From what I understand, the fourteenth amendment in American law is interpreted by the SCOTUS to be implying that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

To me, this means, from the perspective of Christians who are against states allowing same-sex marriage, one of two things is true:

  1. the fourteenth amendment is an immoral law
  2. the fourteenth amendment is a moral law interpreted incorrectly

Is this right?

If so, is there a general consensus among Christians against states allowing same-sex marriage between which of the two is right? If there is, which? If there is none, you can go ahead and close this question.

If not, why?

To be clear, I assume that one cannot believe in the following things simultaneously:

  1. being against states allowing same-sex marriage
  2. agreeing with the fourteenth amendment
  3. agreeing with the SCOTUS' interpretation of the fourteenth amendment
  • 3
    My first thought was that this has more to do with politics or law than Christianity, but I think it's actually a good, answerable question. Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 16:59
  • 1
    Offhand guess would be most of them would find the problem with (3). Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 19:00
  • 1
    Consider politics.stackexchange.com. Not that I think this is off-topic here.
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 0:46
  • @MattGutting I hope so. Personally, I would find it weird if people start rallying on the streets wanting the fourteenth amendment removed from US law just because of same-sex marriage while they have not done so before Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 9:03
  • 1
    You're asking too many questions at once, and many (most?) of them are opinion-based. You actually provide two possible answers to your first question, then ask essentially "which is it?" Obviously, the answer is (at least) both. Try to edit down to a single question, and rather than asking "What do Christians believe?" perhaps ask "How do Christians who believe X justify their view?"
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 8:39

3 Answers 3


What do Christians against state recognition of same-sex marriage think of the fourteenth amendment in US law?

There is a principle of law called "original intent".


Judges are supposed to rule based on what the intent was of those who wrote a law or amendment.

If you consider that no one in the 1800s considered homosexuality as anything other than an abomination not to be mentioned even if only in adult company, you would be hard pressed to see in the 14th amendment an intention to be applied to a group of what would then be considered debased criminals as most states had laws against sodomy.

There is now an overriding principle of law called, "living tree" or "throw out what you don't like".


This allows judges to discover things like a right to abortion.


Although I think that this is ultimately more of a political question than a religious one (asking for opinion regarding the validity of a certain amendment), it might be able to be answered to a certain extent.

14th Amendment

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It should be made clear that the 'privileges' that are not to be denied to any individual but rather protected equally for all are those privileges that are naturalized within government law; this includes the freedoms and rights that are displayed elsewhere in the Constitution (freedoms and rights that shall be later referred to as primary privileges).

For Christians against same-sex marriage being manifested in any law (be it state or national), there is likely a belief that marriage is firstly the privilege of the Church, and not of the individual. In other word, the right of marriage belongs not to those being married but to those doing the marrying, and the definition of what is meant by 'marriage' likewise belongs to such an institution. It is/was the Church that marries two people, and the government bases/based its laws of recognition of such a marriage around the privilege belonging to the Church. This primary privilege involves the freedom of institutions to describe marriage as they so please; the Church understands marriage to be the union between a man and a woman through use of natural reason and divine revelation, and this same understanding was held by government for a great while. For much of Western society, marriage was primarily a theological term, and some (and only some) of its implications were captured and sanctioned by civil law. But beyond Western society we still find that the cultural understanding of the bond between two lovers was predominantly understood firstly through the lens of some institution within the natural and free market, most often times being religion. It is based on the institution/religion's consideration of marriage that civil law, if there was to be one, operates. The relationship is rarely turned the other way around historically. The result of government sanctioning 'marriage' typically is/was seen in additional privileges in the economic system thereafter to married couples. Note that this entire discussion appears to be very subjective, and it is. What is shown is not an actual argument for what definition or understanding of 'marriage' is the right one; what is being discussed is how government relates to religion regarding marriage. We find that typically government operates on an understanding of marriage as established by a preexisting free market in which religions, more likely than any other institution, establish what 'marriage' is.

All this tells us very little about our own government system in regards to marriage, but it should be noted that the government was likely to fall to this same pattern. 'Marriage', if nothing else, is a word that is used by all kinds of different people to describe different things. Our national government made little effort to establish in the beginning their own 'definition' of 'marriage' by which all people had to prescribe to. But that being said, the culture at the time was greatly influenced by Christianity, and the only 'marriage' that existed in large was that which was established by and in the Church. Government eventually got to the point in which they 'recognized' marriage, and this marriage was between a man and a woman, as described by the Church. This is not an argument that the Church is right (that requires another line of thought). It is only establishing a fact, and the nature of the relationship government has with religion. This being said, from then on the typical additional privileges that accompany government sanctioning a thing followed. The most predominant of these privileges are economic in nature. Of course, this very action of assistance would lead to certain individuals who possess different opinions about sexual union and marriage asking why they don't have similar additional privileges in the economic system (it should be noted that additional privileges are not sanctioned necessarily to every individual, nor is such the correct interpretation of the 14th amendment which regards primary privileges). So in our modern society, being the sympathetic country that we are, we have sought to resolve this discrepancy by stating that these individuals can be married too. But of course, this decision did little to consider the nature of primary privileges as regards marriage (and the idea that such a privilege belongs to those doing the marrying) and the nature of the moral argument itself (we have not even discussed yet what 'marriage' truly is). The latter is not entirely necessary for one to take problem with the SCOTUS decision. The relationship between government and the free market of religious institutions has radically altered; where marriage used to be in some sense a meaningful term as generated by the institution doing the marrying, it has now become an entirely subjective term (since the individual, or one being 'married', can decide its meaning) describing a union mostly generated by government action.

So in asking how Christians that don't support the SCOTUS decision but do support the 14th amendment interpret both cases, the answer has already been given; we find that marriage is not based primarily in government law, but rather primarily in natural law. The 14th amendment serves to ensure that all rights and freedoms sanctioned elsewhere in the Constitution are not violated by state government. But the privilege of marriage includes both primary and additional right. The primary right belongs to those doing the marrying (one consequence of such is that they generate the meaning of the word 'marriage'); the additional right is distributed by the government for the individual, an action that is always in subjection to the primary right (as established in the very structure of our own government, along with the majority of other governments). The privilege of marriage (according to natural law) is rightly that of the Church, and not of the individual, for it is the Church that performs marriage. But the privilege of 'marriage' (according to modern society) is rightly that of the individual, but such an interpretation is grossly flawed, as shown above.

This is my understanding, and I believe that if most traditional marriage supporters could verbalize more precisely their thoughts they would share this view. This answer has established mostly a political argument rather than moral argument, upon which all things rest. But I think that a political answer better fits the nature of the question.

  • Long read. Skimmed. In essence you're saying (3)? How is this more political than moral? You brought up church didn't you? I'm assuming political = secular and religious = moral... Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 9:06
  • @Red This is at least the second "skimmed" comment you have made. Please do people the courtesy of reading a comprehensive answer which they have taken the trouble to write. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 11:01
  • @Manwe So the "correct" course of action is to provide the additional right by creating a new primary right like the UK's Civil Partnership [of blessed memory], rather than by redefining marriage. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 11:12
  • @AndrewLeach Yes and no. If the government is trying to instill a primary right I think certain confusion arises, for primary rights are those rights that are independent of government (aka natural rights). To a certain degree, ironically, by imposing a primary right, the government invades the natural market a great deal. For where the protection of freedom against the slave states (a common comparison between the two scenarios) was protecting an existing primary right, as we have discussed, the primary right of marriage belongs to those doing the marrying; not to any particular individual. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 15:55
  • @AndrewLeach To clarify the previous comment, the specific problem lies in 'creating' a primary right. A government by its nature is dependent on existing primary rights, being natural law. So the discussion to have in what the 'right' course of action is involves asking not only if government can 'create' a primary right (it can't), but if it should try (which involves the moral question of what understanding of 'marriage' is 'right'). The latter point regarding morality is where most Christians start in the discussion of marriage; I tried to found why the discussion is relevant in my answer. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 16:04

Marriage has always been defined as being between one man and one woman. Any variation of this requires a qualifier such as polygamous or homosexual or an out right "re-definition" of the word. Courts have struck down state laws past defining marriage legally, as between one man and one woman which would indicate that there are a number of judges who have chosen to redefine the word as did Justice Kennedy in his recent decision. Any law is subject to change if you are allowed to redefine the terms. The 14th amendment was passed to insure former slaves and future "people of color" would not be condemned or held back because they were not born white. It is a just and moral concept. It has been hijacked, however, by an immoral (switching from legal to Biblical) group in an effort to legitimize their cause. Scripture is quite clear in it's condemnation of homosexuality as it is in sexual sin in general. Romans chapter 1 also states, and I paraphrase, man chose to ignore God and He gave them over to all sorts of depravity. I suppose it is no surprise that man should redefine marriage. They have been redefining God since the beginning of time. Reality, nevertheless remains unchanged.

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