What to Do after Obergefell vs. Hodges?

July 7, 2015

Same-sex marriage was already legal in thirty-six of fifty states when the Supreme Court ruled against the remaining fourteen, declaring in its majority opinion that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”[1] Appealing to the traditional notion of marriage, Justice Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion, points out that marriage meets certain fundamental human needs, both of the individual spouses and of society as a whole, and as such is a right that may not be denied without compelling cause.

But why has such a fundamental and obvious right only been recognized in the past few decades? If homosexuality were really natural and good, why wouldn’t its practice have become part of social life universally—or in at least some culture other than our own?

Not even in ancient Greece, where there existed a kind of institutionalized homosexual pedophilia that could cross the line into pederasty, was there gay marriage, popular belief to the contrary. Homosexuality was not even recognized as a permanent condition that could rightly be said to characterize a person. People engaged in homosexual acts, of course, but such behavior was recognized for what it is: activity that has no other object other than purely individual, selfish pleasure. There was no need for the culture to recognize or protect or create mores and taboos around such unions—as they are created around other features of social life that are grounded in nature—since they did not have any socially important purpose (such as procreation). Even in the case of the socially-accepted older-mentor, adolescent-mentee relationship, once it fulfilled its purpose (education of the young), the young man would go on to marry and have children.[2] No one ever considered the possibility that marriage might be a relationship contracted between two members of the same sex.  

The fact is that America has gone much, much farther than ancient Greece in accepting sexual perversion as normal. It is unprecedented in human history, save perhaps for Sodom and Gomorrah. Even those who ought to be wisest of all, our Supreme Court justices, claim to see nothing in homosexual relationships that would disqualify them from being recognized as legitimate, at least a majority of the Justices. This reflects the fact that authentic morality is no longer part of our essence as a nation, our “constitution” or way of life in Aristotle’s sense.[3] As such, our “leaders” will not recognize the truths of morality as inherent in the Constitution, the written expression of our constitution in the much deeper sense of that word.

Of course we cannot accept this and move on, as is sometimes foolishly suggested even by Christians. We would not accept vice and evil in ourselves as individuals, and a nation is a much greater thing. The cultural counterrevolution will and must take place in the sphere of politics, no doubt, in its usual ugly fashion, but far more fundamental and important will be the fight to make the natural law and morality once again part of our constitution as a people, part of our fundamental form of life. The process by which it becomes so will be individual by individual, family by family, community by community.

This latest phase in the decline of the United States must be taken as a call for Christians to rediscover the truths of morality and live them out in their own lives and the lives of their families so that their light shines before others[4] as a witness to the truth. America’s journey back to God and His ways starts with the conversion of our own hearts.

Doran Hunter

[2] For the ancient Greek view of homosexuality, see Robert R. Reilly’s excellent analysis, “What Would the Greeks Have Thought of Gay Marriage?” online at http://catholicexchange.com/what-would-the-greeks-have-thought-of-gay-marriage.

[3] See Aristotle, Politics, III.1.1274b32–42, IV.11.1295a40–b1, and VIII.8.1328b1–2. 

[4] Matthew 5: 16.