In a recent column at the American Conservative, the respected commentator Rod Dreher reiterated his position that the battle for same-sex “marriage” is over for good in America. He even accused candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who promise to appoint judges who will overturn the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, of either “lying to you, or lying to themselves.”
In no uncertain terms, he assures us that gay “marriage” is here to stay, closing his article with these words:
Cruz, Rubio, and these other Christian conservative political generals are fighting the last war. Whether they are doing so cynically or with misguided sincerity, I cannot say. I don’t know their hearts or their minds. What I do know is that they are wrong: the gay marriage cause has been definitively lost. I also know that libertarians are right that the threat to religious liberty is real. We traditionalist Christians have neither the time, nor the money, nor the political capital to waste on lost causes, when there remain some that we might yet gain.
This is a counsel of despair, and it is without historical foundation.
Is the overturning of gay “marriage,” a totally new and unproven social structure still resisted strongly by at least a large minority of Americans, less likely than was the overthrow of communism 40 years ago?
As Dr. John Zmirak pointed out recently on my radio show, when he was a student at Yale, his professors uniformly praised communism, making clear that it was communism, not capitalism, that was the key to the world’s future success. Communism was undoubtedly here to stay, with its sway growing ominously by the decade.
Who could have imagined how dramatically and quickly it would collapse around the globe? And, Zmirak wondered, who would have believed that the principal players who would help topple Communism would be a former Hollywood actor (Reagan!), a female Prime Minister in England, the daughter of a lay preacher and grocer (Thatcher!), a shipyard worker who became the head of a Polish trade union (Walesa!) and a Polish pope (John Paul II!).
This scenario is much less likely than Americans saying, “You know, marriage has always been about a man and a woman, and a man and woman are uniquely designed for each other, and it really is best for kids to have a mom and a dad.” In fact, the sudden and dramatic success of gay activism in America is a totally unlikely story in itself. Is it so impossible to conceive that this social experiment will fail?
We can also learn from the pattern of spiritual awakenings in American history, where the totally unexpected happened more than once, with radical effects.The revival scholar James Edwin Orr noted that in the early 1800’s, reflecting America’s spiritual decline in the late 1700’s, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall wrote to Bishop Madison of Virginia, saying, “The church is too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Little did he know that the Second Great Awakening was right around the corner, an awakening that some historians credit with taming the Wild West, among many other things.
More recently, on April 8, 1966, Time Magazine featured a stark, pictureless front cover simply asking the question, “Is God Dead?” Five years later, on June 21, 1971, the Time cover story featured a picture of a hippie-like Jesus with the caption, “The Jesus Revolution.”
Who saw this coming?
Even more interesting is the fact that pollsters in the early 1960s predicted that the young generation would be a joy to work with, a generation that really honored authority. Not quite! These pollsters had no clue that a massive counterculture revolution was about to rise, a nation-shaking revolution led almost entirely by young people. And these same pollsters never could have imagined that in the midst of this rebellious movement a sweeping religious revival known as the Jesus Revolution would arise as well.
Perhaps another great awakening is right around the corner for us, an awakening as near as it is undetected.
I was part of a recent panel discussion led by Dr. Richard Land, now president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, joined by conservative thinkers, apologists and biblical scholars like Ryan Anderson, Frank Turek, and Daniel Heimbach. We were also discussing the issue of same-sex “marriage.” Dr. Land pointed out that in 1973, pro-lifers were more despised than are those of us who oppose gay activism today. And if anything was sure in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade it was that abortion on demand was here to stay in America, while any resistance to it was futile.
More than 40 years later, while we mourn deeply over the slaughter of more than 55 million babies in the womb, we can say with certainty that the pro-life movement today is stronger than it was in 1973, with a majority of Americans agreeing with pro-lifers on a number of key issues.
And it is commonly related to me by friends working with the younger generation that on college campuses throughout our country, the students tend to be more conservative on abortion than were their parents. Indeed, a Newsweek cover story this month was devoted to “America’s Abortion Wars.”
There’s so much more I could say on this that I wrote a whole book filled with hope and courage and strategy entitled Outlasting the Gay Revolution, and that’s why I agree with my colleagues who see the Supreme Court’s dreadful Obergefell decision as this generation’s Roe v. Wade, as a wake-up call rather than a nail in the coffin, as a new beginning in the culture wars as opposed to an end point.
I would be delighted to say one day to my respected fellow-commentator, Rod Dreher, “See! I told you so.”
It would be with a smile and a wink, not with scorn or triumphalism.
That’s because for me, as long as Jesus is Lord (which is forever), hope springs eternal.