“The Declaration of Independence, at its core, relies on the absolute that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

“Believe it or not.” Stating these words is how Billy Graham used to start his crusades. I heard him speak once in Oklahoma City. It has made a continuing impact on my life. The compendium of his sermon centered on the fact that Jesus Christ was the son of God and the only way to the Father. Believe it or not. If you believe it, it becomes your faith. If you do not believe it, that is your choice. You choose an alternative path. But you cannot choose it in part and make it whatever you want to fit your times. It is an absolute.

That commitment by Billy Graham to an absolute changed forever how I process complicated situations. It redirected how I analyze conflicting fact situations and apply them to life through faith.

The United States of America was founded on the principle that God is sovereign over man, and man is sovereign over government. No other country in the history of the world, past or present, was established on this premise.

The Declaration of Independence, at its core, relies on the absolute that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. This absolute renders the conclusion that there is a Creator from which all rights emanate, that those rights are complete and eternal. If there is no Creator, then there are no eternal rights, and there is no absolute right to freedom.

The Constitution of the United States codifies the recognition of this absolute into governing law, “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Liberty in the Constitution is defined by the Declaration of Independence as the right to pursue happiness as ordained by the Creator. Without the recognition of this absolute, all rights, all liberty, and all posterity for all citizens, is transient.

The Supreme Court of the United States is one branch of government established by the Constitution. The legislative branch passes laws. The executive branch provides leadership for the unity of states, application of federal policy, and the implementation of foreign policy. The Supreme Court primarily exercises two judicial functions. The Court determines whether or not laws passed by Congress, or actions taken by the President, are constitutional. Second, the Court determines what individual liberty is. The general idea is that the three branches of government act in concert for the common good of the people through checks and balances. It is an often misunderstood conception that the Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land. It is not. The Supreme Law of the Land is the Constitution. Sometimes the Court comes up with new liberties. When the Court establishes new liberties, such as a gay right to marriage, then that in fact becomes the new law of the land. This marriage decision now positions the rights of religious liberty and individual liberty against each other.

In Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional 14th Amendment right to marry. By this ruling, they have fundamentally changed two things about life in America. They have established that gays and lesbians are a protected class, pursuant to the due process and equal protection laws of the14th Amendment. Second, they have redefined marriage, in a legal context, as not being strictly between one man and one woman. It is the second part of this decision that threatens to pit one constitutional right against another. The Christian faith has traditionally held that marriage is between one man and one woman. The establishment clause of the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The free exercise thereof means that Christians should be free to exercise their faith throughout society. This new liberty established by the recent Supreme Court ruling has the potential of putting an individual liberty into direct conflict with religious liberty.

Evangelicals believe, as they have a right to believe, that the Bible declares marriage is between one man and one woman. This definition precedes the United States of America. This position is well established as a basic tenant of the Christian belief. Could the Court have given gays the right by law to a union, or a contract, or a social marriage? Yes, it could have. But to do so could have made them a separate but equal class, and therefore, a violation of their basic liberty (as was determined for race by Brown vs. Board of Education).

Many will argue in the days to come that the Supreme Court has set the United States on the same historical path as the Civil Rights movement. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, there was religious tolerance of racial discrimination. But it was generated by societal and cultural bias. The foundation of this bias was not based on biblical principle.

To live in harmony in a pluralistic society, each of us must respect the constitutional rights of each other. And that includes all constitutional rights. To comply with this doctrine of unity, each citizen must first decide for themselves what they believe to be an absolute truth. Once this belief determination is made, one must decide how he or she will exercise their beliefs in respect to others’ rights. Government, then, must protect the constitutional rights of all.

If there are no absolutes, then there are no eternal rights. If there are no eternal rights, then all rights are subject to the perceptions of man. The roadside of history is cluttered with failed nations who abandoned principles, lost focus of the common purpose, and lived for the moment rather than for the generations. I believe in the core concepts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. I believe that there are absolutes, I believe in a Supreme Creator, and I believe rights are unchanging and eternal.

Together, the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution have provided a foundation and framework for order in society. Believe it…or not.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.

What do you believe?