by Valery Loumber, July 30, 2015: Several months prior to the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, decision on gay marriage, I attended the investiture of a federal judge. An investiture is the ceremony at which the judge is introduced to the local public and community of attorneys, and it is when the judge formally takes his or her oath of office. This is the oath the judge took:
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. (5 U.S.C. § 3331).
I had heard this oath taken before, but it was not until this time that I realized the oath has serious implications for Bible-believing Christians in the final scenes of the great controversy between good and evil.
Here is the question that began to trouble me: How can any Christian take this oath, while disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s recent decision on gay marriage?
On one hand, if a person disagrees with the now recognized constitutional right of gay marriage, but he or she takes this oath, the person would be lying to those before whom and to whom the oath is given, i.e., God and the general public, in this case.
Taking an oath to “support and defend the Constitution[,] . . . bear true faith and allegiance to the [Constitution,] [and representing to] take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion” (5 U.S.C. § 3331), while actually rejecting gay marriage, is a misrepresentation of intentions in the fulfillment of the oath. The Supreme Court’s decision unequivocally holds that gay marriage is within the cluster of fundamental rights under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. This right is now fully integrated in the Constitution.
On the other hand, if a person claims to reject gay marriage – even privately, but nevertheless takes the above oath with the intention of performing it, that person then is lying to those before whom and to whom the rejection of gay marriage was professed, i.e., God and/or other persons. We often forget that God holds us accountable for every word we utter, regardless of how or to whom we are speaking, God or people. That is, in our every word we represent God. We do not only represent our intentions or beliefs. We represent also the One with Whose name we identify ourselves. Thus, in our words, we either honor or dishonor Him.
Notice the absence of qualifiers from the following verses. “But I say to you that for every idle [or careless] word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37, NKJV). “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth . . .” (Eph. 4:29a).
A story from the Old Testament tells about God’s perspective on our taking of oaths. Consider Israel’s obligation to keep its covenant to the inhabitants of Gibeon (and few other nearby cities), who tricked Israel to enter into the covenant by disguising themselves as ambassadors from an afar country. (See Josh. 9). Notice why Israel honored their covenant: “But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers” (Josh. 9:18).
Israel was clearly looking for a way to get out of keeping their promise. The verse implies that if Israel had not promised before God not to attack Gibeon, they would have, at the least, considered breaking that promise.
However, when God’s people speak – as God’s people – it is as if God Himself speaks. And, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent [or change His mind, NIV]. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Israel was aware of this, and they did not dare break their covenant with Gibeon.
In other words, when we – who claim the prerogative of being God’s people – make promises to others, we are not to be held accountable only by those to whom we are making the promises. We are to be held accountable by God as well. God holds us accountable for every word we utter, regardless of how or to whom we are speaking, God or people, given that we represent Him here on earth.
This brings us to the next question, namely, whether a Christian disagreeing with the recent decision on gay marriage can any longer hold a public office in our country, without violating his or her conscience? It is a critical question because the oath quoted above is the oath taken by all federal civil service employees, all officers of the United States uniformed services, and it is the oath taken by all members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate, at the start of each new Congress.
More, the above oath is not far from the oath taken by the President of the United States, which also includes a promise to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
“I [name] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” U.S. Const., Art. II, Sec. 1.
Now that the recent decision on gay marriage has become “the law of the land,” as some Bible-believing politicians have stated, can any such politician take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, without any mental reservation?
Laws impacting religious beliefs and freedoms are created and changed at a frequency never before seen in the history of our country. Yet, on some level, we think of overturning the tide of religious oppression by increasing our political action efforts, i.e., lobbying the right people, voting the right people into office, or voting even some of our own people into office.
But, while God still has faithful people in public office doing His will, it is undeniable that the above oaths and the rejection of gay marriage are irreconcilable without the violation of one’s conscience. The United States Constitution is mutating before our very eyes. It is changing to accommodate new trends in culture. And, it is not a document that can be accepted, rejected or defended in part. Defending the Constitution includes defending everything it stands for, including gay marriage. Thus, when taking an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, this includes protecting and defending the right to gay marriage.
According to the Spirit of Prophecy, political action to overturn the tide of religious oppression on our part would be futile, as our country will repudiate even its own existing laws in propagating falsehood. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near (Testimonies for the Church, vol 5:451).
In other words, the time will come – and it has already come, when human laws will no longer hold back the tide of religious persecution. It is what the recent decision on gay marriage does. The decision repudiates both Protestant and republican principles of our government. As a Protestant country, we have the freedom of religious practice and expression. As a republic, our government’s power resides in elected – and not selected – individuals who represent the citizens of our country.
In one stroke, the Supreme Court’s recent gay marriage decision has irreparably damaged both of these principles underlying our government. By disregarding the unfettered religious oppression the constitutional legalization of gay marriage is to unleash, the Supreme Court has grossly undermined the Protestant principles of religious freedom this country was established upon.
By ignoring the fact that new laws in our country are enacted by elected government officials, representing the country’s citizens – as opposed to a group of selected judicial officials, the Supreme Court has subverted our government’s focal republican principle. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it: “If you are among the many Americans . . . who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. . . . But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it” (Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584, 2626 (2015)).
Stated differently, the Court’s majority decision on gay marriage did something that was reserved for another branch of government, Congress, or that was reserved to another sovereign government altogether, the states.
Our country then is well on its way of doing what was predicted by Ellen White. Where does that leave you and me? Instead of focusing on what we can do to overturn the coming tide of religious persecution, let us focus on God’s work of preparing us for the trying time we know to be ahead of us. Let us focus on what God is doing in our hearts and minds. Let us focus on cooperating with God in the transformation of our characters. Let us focus on prayer. Let us focus on going to the cross daily. Let us focus on beholding our lifted-up Savior. Let us focus on the forgiveness He desires to bestow. Let us focus on seeking the merits of His blood for the washing of our sins. Let us focus on being baptized by the Holy Spirit, daily. Let us focus on putting on the mind of Christ. Let us focus on what God has done for us in Jesus and on what He wants to do in us by Jesus, so we are able to stand on the last day of God Almighty. Amen!
Val (full first name is Valery) Loumber lives in Northern California with his wife. Originally from Europe, he was born and grew up in an Adventist home (3rd generation SDA). He is passionate about ministry. For many years, he has been involved in various ministry work, including personal ministries, church planting, lay preaching, radio programming and, more recently, writing. He is an attorney and has been an extensive legal writer for over 11 years. Val also has tremendous interest in science, as he holds degrees in Biology and Chemistry.