By Glen Lavy
“Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.” Habakkuk 1:7
In the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain, the lead character, movie star Don Lockwood, offers reporters a quick, cleaned-up version of his early experiences in show business while, through flashback, viewers see the funny, undignified realities behind the carefully crafted legend.
Through it all—hostile audiences, awkward acts, dangerous stunts, and temperamental costars—Lockwood says his unswerving motto, “Dignity. Always dignity,” sustained him.
To judge by the painfully poorly reasoned decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, it’s that same motto that drives Justice Anthony Kennedy as he continues amending the U.S. Constitution to fit his personal worldview. Only in this case we, the viewers, have little to laugh at.
The “dignity” of same-sex couples who wish to pursue a moral path at odds with the best interest of themselves and society must be protected and promoted, the court says. To accomplish that, the dignity of people of faith to live out their faith in the public square must be legally curtailed.
Christians, then, have reason to wonder what the long- and short-term implications of this regrettable ruling are for their religious freedom, and whether constitutional protections of church from state will apply in the face of this popular enchantment with “rights” for same-sex couples. Will pastors be forced to perform same-sex weddings? Will churches lose their tax-exempt status? What about private Christian schools and colleges?
For many believers, these kinds of questions suddenly seem a lot more urgent than they did even a year ago. What does the Obergefell decision really mean for us, and how should we respond going forward?