A message from Mat Staver, our Founder and Chairman:
Lately we have heard a lot about “redlines.” A redline creates separation between safety and danger. You see a redline anytime you drive a vehicle with a tachometer indicating the number of revolutions per minute at which your engine can safely operate. In both Hebrew and in English, a redline means a figurative point of no return or a line in the sand beyond which a dangerous condition befalls the careless or unobservant. As the Supreme Court deliberates their holding on the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage,” we face a cultural redline. And like any other redline, we dare not cross this one without expecting to experience great danger.
In 2009, a diverse group of leaders from a wide spectrum of religious traditions signed on to the “Manhattan Declaration,” thereby publicly uniting around the three core Judeo- Christian values of religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and marriage. Inspired by the late Chuck Colson, the Manhattan Declaration ends with these sobering words: “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”
Now, five years later, we are faced with the reality of a conflict between civil government in the United States of America and the laws of God.
On the eve of the decision on marriage that is before the Supreme Court, religious and political leaders representing Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish communities once again are pledging to stand in solidarity with marriage and the family by signing a historic document.
Codrafted by Deacon Keith Fournier (a Catholic) and me (an Evangelical), the Marriage Solidarity Pledge declares: “We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.”
Liberty Counsel filed an important brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, where argument on marriage took place at the end of April. A decision is expected by the end of June. I pray that the Court reaches the obvious conclusion that there is no so-called constitutional right to same-sex marriage. That would be a great victory, but that would not end the issue.
While the Supreme Court has no authority to redefine the natural created order of marriage, neither does any state. Marriage is no more a states’ rights issue than is slavery or the law of gravity, for that matter. Simply put, no earthly authority has the right to rebel against the natural created order which is clearly understood through Natural and Revealed Law.
The Marriage Solidarity Pledge further states: “We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family.”
The Pledge continues: “Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order.”
The Marriage Pledge points out that experience and history attest that when government purports to redefine marriage, “that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights… We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society.”
The Pledge reminds us of the indefensible Supreme Court decisions involving Dred Scott, where Mr. Scott was denied his rights of full citizenship because he was black, and Cary Buck, who was forcibly sterilized in order to eliminate an “undesirable” component of the population.
Since no civil government has the right to redefine natural marriage, the signers declare: “We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law.” The Pledge continues: “As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.”
This is the redline of marriage. This is a line we cannot cross. While no one wants conflict on this issue, we have no choice but to resist an unjust law, particularly one that will force believers to participate in acts that are in direct opposition to the Natural and Revealed Law.
But how will peaceful resistance be manifested? The answer, in multiple ways, depends upon the circumstances. For example, when the state commands a Christian adoption ministry to place children in homes under a redefinition of marriage, the ministry must stand its ground and not abandon its God-given mission to place children in homes with a mother and a father. The ministry should neither compromise nor should it voluntarily cease performing its mission. Let the state come, but let not the believer collapse under pressure!
I am reminded of Martin Niemoeller, a German pastor and theologian during the Nazi Holocaust, and his famous statement: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Let me paraphrase Mr. Niemoeller for our times. “First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out because I did not facilitate adoptions. Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out because I did not photograph weddings. Then they came for the baker, but I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing because I was not a florist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
We must stand together and speak in support of each other. We cannot cross the redline of marriage. Like Esther facing the unjust law of the Persian Empire, we must pray and then we must stand firm. This crisis presents a redline we cannot cross.
May God help us to remain faithful.