Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided to pass on hearing any marriage cases this term, and advocates for the redefinition of marriage are now busily hailing the abstention as a grand victory for their cause. They are, of course, reading off of a carefully choreographed script, as they would doubtless have met the Supreme Court’s intervention with equal approval. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see why they’re pleased. By allowing lower court decisions to stand – almost all of which have been decided against traditionalists – the Supreme Court decided by de facto that twenty-four states will recognize the legality of same-sex marriage for the foreseeable future – either volitionally or through court order – and six more states will fall under court orders essentially as a matter of course (suit has already been filed in West Virginia, for instance).

Meanwhile, traditionalists are busy wearing sackcloth and ashes and bemoaning the inevitable destruction of all goodness in the world. I say this with some sarcasm, but in truth, it’s easy to see why traditionalists are feeling defeated; after all, it’s been a pretty long time since they heard any good news on this front, and so the negativity is almost reflexive at this point. Nor am I going to explain all those feelings away. After all, there is cause for traditionalists to mourn a country and a broader Western culture that seems intent on (even gleeful with) its own destruction – and make no mistake about it, with the redefinition of family we’re watching the willful subversion of the very foundation of civil society. I say that without any sense of irony or hyperbole.

But, even against that backdrop, I’d submit to you that the Court’s abstention yesterday is, on the whole, a good thing for traditionalists. The Supreme Court case will still come, and we’ll still get a national ruling from a Court that seems incapable of keeping it’s hands off of hot-button cases. But it won’t be within the next six months, and that’s good news. Why? Simply put, because I don’t believe traditionalists are ready to stand and make their case. I wish they were. I wish they hadn’t spent the last four decades sitting on their hands, all the while confident in the strength of their own position and confident that they had everything under control. But they did. And, indeed, I daresay that most traditionalists still don’t fully understand the issues being debated, which is why they continue to stand by, in open-mouthed disbelief, as the forces of civilization are routed by sexual anarchy with speed that would leave even the Wehrmacht stunned. To date, the defense mounted on behalf of the family has been truly pitiful – almost uniformly unworthy of the noble cause in whose banner it claims to march. Insults like “bigot” and “homophobe” have been hurled at traditionalists with incredible effect, and often because the arguments traditionalists deployed played all-too-willingly into precisely these kinds of narratives. Traditionalists have been marginalized, but unfortunately, they’ve done half of that work themselves. Yet, like it or not, that’s where the argument stands; and if the Court had taken up any of the marriage cases this term, the result would have been all-too-predictable. Another loss. More marginalization. A failed legal cause. Retreat and radicalization.

So the outlook is bleak, but I’m here to tell you that it is not hopeless! Finally, after nearly four decades of slow, methodical, unchecked assault that might have convinced even the most astute observer that both the family and its traditionalist supporters were walking dead men, we’re seeing signs of new life. Traditionalist thinkers are finally awakening from their long slumber and mounting forceful, intelligent defenses of our society’s bedrock institutions. The going is slow, and the battle is uphill, but already we are seeing the impact and effects of a vibrant defense of family, marching under such banners as “it’s biology, not bigotry” and “every child deserves a mom and dad.” Indeed, Pew Forum has recently suggested that the popular battle lines might (finally) be stabilizing or even showing early signs of turning, and so yesterday’s abstention should come as a welcome respite – an opportunity to regroup, reconsider, and revitalize societal understanding of family before any climactic battles in front of the Country’s Highest Court.

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