Like a good soldier, Alaska District Court Judge Tim Burgess, fell right in line with the rest of the activist courts across the country and ruled yesterday that Article 1 Section 25 of our State Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.
According to Burgess, 68% of Alaskans who voted in 1998 to protect natural marriage in our Constitution were motivated by nothing more than animus and bigotry.
Apparently, Burgess agrees with one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs suing the State who said that marriage is a "changing institution." Changing exactly into what is the most frightening aspect of this ruling. Under what logical rationale would the Courts now deny other "evolving" forms of marriage ? Three wives for one husband ? Marrying your aunt or niece or brother ? Group marriage involving any number of couples and individuals with various sexual orientations ? Once you eliminate sexual complementarity from the marriage equation, is there any reason to keep other cornerstones we've all taken for granted for generations including exclusivity, permanence and monogamy?
Ultimately, marriage laws have never been about validating romantic relationships. You don’t need a marriage license to be emotionally involved with another person. The purpose of marriage is to ensure the right of children to a relationship with their mother and father. That, in turn, encourages stability and responsibility between mom, dad, and children so that the family endures through time.
The government has been in the marriage business because the sexual act that unites a man and a woman also creates new life, and the government needs to make sure that that new life is reared to maturity responsibly and in the best possible environment. The rights of children to have a mom and dad should always trump the rights of individuals to have their emotional relationships affirmed.
Governor Parnell, in a prepared statement, said he would "defend our constitution" and that he would appeal the Burgess decision. When that might end up at the U.S. Supreme Court is anyone's guess but there can be no doubt that this was a subversion of the democratic process. Who is the true owner of our state constitution ? Is it the people of Alaska or unelected men and women who happen to wear black robes? If it's the latter, then the idea that we live in a representative democracy is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Despite our disappointment with the Burgess ruling, Christ is still on the throne. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."Romans 8:28
Here are a few takeaways I'm leaning into right now as our ministry surveys this new cultural landscape in the Great Land -
- Political and Cultural Victories Come and Go - Moral Absolutes Never Change - How many people in 1973 thought the abortion issue was permanently decided for the country with the Roe v Wade ruling ? The progressives had won the war and sealed the deal. Right ? Not even close. Our culture, for the most part, is now more pro-life than ever. Laws protecting women and unborn children and holding abortion clinics accountable have passed in record numbers in state legislatures across the country including right here in Alaska. Decades of hard work by those in the crisis pregnancy center movement. Peaceful vigils and prayers for abortion workers. Sanctity of life educational curricula that has inspired and emboldened new faces to stand up. Underground investigations of what really goes on in abortion clinics. 4-D ultrasound technology eradicating the myth that a pre-born child is nothing more than a "mass of cells." All of these efforts have changed a culture because the facts about abortion and life never changed. Society simply had to be exposed to what was real. It is the same with marriage. Now - the work begins. It's time to pull up our sleeves and to do it with good cheer - John 16:33
- Elections Matter - On Tuesday, November 4th, Alaskans will be voting on their next U.S. Senator, U.S. House member, Governor and State legislative members. Equip yourself to know where candidates stand on important issues regarding marriage, life and other areas and vote your values. Click here for our 2014 Alaska Values Voter Guide. Judges, like Tim Burgess, who was actually appointed by President George W. Bush, will often flagrantly violate the bounds of their authority but we must keep vigilant. Wecan get better people in office who will represent and stand for truth, and appoint better judges, but only as you and I and more like us stay engaged. Time to lick our wounds and move on.
- Threats To Religious Liberty Are Greater Than Ever - Although we were successful in 2010 in holding off a Municipality of Anchorage ordinance that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's non-discrimination code, we are now essentially guaranteed that this battle, and many others like it, will come back in full force. As same-sex "marriage" becomes more of the norm in Alaska, lawyers and their LGBTQ clients will be anxious to do their part in making sure you "accommodate" same-sex couples in every area of life - regardless if it infringes upon deeply held convictions you, your business, church or ministry holds. Those of us with natural views of marriage may find ourselves "tolerated" less and less down the road. We must stand strong with grace and become much more aware of our right to live our lives consistent with our values. Click HERE to learn more.
- Same Sex Marriage Is An Opportunity - Al Mohler Jr., one of my favorite writers, has said that "homosexuality is a 'first-order' theological issue as it presents itself in the current cultural debate. Fundamental truths essential to the Christian faith are at stake in this confrontation." In every culture and at every time, the message of Jesus giving His life up for sinners deeply in need of forgiveness, like you and I, is always met with pushback and often hostility. We need to dive deeper into why we really believe in natural marriage according to God's Word and pray about how we can convincingly and lovingly present it to those who vehemently disagree with us. We should go forth with humility and " Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15