Thomas Paine, Donald Trump And The “Common Sense” Of Obergefell

Jordan Wilson comments
| Culture

President Elect, Donald J. Trump has just intimated his support for the Obergefell Supreme Court Decision in support of Gay Mirage. Apparently it's "settled law" now. Translation: It is currently too politically popular to overturn, and it can only become "unsettled law" if the mob that is the United States electorate changes its mind. Support for the legality of a marital union of two dudes and / or two dudettes is all the rage. It's just common sense right?

Let's rewind back 230 years to a time where something else was becoming more and more politically popular, and that was to throw off British rule. It was becoming the new "common sense”. On February 14th, 1776, An English-American revolutionary named Thomas Paine penned the most influential pamphlet of the American Revolution, thereby helping to inspire the rebels to declare independence from Britain—It was called, Common Sense.  He wrote in his introduction:

“Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides.”

Like this oft venerated founding father, I hope that although my sentiments below may not be popular, they might hit a nerve. Yet what I wish to argue for is not Common Sense as the foundational measure of morality, but recognition of the primacy of Divine Revelation—in every sphere.  Common sense has led us where we do not want to go—can we see that now?

Conservatives have traditionally maintained that it’s just common sense that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman. That approach worked for a while. But the problem is, liberals also think it’s common sense that marriage shouldn’t be gender restricted. So who’s “common sense“ will rule? Conservatives were happy to appeal to their brand of common sense when they had the majority on their side. Now, the popular opinion has swayed, and therefore the old common sense has changed—so now the laws change right along with it. Does this come as a shock?

Even in a constitutional republic, it was only a matter of time. The United States of America does not function according to the rule of law, but according to popular opinion. Perhaps better stated, The United States governs by an ever-changing law hinged not to universal self evident truths (as is claimed), but to the current whims of the mob. This is essentially, lawlessness.  Like it or not, the Constitution is (and has been for quite some time) a tool used by those in power to accomplish their own lawless ends, under the guise of protecting God granted freedoms.

The “gay marriage” debate was lost long before the public opinion polls changed. It was lost when the objective standard of God’s Word was no longer appealed to and brought to bare on all of life as the final authority on truth, and in its place was substituted “common sense”.  So God (and by God I mean—the only God there is) was no longer named among the people as supreme Lord over the separate institutions He created; Family, Church and State. Rather, the State was to be ruled by man, and the Church by God. And into the vacuum stepped the damnable religion of secular humanism which is now extending its theocratic tentacles over State, Family and Church.

In America, this secular humanism has been seeping in progressively throughout its history, not just since the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. As has been proven time and again, human reason or nature, unaided by the light of scripture is woefully inadequate to construct or maintain a society glorifying to God.

The foremost reason ”gay marriage” is wrong is not because it doesn’t lead to human flourishing, or because it goes against thousands of years of human tradition, or because the reproductive parts don’t fit, or because it’s a slippery slope (although all those things are true). These arguments are all secondary, and if employed in isolation from Christ’s Lordship, they become tacitly aligned with a humanistic perspective. Gay marriage is wrong, primarily because God created and defined marriage for us, and Jesus Christ has all authority on heaven and on earth. He is the legitimate Lord over everything and He has spoken on this issue, clearly, specifically, loudly and repeatedly in His objective word.

If you are using these secondary arguments as primary arguments and in isolation from declaring Christ’s Lordship, you are not only missing a chance to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, you are unwittingly fighting the enemy’s battles. I know there are many well meaning Christians and Christian organizations who may think they are knocking down arguments, but in the long run, they are doing more harm than good (For an example, see Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation appear on Piers Morgan a while back). The secondary arguments only have weight in light of the primary argument.

Now a word should be said about the motivation behind all of this “Jesus is Lord” talk.  Shouldn’t we Christians just be about personal evangelism and soul saving so people can get to Heaven and avoid Hell? Let’s take our cues from the gospel message of the  Christians in the book of Acts (17), when they were persecuted for their prophesying about Christ:

“And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.”

Is your Gospel turning the world upside down? Does it make the political institutions nervous? Is it declaring the authority of Christ in every realm? When Caesar sets himself above Christ, are we to let him know?  We must render unto Caesar, but Caesar must render unto Christ. And we must never render unto Caesar what should be rendered to Christ. For Caesar has been commanded:

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.”

We must proclaim Christ’s Lordship in every sphere. Today Christ is reigning from His heavenly Kingdom, seated upon His Throne, waiting until all His enemies should be made His footstool (Hebrews 10:12-13). We, as citizens of Heaven, should care more about impacting the earth than the pagans do. We don’t seek to build an earthly kingdom, but we need to recognize the extent of the heavenly Kingdom. Christ has all authority over the earth now (Matthew 29:18), He owns it and we’re the ones who are going to inherit it for all eternity!

The pagan set their minds on earthly things. We set our minds on heavenly things, because Heaven has come to earth in Christ’s resurrection, and will continue coming to earth through the power of the Gospel, and fully and finally at Christ’s return. They seek an earthly kingdom for themselves, we seek a heavenly one for the risen Christ! We are commanded to pray that Christ’s Kingdom would come and that his will would be done on earth. In the Great Commision, we are commanded to go in the power of the Holy Spirit and transform it by discipling the nations and teaching them to obey the God’s Law.  Yes, God’s Law—not teach them to obey our version of “common sense” (whether that “common sense” be of the liberal, conservative, or libertarian persuasion).

We needn’t attempt to segregate ourselves into a Christian ghetto where the secular state can allow us to scramble for crumbs while they plot our demise.  They should be worried about us, as they were worried about Jason. We have been given divine power and authority to destroy strongholds, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, whether they come from philosophers, scientists, professors, kings, false teachers or your second cousin who has taken a gender studies class. Instead of incoherently flailing about in our humanistic arguments, in love, let’s put the axe to the root of this enemy stronghold with the weapon they cannot prevail against because they don’t have it. The Truth of the Word of God. We are to be salt and light, a shining city on a hill and the yeast that works through the whole lump of dough. What good is salt if it doesn’t preserve? What good is light if it doesn’t shine over the darkness? What good is yeast if it doesn’t spread.

The degradation of the culture around us today isn’t only a sign that judgement will come, it is part of the judgement itself. It is the evidence that we have abandoned God’s word and we’ve sought to do what is right in our own eyes. Even in the Church there are those of us who would purport to be on the right side of this issue, but are doing so only in deference to a man made idol. Using the “common sense” argument against gay marriage as a primary argument is not only ultimately toothless and weak, but is an argument tacitly allied with a worldview opposed to Christ’s Lordship.

We can do better, we must. Christ is worthy of it, the world is in need of it. And that’s not only common sense, it’s true.


Jordan Wilson

Jordan Wilson is pursuing the Great Commission with his wife and children and is a regular contributor at New City Times.