Friday 6 August 2010

Legislating morals and tolerance

A federal judge overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, ruling that the voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I've already written about my views on homosexual marriage. I am a Christian. I believe that homosexual acts are a sin in the eyes of God. And I support homosexual marriage rights.

I believe that laws should not legislate morality, but should protect people from the immoral actions of others, such as theft, assault, and murder. In that regard, I do believe that homosexual civil unions should be allowed. You cannot and should not legislate religious morality. For one thing, a theocracy would be a terrifying thing, and for another, you cannot legislate people into heart-level moral behaviour.

I'm not American myself, and I'm always confused when some of my American friends start going on about America being a "Christian nation". What does that even mean? How can a nation be "Christian"? And do these people honestly want a theocracy in place, as though a) you can legislate people into a saving relationship with Christ and b) trust the government with that sort of power?

It boggles my mind.

There are those who believe homosexual marriage should remain illegal on the grounds that it is a sin in the eyes of God. Should premarital sex be illegal? Should co-habitation be illegal? Granted, we don't license intercourse or habitation arrangements. However, co-habitating couples do, after a period of time, become treated as a "married couple" as far as tax issues, health benefits, medical emergencies, and so on. Homosexual couples have no such rights. If both situations are religiously immoral, why should co-habitating couples have those rights, but homosexual couples should not?

The whole system needs overhaul, you say. Sure. But that doesn't change the reality of what is. Right now homosexual couples cannot have those arrangements that heterosexual married and co-habitating couples can have. That is what this is about. That secular inequality is what people are fighting against. Yes, there is also another level of wanting recognition as a couple in society, and an even further extreme (which I wholeheartedly disagree with) of wanting to legislate "tolerance" even within the church by forcing clergy to marry homosexual couples, but the very basic foundation of this is fueled by those sorts of legal arrangements - property, custody, power of attorney.

Of course marriage is more than that, and at a heart level, a piece of paper really means very little as far as commitment goes. Homosexual couples know this, co-habitating couples know this, married heterosexual couples know this, and Christians know this. Christians take it one step further and make a covenant before God. But when it comes down to the secular side of things, those legal arrangements mean a great deal. Can you imagine having no say in what happens to your partner in a medical emergency? Sinful relationship or not, it must be absolutely heartbreaking.

Allowing homosexual couples to have those secular rights in no way invalidates the holiness of marriage, nor does allowing them to marry, in the legal sense, make it any more likely or unlikely that homosexual acts will occur. It's not as though people are avoiding homosexual relationships because they can't be legally married. The relationships exist either way. Refusing to give homosexual couples "legitimacy" doesn't prevent homosexual relationships. It doesn't prevent homosexual acts. It only prevents homosexual couples from having those same civil rights that married heterosexual and co-habitating couples are already afforded.

There are so many things that are religiously immoral but also legal. You cannot have a Christian society, only Christian individuals, and allowing homosexual couples to be legally recognized as such doesn't change that at all.

But there is an opposite extreme which I want to speak to as well. You should not legislate morality, no, but you should not legislate "tolerance" either. My only concern with allowing homosexual unions is that it would not stop there. There absolutely does appear to be an agenda to require clergy to perform homosexual marriages within the church (or, stated the way those with an agenda present it, to "prohibit discrimination" on the part of clergy), regardless of the clergy member's beliefs. That I vehemently oppose.

You want equal rights under a secular legal system? I'll support you. You want everyone to be forced to approve of your relationship? Too bad. The government does not exist to make everyone "like you". I'm not even just talking about homosexual marriage here. It's an attitude I see all over the place now as far as legal "rights" go. So-and-so doesn't like me, waaaah, make them like me! Such-and-such offends me, waaaah, make it go away! Stop whining. The government upholds your rights, not your desire to be loved and accepted. Some people won't like you. Some people will like you, will love you, but will morally disagree with your lifestyle choices and won't in good conscience be able to perform a marriage ceremony for you. Accept that and find someone who will - goodness knows there are plenty of churches out there now that are perfectly okay doing so.

Personally, I believe civil unions should be permitted between any consenting adults, period. I also believe the church should retain its own separate ability to perform marriage ceremonies for only those they morally support. I believe that those morals should be upheld, and upheld strongly, within the church, but never made into legislation in an attempt to force people into religiously moral behaviour. Civil unions should be the sole property of the state. Marriage, as a religious ceremony, should be the sole property of the church. Civil unions and church marriages should be two entirely separate things, not tied together in any way.

To those who are against homosexual unions for religious reasons: You cannot legislate morals.

To those who believe that all clergy and all churches should be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for anyone who requests it: You cannot legislate tolerance.

You can't force morals. You can't force acceptance. Let the government focus on what it should be doing rather than pushing your own agenda.


  1. I think one reason some people are upset about the Federal judge overturning this is because he is trampling state sovergeinty. He shouldn't have the power to do this, and per our constitution (not that anyone in our governement pays any mind to this document anymore) the judge doesn't have these powers.

    Personally, I don't think the government should be involved in marriage period. Attaching tax benefits and such to marriage to make it more attractive is really bothersome in my eyes. But our government here does seem to want to be involved in every aspect of our lives.

    Oh, and America certainly isn't a Christian nation. I have never understood how people can think that.

  2. All legislation is based on someone's interpretation of what is moral.

    I think that government should not be in the business of marriage, period. Marriage is traditionally a religious institution.

  3. I like!
    and I like hollie ann and liz's comments! there are other people out there who believe that America isn't christian... and for that matter that all Christians have to be republican. Make me feel a little less crazy. Thanks for that

  4. You write so well,Cynthia! I envy your writing! :)

    I agree we aren't a Christian nation,but we sure were founded on God and the Bible.

    My first initial reaction is the government should ban gay marriage and abortion and not leave it up to the States,but then you could do the same with things I think should be allowed,like they already are trying to do with prayer.

  5. Excellent things to think about. You put into words some of the thoughts I have had.
    Many years ago, it was not acceptable for folks to live together. I remember a woman in California taken to court because she would not rent her home to such a couple. The couple won and cohabitation exploded.

    Do you remember possibly the old show "Three's Company?" It was made with a Canadian lady, Suzanne Sommers....
    That show was written about 2 single girls and a single guy who had to pretend to be homosexual so the landlord would rent to them.
    The entire comedy was based upon the idea that it was immoral for people to co habitate.

    I still believe it IS immoral, but like you, don't believe the gov't. should be in the business of legislating these types of things.

    However, morality IS legislated against theft and murder, which are also moral issues.

    Deep subjects that require much thought.

    I also agree that we do NOT want a theocracy. We do NOT want what we see around the world.... "Sharia type law".

    When I walk out my door into the world, I expect the person who does not know Christ to act as if that is true. Laws do not change hearts.
    Only Christ does.

    BTW- the chinese post has a bunch of dots.... each of those dots leads to a porn sight. I fell for that too a long time ago and a blogger friend let me know. So I'm passing that info to you. :)

    Nice blog.

  6. I couldn't agree more. I have to say that Hollie makes a good point. I've never thought about the government being so involved in marriage. If you have a religious ceremony it's still not honored until you fill out legal government documents, which seems wrong.

    I have several friends that are homosexual and though I love them, I don't agree with what they do. Still I am a sinner just as they are (just in different ways), and I don't understand the harping on of selected sins.

    The bible I read has never said "coveting is a sin, but homosexuality is way worse".

  7. I'm with Hollie - the government has no place in the marriage discussion. The solution is to remove marriage from the government's hands entirely. This appeases liberals and conservatives alike!

  8. Very well put Cynthia-you are definitely a gifted when it comes to the written word.

  9. Excellent post! I couldn't agree more!