The “Respect for Marriage Act”: Is it Truly Respectful?

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The “Respect for Marriage Act”

Is it Truly Respectful?

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On December 13, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which requires same-sex marriages performed in any state to be recognized throughout the country.

It’s been reported that “the new law intends to keep gay marriage legal, should the U.S. Supreme Court ever decide to reverse its 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex unions nationwide. Similarly, the Respect for Marriage Act keeps interracial marriage legal should the Supreme Court revisit its 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down state laws barring the action” (Lawrence Richard, “White House Glows Rainbow Colors After Biden Signs Respect For Marriage Act,” Fox News, Dec. 14, 2022).

This legislation passed the Senate, with all the Democrats aided by votes of 12 Republican senators who were satisfied with an amendment to it adding purported religious protections. However, opponents argued that these supposed safeguards lacked real enforcement provisions, so that the law will result in unrestrained abuses.

According to the Alliance Defending Freedom: “On Nov. 29, the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act as amended with the insufficient protections for religious freedom. In doing so, the Senate rejected three proposed amendments that would have added more meaningful religious liberty protections to the bill” (Gregory Baylor, “What You Should Know About the Respect for Marriage Act,”, Dec. 14, 2022, emphasis added throughout).

Potential adverse consequences of the law

In describing potential adverse outcomes of the new law, an article in The Federalist warned that “Christians, Jews, Muslims, and anyone else who dares maintain that marriage is a lifelong conjugal union between one man and one woman—the definition of marriage for thousands of years . . . will be branded a bigot and driven from the public square and marketplace.

“Anyone who owns a small business related to the wedding industry . . . will be sued into oblivion if they refuse services to same-sex couples. Religious colleges and universities will lose their tax-exempt status. Religious institutions of every kind, if they hold to their teachings and traditions about marriage, will face an onslaught from the Department of Justice and the federal bureaucracy” (John Davidson, “The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ Is An Exercise In Tyranny, and Everyone Knows It,” Nov. 22, 2022).

The subjects of homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage have been hotly debated in many countries. Over the past several years, “marriages” of same-sex couples have been recognized in 33 nations. Yet while legislators and judges in democratic countries have the power, with consent of the governed, to enact laws they believe are just, that does not make such laws truly just and acceptable in the eyes of God. Even though particular behaviors and actions may be accepted by the majority in society, that does not make them in any way good, healthy or desirable.

Deciding for themselves what is right and wrong

When God created the earth and all life on it, He said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31 Genesis 1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
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). But the perfect way in which He established things at that time is not how we find them now. Because when sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, everything changed.

What was perfect became contaminated. And since then the world has existed in a despoiled condition. Our first parents sinned by deciding for themselves what was right and wrong in eating fruit from the forbidden “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:15-16 Genesis 2:15-16 [15] And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. [16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:
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; 3:1-6).

From that time forward, each succeeding generation has followed the same unsound and harmful example by also doing what seemed right in their own eyes (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
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; 16:25; see 21:2). Taking that pathway throughout history has resulted in the terrible anguish and misery the world has heaped on itself—prodded by the devil’s nefarious influence (Genesis 3:3-24 Genesis 3:3-24 [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. [4] And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: [5] For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. [7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. [8] And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. [9] And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you? [10] And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat? [12] And the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. [13] And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. [14] And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: [15] And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. [16] To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. [17] And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; [19] In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return. [20] And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. [21] To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. [22] And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: [23] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from from where he was taken. [24] So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
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; 1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
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). All of this must be considered when appraising the relative “goodness” of anything, including decisions by lawmakers and judges to approve same-sex marriage as law.

The only way to know if something is truly correct is to examine it in the revealing light of God’s Word. For example, when considering the phrase “same-sex marriage,” we need to realize that only our Creator has the right to define the marriage relationship. And regarding homosexual activity itself, the Bible plainly describes it as sinful (Leviticus 18:22 Leviticus 18:22You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
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; Romans 1:26-27 Romans 1:26-27 [26] For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
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The dangers of homosexual behavior

Of course, we should show compassion to those who have same-sex attraction and who struggle with temptation to pursue this lifestyle while striving to avoid it with God’s help. And we should have compassion to all who are deceived regarding this lifestyle and embrace it. Much research has revealed how perilous and destructive it can be.

For example, on March 9, 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed the following statement on its website: “Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have been rising among gay and bisexual men, with increases in syphilis being seen across the country. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men often get other STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.” 

On Apr. 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted this statement on its website: “In the United States, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are the population most affected by HIV [human immunodeficiency virus].”

And Healthline.comreported: “Depression affects LGBT people at higher rates than the heterosexual population, and LGBT youths are more likely than heterosexual students to report high levels of drug use and feelings of depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people age 10 to 24 in the United States. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in grades 7-12 are twice as likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers” (Michael Kerr, July 2016).

An act that disrespects marriage—and its Creator

Homosexual behavior, which was not long ago labeled as immoral in many nations, is now essentially exempt from public criticism. If someone dares oppose it, he or she may be accused of promoting “hate speech.” Nevertheless, homosexual activity and all other sexual activity outside of proper marriage between a man and a woman are severe violations of God’s instructions, as He made crystal clear in the Bible (1 Timothy 1:9-10 1 Timothy 1:9-10 [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for murderers, [10] For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
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). Therefore, the “Respect for Marriage Act” clearly does not respect marriage—or God who made it.

Our eternal Creator established the divine institution of marriage and family so that human beings could learn to love one another as He loves them (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
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). And He created sex as a means for a couple to conceive and bring children into a warm, tender and joyful family relationship (Genesis 1:28 Genesis 1:28And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
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; 2:24; Malachi 2:15 Malachi 2:15And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And why one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
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What a great blasphemy that lawmakers and governing leaders who have taken their oaths of office on the Holy Bible then turn around and effectively flush it and its words down the toilet, as they promote what it condemns and persecute those who stand with its truth and the God who gave it! 

Since dangerous, lawless forces are at work in our midst (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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), we must remain vigilant against an increasingly lawless and immoral society (Matthew 24:12 Matthew 24:12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
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; Philippians 4:7 Philippians 4:7And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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). Let us choose now to keep standing for what is right, trusting not in the wayward words and ideas of men but in what the Supreme Authority of the universe reveals through His Word, the Holy Bible (2 Samuel 22:31 2 Samuel 22:31As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
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; 1 Thessalonians 2:13 1 Thessalonians 2:13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.
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). In doing so, we offer Him the profound honor and deep respect He and His revealed truth rightly deserve!