(Editor’s note: Dr. Dobson has prepared this letter for the constituents of his ministry, Family Talk. It is being shared here before being widely disseminated.)
May I urge you to read this letter carefully? It has been written with a fervent prayer that you will recognize the urgency it conveys. It deals with a decision that is about to be announced by the U.S. Supreme Court, dealing with the definition of marriage. In late June or early July, the justices will reveal their decision to either affirm the definition of marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman, or it will redefine this institution to include same-sex unions. If marriage is to be reconfigured in the law, which court-watchers predict is almost certain, every dimension of the culture will be adversely affected. It will be one of the most momentous rulings in U.S. history, tantamount to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. As we know, that terrible ruling 42 years ago divided the nation irreparably and has resulted in the deaths of 58 million babies.
I do not recall a time when the institutions of marriage and the family have faced such peril, or when the forces arrayed against them were more formidable or determined. Barring a miracle, the family that has existed since antiquity will likely crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself. This is a time for concerted prayer, divine wisdom and greater courage than we have ever been called upon to exercise.
For more than 50 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the destruction or redesign of the family. Many of these objectives have largely been realized, including widespread support of the gay lifestyle, discrediting of Scriptures that condemn homosexuality or sexual immorality, muzzling of the clergy and Christian media, inclusion of gays and lesbians in all branches of the military, granting of special privileges and rights in the law, overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia, indoctrinating children and future generations through public education, and securing all the legal benefits of marriage for any two or more people who claim to have homosexual tendencies. By promoting what is known as LGBT, we must remember that the “B” stands for bisexuality. That would include acceptance of sexual relations between both genders in groups and among every category of sexual expression outside the bonds of marriage. Now the proponents of LGBT seek to legalize gay and lesbian marriage, which could mean anything or nothing in a few years.
These objectives seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, but they are now within reach. We in North America and Europe are not simply “slouching towards Gomorrah,” as Judge Robert Bork warned in his best-selling book; we are hurtling toward it. The old earthen dam that has held and protected the reservoir of Judeo-Christian values since the days of our Founding Fathers has given way. Traditional marriage is the last bulwark to fall.
Let’s put this issue in perspective. The institution of the family is one of the Creator’s most marvelous and enduring gifts to humankind. It was revealed to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and then described succinctly in Genesis 2:24, where we read, “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” With those 20 words, God announced the ordination of male-female marriage, long before He established the two other great human institutions, the church and the government.
At least 5,000 years have come and gone since that point of origin, yet every civilization in the history of the world has been built upon it. Despite today’s skeptics who claim that marriage is an outmoded and narrow-minded Christian concoction, the desire of men and women to “leave” and “cleave” has survived and thrived through times of prosperity, famine, wars, peace, epidemics, tyranny, and every other circumstance and human condition. It has been the bedrock of culture in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia and even Antarctica. Given this history, one might begin to suspect that something mystical exists within human nature that draws the sexes together – not just for purposes of reproduction as with animals – but to satisfy an inexpressible longing for spiritual bonding. Indeed, how can it be doubted? Clearly, our loving Creator placed the desire for intimacy and companionship deep within men and women – and referred to everything he had made and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Admittedly, there have been various societies in history where homosexuality has flourished, including the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire. None of these civilizations survived. Furthermore, even where sexual perversion was tolerated or flourished, the institution of marriage continued to be honored in law and custom. Only in the last few years has what is called “gay marriage” been given equal status with biblical male-female unions. In fact, to date only 18 countries in the world recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. America appears on the verge of becoming No. 19. God help us if we throw the divine plan for humankind on the ash heap of history.
The impact of experimenting with the meaning of marriage is no longer speculative. We can see where it leads by observing what has happened in Scandinavian countries. Leaders in Norway, Denmark and Sweden first embraced de facto marriages between homosexuals in the 1990s. The consequences for families in those countries were devastating. The institution of marriage began dying, with most young couples cohabitating or choosing to remain single. More than 80 percent of children in some areas of Norway were and continue to be born out of wedlock. It appears that tampering with the ancient plan for males and females spells doom for the family and for everything related to it.
To put it concisely, marriage represents the very foundation of human social order. Everything of value sits on that base. Institutions, governments, prosperity, religious liberty and the welfare of children are all dependent on its stability. When it is weakened or undermined, the entire superstructure begins to wobble. That is exactly what has happened during the last 45 years. The American people didn’t demand the sea change that is occurring. In fact, the populations in 31 states voted individually on the definition of marriage. Every one of them affirmed it as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Those proclamations were ensconced in their state constitutions.
Now, however, many of those popular elections are being overridden by imperious federal judges who are changing the course of history. In mid-2012, only six states had legalized same-sex marriage. Now, three years later, there are 37, and the Supreme Court is poised to make it 50! Whatever happened to Abraham Lincoln’s pronouncement in the Gettysburg Address that ours is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”? It is rapidly being replaced by a government “of the courts, by the courts, and for the courts.”
How did this happen to us? How could such a great and freedom-loving people have allowed themselves to be dominated by a handful of unelected, unaccountable, arrogant and often godless federal judges, who have been appointed for life and continue to violate the democratic process? It is an ominous development. Was it the desire of the Founding Fathers when they designed this great representative form of government? Hardly!
Thomas Jefferson warned repeatedly about the emergence of an out-of-control judiciary that would destroy the Constitution and, along with it, America’s fundamental freedoms. He first became alarmed when, in 1803, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision called Marbury v. Madison. It allowed the justices to rule on the constitutionality of every legal issue, both inside and outside the government, giving themselves unrivaled imperial power. The concept of “checks and balances” that was intended to keep one branch from eclipsing the other two was no longer in force – at least not with regard to the judiciary.
When Jefferson recognized the full implications of the Marbury decision, he wrote this prophetic statement: “It is a very dangerous doctrine to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions. It is one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”
BINGO! What we have today, 235 years later, is an oligarchy (meaning rule by a small cadre of elites). The courts simply strike down laws and policies they don’t like, whether their opinions reflect the provisions of the Constitution or not. Furthermore, the activist judges and those who support them have turned the Constitution into what they call “a living, breathing document,” in which its actual words no longer mean what they say. The Constitution “evolves,” they tell us, to fit the biases of the court. The people are no longer given the opportunities to vote on issues that matter to them, or to elect representatives who will do their bidding. That is not what the Founding Fathers designed for us.
The Marbury decision in 1803 continued to agitate Jefferson for many years. Nearly two decades later he wrote: “The Constitution … is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.” “It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression … that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped.”
Jefferson issued one more warning in 1823, just three years before his death. This time, however, he was not simply predicting the rise of an imperious court; by then he had observed it firsthand. Jefferson said, “At the establishment of our constitution, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous. …”
Now, the misfortune that worried Jefferson has produced for us a culture of death that is steeped in moral relativism. We are victims in our day of the grab for power that should have been squelched two centuries ago. Since then, the Supreme Court has overridden the will of the people, regularly and without apology. Every time the justices convene as a body it is like a mini-constitutional convention in which the meaning of the foundational document is changed without the consent of the governed. Henceforth, their pronouncements are the ultimate law of the land.
Let’s get to the bottom line. If the U.S. Supreme Court redefines marriage to include same-sex unions, I guarantee you that it will not be the end of the matter. An avalanche of court cases will be filed on related issues that can’t even be imagined today. Here are a few that we can foresee:
1. Religious liberty will be assaulted from every side. You can be certain that conservative churches will be dragged into court by the hundreds. Their leaders will be required to hire people who don’t share the beliefs of their denominations and constituents. Pastors may have to officiate at same-sex marriages, and they could be prohibited from preaching certain passages of Scripture. Those who refuse to comply will not only be threatened legally, but many will be protested and picketed by activists. Perhaps this is a worst-case scenario, but maybe not. Prison is also a possibility.
2. Christian businesses and ministries will be made to dance to the government’s tune. We’ve all seen examples of photographers, bakeries and florists being required to serve at gay weddings, on penalty of closure or bankruptcy. This kind of legal oppression is coming all across the nation.
3. Christian colleges may be unable to teach scriptural views of marriage. Any nonprofit Christian organization that opposes same-sex unions, including our own, will likely lose its tax-exempt status. Many will be forced to close their doors.
Do these consequences sound draconian to you? If so, consider an editorial published in the New York Times a few weeks ago. It was written by liberal columnist Frank Bruni, who insisted that Christians must be “made” to change their church doctrines on sexual morality. He actually wrote, “Church leaders must be made to take homosexuality off their sin list.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, wrote this in response to Bruni’s statement: “These activists aren’t after a ‘live-and-let-live’ policy. They’re on a march to force all Americans to celebrate and affirm what they do under the penalty of law.”
Indeed. I wonder if Frank Bruni has read the Bill of Rights in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Now let’s look at what the law may require of parents and their children in the future:
4. Here’s an example of what is to come: A few weeks ago, President Obama actually demanded legislation prohibiting parents from seeking professional therapy to assist their children who were dealing with sexual identity crises. What business does this man have telling parents how to help their confused and disoriented kids even after they have been abused and exploited sexually? This is outrageous! In some states, counselors can lose their licenses if they try to assist their troubled children in this way. These intrusions appear to be forerunners of things to come.
5. Any professional with a state license of any kind may be stripped of his or her right to practice or do business if he or she doesn’t conform to the court’s biases on same-sex relationships.
6. Textbooks for children of all ages will almost certainly be rewritten and republished to illustrate gay and lesbian marriages.
7. The most outrageous interference with parental rights will come from public schools that require children as young as 5 to be taught gay and lesbian concepts. It will matter not that this teaching will contradict the beliefs and convictions of parents. This could become a requirement in every public school by judicial decree. It is already the law in California and Massachusetts.
There are many other things I could write about at this crossroads of history. Let me summarize my concerns this way: Down one path are millions of strong and vibrant families with their children growing up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Down the other path is a nation drifting away from its spiritual roots in a culture that will teach a dangerous ideology to today’s younger generation and those yet to come.
What can we do to save the nation? Prayer is our only hope, but it is a powerful one. Even at this late hour, the Lord could still respond to the petitions of millions of godly people. Shirley and I are among those who are praying for a miracle. Will you join us?
God bless you. And may God bless America.
James C. Dobson, Ph.D. , President and Founder, Family Talk
Before I close, I want to share a portion of a speech given by my great friend, professor Robby P. George. … He is a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and a graduate of Harvard School of Law. He also has a Ph.D. from Oxford University. He is one of the most brilliant people I know. On Good Friday last year, he spoke to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Professor George is a committed Catholic scholar, and I am an Evangelical, yet I find myself in complete accord with his speech. I hope you will be blessed as you read his address about standing boldly in defense of the Gospel.