SCOTUS on “same sex marriage”…Morality and Legislation

It was “breaking news”. This morning SCOTUS delivered in a 5:4 decision, a landmark ruling in favor of same-sex marriage for couples. (1).This is a sweeping victory and a seminal event that etched in the annals of history, June 27, 2015, as the day that redefined marriage for the country at large. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia, who renamed Obamacare 6:3 decision as SCOTUScare, described this ruling as a judicial “putsch”. While this ruling is not totally unexpected from a secular-based system, mainstream Christians are understandably concerned this “marriage equality” can be a prelude to society’s general acceptance and condoning of “homosexual acts”, an abomination as defined in the Holy Bible. 

This should remind us of a common quote that “you can not legislate morality”, originally attributed to R.M. MacIver (1882–1970), Scottish sociologist, educator(2). This maybe the crux of the problem: extrapolating common law as moral law, like the Ten Commandments. They are different. While both are “made for man”(Mark 2:27), one was made by humans to define what is legal. Whereas the other came from God to define what is moral. One relates to the government, while the other is relational to God. As laws of the land can only define what is legal and what is not, the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) also can only define sin, as in Romans. 7:7-12; 4:15. Both serves as a guide and a restraint towards behavioral modification as Martin Luther King Jr., added a caveat, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”(3).

As violation of secular laws has consequences, the Decalogue also has punishment, the”eternal or second death”(Rev. 21:8). Laws that come from humans may change as in Brown vs Board of Education of 1954 overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation; the 14th amendment to the Constitution in 1868 overturned the 1857 Dred Scott case on slavery. But the Decalogue from God never changed and in fact affirmed by Jesus himself (Matt. 5:17-20). Compliance cannot be assured for common laws as attested by increasing rates of recidivism. Expectedly so, one can suffer from inconsistency in fulfilling the Ten Commandments.

But why is that? Why is there no consistency and reliability of human actions? Even supposed to be “holy men of God”, appointed like Abraham, Moses and David, still succumbed to temptation. Can it be because of failure to establish “habits”? Aristotle was quoted, “Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” (4). There’s some truth to this. But, while developing habits helps people to respond in a legal and moral way, can humans really attain “moral excellence” on their own? Will the same well-intentioned and habits-ingrained person vacillate, when faced with overwhelming odds, to protect his own interests? Regrettably, self-interests prevail. 

Truly, “the flesh is weak”. Even Jesus confirmed this in Matt. 26:41. Paul also attested this “weak nature” of humans at creation (Rom. 8:3). Because of this “weakness”, another “energizing component” is needed for the flesh to be strong against evil and “lust of the flesh”(Gal.5:19-21). And the Creator YHVH knew this from the beginning so he incarnated into man-Jesus. This he did so that after death, he would be resurrected and go back to his Father and send this Holy Spirit into us for empowerment (Jn. 16:7). Jesus was restored to life to get this Spirit as promised by the Father (Gal.3:14; Eph. 1:13) and for us to receive it. From the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Spirit of God has come into the flesh, starting with the apostles. And this Spirit is indeed “coming into the flesh” as testified by John ( I Jn. 3:24; 4:2). God has planned to redo his “marred clay” into what he wanted “the image” in Genesis creation to finally be (Jer. 18:4).

With the Spirit in us, Paul said in Gal.5:16 “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”. This Spirit will develop moral habits in us. The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit of God in us, will “seal, sanctify, guide, teach, and give us power” to have the “mind of Christ”(Rom 12:2; Phil 2:5-11; 2 Tim 1:7) and be “conformed in the likeness of his Son Jesus”(Rom 8:29). We need to follow the Spirit of God to bear “fruits” which are enumerated in Gal. 5:23-23. The Spirit of God is an “empowerment tool” more powerful than mechanical, electrical, nuclear , or any powers. The “spirit of man” has to utilize this “tool” to be conformed with and have the ” mind of Christ” (Rom. 12:2; Phil. 2:1-5; I Cor. 2;13-16; 2 Tim. 1;7). At death, the flesh decays but the “spirit of man”(breath of life, Gen. 2:7) goes back to the Father(Eccl.12:7. This “spirit of man” that developed “habits” by using the power of the Holy Spirit and “bear fruits” will then be given an “immortal body” at resurrection and be “one” with Jesus and the Father( I Cor. 15:51-57; please read the whole Chapter 15).

This is the “strategic plan” worthy of consideration by people of faith. Humans were created “matter-composed”(from dust, earthy), not “spirit-composed”. As matter, man is mortal and can die, unlike “spirit-body” that is immortal. We were created as an “image” (Gen. 1:27) of the immortal God, although “matter-composed” we will be “like him” (I John 3:2), in the future, spirit-body and immortal. The “image” is “earthy”, meaning from dust or earth and unlike man-Jesus “from above” (I Cor. 15:46-48), who came from heaven and not formed on earth nor of ” dust of the ground”. But, at resurrection Paul states that we will change into immortality (I Cor. 15:51-57), “spirit-composed body”, like Jesus’ body post resurrection. 

The end of it all is that, with a “spirit of man” that developed “habits” as taught and guided by the Holy Spirit of power, transformed into “oneness” with the “mind of Christ”, it will then receive a new body, an immortal body. And with all of these coming to reality, the person will be “reliable and consistently” following the Ten Commandments. Moral values will then be instilled in the person and will stay with him/her forever. This is the destiny of humanity, those who are transformed to be “one” with God. 

References:
1.Retrieved from: http://www.scotusblog.com/category/special-features/same-sex-marriage/ 

2.MacIver, The Modern State, ch. 5, Oxford University Press, 1926; Retrieved from; http://www.bartleby.com/66/18/37218.html). 

3. Retrieved from, http://www.quotes.net/authors/Martin+Luther+King%2c+Jr.

4.Retrieved from: http://www.philosophyinaction.com/docs/thoa.pdf

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