Supreme Ct. on Gay Marriage: First Response

First blush response on the proceedings of the Supreme Court proceedings of Hollingsworth vs. Perry (available here): it is  astonishing how feeble the arguments of Mr. Cooper (representing the State of California in its opposition to gay marriage) seem, in the face of Justice Sotomayor’s cross examinations.

I am not saying that I agree with Sotomayor; I am saying that, clearly, in contemporary American culture, secular reason (that is reason which excludes the relevance of theology, which presupposes revelation)  has the upper hand.  It’s as if you hear the premises of Mr. Cooper and think to yourself, “there’s no way that’s going to fly.”

As many of us have been saying for years, this is a process that is already set going at the founding of the United States.

The point here, for now, is that this decision is a clarion call for Christians clearly to recognize that the US Constitution, and the political principles which undergird it, while it has been a limited “force for good” in the world, is, at the end of the day (like all forms of heresy) no friend of the Christian Church.

I would feel guilty for spending time on this, were it not for the fact that I plan to write my term paper on Thomas Aquinas and Law on this very issue.


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You have a blog! And you’re writing on Aquinas and Law! How cool is that. My diss at Nottingham is on “The Problem with NeuroLaw: Law, Theology and the Soul.”

Good post. Hopefully I can avoid another 24-hour Facebook comment marathon!


Yes, I saw your table of contents. I really hope I can read it soon.


Matt–I understand your point, but I believe the Constitution and religion can live in harmony. Check out the compelling arguments of NY senator Savino when this came up for a vote in NY

I have no bias when it comes to this issue but she makes a compelling point


Thanks! You are certainly in the majority of American citizens, and of modern political thinkers.

I will check out the senator’s comments, and hopefully comment more on them soon.

For now, if the US Constitution can live in harmony with the Christian religion, then so also can the political philosophies of Enlightenment liberalism (Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau)live in harmony with the Christian religion.

However, I agree with ppl such as Willam Cavanaugh (Catholic political theologian whom I frequently cite on this blog … one can search on his last name within the blog) who argue that if religion is to coexist with Enlightenment political philosophy (ie, the Enlightenment liberalism of the likes of Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau) then, to quote the “good bishop” John Shelby Spong, religion “must change.”

At the end of the day, for religion to coexist with the secular state, it must say something like the High Priest says in John 19:15.

I am not sure but it seems you equate support for equal marriage with secular reason – ruling out the possiblity of a theological support for equal marriage.

Can you clarify this?

Gus, your instincts are correct.

1. “Equal marriage” here refers to the secular state, not to the (sacrament of the) church.
2. The only valid reasons to support “equal marriage rights” in the public sphere (that is, before the secular state) are those of secular reason.
3. This remains true even if (a) secular reason is a “heretical” form of theological reason; (b) the real motivations for affirming secular reason are theological.

That’s pretty much how I see things! Thanks for your question.


A clarification. “Gay marriage” in the church as a sacrament is a different issue entirely, it seems to me.

There may be theological reasons for it.

But those reasons, if they are truly theological, will not involve the rhetoric of “equal rights” which is not a theological category.

So it seems to me.

But let me ask this question: does your family get a Christmas tree during advent? 🙂

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