Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Highest Court Isn't In The Land

Last week the Supreme Court Of The United States ruled on an issue that has become a national conversation over the past couple of decades: redefining the legal terms of marriage.

The ruling was paramount to a seismic event that rocked the foundations of our culture, shifting, shaking, and reshaping the institution that is at the center of all civilized society. The aftershocks will ripple through the culture for a very long time, maybe forever.

The reaction has been about what you would expect. Facebook is divided, with profile pictures changing to support one side or another. All of the large news outlets weighing in with their "unbiased" reporting, depending on which side of the spectrum they inhabit. The Church attempting to once again instill the Truth, with letters, interviews, op-eds and Facebook posts.

It is disturbing to feel the rumbles and insecurity within our communities both in the real world and the virtual one, and it is a very serious issue with regard to the Supreme Court. Once again they have ruled on a social issue and made it the law of the land. Wrong. Not their job. Not their place.
They did it with Roe v Wade, Obamacare, and now marriage.

However concerned I am about the ramifications for our culture and the fabric of society, society is going to do what it will, because that's the nature of the human condition. It shifts and changes like the house built on sand, because our current society is now a purely human institution. We gave up national adherence to Judeo-Christian principles sometime in the 60s, and for the most part have never looked back.

The Church, for her part, has stood through the storms of war, pestilence, political upheaval, and the rising and falling of nations. She is the bride of Christ, and He has never left her to the wolves of change. Christ instituted the Sacraments, and gave them to the Church. They are of God. They exist as conduits of Grace for the Church Militant on Earth, but they are not of this world. They are of an entirely different realm and so they aren't attached to the foundation of society and culture. They can't be shaken or changed and they cannot be controlled by any power or principality.
Anyone can say words and make promises to live together in love and faithfulness. Fine. Anyone can sign a paper that states that by the law of the land they are bound to each other. OK. Anyone can indeed love whomever or whatever they please. That's the prerogative of secular humanity. People are free to choose the way they will live, and they really always have been. But the Sacraments are not functions of the culture. You can't take them up as if they are the privileges of some club or organization. You can't demand that they be given. You can even think that you have received one, and be wrong. You can't earn them or buy them. All Grace is a free gift, but it requires cooperation.

Those that are determined that marriage needs to encompass any and all combinations of people, lifestyles, methods and modes have been given the "all clear" by the SCOTUS, and so the meaning of marriage changes in the law. They may feel that their time has come, and they may sue, protest and petition themselves into every entity that deals with the issue. But even if they manage to shut down schools, parishes, and Christian institutions, even if they get pastors, priests and bishops thrown into jail or dragged into court, they will not be able to win the Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
This question was settled in a much higher court, at the beginning of the world.
This isn't a question of gender, or identity. It doesn't matter who is attempting marriage, whether those who co-habit and are unrepentant, those that have been civilly married, those who have been divorced after marriage in the Church and do not seek annulment, those that stand at the altar knowing that there is an impediment, and even those that don't know.
It isn't actually a question at all.

So I am not afraid of the tremors that are shaking our foundations. I am sad, and I wish that those that stand by the Church didn't have to be seen as angry haters. I don't feel uncertain however. I am not un-moored, and I am not afraid. The love of God is for all people, and it's my part to share it until I take my last breath.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39