Today, April 3, 2021, marks the twelve-year anniversary of the Iowa Supreme Court decision Varnum v. Brien. This court decision has had an incredible impact on our culture, Iowa politics and me personally. Varnum v. Brien was the decision that wrongly allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa and created a great debate around the issue. I want to look at some of the impacts and history of what happened during and in response to this decision, but I do want to be fully honest and transparent by saying I am a bit too young to have first-hand knowledge of what happened behind closed doors with the leaders of the movement. I was 16 when this decision came down and as I will put forth later in this article, this decision and the ensuing debate has been one of the greatest impacts on my increasingly public life. Before we get into all of that, I want to give us a foundation on which to build and I know no other foundation than Scripture.
Marriage was designed and instituted by God in the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (NKJV)
Genesis 2:21-24 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (NKJV)
From these passages, we can clearly see that marriage is between one man and one woman. This allows for the cultural commission (Genesis 1:28) to be fulfilled as it allows a fruitfulness and multiplication of offspring. A marriage between one man and one woman also creates a culture of commitment and stability that is suitable and ideal for raising children. This commitment is the implication of the word “joined” in Genesis 2:24. The man is to leave his previous family unit and start a new family unit with his wife. I suppose for the sake of our insane world I should also point out that there are two genders and they are biological in nature and not subjectively psychological. When Scripture says, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” it is referring to biological men as the “man” and biological women as the “wife”.
Marriage is held in great importance by God this is clearly seen in the repeated commands to avoid sexual immorality in your life. Perhaps the greatest of these is found in the Ten Commandments where God bluntly says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14 NKJV). Any sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship, as defined by the narrow scope of God’s word as one man and one woman, is either adultery or fornication and it is wrong.
Marriage also has a gospel implication to it. For all of the new “gospel issues” that progressive “Christianity” is pushing today, it seems quite strange that they refuse to recognize Biblical marriage as a gospel implication and issue.
Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (NKJV)
Near the end of the cited passage in verse 32, we can see the gospel implication of marriage as it says, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The marriage relationship is a direct picture of Christ and the church and bears witness to a lost and dying world that Christ is the Savior they need. This is a huge gospel implication and one that the churches of Iowa have lost sight of over the past twelve years.
This is the foundation upon which I stand and build the case for marriage between one man and one woman. The reasons listed above are neither exhaustive nor comprehensive but are designed to give a quick defense of the basic premise that all Christians ought to hold when it comes to marriage. At this time let’s look at some of the impacts Varnum v. Brien had and the response to it.
There is always a debate over what impacts what first — culture or politics. Often, I believe there is a case for both to be made, especially in a constitutional republic as the United States has. There is no denying that an increasingly sinful culture and the rise of sexual anarchy produced created an environment where a sinful and foolish decision like Varnum v. Brien could be birthed, but there is also no denying that Varnum v. Brien and decisions like it has had an incredible impact on our culture. In 2009 those who identified as LGBTQ in the United States were around 3%. A recent Gallup poll found that 1 in 6 of 18-23 year-olds identifies as LGBTQ. That is an incredible increase! From more of an antidotal perspective just turn your TV on and you will find many more LGBTQ characters on TV shows and in commercials.
Varnum v. Brien has also had a great impact on the political culture as LGBTQ activists are some of the more powerful and influential activists in our nation and specifically Iowa. Look no further than when the transgender flag was flown over the Iowa capital building violating at least two policies, yet there was little to no backlash for it happening. Anytime a conservative bill or policy gets brought up you can be sure it will be met with resistance from the rainbow jihad.
Interestingly Varnum v. Brien also produced the greatest victory the conservative grassroots have ever seen. In 2010 all three of the Supreme Court justices who were on the ballot failed retention and were voted out. This was unprecedented as a Supreme Court justice had never failed retention before in Iowa, let alone three at one time! This movement was spearheaded by Pastor Cary Gordon of Cornerstone World Outreach and the ministry called Project Jeremiah. This project set out to identify and empower churches to stand against the sinful Varnum v. Brien decision. Also leading in the push to vote these judges out was WHO Radio hosts Jan Mickelson and Steve Deace; The Family Leader joined in with Bob Vander Plaats also speaking out against the decision.
This great victory has unfortunately not kept the grassroots conservatives engaged in the fight for marriage and the family. Some of this can be attributed to the natural difficulty it is to keep the fire burning in an ever-hastening news cycle that keeps us spinning in circles all day long. There have also been some unforeseen reasons like Jan Mickelson being sidelined due to health and Steve Deace leaving WHO to find more national prominence and influence (his string of bestselling books indicates he has found this). Bob Vander Plaats and the Family Leader has mostly softened in their approach by largely backing Gov. Kim Reynolds at every turn even in spite of the fact that she proclaimed that the marriage issue is settled in Iowa. Pastor Cary Gordon’s Political influence is an interesting story in itself as he was instrumental in deciding the Iowa 2012 Caucus by endorsing and supporting Rick Santorum, but in his morally and logically consistent stand for marriage and Biblical morality he has been largely exiled by the mainstream Republican influencers because he refuses to bow the knee to a man who has been called “The most pro-LGBTQ President in American History.”
Varnum v. Brien has had impacts on other policy also as the Heartbeat bill was struck down in Iowa by a lowly county judge. Varnum v. Brien has undoubtedly created an oligarchy in Iowa that has usurped the legislative authority from the legislative branch as judges now pick and choose what laws they agree with instead of adhering to the scope of their authority by simply judging based on the laws of the land. Simply put they have placed themselves above the law and as judges over the law instead of judges of the law. In doing this they have violated the checks and balances that were set in place to keep our republic functionally balanced.
The decision of Varnum v. Brien has had a large impact on my life personally. 2010 was the first election I was able to vote in and marriage was at the forefront of the conversation surrounding the election. I grew up in a home that frequently listened to WHO and was a consistent listener of Steve Deace. This impacted me to vote no to the judges on the ballot. It also instilled in me the great importance of the family and marriage in politics and culture, so much so that the first time I stepped into the public square it was to hold a prayer meeting the day before gay pridefest would be coming to the Cedar Valley. Call me old-fashioned if you will but I believe it is hardly surprising or out of the normal scope of duty for a pastor to hold a public prayer meeting calling the area of his residence to repentance, there is about to be listed sin publicly paraded up and down the streets. The reaction I received was notable as I received multiple threats from the Gay-Gestapo and even a few death threats from local members of Antifa. Rest assured the decision of Varnum v. Brien has had a lasting and negative impact on our state by enabling sexual degeneracy and emboldening their complete lack of decency and civility.
Where do we go from here? We must reignite the fire to fight for the family. The only way that can happen is if we in Iowa set our face like flint and agree that the family is a hill worth dying on. This means we must only select a presidential candidate in the 2024 caucus who is unapologetically pro-biblical family. We must also call our state legislative branch to stand up to the Judicial Oligarchs and present and pass legislation that states that the only legitimate and recognized marriage in Iowa is that between one man and one woman. Every state legislator who has failed to do this since the decision of Varnum v. Brien has failed to hold up the organic law of the land as gay marriage is contrary to “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and they have failed to represent the Iowan people who voted out three Supreme Court justices.
Fight for the family because it is a hill worth dying on!