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Marriage, Homosexuality, Covenants and Sexuality
Do you believe that the federal government should be able to break down your door during an intimate moment between consenting adults and tell you what you can and cannot do in bed? Or worse, arrest you? Is this the job of government in a free society? Well it happened recently in Texas. In fact the case went before the Supreme Court and suddenly the anti-sodomy laws still held in 12 other states were suddenly struck down. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, "The fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice."
In clear terms, the court differentiated between immoral behavior and illegal behavior. This is probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of law among Americans today, especially those who claim to believe in freedom. Legality does not make something moral, nor does illegality make something immoral. Certainly, laws can and should protect us from one another if we need it. In other words, laws can be moral. But when we take our own personal, religious dogmas and try to impose those on others or force them to do the "right thing," we cross the lines of freedom. God as well does not force the human mind to righteousness.
Ron Crews, President of the Massachusetts Family Institute wrote: "This case is about far more than the act of sodomy. Something that was previously considered wrong, has now been labeled as 'right." Of course nothing of the sort was done. Something is not labeled "right" because it is legal. This is what so many religious fundamentalists do not understand. Because we allow the KKK to march in the streets doesn't make them "right" or moral in any way.
One can easily make the argument that the reason one's religion has its set of moral laws is because disobedience to those moral laws harms individuals and society. But what if someone else's religion has an opposing viewpoint? Do we support freedom of religion, or do we support the right of the majority religion to dictate its precepts through the creation of legislation? If the majority believe that something is harmful to individuals or society (like certain private sexual practices between consenting adults), can that majority legislate that behavior? According to some religions, there is no private behavior because everything we do affects everyone else. Does this then justify the ability of the majority to legislate all behavior? Perhaps it does in a theocracy. But our Constitution keeps us from mob rule. It doesn't allow us, for example, to vote that all blue-eyed people be put in jail, even if the majority may have that as a religious tenet.
Casting a moral vote is also not the same as casting a religious vote. It is one thing to vote to protect the environment with a vote because you believe it is moral, and quite another to cast a vote because your religion says it is moral. What is the difference? One implies individual conscience. The other can be affected by issues of obedience over personal conscience. In other words, you may believe in your religion, and thus be obedient to it without spending as much thought as to the separate issues as you would if it were not a tenet of your religious dogma. Thus the Constitution tries to protect one dogma from another. If you vote to impose your religious beliefs on others, tomorrow, you may have to sacrifice your religious beliefs and thus lose your freedoms.
After the Supreme Court struck down the anti-sodomy laws, religious fundamentalists across the U.S. began to cry foul. Family Research Council president Ken Connor called it "a direct attack on the sanctity of marriage." Robert Knight, a spokesman for the conservative Culture and Family Institute said that the ruling will lead to schoolchildren being taught "that homosexual sodomy is the same as marital sex." Jerry Falwall stated that the ruling will "eventually lead to the approval of bestiality, prostitution and the use of narcotics." In his dissenting opinion Justice Antonin Scalia actually wrote that if a state wants to have laws against masturbation, they should be able to make those laws.
Ironically, those that think the institution of marriage is at stake because of the Supreme Court decision, are tightlipped about creating laws against extra-marital sex. There is less outcry about the divorce rate in our country or the fact that alcohol breaks up more marriages than homosexual sex. What do the easy marriages and divorces in Nevada do for the family? Why not be consistent and focus on criminal punishment of adultery? Is it an excuse for bigotry against homosexuals, plain and simple? Is it self-hate among those who secretly wish they could be free to engage in such practices but are precluded by their religions? Or is it more complicated?
People seem to love to create laws about sexual practices. Freud taught that desires of power and domination that lead to war stem from our sexual subconscious. Whether you believe that or not, our obsession with dominating the sexual practices of others is unarguable. We get on our soap boxes about this subject more than anything else. We teach our children that some sexual practices between consenting adults is next to murder. Is sex dirty or evil? Or is the time and place of its use the thing that is morally wrong?
Certainly sex is like a drug. Psychology 101 tells us that associating any behavior with intense pleasure reinforces that behavior. Responsible religions teach that sex within the bounds that reinforce family units, reinforces those relationships. Sex is a powerful tool. If you believe that sexual behavior outside those bounds is immoral, please say so. We live in a free country. You can teach the principles of your religion all you want. However, legislation is quite another matter.
Some on the right actually argue that the state should continue to support both marriage and tax benefits between a man and a woman because it supports the state interest in procreation. However, if this is true, then the minute we discover that a woman is barren or a man is infertile, then they should lose their tax benefits. Perhaps the government should get out of the marriage business altogether, since marriage is primarily a religious ordinance. Perhaps it would be best to allow churches to perform marriages and have the state only create civil unions and other legal agreements.
In the last Presidential election, most people didn't know that George Bush and John Kerry had exactly the same position regarding gay marriage. Both were against it. But both supported laws supporting civil unions which allowed for things like hospital visits and inheritance. If you voted Republican because you thought they were the only party against gay marriage, you were wrong.
Not having problems with civil unions, both presidential candidates didn't have much of a problem with the idea of covenants, or agreements between parties. Why? Some argue that covenants and promises actually can curb promiscuity. It does to some extent with heterosexual marriage. If this is true, isn't this better and more moral for society and individuals? Leading people from lust to at least some degree of the kind of love that requires sacrifice is better than the alternative of a life of promiscuity. However, others argue that all homosexuality is simple lust that there is no actual love going on. In spite of these emotional and controversial beliefs, some others argue that the equal protection clause of the Constitution should be served in some way at least in the allowing for legal agreements and other basic rights.
The real difference between the parties becomes apparent in other ways. Frankly, there are less people in the Democratic party that are making their political decisions based on bigotry. How many members of the KKK really vote Democrat? Which party do you think is supported by people who carry signs that say "God hates fags!"
The picketing pastor, Rev. Fred Phelps, host of www.godhatesfags.com, is proposing a public monument for Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student, murdered in 1998. The granite marker in Shepherd's hometown will read, in part,
"MATTHEW SHEPHERD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning..."
Rev. Phelps also teaches that to anyone"believing and preaching that God loves every individual of mankind -- we say, You are going to Hell! Period! End of discussion! God's decree sending you to Hell is irreversible! Hypocrites! How can ye escape the damnation of Hell?!"
Recently, the Republican dominated Congress, in an effort to shore up support of its fundamentalist Christian base, decided to propose an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage, in spite of the fact that Congress had already passed legislation doing the same thing only a few years before. However, Republicans couldn't even get a majority on this issue. Here are a few statements by prominent Republicans who voted against it (more can be read at the Republican liberty caucus website: http://www.republicanliberty.org/news/release/rlc-fma.htm):
"Regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, I don't know that it's a good idea to put it in the Constitution." - Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada
"Current law giving states the authority to set marriage laws is enough. I am not persuaded that amending the Constitution is necessary." - Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
"Amending the Constitution should not be taken lightly. Consequentially, I will not support a constitutional amendment until I am convinced that no legislative alternatives exist, that federal action is appropriate and that an amendment is warranted." - Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah
These are conservatives! Even they know that there is something wrong with what is going on. Statistical reports by state Attorney Generals show that in areas where anti-gay legislation is being debated, and churches get involved, violence against gays increases. Why are people so angry? It can't be because they believe it is destroying the family, because the anger isn't there to the same degree against the things that are doing the greatest destruction to the family in our society. Are they simply afraid of themselves and their own tendencies? Psychology 101 teaches that hate for others is generally just a hate for self. Perhaps we don't trust our own inclinations and its certainly easier to have our behavior controlled by a government so we don't have to take personal responsibility for our actions.
But we live in a free country. That does not mean being free from other peoples beliefs, cultures and ideas. It means the opposite. In this country, we may despise another's behavior, morals, or affiliations, but we revel in their right to do those same things. Nothing is more moral than the agency of one to choose his or her own path. You will notice that this website is not here to debate the morality of homosexual behavior. We are not going to debate the nature verses nurture arguments nor are we going to discuss the ramifications of allowing people to behave in ways we find offensive or sinful. Life would certainly be easier if we were all forced at the point of a gun to live one person's morality. But one price we pay for freedom is that some may use that freedom to make decisions we consider immoral. And if the whole country decides to be immoral tomorrow, but allows you to still live your religion without impediment, then you are still free. The minute you begin legislating against one group of individuals, then tomorrow, it will be your turn and you will be the minority, losing your freedom.
The reason Democrats attract so many people that may not share your moral values is because Democrats believe that the Constitution preaches moral agency. They know that supporting Democrats means supporting the right to follow our own consciences, our own interpretations of scripture, our own ideas of right and wrong. It is not because Democrats are godless that it attracts these people (as preached in Ann Coulters new book "Godless: the book of liberalism"), but just the opposite. It is godly to embrace religious freedom. If anyone is godless, it is those that believe that those who disagree with them are godless. Democrats recognize that all people "see through a glass darkly" and that free discourse, diversity, and exposure to the marketplace of ideas can help bring people closer to moral truth. When we surround ourselves with only people that agree with us, we do ourselves no service.
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