Christian Leaders Respond to DOMA Decision

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Supreme Court votes 5-4 to strike down DOMA. Christian leaders offer a range of responses. - Image courtesy of Phil Davis NY (

Supreme Court votes 5-4 to strike down DOMA. Christian leaders offer a range of responses. - Image courtesy of Phil Davis NY (

Supreme Court votes 5-4 to strike down DOMA. Christian leaders offer a range of responses. - Image courtesy of Phil Davis NY (

Supreme Court votes 5-4 to strike down DOMA. Christian leaders offer a range of responses. Marriage equality rally photo by Phil Davis NY via Flickr

“DOMA is dead.”

Such were the chants heard outside the United States Supreme Court today when it was announced that the highest judicial body in the nation voted 5-4 to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That’s right. As of 10 a.m. EDT, there is no longer a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and woman.

Of course, not every American is roundly rejoicing. Responses from the Christian community, which has become more divided over the issue in recent years, are mixed. Conservative Christians seem mostly  despondent while the progressives among them are mostly celebrating. I spoke with several prominent Christians from across the political spectrum today to get their reactions to the Court’s decision:

Russell Moore, President of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:

“This isn’t a matter of mere procedure federalism. The opinion grounds the unconstitutionality of DOMA in far-reaching categories of equal protection and human dignity. This moment offers opportunity for the church though. The gospel doesn’t need family values to flourish. The gospel advances best when it is in clear contrast to the culture around it. We may be in a time machine back to the Book of Acts culturally. Let’s be ready to get back to the Book of Acts spiritually too.”

David Gushee, Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University:

“US constitutional principles such as equal protection, in tandem with the fading plausibility of a traditional Christian understanding of marriage in secularizing North America, made today’s Supreme Court decisions inevitable. They also likely mean that a majority of US states will recognize gay marriages within ten or fifteen years. Christians can respond to this by howling in outrage, which some are already doing. Or they can decide to accept a clearer distinction between moral and legal norms and between church and state. They can consider whether to engage the contemporary conversation about how Christian principles of love and justice relate to sexual ethics and sexual minorities. And I hope Christians will realize the grave damage that their anti-gay activism has done to Christian witness in contemporary culture. Perhaps it is better to be known for what we are for rather than who we are against.”

Eric Teetsel, Director of the Manhattan Declaration:

“Today the Supreme Court ruled wrongly on both Windsor and Perry, but the decisions are not as bad as they might have been. The Court decided not to affirm same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, and left it to the states to determine the definition of marriage. The debate will continue at the local level, where already over thirty states have defined marriage as one woman and one man and a dozen have enacted same-sex marriage.”

Matthew Paul Turner, blogger and author of Churched: One Kids Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess:

“I’m thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA. It’s a good and necessary step toward ensuring that our brothers and sisters in the GLBTQ communities enjoy equality under the laws of our country. And though I celebrate today’s news, I’m also very aware that this is just one step–a big step, no doubt–but just one step on a much longer journey toward equal rights within marriage. But I also know that, for a variety of reasons, religious and otherwise, many people are not celebrating today’s decision. So my prayer and hope is that God will grant all of us–regardless of which side we fall on–much grace for the journey before us, that we will learn to navigate future discussions about marriage equality with civility, respect, and humility. But most of all, may we pursue showing one another the same love that Christ shows to each of us. Because true equality is not defined by laws, it’s defined by the decisions and choices that each of us make. May God help us choose our next steps well.”

Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America:

“Today’s decisions are history-changing, but the DOMA decision is far more important than the decision in Proposition 8. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion is, in its logic, a sweeping decision that makes the full legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide almost an inevitability. The Court’s decision in DOMA basically invites a future challenge to any state law that prohibits legal same-sex marriage. The Christian Church does not ask any human court what marriage is, and our main concern here should be the devastating social and personal costs of further undermining marriage. The great moral divide in this country over same-sex marriage, over marriage itself, and over sexual morality in general, is fully evident in these decisions and in the public’s response to them. Today, the Court took us to the precipice of same-sex marriage nationwide. For that reason alone, this day will be long remembered.”

Rachel Held Evans, blogger and author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood:

“For too long, LGBT people have been treated as second class citizens, both in the U.S., and even more tragically, in the Church. I’m happy for my LGBT friends and neighbors who see this as an affirmation of their equality as American citizens and dignity as human beings. Individual churches can still decide for themselves whether to marry gay couples, so this is not an infringement on civil liberties, but rather an extension of them. As sincere people of faith continue to disagree about how to respond to homosexuality, may we look to Jesus as our guide and be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family:

“The critical role of man-woman marriage is not diminished by these rulings today.  The essential need for children to have both a married mother and father is not lessened by the opinions.”

Justin Lee, President of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate:

“Our work at the Gay Christian Network includes both those who support same-sex marriage and those who oppose it. It’s important for both sides to remember that, as C.S. Lewis once pointed out, marriage in the eyes of God isn’t always the same as marriage in the eyes of the state. I’d also caution Christians to focus more on people than on politics, and to consider the impact their words today may have on LGBT people who already think Christians hate them. This is an opportunity to show the love and grace of Christ in the midst of disagreement.”

Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research and contributing editor for Christianity Today:

“The typical Christian response has been to post on blogs, write articles, and send tweets to shout about our opinion and speak out against those who differ. That’s already happening. But, instead, I think we need to hold to what we believe and, without hiding our beliefs, we need to look for opportunities to have conversations, build relationships, and demonstrate grace. Regardless of the ruling from the Supreme Court, our churches have the same mission they did last week– to show and share the love of Christ.”

Many, like me, who’ve watched the public opinion polls in recent years predicted this day would come. Even among Christians, change has been afoot. According to Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 51% of white evangelical Protestants under the age of 35 support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 43% who are opposed. Three-quarters of Catholics under the age of 35 support same-sex marriage, compared to only 20% who are opposed. 

“The Supreme Court decision today reflected the strong shifts we have seen in public opinion toward increased support for same-sex marriage, especially over the last decade,” Robert Jones told me. “What stands out most to me, since it is likely a window into the future of these debates, is the support among younger religious Americans for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, even among groups that have historically been the most opposed.”

For better or worse, the death of DOMA is only the beginning.

  • Luis Mejías-Sarmiento

    family, union of a man and a woman, the rest is aberration

  • Bonnie McMaken

    Great list. How about Anglican Archbishop Robert Duncan?

    “An extremely divided court reflects an extremely divided nation. Equal rights under the law is a bedrock commitment of the United States of America and can often be accomplished by creative legislation. Nevertheless, the definition of marriage long pre-dates the United States and is a given of the created order. The motto of the United States is “One Nation under God.” The Christian Church has followed a Lord who meets people where they are, and who loves them regardless of their challenges. The Church has countered the culture throughout most of its history. We find ourselves, both sadly and increasingly, in this position in a nation once seen as a “light upon a hill,” and a “hope of all the earth.”

  • Bonnie McMaken

    Oops, quotes got funny on that post, but you get the picture.

  • Joshua Nichoson

    Actually, the motto of the USA would be either “In God we trust,” or “E pluribus unum.”

    And the Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously passed by Congress, and signed into law by John Adams (who’d probably know the Founding Fathers/Framers mindsets and thoughts, having been on of them) specifically states that the United States was not founded on any religious doctrine.

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  • The utter failure of most of the “Christians” responding to this incredibly feeble decision by the court is quite simple. They all want us to be full of grace – like Jesus Christ – but forgetting that his grace is anchored in his obedience to God the Father.
    This is not at all about the equality of man and mans right to have all that his or her neighbour has – it is about honouring God and being obedient to what He wants and what He has proclaimed as good. Our only security and hope is in the never changing God. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament detest homosexuality and consider it a sin just like all other acts of sin against God – our culture now or future won’t change that one iota . . .
    The point in all this is about believing the Bible to be the inerrant word of God or simply some man written account of God. Jesus Christ believed scriptures to be inerrant – so should all true Christians.

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  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Thanks,CarlG! Sadly,the truth of Scripture,like the Biblical basis of marriage, and woman,is fast falling by the wayside,even among many who once professed to be Christians themselves.The”itching ear”crowd is growing apace,Carl!! But,I don’t despair; in a way I’m glad the”Christian Nation”myth is being exposed for what it’s always been,a pious fraud. I take comfort in the fact that the utter truth of God’s Word has been affirmed once again; it was prophesied that these days would come and here we are. But take heart,Brother Carl; Almighty God will ALWAYS have a faithful,holy Remant who will cleave to HIS will and cherish and delight in His Holy Writ. God bless,and stand fast on Scripture-Peace & Love In Christ!

  • B

    It’s funny how even the church now seems to have a misguided notion that what happens in the law must be either for or against God. I don’t see DOMA’s overturn having anything to do with whether a church can or cannot marry someone. In fact, by God’s words no one needs the State’s permission to be a married couple in the eyes of the Lord. You can be married for state purposes, and not be a married in a church; you can be married in a church and never get a State license. The two exist without each other already. If some of these churches feel the need to continue the divide, they can do so without fear. No one has to be married by the State definition … Unless you want the State benefits. If so, you take the good with the bad. Or, stick with a marriage only of God … It’s all good there from what I hear.

  • Richard Sava

    Sorry Joshua.
    You need to read and do the workbook “America’s Providential History” and learn how America WAS founded on Christian principles.

  • Richard Sava

    What would Jesus do?
    People forget that when the Jesus found the temples being used as markets, He “made a whip out of cords and drove them out”.

  • Sounds good to me. What church do you go to? I’ll meet you there and we can drive out all the self-righteous, opportunistic religionists. 😉

  • JC

    Guess not. Marriage is what society says it is. And society is speaking loud and clear. Those with sense and reason could care less how the religious fruit cakes care to define marriage. We don’t need an imaginery sky fairy to put its rubber stamp of approval on the union of same-sex couples.

  • JC

    It absolutely was not founded on Christian principles. The Founding Fathers had the opportunity to “found” the country on Christianity by saying so in this country’s founding document, the Constitution. Instead, it took extraordinary measures to ensure that religion would be kept away from the governance of this country in the First Amendment. You clearly do not have a clue. And the fact that you cite no specific documents or citations proves it. Just another delusional religious fruit cake in action.

  • JC

    There is no God. God is a man-mind fiction, created by superstitious myths in an attempt to deal with mankind’s fear of the unknown, including his fear of mortality. We now have explanations for what we didn’t understand. And your God is certainly not that explanation.

  • Tim

    I’ll bring the whips, Jonathan.*


    *I’ll also bring the salve and bandages.**

    **Because I’m ambivalent that way.

  • Doc Anthony

    American Christians, you’ve lost. You’ve been losing for a long time, for this reason or that reason, but now, this week, you KNOW for certain that you have lost. You KNOW that a bad corner has been turned nationally, and consequences — some guessable, some not — will be following.

    Different Christians are advising different courses of action, and that’s fine, but Step One is simply to look around and see that you’ve been defeated, you’ve lost, and this defeat isn’t going to go away any time soon. Nor will it get shuffled onto the back pages when football season starts. This is serious.

  • EJ

    Actually, the 1st amendment is about not establishing a state church (like England) Our Republic, however is based on Biblical (christian) principles as verses can be seen around the capitol and it is an oft quoted book among the writings of the founders. Ben Franklin was not a Christian, but he had a deep respect for the religion and wanted it to thrive in the new country for its moral benefits. And then there’s founding father Benjamin Rush: “The only means of establishing and perpetuation our republican forms of government … is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”

    Its easy to confuse the “separation of church and state” mantra, but this is the bottom line of the first amendment: No state church.

  • A J

    To celebrate sin is wrong. I have seen no support of any same sex relationship being right except for a friend or family member. I celebrate this ruling nor more than I would celebrate making any other sin the requirement to marry.

  • Tim

    How about this for a response, Doc: we can love people in the LGBT community and show them Jesus and pray for them. We can also recognize that there are already many people in the kingdom of God who are LGBT, etc., and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Here’s more on why that’s important:


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  • Marc B.

    Wonderful Doc Anthony, thank you so much for that word of encouragement. Now kindly do tell us which country you’re from so we “American Christians” can learn how Christians from all the “winning” countries get it done.

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  • Cookoo! You’re a deluded & arrogant s.o.b. Jesus probably never existed which is what the leading Christian scholars have been saying for decades now.

    His life was modeled after Horus, Mithras, Dionysus, Zoroaster, etc. For centuries all Christain thinkers could come up with to explain all the uncanny similarities is by blaming another myth, namely the Devil, for it all. Lol.

    Even Paul thought that Jesus had only existed in a spiritual realm & never laid foot on the planet Earth.

    Christians don’t know the history of the USA or their religion. They’re just misinformed knuckleheads who think their uninformed opinions matter.

    The word “faith” just means that the person using it is terribly misinformed.

  • Resist not evil. Didn’t some hippy-pothead-eunuch say that 2000years ago. In other words, Jesus doesn’t want you to do or say anything about it, Stupid.

    Christianity is a religion of childishness & resentment. Imagining an imaginary daddy in the sky who throws everyone YOU don’t like into eternal hell while all the “faithful” dimwits rejoice in their own imagined superiority while relishing in the eternal agony of people they resented in life.

    Quite a fantasy. Right.

    But no you say, I only hate those who are sinners and/or my deity hates.

    Just keep in mind that it’s still delusional to think that you can read the mind of a non-existing god.

    But god’s thoughts are recorded in the bible.

    Oh, yes, now we’re back to the circular & magical thinking that it’s a matter of “faith” as though that explains anything.

  • JMutch

    I love the way name calling is the only way a liberal can get through a discussion… the founding fathers did NOT want the government to shove a religious ideal (Obamacare) down the throats of the american citizens, they DID found this country on CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES! They also had EVERY INTENTION for the body of the church to be the backbone in supporting citizens in need… NOT UNCLE SAM!!! (that, unfortunately been all but taken over by government programs and handouts, with a “now you owe me” consequence)

  • JMutch

    Again, my point proven…

  • Dave Thrush

    As someone who played in a very well known 80’s Christian Rock Band, and, had a gay uncle that died of AIDS about 7 years ago, whom came to our shows when we were in my hometown because we had a good relationship, and, whom I prayed with and for while visiting him numerous times before he died, I believe I can say it is quite possible to Love the sinner, and hate the sin.

  • Steven Cress

    You are both right to a degree. Semantics can be confusing and misleading. I think it’s undeniable that the founders were influenced by their Christian faith. Very few people will argue against that. Who would argue that their faith in Jesus Christ does not influence their actions? However, it’s equally undeniable that this country was not founded as a Christian nation. Freedom of religion and separation of church and state are metaphors for the guarantees found in the disestablishment and free exercise clauses of the constitution. Numerous quotes from our nation’s founders can be found to support and flesh out its meaning.

    Freedom of religion was not a sure thing around this time! Everybody did not believe in it. This was a radical idea to some people. Tyrannical religious monarchies and persecution of other faiths had been rampant in the world, and, by and large, the powers that be did not want to repeat those mistakes.

    I should point out that James Madison, “Father of the Constitution”, discussed separation of church and state repeatedly in relation to the constitution before Jefferson ever wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists. I’ve heard an attempt before to explain away separation of church and state as just something some guy (Thomas Jefferson) said who wasn’t there when they wrote it. Plenty of James Madison quotes here:

  • Frank

    There really is no need to fight against an atheist, they thoroughly discredit
    themselves all on their own.

  • Captain Cassidy

    Hi Dave, sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I just noticed the reply. Your narcissism and blithe bigotry are just astounding to me. You don’t think you use it hatefully, so obviously you’re not, is that the thinking? Sorry, Dave, but I think I’ll believe my own personal experience and that of others you inflict with your Christianity-approved hate–and I use that term because it feels like hate, not love. Maybe you need to learn what love is, because if you think that “hating the sin but loving the sinner” is love at all, then you’re very wrong. (Hint: It’s *not* pretending you “love” people while denying and “hating” some essential part of who they are.) Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, and it’s not up to you to judge or “hate” anything about anybody else.