In response to the Supreme Court’s recent display of hubris and judicial overreach in legalizing same-sex marriage, the response has been mixed. Supporters have been in a state of giddy celebration, often leading them to denounce opponents as hateful bigots who hate love, love hatred, and simply cannot stand to see people with same-sex attraction happy. Opponents’ response to the decision has been more varied. Many have been both upset and fearful of the consequences– as well they might, since if 5 “benevolent” social planners can redefine something as basic as marriage, then what can they not do?
Other opponents though, have charged such people with over-reaction. To be afraid and upset, some have said- shows a lack of faith in God. Or else, (James Martin SJ) it shows a hatred of homosexuals (1). Of course, this is nonsense. If Jesus Himself wept over the state of his country, then we should be able to weep over ours. If He could call his closest follower “Satan,” then we can recognize the wrong done for what it is. And if He could summon the manliness and sheer moral outrage to fashion a whip of cords and drive the merchants and money-changers from the temples, then we can at least summon the moral outrage to do resist the evil done.
Supporters of redefining marriage have declared the debate over, but it is not. It is not because neither government nor society has power to change the meaning of marriage. It has has no more power to make a relationship between two men a marriage than it has to cause two and two to make five. Even if this broad decision were not the result of a mere five judges, even were it made by unanimous vote of an entire society, it could not change the nature of marriage. That would, and does, remain.
On July 6, 1535 a Catholic laymen was executed for refusing to recognize his own government’s attempt to redefine both marriage and the government’s power over religion. This man, Thomas More, was the hero of the agnostic playwright Robert Bolts’ Man for All Seasons. In one scene, Bolt has More being interrogated by the king’s ministers demanding that he recognize the king’s redefinitions. More replies simply,
“Some think the world round, others think it flat; it is a matter of debate. But if it is flat, will the king’s command make it round? And if it is round, will the king’s command flatten it?” No, I will not sign.”
Neither Supreme Court, nor government, nor society has any more power to redefine marriage than it has to flatten a round world. And because the truth of the matter will not be on their side, proponents of the attempted redefinition will be especially hostile to those who resist. The resistance of even one good man will have to be crushed– as Henry VIII had to crush Thomas More though he stood almost alone against all the power of the English state (2).
What to do in such a world, when it seems as if all the power of the secular world, government, media, and large majorities are preparing to move against opponents of same-sex marriage? The only thing one can do: resist. In history, battles have been turned by small groups of men planting their flag and refusing to move against larger forces. The world will move, but they will not. David planted himself against the giant Goliath. 300 Spartans planted themselves against the Persian Empire, rag-tag minutemen against the British Empire. And God planted his flag, a cross on a hill, Calvary, before all the power of Hell. Fulton Sheen has said that, “in history, the only causes that die are those for which men refuse to die.” One man willing to lose everything for a cause is worth more than 100 men willing to lose only some things, because a man willing to lose everything is a man who cannot be bullied.
For the bullies will come and are already at the door (3). And when they come, the only answer can be, “you move, for I will not.”
(2) This is not mere rhetoric. One thinks of the Bakers punished for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/07/03/christian-bakers-fined-135000-for-refusing-to-make-wedding-cake-for-lesbians.html); the Catholic priest spit on by gay pride supporters (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/06/29/tolerance-vs-pride-spit-on-by-parade-goers-catholic-priest-has-this-message.html);
(3) As in the cases cited in note 2.