“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD…
Thank you for your reply to my post yesterday. I was touched by your well-crafted and gracious response. But then again, I expected no less from you.
It was precisely my discussions with you and others at Princeton Theological that helped shaped my worldview. I laugh at the memories of the knock-down drag-out arguments that Faith and I had at the bookstore, but equally cherish the love and respect I had, and still have, for her. Indeed, my first daughter is named after her! Consequently, when I discuss the issue of homosexuality and the Christian walk it is the images of the faces of my fellow sojourners at PTS that always serve to remind me that we are not dealing with abstract concepts, but deeply personal and human concerns.
Since I am a Presbyterian, let me put this into three points:
1. The Supreme Court addressed glaring inconsistencies. I think you are very much correct in this aspect. If the laws of the land are not to be based on Christian principles but upon current accepted ethics and norms, then it follows that denying benefits and other rights is unconstitutional. I am not being pejorative of the current mindset of lawmakers – nor dismissing at all the fact that at the personal level you yourself will be guided by faith and study of Scripture. What the Justices stated, though, is that since we no longer look to faith as the basis of laws, neither can we impose faith-based restrictions.
2. My fear is that we are replacing one tyranny of intolerance with another. The struggles of the Gay and Lesbian community have gone on for a long time. The changes that have come about in society over the last few years have not come over night – and have been at the expense of countless lives marginalized and lost in pain. As these areas of intolerance come down, will they be replaced with others aimed toward conservative Christianity? As a Christian business owner – will I be forced to extend benefits to those whose sexual orientation is at odds with my religious beliefs? Will I have the right as a parent to withdraw my child from any class that teaches as normal a worldview that I consider contrary to Scripture? If I preach or write against the practice of homosexuality yet condemn in no uncertain terms violence or hostility to those who think differently, will I nonetheless be charged with hate crimes? These are not hypothetical concerns, but real-world examples of what happens when the pendulum swings the other way.
3. Replacing the Christian ethic as a basis of law has consequences for both sides. In my ethics classes, I introduced my students to the concept of morality derived from outside the system as opposed to one based on inside the system. Outside the system refers to laws derived from the Divine. These laws are considered good and complete because the God who gave them is also considered good and complete. But now we are moving from that mindset to one of ethics derived from within the system. We now base our laws and norms on current accepted beliefs and practices. However, because they are current – they are also changing because they are not based on anything other than whatever the accepted view of the human condition and ethic might be at any given time. So, then, where does it stop? For example, polygamy is currently outlawed, but sociologically speaking multiple marriages actually stabilizes the community because it extends the family. Do we draw the line there? If so, then on what moral basis do we make that restriction? On what basis do we make any type of exclusion? Greg, I am not suggesting for one minute that you nor any of your colleagues advocate any relationship that both of us would consider heinous – and I promise you that I would challenge and dissociate myself from anyone on my side that does. If we remove the Divine and His laws as the basis of our legal system, though, on what basis can we claim to make any law restricting freedom of expression through sexuality? Indeed, how can we say that anything is wrong when nothing in our national ethic is grounded in the eternal good? These questions are often hurtled in frustration by conservatives, and slapped down by liberals. However, they do need to be addressed.
Blessings and peace to you my brother.
(To read Greg’s original response – click here)
Photo: Kriss Szkurlatowski