Praying that the Supreme Court of the United States Feels the Love

Who can deny that the heart of marriage is the love and commitment between the partners? Can you? So, it makes perfect sense to me that public opinion in the United States has moved inexorably toward supporting marriage for same-sex couples.

Many who are joining a growing number of Americans in support of the freedom to marry have moved there by knowing couples like my friends, Ralph and Van.

In the last few years, those coming out in support of marriage for same-sex couples are often touched by the love and long-term commitment of those couples looking for the legal protections of marriage. Ralph and Van have been together for 32 years.

Many have also been moved by how gay couples, like heterosexual couples, work tirelessly to nurture and sustain their relationships despite the differences that two people bring to a relationship. For Ralph and Van, one’s a Republican and the other is a Democrat. I admire the way they have worked all that out in our contentious times. They have loved one another for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.

Many also admire the contributions that couples like Ralph and Van make to strengthen our communities. Despite busy and successful professional careers, they have also made time to serve in all kinds of volunteer capacities throughout the years. Just looking to their church activities, Ralph is an elder who has chaired both his presbytery and synod nominating committees. He is a Sunday morning greeter and is on the fellowship committee of his congregation. In their church, Van has chaired both the board of trustees and the board of deacons. He especially enjoys visiting homebound elderly church members and plays cribbage weekly with a 102-year-old church friend.

Their strong life together has empowered them individually, and this is without any of the legal supports that make life easier for other married couples. Last August, Ralph and Van were married in their home state, New York, so that they now receive the benefits offered to married couples by that state. However, their marriage is still not recognized by the federal government, which means they are denied benefits afforded heterosexual couples, like the right to file a joint tax return.

During Holy Week, the Supreme Court of the United States has the opportunity to change that. They will hear challenges to Prop 8 and DOMA. Prop 8, passed by California voters, took away the freedom to marry from couples in the state after their state Supreme Court granted that right to same-sex couples. DOMA is a federal law that prevents the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.

This summer, the Court could rule that our Constitution’s guarantees of freedom and justice extend to same-sex couples – like Ralph and Van – when it comes to marriage.

The constitutional right to equal protection under the law cries out for the Supreme Court Justices to affirm that the love and commitment shown by Ralph and Van deserves the same rights and responsibilities afforded to heterosexual couples.

That our country lives by the rule of law should carry the Court to this conclusion. But we know that is not all there is. The Court also moves in accord with the winds of popular opinion. Though embrace of marriage equality has increased dramatically, we cannot depend on those trends to carry the day for love this year. Every one of us must do two things.

First, we must continue to seek out those who remain conflicted about marriage for same-sex couples. Get to know them better and help them get to know you better or get to know about a couple like my friends, Ralph and Van. Share the love! Surely there is enough to go around!

Have a good conversation about love—what it means to them and what it means to you—especially love in marriage. Do you know anyone who does not value love? Trust that commonality with the other person, especially if they are religious. Love is the source of every blessed human religious impulse. Gently probe for an answer to how Ralph and Van’s married love hurts or threatens anyone. Build upon the truth that there is enough love to go around. Inevitably, imperfect human love needs all the help it can get.

Second, pray for the Supreme Court in its hearings on March 26, 2013. Find the candle light vigil or worship service dedicated to that in your community or create one. Here in Pittsburgh, we will be hosting special worship at the 1st Methodist Church on March 25th. Come join us or get to Washington, if you can. Pray for the court to do the right thing, as the California Supreme Court did back in 2008, of upholding the rule of law, despite loud public opinion against the freedom to marry.

The United States of America is committed to the rule of law because we, as a people from the beginning, have acknowledged that all are created equal and loved by our Creator equally. Yet, history shows clearly how often we, frail human beings, can thwart that conviction. The greatest challenge has always come in times when a majority of the voters use their power to tip the balances of justice away from fairness.

Law is here to preserve our equality when human frailty or fear tempts us to be less than we, at our best, want to be. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).” But we are not perfect and so we have the law. In this case, it’s the loving principle of equal protection under the law.

Pray that the Justices find their way to recognize the love among the people of our land and also embedded in our constitutional law. So that, at the end of the day, we all can lift our hands in praise: Alleluia! Love, all love, prevails.

To find more details on our worship session here:–create-a-local-action.html

5 Responses
  • Bill on March 21, 2013

    Since satan is at the helm right now, I’d bet the court swings in favor of less God and more liberalism. So much liberalism if fact that many persons and churches will be convinced that the “Holy” Bible isnt actually Holy, but rather parts of it are. Especially the parts we like….I wonder if the Lord is crying at all of his lost sheep going so far astray……….

  • Thomas Fultz, Elder on March 21, 2013

    You suggest this approach: “Gently probe for an answer to how Ralph and Van’s married love hurts or threatens anyone.”

    To which I return with a question: “Do they love one enough to preclude any sexual relationship?” Jesus sets up a standard for sexuality confined to different-gender marriage – other expressions of sexual relationships are prohibited, in keeping with the fact that God made two genders that physically are complimentary for sexuality. The same-gender sexual activity is what the Scripture and the PCUSA Confessions are restrictive. The restriction is based on God’s Word and it is God that is offended.

    So I disagree wholeheartedly with the intent of your observation “it makes perfect sense to me that public opinion in the United States has moved inexorably toward supporting marriage for same-sex couples.” The things of God are often seen as foolishness to the culture. Cultural acceptance of various expressions of sexuality have varied through history. The practice of God’s people has little to do with a majority concensus within the culture, but our practice is to be guided by Scripture as rule of faith and life.

  • Janet Edwards on March 21, 2013

    Dear Bill,

    I have a couple thoughts on your comments, Bill. I hope you will reflect upon them and respond.

    Perhaps you share with me the faith that Jesus is always crying over those who go astray. I am certainly grateful for that and also very aware that from the very start Jesus’ followers have differed, as you and I do, over who is lost and who is not. But, also, perhaps you and I can also agree that everyone of us is astray in some way.

    It is significant to me that there are young conservatives who find true conservatism in the freedom to marry rather than the liberalism you see. Andrew Sullivan, the Catholic columnist, has said the same thing: all marriage supports couples and thereby strengthens our social fabric.

    You know I am embedded in the Reformed tradition where God is sovereign over all. So, if “Satan is at the helm” (of course, an arguable claim), then God is permitting that. What would God intend in that be so, if it is so?

    This Lent I have been taken with this Calvinist-like wisdom: In the end, it will be good. If its not good, then its not the end. I know for you, right now, it is not good. And, I trust you and I can agree that right now is not the end. So what are you going to do as we go from now to the end? For myself, I am going to follow Jesus as best as I am able as I am inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    Peace be with you, Janet

  • Janet Edwards on March 22, 2013

    Dear Thomas Fultz,

    Thank you for joining in a discussion here. I will share my response to you in a moment.

    But, first, I strongly desire, Thomas, to implore you to speak to the questions I have put forward before asking another. I know we would benefit from hearing your answers because I expect they would be different from me or others joining us here.

    Can you deny that the heart of marriage is the love and commitment between the partners? Do you value love and I would add, what does that mean to you? I very much hope you will share with us your thoughts on these.

    I cannot speak for Ralph and Van and I don’t think it is our place to intrude into their intimacy. It is completely my assumption that they are not celibate which, I think, is what you require of them. And, as I understand you, you do this based upon your reading of Scripture.

    I think that is the most important thing: none of us can claim the one and only true meaning of the Bible. You can only claim your understanding of the Bible. And your take on Scripture is very clear.

    I am confident that all of us, as faithful Christians, agree that “our practice is to be guided by Scripture as rule of faith and life.” Jesus and Paul gave us their test of of faith and life: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And the fruit of couples like Ralph and Van is a great gift to us all. This is how I am guided by Scripture to accept their description of their love and life together to be marriage.

    I see their love and commitment with my own eyes which have been opened by the Holy Spirit to recognize that God has blessed them in marriage all these years. What I see is the Holy Spirit inviting us all to see this and I thank God that more and more people do. For me, God is driving this, not culture.

    And I covet your response to how Ralph and Van’s married love hurts or harms anyone. Thank you in advance for it.

    Peace, Janet

  • Donna on March 22, 2013

    All –

    I am reminded of a statement I saw recently: “I don’t understand how the Constitution is a living document that protects phone calls, emails, and text messages, yet the 2nd Amendment means only muskets.”

    Indeed, that same Constitution still says “men” and not “people” and a host of tax-paying citizens (and, uh, many non-tax paying non-citizens) do not have rights equal to the still formidable “straight white anglo-saxon protestant male.”

    The same kind of “modern” interpretation of the Bible is also in play – and both are for political purposes. But I believe that the Constitution is about giving all people rights the same as the Bible as God’s living word, is about drawing all people to God and salvation through Jesus Christ.

    I’m about as conservative as a gay person can be, but I cannot find conclusive, prescriptive evidence that God is for or against gay rights – inclusion in the church, or marriage – in the Bible (and I know all the allegedly anti-gay texts). Neither can I find evidence that anyone knew the mind of God perfectly except for Jesus, who constantly challenged interpretation of the law with the mind of God (Can you not see that the God that made the inside of the cup made the outside also?). Can you not see that the God made the church also made those who are in it, including gay, devoted Christian couples?

    I agree that satan is at the helm, but do not credit him for the spiritual and civic equality all people are due. That kind of spirit of justice belongs to God. What makes it moral and right for people to chant “God and Guns” also makes it moral and right for people to chant “God and Gays.”

    Love and Justice is not about taking away anything from anyone, but a balancing effort that gives to those who are at a deficit what the other already has, without taking anyone’s rights away. Our “satan at the helm” has failed woefully because 1) he has vengefully taken from others to estimate financial equality, 2) he has deceptively undermined the poor by getting to believe it is better to get something for nothing than to work at being the best they can be, 3) he has left to the courts what is (or should be interpretted to be) already in the Constitution, 4) he has deceived the country into believing that all will benefit by national healthcare (and that it will be cost effective, thereby taking even more from the poor), 5) he does not understand justice, only law, and 6) he is unable to govern that which is truly Holy.

    As a nation and as a people of God, we strain at judgment rather than the mind of God, which offers us true justice.


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