July 9, 2004

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Idiocy and the Gay Marriage Debate

The New York Times is reporting that the senate will soon be holding it's debates on President Bush's "Federal Marriage Amendment." I'm now going to tell you why every side of this issue (or, rather, every side that is being heard in the mass media) is dominated by idiots.

The most frustrating part of the whole issue is the Bush administration, which is trying to abuse Christian morality as a tool of political manipulation for their own advancement. As part of their "target demographic" I am personally offended (I'm a supporter of Michael Badnarik). While they are essentially correct that the view of Judeo-Christian morality, based strongly in both Scripture and tradition, is that marriage is by definition a heterosexual union (Genesis 2:24) and sexual activity between members of the same sex (just as between unmarried persons of opposite sexes) is "an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), It does NOT follow from this that there ought to be a constitutional amendment on the subject! Lying is wrong, but there is no need for a constitutional amendment banning it. Law and morality certainly ought to be related, but they are not the same thing. I will discuss my view of what ought to be the law on the subject a little later.

Then there is the "conservative Christian lobby." The Times cites Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tom Perkins of the Family Research Council. I am not familiar with the latter group, but the former represents a major voice in contemporary Evangelicalism, and both took the Bush administration's bait, hook, line, and sinker. Next we get Christian radio hosts ranting about the "culture wars" and how we are going to lose them if this amendment is voted down. This is not a Biblical view of the Christian's relationship to the world. The Church and the world system (Greek - "kosmos") are seen in the Bible as arch-enemies, the Church belonging to God, the world belonging to Satan. This is not to say that the Church ought to help the world be evil, on the contrary we are to fight it, but the view of the Scriptures is not that there is some kind of "culture war" going on that will be won or lost by human actions, but that the Church and the world find themselves in conflict as the result of a spiritual war which will continue until the end of the world. What's going to happen, though, is that anyone who opposes the amendment will be branded an enemy of the faith. As we will see later, there are good reasons for even those who support Biblical morality to oppose this measure.

Then there's the homosexual lobby. The group the Times cited, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, does not seem to be among the most extreme (which adds some slant to the article, because the conservative groups cited were among the most extreme). What they say is exactly what I am trying to say: "People's lives and families are being used as political fodder here." This is not about morality - it is about political manipulation. However, the homosexual lobby is essentially wrong as well. They distort the issue by making it one of civil rights. Even assuming that homosexuality is genetic (and I am still highly doubtful of this), defining marriage as essentially heterosexual would still not constitute discrimination. Why? Because gays have the same rights as everyone else - no one is telling them they can't get married because they are gay. They can get married to a member of the opposite sex, just like everyone else. The advocate then says "yes, but they don't want to marry a member of the opposite sex," but this is immaterial to the point. Kleptomania is something beyond the control of those who suffer from it (I'm not sure if it is due to heredity or environment or what, but it is certainly beyond their control), but no one is arguing that the majority of people, who don't want to steal (at least not very badly) are discriminating against this minority, the kelptomaniacs, by making stealing illegal. And yet, this is exactly the same circumstance. A group of people want to do something that is illegal, and they are claiming that the law discriminates against them because they are the only ones who want to perform this particular illegal act and their desire to perform it is (they claim) beyond their control. This is ludicrous.

Which brings us to the courts, who for the most part have bought the homosexual lobby's bait, hook, line, and sinker, which is what got us into this mess in the first place. Where the heck do the courts think they get off ruling laws against homosexuality unconstitutional?! Where in the constitution does it say ANYTHING about the issue?! The courts have absolutely no authority to overturn legislators decisions on this matter on the basis of "freedom" or "equality" or "discrimination" or anything like that, because the constitution does not say anything about marriage yet, and I hope it never does.

There is, however, one piece of the constitution that may be relevant: "Congress shall make no law respecting religion or the free establishment thereof." Which brings me to my real point. Separation of church and state was invented by Christians who in today's nomenclature would be termed mostly as Evangelicals who wanted to make a deal like this: "I'll be happy to keep my church out of your government as long as you keep your blasted government the heck out of my church!" Some of us still think that sounds like a good deal. Now, I consider marriage to be a religious institution, and should this amendment (or some other law) pass and marriage become a constitutional issue the government will be implementing what I (and many others like me) see as a religious doctrine as a part of "the supreme law of the land," which is wholly contrary to the intent of the first amendment. However, if the amendment should fail and the courts should continue in the direction they are headed, and the activists continue to lead them, and the law continue to liberalize, I will be even more upset, because at that point it will be my religious beliefs that the federal government has declared to be incorrect, or discriminatory, or whatever. In the former case, the government is telling liberal religious institutions that their definition of marriage is wrong, In the latter case they are similarly vexing conservative religious institutions. Neither is acceptable. To my fellow Evangelicals, I have this to say: a forced conversion is no conversion at all. No one ever got to heaven by being threatened with prison time if he didn't accept traditional Christian morality. Now, certainly morality ought to influence the law, but marriage is a place the government simply cannot intervene. To those who oppose my ethical views I have Voltaire's words to give you: "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." You have the right to believe what you believe, because God created you with free will, and if you ever change your mind (and I pray that one day you will) it must be as a result of evidence or experience and not deception or threat of force.

Now, anyone who cares enough to read this far must be wondering what kind of solution to the problem I would favor, so I will tell you. The government ought not to define marriage at all. If a church wants to recognize gay marriage, I as an individual will never be a member of that church and I will exercise my right to free speech vigorously in opposition to it, showing it's mistakenness from Scripture, but the government ought not to quash that church. In Michael Badnarik's position paper on the subject he says:

"Each marriage should be what the partners want it to be—no more, no less. Ideally, the terms of marriage should be defined ahead of time with procedures to modify them as necessary.

"Just as anyone can engage in a business relationship, any individuals should be able to enter into a marriage. Government's role in a business partnership is to simply enforce, not dictate, its terms. Government's role in marriage should be the same."

While he seems a little more favorable of homosexuality than I am, I agree with the essence of his view. If marriage is to be recognized by government at all, it ought to be recognized as a contract between two individuals defined by those individuals (perhaps their church might be a party to the contract as well, if they so choose) and the government could enforce such contracts. However, I don't really see a need for government involvement even on that level, and if the government must define anything I would much rather it be a "household." A household would be a group of two or more people who live at a single physical adress and have common assets. Such a group could be formed or dissolved simply by registering with a government office. Of course, there might be disputes about where the assets went in the dissolution of a household, and then a court would be required to make a ruling, and the government would have to enforce it, and I think this is the sort of situation Mr. Badnarik has in mind in his statements.

Posted by Kenny at July 9, 2004 8:50 PM
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