BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In a long-awaited decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5–4 today in favor of legalizing same-sex “marriage,” two years to the day after striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Court’s opinion read in part, “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
“The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry now is manifest.”
But Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote in a statement, “Despite this ruling, the Church of Jesus Christ will stand fast. … To minimalize or ignore a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message of Jesus handed down to us, and we have no authority to do this.
“At the same time now is not the time for outrage or panic. Marriage is resilient. God created it to be so. Marriage in the minds of the public may change, but marriage as a reality created by God won’t change at all.”
Alabama Baptist State Convention President Travis Coleman Jr. said, “I was saddened by the news that our Supreme Court had ruled that all 50 states must now permit same-sex ‘marriage.’ … Let us be reminded that though same-sex ‘marriage’ now becomes legal, it does not make it right. … Let us love and respect others who differ with us on this issue but let us also remain true to our convictions.”
According to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges may now be the “law of the land” but he suspects “the focus will now turn to the exercise of one’s religious liberty.”
“I will continue to defend the religious liberties of Alabamians and ensure that people and businesses honoring their religious beliefs are protected,” Strange wrote in a statement.
Moore said, “I do think religious liberty is the next front in this skirmish in American life.”
Gov. Robert Bentley said, “I agree with 81 percent of the people of Alabama who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. … Despite the Court’s ruling this morning I have not changed my mind. … But we will always obey the law. We will follow the rule of law.”
A coalition of evangelical leaders rebuked the Court’s decision in the joint statement titled, “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage.”
“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the Court’s ruling that redefines marriage,” the statement reads. “The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image.”
The leaders recommend six points of engagement by the Church:
- Respect and pray for our governing authorities.
- Teach the truth about biblical marriage.
- Affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect.
- Love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage.
- Live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us.
- Cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.
President Barack Obama, during comments from the White House, said of the decision, “This is a victory for America. The decision affirms what millions have already believed in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free. … Today should give us hope that, as with many issues we grapple with, real change is possible. … There is so much more work to be done but today we can say that we’ve made our union a little more perfect. … America should be very proud.”
But for Alabama Baptists, and other believers across the nation, this should be a time to “uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages and in our own churches,” wrote R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
“We are called to be people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even the truth is denied by the culture around us. … God’s truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. … The Church’s mission has not changed.”
To view a response from Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions Executive Director Rick Lance, click here.
The Alabama Baptist will provide further coverage on this ruling in upcoming issues of the paper.