On Wednesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case which will, when all is said and done, legalize same-sex marriage in the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico will join its fellow “new” states — New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York — in redefining marriage. Social and religious conservatives who, like me, adamantly oppose the radical redefinition of marriage, must come to the realization that the battle against same-sex marriage was already lost.
When the United States Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy, ruled that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, it was only a matter of time before New Mexico, the only state without a law either banning or legalizing same-sex marriage, would be forced to legalize same-sex nuptials. Although the Justices punted on California’s Prop 8 (which defined marriage as between one man and one woman), ruling that the case could not be decided based on technical grounds, the rationale and justification for vitiating the traditional marriage laws in every state, including New Mexico, were established in the DOMA ruling.
According to the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy (who also wrote the majority opinion in Lawrence vs. Texas, which overturned Texas’ anti-sodomy law), the federal government simply had no good reason to prevent gay couples from enjoying the benefits of marriage. Said Kennedy:
The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” (article here)
In case judges at the state level — including justices of the Supreme Courts of the remaining states without gay marriage — did not get the message that the U.S. Supreme Court was giving its blessing to an all-out push for same-sex marriage, Kennedy went on to accuse those who passed DOMA ( including many Democrats and Democrat Bill Clinton at the time) of animus and hatred directed at gay people.
Only four months removed from this landmark legal decision, New Mexico (following New Jersey last week) is poised to follow Justice Kennedy’s reasoning in finding that its gay citizens should be afforded the same opportunity to enter into legal and binding marriages. Forced to hear the case because of the unlawful issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples by court clerks in Santa Fe, Dona Ana (Las Cruces) and five other counties, gay marriage will become a reality in my state sooner than I had predicted.
Now what? How will social conservatives — particularly Evangelicals — respond to this inevitable ruling when the New Mexico Supreme Court hands it down in the coming days (it won’t take weeks)? What recourse do we have to fight against the radical gay rights agenda in our state and in our nation? If we are looking to the legislature or the courts to change our culture for the better, we are looking in the wrong direction. There is really only one weapon that we have in our arsenal that will change hearts and lives. That weapon, which is undergirded with the power of prayer, is none other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As Dr. Chuck Kelley, President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, shared with New Mexico Baptists this week in their annual meeting in Albuquerque, the Church has the power of the Gospel. Even when the lights go out (literally at the meeting) in our culture, Christians have the powerful message of the Gospel to change the hardest and darkest hearts. Jesus reminds us that His glorious Gospel, as faithfully proclaimed by His Bride — the Church — shall be victorious, such that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
In the 21st Century, as in the 1st Century, there are many family, friends, and neighbors who are trapped behind the gates of hell, locked in a spiritual dungeon with seemingly no hope and no way of escape. If the Church is going to be the Church, we must never forget that we have the power of the Gospel, to tear down strongholds and liberate the captives. Regardless of what the New Mexico Supreme Court says about gay marriage in our state, do not lose hope. For our hope is not dependent upon the laws of man. Our hope — and the hope of all mankind — is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness! Whether you live in New Mexico or any other state of the union, let’s remember to keep Hope alive!