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Approaching the Gay Marriage Debate Constitutionally
By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
To say that the gay marriage debate has heated up in Michigan, especially in Republican political circles, is perhaps an understatement. All that RNC Committeeman Dave Agema did was repost a medical journal article (written by Frank Joseph, M.D.) to his FaceBook page, and the next thing you know, all manner of media-funneled venom is targeted at the man. The national party, which has not one, but two sections in their 2012 National Platform speaking about defending traditional marriage, has gone on record as keeping their distance on this one (even though it's been shown, on this website, that the "filthy homosexuals" headline was intended as a sensationalistic distortion of the facts), and the state party is leaving Dave to defend himself on his own. Why they're doing so is a matter for discussion another day.
It occurs to me, though, that a key reason for the discoherent response from social conservatives in this debate is because we are allowing the pro-homosexual advocates (even within our own party) to define the terms of the debate. In doing so, we're allowing them to preemptively neuter every argument we're advancing, because we're allowing their premises to stand unchallenged. I think that, if we're going to have a reasoned philosophical discussion of this matter, then a constitutional premise is a more useful way to handle this.
More than once on this website, I've made plain my religious preference as a lifelong member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. And just to preemptively anticipate the challenge, WELS is not the same as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) . . . they're not in any form of fellowship whatsoever, official or unofficial. The WELS is about as confessional as it gets when it comes to scriptural and doctrinal matters. My personal opinion on homosexuality at all (including gay marriage) is formed from my active faith and is precisely in line with Scripture: It's an abomination and beyond wrong. From a biblical standpoint, I won't run out of fingers on one hand enumerating the sexual sins that Scripture views as being worse than homosexuality.
But the commandment is: "You Shall Not Commit Adultery." The rest of Scripture makes it clear that this commandment could be subtitled: "Respect the Sanctity of Marriage." God's gift of sexual pleasure was intended to remain confined within the bounds of marriage as God himself defined it (one man, one woman, for life). Think about that . . . very carefully.
Yes, homosexuality, bestiality, polygamy, and pedophilia all violate this commandment; so does watching pornography, reading "dirty" magazines, visiting "adult" websites (or bookstores), or even reading some of the saucier "romance" novels. Yes, obviously, extramarital sex violates this commandment; so does "friends with benefits," "shacking up," "test driving before the wedding," or even a "committed, caring relationship" without the benefit of a wedding in advance. In fact, any sexual behavior -- at all -- outside the clear boundaries of a marriage is a crystal-clear violation of "You Shall Not Commit Adultery" as far as God's concerned.
However, the moral bar is even higher than that. Jesus is very clear on the matter (refer to Matthew 5:27-28): Lust in and of itself is enough to violate the commandment. Again, think about that . . . very carefully. Let's say, for the sake of making the argument, that you've never done any of those things that I mentioned a paragraph ago; the only sex you've ever had has been with your spouse. But if even once you've entertained the smallest curiosity as to what it'd be like to have even one other sexual partner, then you've crossed the line.
The Almighty God, before whom every single one of us must ultimately stand and be judged, views your "incidental" act of lust with exactly as much righteous hatred as he does any rapist, porn star, pedophile, bigamist, or queer that you'd be entirely too happy to look down upon (or even condemn to the "put to death" provisions of Levitical Law). In his Holy Courtroom, you are just as guilty of sexual sin as they are, and just as deserving of a reserved seat in hell (refer to James 2:10).
And if that doesn't drive you to your knees in shame, then I submit that you're either not paying attention or not being honest with yourself. On the assumption that you are being honest with yourself, then it's only natural to want to flee in repentance to the Cross of Calvary, where 1,983 years ago our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, offered his perfect, sinless, blameless life as the once-for-all sacrifice for every single sin that you've ever been guilty of, or ever will be guilty of, no matter how "incidental" in nature.
While you're there, take a look around. Those "sexual sinners" that you so readily look down upon, many of them are there, too. They have just as much access to the Cross as you do, and are just as undeserving of God's mercy as you are. Those who approach the Savior in repentance, regardless of their sin, receive the same verdict of forgiveness as anyone else who does the same, and the same admonition to "go and sin no more." That admonition, by the way, is the same one you receive, and should serve as a reminder that your sins, no matter how small you think they are, are a big deal before the Holy God, whose standard is holy perfection, and who considers anything less as all the justification he needs to sentence you to eternity in hell.
If this were a theological discussion, then there are probably 16 different directions that I could go from here. However, this is a constitutional discussion, specifically a constitutional discussion regarding gay marriage.
I find it ironic, to say nothing of disingenuous and hypocritical, that the many of the same people who insist that the federal government adhere to its constitutionally-enumerated limits with regard to free speech, gun ownership, private property, police powers, contract law, and state sovereignty are often the same people who demand that the federal government step in and "do something" when their pet issue is at stake. You don't get to have your cake and eat it too; if you want the feds to forever outlaw all marriage other than traditional, biblical marriage, then you're first going to have to show me from where in the U. S. Constitution (article and section) the federal government is to derive the constitutional authority to act as you wish it to. Keep in mind that, once you've given the feds permission to violate their constitutionally-enumerated limits on one issue, then what say do you have when they violate those boundaries on behalf of someone else's pet issue, perhaps an issue on which you want them to stay within their limits?
No, the Founding Fathers wisely (and, I hold, with perhaps the closest thing to divine inspiration seen this side of Martin Luther) placed very clear limits on the power, authority, and jurisdiction of the national government. Defining marriage isn't anywhere within those limits, other than within the U. S. Military (which is exclusively within federal purview). And yes, that means that, from a constitutional perspective, the case can be made that the Defense Of Marriage Act is yet another overreach on the part of the federal government (abusing the Full Faith And Credit Clause). Quite frankly, any "federal benefits" that attach to marriage are nothing more than manipulations of the federal tax code, but addressing abuses of the taxation power is another debate for another day. For what my opinion is worth, the federal government henceforth treats everything as a Civil Union or a Domestic Partnership, and calls it a day.
However, with regard to the individual and several states, it's a very different matter. The construction of the federal system deliberately provides each of the states with innumerable and undefined powers, subject only to the limits of each state's constitution and laws (as well as the Bill of Rights, as specified by Amendment XIV to the U. S. Constitution). This specifically means that each state is free to define for itself what constitutes a legally-recognized marriage within its own borders. And every state (with exceptions of New Mexico and Rhode Island), three territories, and the District of Columbia have defined marriage one way or another within their own borders, through either judicial action, enacted legislation, or duly-ratified state constitutional amendment.
We're not going to agree with the law in a few of those states, but keep in mind that there is no authority on earth except that which God allows to exist (refer to Romans 13:1-7), including those governments that operate contrary to his will, or contrary to liberty in general. He has his reasons for allowing such governments and administrations to exist, and that's all we need to know. Note that this does not give such authorities permission to claim a "divine mandate" for their behavior, only that God is using even their behavior to accomplish his purposes, and He will personally call them to account when they've outlived their usefulness.
In a speech at a Republican Banquet in Chicago, Illinois, on December 10, 1856, Abraham Lincoln said, "Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Public opinion, on any subject, always has a "central idea," from which all its minor thoughts radiate." I submit that changing public opinion begins with changing public perception. Statutes, legal precedent, and constitutional provisions can be changed at the state level . . . the only difference is in how much time it will take to do that, which is a function of how much effort we're willing to put into changing public perception so that we can shift public opinion
Right now, the pro-gay advocates are defining the terms under which this public debate is being conducted. I submit that, in order to begin shifting public perception, we need to first shift the terms of the public debate. Because America has spent the past five decades (since Abington School District v. Schempp, decided June 17, 1963) systematically vilifying the presence of the Bible in public discourse, biblical-based reasoning isn't going to work well, except in limited discussions with small groups. Besides, as even Satan is capable of quoting Scripture, don't be surprised if the pro-gay advocates selectively misquote the Bible in order to either make their point or nullify yours.
However, given those advocating a lifestyle that is contraindicated by even a casual observance of nature insist on being allowed their "constitutional right" to do as they see fit, we ought to meet them in the arena on their terms. We agree that the U. S. Constitution gives the federal government no power, authority, or jurisdiction to define what a marriage is or isn't. The marriage question is one that should be decided on a state-by-state basis.
Of course they'll agree to that, as it's what they want anyway. This, of course means that they can focus on changing the laws on a state-by-state basis . . . easy enough to do, they'll reason. But constitutional amendments aren't as easy to change, which is why California Proposition 8 (2008), a duly-ratified amendment to the California State Constitution, ought to stand as ratified. Otherwise, the Supreme Court of the United States risks opening up a Pandora's Box that throws the duly ratified constitutions of every state in the union into a state of perpetual instability.
Also, Amendment I to the U. S. Constitution (you know, the one that allegedly protects the separation of church and state), which Amendment XIV requires every state to comply with, requires that individual churches cannot be forced to perform marriages against the tenets of their faith. That's going to be a bugger for gays who want church weddings in states that currently allow gay marriage.
However, this is how we get the debate shifted. We consistently, firmly, and politely use the constitutional argument . . . because the pro-gay advocates have no effective counter. We also keep the uncomfortable truths about the medical consequences of the homosexual lifestyle out in the open where they can't be ignored . . . because those truths will change some hearts, which will give us an opportunity to reach out to lost souls and fugitive consciences with the gospel message of the Cross.
Approaching the Gay Marriage Debate Constitutionally | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
Approaching the Gay Marriage Debate Constitutionally | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
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+ Editorial Policy
Related Links+ written by Frank Joseph, M.D.
+ media-funn eled venom
+ targeted at the man
+ not one
+ but two
+ 2012 National Platform
+ has gone on record
+ on this website
+ leaving Dave to defend himself
+ refer to Matthew 5:27-28
+ refer to James 2:10
+ Defense Of Marriage Act
+ Full Faith And Credit Clause
+ Amendment XIV to the U. S. Constitution
+ have defined marriage one way or another within their own borders
+ refer to Romans 13:1-7
+ speech at a Republican Banquet in Chicago, Illinois
+ Abington School District v. Schempp
+ California Proposition 8 (2008)
+ Amendment I to the U. S. Constitution
+ Also by Kevin Rex Heine