Caesar v. God

As a Christian, I fully embrace the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, because one effect of the decision — while not part of the argument — serves as an expansion of religious freedom.

Far too many self-professed “Christians” appear to subscribe to the Orwellian notion that “some animals are more equal than others.” Not content to have their religious beliefs merely protected, they seek to have them codified in a manner that forces others to comply with them, whether they share them or not. This is unconstitutional, and frankly, I consider it immoral, as it is a clear violation of the Golden Rule.

Clergy always have been exempt from performing religious ceremonies in a way that violates the tenets of their faith. That exemption never has been in question — nor should it be. (This article outlines it nicely.)

Conversely, clergy should not be denied the right to perform religious ceremonies in a way that upholds the tenets of their faith.

There is widespread disagreement among religions and even within the Christian community about what constitutes marriage, but many — if not all — Christian denominations view marriage as a sacrament. When the government outlaws gay marriage, it essentially places itself in the position of deciding who can or cannot receive a sacrament. Government is neither qualified nor authorized to make those decisions.

As Christians, we are called to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

We render unto Caesar when we recognize that for those who do not subscribe to any particular theology, marriage is purely a legal contract, and it would be entirely unconstitutional to base a citizen’s right to enter a legal contract on the whims of a particular faith community. Contractual matters are between the individual and the legal system, which is supposed to rest on the principles of impartiality and equal access for all citizens.

We render unto God when we recognize that in striking down the bans on gay marriage, the court has not taken away your pastor’s right to determine how sacraments are administered in his church — but it has ensured that his counterpart down the street has the same right, even if she arrives at a different theological conclusion.

A Christian should never be angry or afraid of an expansion of religious liberty. To borrow a line from one of my favorite theologians, Mary Baker Eddy: “Whatever blesses one, blesses all.”


(The rainbow pictured above was taken Friday evening as we were coming back from dinner in Foster Pond, Illinois. Vibrance, contrast and saturation adjusted to compensate for the limitations of my iPhone camera, which just barely picked up the colors.)