There’s something rather disturbing happening in America, and, frankly, I’m surprised not more people are picking up on it. After all, if a serious philosophical shift was happening in a country, you’d expect intellectual leaders of all stripes raising their voices as one, yet I haven’t seen anything of the kind.
So, by way of introducing this trend, let me ask a question; is it within the judicial court’s province to define morality? Do we want to give the government that power? Of course, the answer would seem to be a resounding “no!” And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.
I write, of course, of the debate between supporters of so-called “same-sex” marriage and the supporters of heterosexual marriage. On the one side, SSM supporters are attempting to get the courts to agree with them that the gender of the marriage partners isn’t important, so they have suits filed against this county for such-and-such a ruling and that state for such-and-such a bill.
On the other side, supporters of one-man-one-woman marriages are attempting to get an amendment passed that would legally define ‘marriage’ as between one man and one woman exclusively. I think they’re trying to fight fire with fire by going to the same courts that the SSM supporters are going to and trying to get them to rule in their favor.
The problem with fighting fire with fire, however, is that sometimes you just have twice as many fires.
You see, if we give the courts this power, we are essentially blurring the line between the law of the land and the law of nature, or to call it its other name, the moral law. You see, those two things are very, very different. The moral law is, simply put, a system that everyone on earth agrees upon. Everyone agrees that killing is wrong. Now, of course there are people who might bring up some cultures where cannibalism is practiced as an exception to this rule. The problem is, no cannibalistic culture eats its own members. It might laud the consumption of one’s enemies or eats its deceased members, but, if a man kills another man for food, that society would punish him. Theft is also something that we can all agree upon is wrong. In fact, along with murder and theft, we would also all agree that cheating on one’s spouse, lying, and jealousy for something someone else owns is wrong. So, I would argue, every culture on the planet agrees that murder, theft, lying, and adultery are all really bad things.
Hmm. That list sounds familiar.
But, that’s not all that Morality says on the matter of, well, morality. Because, morality simply does not matter at all if there isn’t a higher power at work. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m a Christian (although, I’m sure some readers stopped reading this article the moment I wrote that). Morality means absolutely nothing if there isn’t some kind of reward and punishment system in place. Why should I care if there isn’t some kind of punishment for all my bad deeds? I could rape little children and it really wouldn’t matter in the long run because, once I’m dead, I don’t exist.
Sorry, Rob. There must be punishment, and lots and lots of it, for morality to mean anything. Thus, if there’s punishment, there also must be a punisher, a being, better than us, who has a standard to measure a person’s conduct against. Christians call this being God. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another religion that has a being like the Judeo-Christian God, but, you’re free to call Him what you want. We call Him Yahweh, because that’s what He calls Himself. Anyway, a higher power, a punisher, must exist for morality to mean anything.
Now, this punisher, God, has a standard and, being just, He would naturally want to give people fair warning of the danger they’re in and, also, how to get out of danger. And, thus, we have a written document, the Bible. Because, you see, Christianity can be viewed as a moral system and that very system is what has given rise to our legal system and, yes, even our values of hard work, faithfulness, the value of children, etc. That is the moral system that even the least Christian of the founding fathers assumed. It was assumed all over Europe at the time and it was assumed in the thirteen colonies of America. And it greatly influenced the law of the land here.
Now, the law of the land is the law, set down by the government, for the general governance of people’s behavior. It tells us not to murder, lie, cheat, or steal; otherwise, the government will come after you and punish you for those things. But, where did the government get this idea?
Evolutionists would tell you it was developed over hundreds of thousands of years as man evolved to think and reason and, thus, for a society to survive, it created these rules. These rules then help us run a smooth and efficient society. Whether this is a valid argument or not (and I suspect it’s not), it really is peripheral to my argument that morality is based upon a higher power, whether divine or evolutionary. Either way, morality came before government. Thus, law is the acknowledgment of a pre-existing moral system. Thus, the law of the land is subservient to the law of morality.
Now, the legal system being an acknowledgment of the moral system means that the American legal system is heavily indebted to the Christian moral system. The courts simply do not have the power to change that moral system, no matter how much they may want to. It’s not their place. Any law that clashes against the established moral law immediately is invalidated, again, whether people like it or not.
Herein lays my problem with the pro-SSM organizations and pro-OMOW (I didn’t just make up that acronym. You have to dig deep into Google to find it, though) group; they are attempting to give the court the power to decide what is moral and immoral. The role of the courts is not to do that. The role of the court is to acknowledge first what is moral and immoral then decides what category the thing in question falls into.
So, what does this have to do with SSM? Actually, it has everything to do with it, because the debate about marriage is a moral debate. You see, the pro-SSM group keeps couching the legitimacy of marriage firmly in the realm of a ‘right.’ But, a ‘right’ isn’t given out by the government. If it was, then any government is perfectly welcome to oppress and enslave its people, denying the rights of women and minorities as it pleases. Of course, we fight against those kinds of governments because it’s better for people to have rights. Thus, if we say these governments are bad for denying the rights of their people, we are acknowledging two things; 1), that rights do exist outside of governmental control and, 2) that having rights is a good thing. Not just a good thing, but the value of a government is based almost entirely upon the way it treats its people. And the way it treats its people is based upon its moral system. That makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s why we fight for the freedom of others, because it’s a good and moral thing to do. So, we can easily see that any talk of ‘rights’ is a talk heavily seasoned with morality.
That being the case, the issue of homosexual rights is an issue of morality. Unfortunately, we are quickly giving the government the power to decide what the definition of “right” and “wrong” is, rather than deciding whether something is right or wrong. If we do that, then we’ve essentially given moral authority to people who can be mistaken, bought, and threatened into making something moral or immoral. That would be disastrous. Do you really want a judge who can be bought for several thousands of dollars to judge that child pornography is legal and, therefore, moral? Of course not! That’s madness! But, that’s what we’re essentially opening ourselves up for.
Thus, I am against a marriage amendment while still perfectly supporting traditional marriage. It’s just that it would be far safer to keep this debate a discussion based upon moral systems, rather than judicial precedence. It would set a far more dangerous precedent that will get us into much more trouble than a few hollow victories in the court rooms. Let’s, instead, attempt to change the hearts and minds of the people who hold the power to vote people in and out of office and, thus, affect real, lasting change in America. This is really the only safe way to move forward in this debate.