Provocative? Yes. Hateful? No.
Two weeks ago I wrote a column encouraging churches to take a moral stand and make their voices heard as the Supreme Court deliberates the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which voters in my home state approved in 2008 to ban same-sex marriage.
I pointed out that the fight over Proposition 8 is not just about the legality of gay marriage; it’s part of a larger effort by some factions to change the culture. In that context I wrote: “There is also a very slippery slope leading to other alternative relationships and the unconstitutionality of any law based on morality. Think about polygamy, bestiality, and perhaps even murder.”
Was that a provocative statement? Yes, but it was designed to provoke thought about worst-case scenarios and the value of morality in our society.
Did I mean to equate same-sex marriage with murder? No, I did not, and anyone who believes that is very mistaken. I believe those who tell me they favor gay marriage out of love, but I also believe they are engaging in behavior that is wrong in God’s eyes, and I believe this out of love for them.
Should I have made myself more clear, by rearranging the sentences and adding more detail? Probably, and I regret that some people misunderstood. The topics do have the common thread of morality, but one does not necessarily follow the other.
I should point out that my concern about the future of morality in the law is well founded. Justice Antonin Scalia, whom I admire for his no-nonsense Supreme Court opinions, expressed similar concerns writing for the dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 homosexual sodomy case. He noted that “state laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity” are sustainable only if validated by case law “based on moral choices.”
“Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s ruling,” Scalia wrote.
Scalia, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas were on the losing side of the Lawrence opinion, but Scalia’s dissent found many logical deficiencies in the majority opinion, which found a protected liberty interest in private and consensual sexual behavior.
Scalia’s opinion goes on to discuss Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973. The discussion was in a different context, but the topic is appropriate here.
For those of us who believe that abortion is murder, we went far down the slippery slope 40 years ago when the Supreme Court nullified morality-based abortion legislation. Infanticide now happens every day under the guise of privacy rights.
Is it outlandish to suggest that other forms of murder might possibly become legal in the future? Assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, and euthanasia is legal in some foreign countries. Who knows what the future holds; the slope is very slippery indeed when society cuts its ties to morality.
Where do we go from here?
I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will find that Proposition 8 is constitutional after all. Even the majority in Lawrence stated that their decision “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.”
In the meantime, we are having a great debate, and churches should add their voices.