Wilberforce for Good by Regis Nicoll

View

Wilberforce for Good

Regis Nicoll on Marriage, Moral Corruption & the Christian Duty of Witness

Following the legalization of so-called same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, there has been a lot of chatter among social conservatives. Some, including a number of Republican presidential hopefuls, are pushing for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision. Others are suggesting that articles of impeachment be initiated against the justices. Many are looking to the ballot box, believing that if we elect officials who respect the rule of law and embrace conservative values, the country will pull out of its moral tailspin.

Nearly all are placing hope in some political solution. But if history has taught us anything, it is that political affiliation, policies, and fixes are no guarantee that conservative values, like the sanctity of life and natural marriage, will be upheld.

Recalling History

Persons of a certain age will recall that, as governor of California, Republican Ronald Reagan pioneered "no-fault" divorce in 1969. Four years later, Roe v. Wade was decided in a Republican administration by a Supreme Court in which six out of the nine justices had been installed by Republican presidents. And let's not forget Justice Anthony Kennedy, the man who has often been the swing vote in decisions against socially conservative positions over the last three decades. He was appointed by President Reagan.

Yet none of those actions originated in the grey matter of our government leaders; rather, they percolated from the soil of our moral consensus. That's because law and politics are reflections of society's cultural values, not the other way around.

When the Supreme Court took us over the "gay marriage" Rubicon in 2013 by overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), public approval of its legalization had reached 50 percent. But neither the ruling nor popular sentiments were the problem, only symptoms of it.
The problem, as evidenced by the incidence of, and even attitudes concerning, non-marital sex (among other things) in the Christian camp, is the Church's neglect of its foremost duty: to form believers whose lives reflect the teachings and example of Christ. The failure of Christians to exemplify the standards of sexual morality they demand from homosexuals goes a long way toward explaining the waning moral authority of the Church and the growing acceptance of homosexuality.

The Results of Neglect

Indeed, in the two years following the DOMA ruling, support for same-sex marriage increased by seven percent. With 59 percent of the general public favoring it, Fortune 500 companies like Wal-Mart, Apple, Starbucks, and Target have come out boldly for "marriage equality." Having read the collective moral conscience correctly, a number of corporate titans have successfully pressured legislators for anti-discrimination laws and have threatened to cease doing business in states promoting religious liberty—all without consumer pushback or loss of market share.

In the same two-year period, the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage skyrocketed, from nine to 37. While all but three of the decisions were by judicial fiat or legislative decree, it is doubtful, given the rapid shift in popular attitudes, that the results of public referenda would have been markedly different.

By Way of Explanation


Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and physicist who is a Colson Center Fellow and Christian commentator. He currently writes for BreakPoint, Crosswalk, and Salvo magazine, and serves as the lay pastor of an Anglican church plant in Chattanooga (www.hamiltonaf.org).


more on marriage from the online archives

32.1—January/February 2019

Surprised by Delight

Divine Love & the Love of Man & Woman Surpass Mere Consent by Anthony Esolen

28.1—January/February 2015

Altered Matrimony

on State Impositions & Church Acquiescence by Stephen Baskerville

24.1—January/February 2011

The Romance of Domesticity

Marriage Thrives in Reality, Not in Our Dreams by Nathan Schlueter

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!


personal subscriptions

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


RENEW your print/online
subscription

Purchase
Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!


RENEW your online subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!


RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.


more from the online archives

33.4—July/August 2020

Dwelling in Unity

Our Views on the President Are Not Crucial by S. M. Hutchens

32.5—September/October 2019

Must Say No

on When Christians Can't Compromise by Joshua Steely

24.6—Nov/Dec 2011

Liberty, Conscience & Autonomy

How the Culture War of the Roaring Twenties Set the Stage for Today’s Catholic & Evangelical Alliance by Barry Hankins

00