage Laws

Supreme_Court_US_2010The Supreme Court has just announced that it will hear four cases involving the constitutionality of same-sex marriage laws around the United States. The hearings will most likely be in April with a decision in June.

Two central questions will be considered according to the Court’s statement granting certiorari:

  1. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
  2. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

The answers to these questions will decide the future of marriage across the United States. If the answer to the first question is “Yes,” then same-sex marriage will be legalized nationwide, and the second question would be irrelevant. If the answer to the first question is “No,” but the second question is answered “Yes,” then it will authorize de facto same-sex marriage across the country. If both questions are answered “No,” then the status quo will continue.

The New York Times notes:

The pace of change on same-sex marriage, in both popular opinion and in the courts, has no parallel in the nation’s history.

Based on the court’s failure to act in October and its last three major gay rights rulings, most observers expect the court to establish a nationwide constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But the court also has a history of caution in this area.

This could be one of the most pivotal decisions of the Supreme Court in a generation. It will impact the future of marriage in this nation for generations to come. This is a time for us to be in earnest prayer for the justices of the Supreme Court. I pray that they will uphold the design for marriage that God has created and has been recognized for all of human history up to the last decade. The future of marriage is at stake.

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Supreme Court Order 574 U.S., January 16, 2015.

Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court to Decide Whether Gays Nationwide Can Marry,” The New York Times, January 16, 2015.

Lyle Denniston, “Court will rule on same-sex marriage,” SCOTUSblog, January 16, 2015.

Guest Post: And God Created… New Year’s Lessons from Genesis 1-3

bible-cover-pageThis is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.

One of my goals this year is to read the Bible from beginning to end in 2015. Maybe you have that same goal. Whether or not, I do pray that one of your goals is to fall in love with God’s Word more than you have before, for there is nothing more satisfying and life changing than reading Scripture. On New Year’s Day, as I started the year reading those familiar chapters, I began to think about the potential for 2015. I love the New Year, for it is like a beautiful blank calendar waiting to be filled or a brand new book waiting to be opened and enjoyed. The “newness” of the beginning of Genesis correlates perfectly with the “newness” of a new year.

As I began to read, I took special notice of God’s actions as he created, knowing that every day of 2015 will be filled with those same promises.

  1. God is the author of my days, weeks, and year. I can see throughout Genesis 1 how God creates out of nothingness. He simply says, “Let there be…” and it was. He was the creator of light, the sky, the birds that fill that sky and the food to feed those birds that fill that sky. Also, at the end of every stage, God declared that His creation was good. The new year is a vast expanse before us that God will fill with His purposes. He is the author of each of my days. I can plan, as men do, but God is the ultimate creator of all things including the happenings of my day. He will speak into my life and say, “Let there be this time of blessing or this day of trial. Let there be this sickness or this change of plans.” But no matter what happens, He will also say, “it is good”, because He is good and everything he creates is good (Ps 199:68). I can trust in this principle when I feel like life is slipping out of control or when I can’t see the sense of a situation. I can look to the heavens and see that the same God who created those skies, creates my days.
  2. God has a plan for everything He creates. Everything God created in that first week had a purpose. Whether to provide light or darkness or nourishment or a balance to days and seasons, everything had a reason for God to bring it into being. At the pinnacle of it all, when God created man, his purpose was to fill the earth and rule over it. Man was created, in God’s own precious image, for a specific reason. You will find no room for happenstance within Scripture. There are no accidents or coincidences. I find rest and peace that my God is a God of purpose and, no matter what happens this year, He has a plan for my good and His glory.
  3. God will provide in every way. Sometimes when the vastness of time is before me, I find myself not only uncertain of what the days will bring, but also wondering if I have what it takes to make it through. Will I have enough money? Resources? Wisdom? Courage? However, God intends for me to look at the future with hope and promise, not fear and trepidation. As God created the world, He provided for everything. He made sure the details were taken care of for every living thing to be able to survive and thrive. The days were the perfect length. The animals were satisfied and looked after and had a place to live and roam. Once man was created, God provided a helper suitable just for him and gave them both jobs to live and work and fulfill their purpose. Because God did those things and an innumerable amount more, I can have total faith that He will also provide for me in everything that comes my way. In the joys, He will provide, and in the trials, He will provide.
  4. Sin will be available, but I have a choice. Unfortunately, life did not stay perfect for long in Genesis. We read in the third chapter, Adam and Eve chose to listen to their own reason and the reasoning of Satan himself and disobey God’s instructions for them. Despite all the things I have mentioned before, God’s perfect plans and provisions, Eve still chose to turn away from God and listen to the lies of Satan. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I know this year I will have the opportunities to do the same thing. Day by day, I can choose my own fleshly path or I can choose to follow fervently after God’s direction for my life. Just like in the garden, sin will always be available. However, I can also learn from Genesis that I have a choice.
  5. God’s redemption is perfect. Finally and most wonderfully, we can learn from Genesis 1-3 that God’s redemption is perfect. Even when Adam and Eve sinned, God completely covered them and clothed them. God pronounced judgment on them, but at the end, described how sin will ultimately be defeated through Eve’s offspring. I pray this year I will make great decisions for God’s glory. However, the chances are good that I will make mistakes as well. Either way, my desire is for God’s redemption to speak so loudly through my life that those around me will see His grace and mercy at work.

As I look into 2015, my goals are set and my plans are made. However, in reading through Genesis 1-3, I am reminded that a wonderful God is ultimately in control. And based on those three chapters, I can trust him, have faith in Him, and rejoice in Him for he is my Author, my Provider, and my Redeemer this year and every year ahead of me.

Guest Post: Opening the Sieve

This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.

I remember the moment very well. I don’t know the time or date, but I was sitting with my two oldest girls watching a show on our favorite network about people buying and selling houses. The next episode came on and the “couple” buying the house was two men. Before I could react with a pre-emptive, “Hey, let’s go outside!” one of my daughters said, “Why would two men be buying a house together without wives?” This began one of the dreaded conversations that a parent must have with their children, explaining to them the idea of homosexuality.

In regards to raising our children in a sinful world, a parent’s job is much like a sieve. When they are young, very little comes into a child’s life without the parent’s consent and approval. Whether it is through TV, books, or peers, we try to surround them with good, beautiful things. But over time, as our children become older, we must slowly open the sieve, allowing them to encounter more and more of the world. Sometimes it happens through some sort of media. Sometimes, through school. Sometimes, it is just standing in line at the grocery store. I will not tell you the exact appropriate time to begin discussing more worldly topics with your children. That is for you, your husband, and God to decide. However, if your children grow, which they have a habit of doing, conversations will arise, and it is wise to have a plan to engage with our kids about the culture around us.

1. Answer their questions until they are satisfied.

It takes supernatural wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen. However, God is faithful and will lead us and guide us as we lead and guide our children. When a question comes up, don’t shy away from the opportunity. Engage your child with as much of the truth as is needed at the moment. Try to satisfy their natural curiosity with pointing the conversation back to how wonderfully God created us or how much God loves us. For example, one of my kids asked a question regarding the lack of clothes a model wore on the front of a magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store. After answering her question in the most discreet way I knew how as I paid for my groceries, I turned the conversation to how our bodies are beautifully created by God and how we should adorn them in a way that honors the One who Created him. I didn’t avoid the question, but I turned the conversation to focus not on the sin of public nudity, but on our call to modesty.

2. Honor and encourage their common sense.

During a speech on the campus of Southwestern Seminary, Jennifer Roback Morse shared the idea that if we ever feel like we are constantly bombarded by liberal propaganda wanting to convince us of their lies, it is because we indeed are. The reason for this relentless battering ram of nonsense into our lives is because it takes a lot of brainwashing to overcome our own God-given common sense (Rom 1:18-32). God displays all over creation that men and women are different. In the same vein, simple human anatomy and physiology show us how same sex marriages are not natural. When my girls started asking questions after seeing the television show I mentioned before, one actually thought I was joking when I explained the situation. “That would never work,” she said. In a slightly different vein, a friend was teaching a small class of boys about how we can pray for China. In the flow of conversation, the fact arose that they abort baby girls because their culture values boys more. A smart boy spoke up and said, “That’s ridiculous. Who do they think all those boys are going to marry when they grow up and want to have families?” I think the leaders of China could learn something from the common sense of an 8-year-old.

3. Remember, God is sovereign and you can trust him with your children.

We are just recently getting into this stage of parenting. I excelled at the “closed sieve” stage. It was my delight to keep all the bad away and protect my kids. But, if my goal is to raise warriors for Christ (and it is), I must open the sieve of the world and allow my kids to get some field practice. The main thing that held me back, and still does if I allow it, is fear. I was afraid of what would happen if they saw too much or heard too much or were exposed to too much. However, once again, God reminds me that my children are not my own. I have them for a short amount of time, and then they will have to face the world on their own. It is my job to train them and teach them how to act in battle. Yes, your child might come home from school asking you about a word they heard. Or your child might overhear something on the news that they know is not right. Or a neighbor might practice a different lifestyle than yours and your child sees it. Whatever the situation, God is sovereign and trustworthy and as we do our job as parents, He will use all those hard conversations for His glory.

Guest Post: An Open Letter to the President Regarding My Choice to Stay at Home

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie, written in response to President Obama’s speech on October 31, 2014, at Rhode Island College in Providence, RI.

Dear Mr. President:

In your recent speech to a gathering in Rhode Island, you discussed the benefits of more funding for public pre-schools. You said, “Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.” I have been a mom for almost 10 years, but before that I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology and my master’s degree in Biblical counseling. As a professional, I could do many jobs with those degrees including, but not limited to, counseling in a faith-based setting or teaching counseling through a university. According to various sources, my income would range from $40,000-$50,000 per year. Therefore, over my 10 years of parenting I potentially could have made approximately $500,000. Now, we both know that a good portion of that salary would have gone to taxes and the extra expenses of working, but I do not deny that I would probably have more money in the bank had I chosen that route.

However, I have had the privilege and honor of being a full time mom for almost a decade. I have 4 children that I know in-depth. I am an expert on what makes them laugh, cry, what fears they have, and what dreams they dream. Just since my youngest was born, I have fed them roughly 3000 meals and taught them diligently to be polite during those meals. During the pre-school years, I have taught them to use the restroom and how to read. They have inspired me to slow down and be silly and read just one more chapter to that story. You might think that any pre-school teacher could do this, but I beg to differ, for there is something that happens between the four walls of a home that cannot happen in a group classroom. I look them in the eyes and show them unconditional love and offer them passionate training for life. I do not change. I do not leave at night. I do not go somewhere on the weekends. They are with me during holidays and the summertime. What they get is a life laid down for THEM, and what I pray they see is that they are worth the sacrifice. Yes, I have sacrificed a lot of money by not working in a job for many years, but what I hope to convey is that a life of sacrifice for my children pays off dividends for the future. A life is not made by the money you make, but by the legacy you leave. My legacy will be how my children love and fight for what is right and how they serve others for generations upon generations.

Do not misunderstand me, Mr. President. I am not taking the bait to enter into another fight between stay-at-home moms and moms who work outside the home. My own mother worked for the entirety of my growing-up years, many of those years as a single parent. I admire any mom who lovingly provides for her children and desires to raise them as mature, loving, and selfless adults. Much of popular culture and politics wants moms to be at war with each other so that we miss the one thing we should be fighting to protect—our children. Therefore, no, I am not writing this letter to show my superiority over other moms who have made different choices. I am writing to explain to you that moms who leave the workplace to raise their children are not women to be pitied. We are not women who need a government solution so that we can be freed from our bondage to our home. On the contrary, we are women who made a choice to lay down our plans and our pocketbooks and take up the monumental task of nurturing and growing the next generation.

For God’s glory,

Melanie Lenow

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Remarks by the President on Women and the Economy–Providence, RI,” Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, October 31, 2014.

Next Stop, Supreme Court (?)

wedding ringsA panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the traditional definition of marriage today in cases involving Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This is the first time in the recent round of cases that a circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman. This also creates a point of tension for the Supreme Court since they decided last month not to take up other cases related to the definition of marriage.

Robert Barnes reports the following in The Washington Post:

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states Thursday afternoon, creating a split among the nation’s appeals courts that almost surely means the Supreme Court must take up the issue of whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The panel ruled 2 to 1 that while gay marriage is almost inevitable, in the words of U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, it should be settled through the democratic process and not the judiciary. The decision overturned rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky, and makes the 6th Circuit the first appeals court to uphold state bans since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In the conclusion of the majority opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton chastises the courts that have overturned marriage laws in other states. He writes:

When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

Now there is a split in the U.S. Circuit Courts. Now we have to wait and see if the Supreme Court will take up the cases.