Tom Gilson

“When Good becomes Evil”

They say the homosexual “marriage” issue is a purely private matter that won’t affect anyone else’s life or marriage. Don’t believe it.

One of the most eye-opening features of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial – the trial where a few people in California are trying to redefine marriage for the entire nation to include homosexual relationships – was its near daily insistence on attacking foundational Christian moral beliefs. On a regular basis, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Position Statement on Sexuality or the Catechism of the Catholic Church – both of which, like all orthodox Christian teaching on the subject, recognize homosexual behavior as sinful – would be pulled out and subjected to ridicule. Worse, these Christian teachings were used as evidence that the recently-enacted California definition of marriage was irrational because it may have been based in part on religious teachings….

Catholic Charities in both Washington, D.C. and Boston were run out of the adoption business by aggressive city officials who wanted to force them to place children with same-sex parents. A church campground in New Jersey was punished by the state for refusing to use its property to host same-sex “commitment ceremonies.” A Christian student in a public college in California was verbally attacked by his professor for respectfully speaking out in support of traditional marriage.

[From the Alliance Defense Fund, When Good becomes Evil. See that web page for the relevant links.]
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30 thoughts on ““When Good becomes Evil”

  1. Marriage is most certainly not a private matter. Marriage is a civil matter. When you want to get married, do you head to the local Krishna temple for the certificate you need to make your relationship legal? No, you go to the city or county clerks office. When you wish to be divorced, do you head to the nearest Scientology center to get that done? Nope. You got to a civil court.

    Some people may wish to have a religious ceremony when they marry, but to do only that is insufficient. You need to have a license from the government to be legally married.

    That being the case, it is fair to say that all marriages are a civil union. Same-sex civil unions are already permitted in California. All this court case will do is allow these particular civil unions to be called “marriage.”

    If an “eye-opening feature” of a case in civil court is that people get to present evidence contrary to your point of view, then you are exceedingly blind when it comes to how these issues are decided.

    “The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples. The evidence fatally undermines any purported state interest in treating couples differently; thus, these interests do not provide a rational basis for supporting Proposition 8.”

    There you have it. Your “good” has not been deemed “evil” — just unconstitutional.

  2. Waldo, if you’re right, this statement renders religious belief unconstitutional. But wait—we have an amendment for that! Judge Walker’s decision was deeply flawed, and a huge threat to liberty, in other words.

  3. Waldo,
    What about the basis for a belief that same-sex couples are no different from opposite-sex couples. Is there a rational basis for that belief?

    Can you think of a non-religious reason why a government would prefer heterosexual relationships over homosexual relationships? Think future taxpayers and economic growth.

  4. Tom Gilson says “Waldo, if you’re right, this statement renders religious belief unconstitutional.”

    Not at all. You’re free to believe as you wish. However, the amendment that you are referring to prohibits purely religious beliefs in being the basis for a secular law i.e. if “moral and religious views form the only basis” for Proposition 8. then that proposition is unconstitutional.

    Note also that Catholic charities etc. are free to discriminate as they wish; they just can’t take federal money while doing so.

    SteveK, if marriages could be made illegal on the basis of procreation, it would make the marriage of infertile heterosexual couples illegal as well. No judge would use that reasoning.

  5. Hi AR,

    SteveK, if marriages could be made illegal on the basis of procreation, it would make the marriage of infertile heterosexual couples illegal as well. No judge would use that reasoning.

    Good thing that isn’t my reasoning. Read it again. There’s nothing being made illegal.

  6. SteveK, Prop 8 makes gay marriages illegal, no? More precisely, it prevents CA from recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

  7. AR,
    Prior to all this, same sex “marriage” has never been legally recognized in CA. Neither has the state recognized 40 year old “retired” people simply because they want to take money from their 401k without penalty.

    Prop 8 prevents same sex people from redefining the term ‘marriage’. That’s all it does. It doesn’t prevent them from doing anything, nor does it discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation because the requirements for marriage apply to everyone equally – without exception.

  8. SteveK, when you say “that’s all it does” you are ignoring the very specific point that it makes legal marriages in Massachusetts illegal in CA. There were a large number of these state laws in recent years with this goal in mind; Prop 8 was one of them. These laws now discriminate against a subset of legally married couples. Note that this is not a legally binding argument; it is just to point out that the effects of Prop 8 are by no means as innocuous as you would seem to suggest.

    Also, I’m maybe missing something; how is this current discussion related to your comment# 3 on this thread?

  9. AR,
    California isn’t required to recognize or adopt the laws of other states unless required by Federal law. For example: collecting sales tax at a higher rate is legal in other states, but not in California.

    Do California laws limiting the highway speed to 55 mph wrongfully discriminate in some way against those from other states who can legally drive 65 mph on their highways? Not at all.

    Once you are in California, the law of speed limits and marriage limits applies equally to everyone while they are here.

  10. If the 55 mph limit in CA was based on a religious argument, it would be unconstitutional. That’s the point here, that a purely religious argument cannot constitutionally be used for a secular law
    (the discriminatory aspects of Prop 8 are not the only thing that make it unconstitutional)

    The entire discussion seems to be based on the idea that Walker’s decision is a “huge threat to liberty” of some sort. It’s nothing of the sort.

  11. Actually, AR, I agree that Waldo’s quote above is not the threat to religious freedom that I said it was; or at least, not in its bare form as presented there. But I read Walker’s entire decision, and there are clear threats to religious liberty in it. For example:

    Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.

    This places sexual freedom above religious freedom. Albert Mohler summarized it,

    The religious liberty dimensions of the decision are momentous and deeply troubling. While Judge Walker declared that the religious freedoms of citizens and religious bodies were not violated because no such body is required to recognize or perform same-sex marriage, the very structure of his argument condemned religious and theological objections to homosexuality and same-sex marriage as both harmful and irrational.

    This represents the larger context of what I was responding to in Waldo’s comment.

  12. Premise: In The Bleak Midwinter – Kiri Te Kanawa & Michael George (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbcpKCdTREQ) [make sure to focus on the words of the song… Kleenexes optional].
    Conclusion: God IS.

    (You either get it or you don’t. It’s that simple.)

    And what, pray tell, are “secular” laws based upon? Does anyone seriously believe “secular” laws aren’t based, to a very large extent, upon historical faith-based moral considerations? And who would be foolish enough to suggest one can’t “legislate” morality? Who would be stupid enough–yes, stupid enough–to believe anti-slavery, anti-prostitution, anti-human trafficking, etc. laws aren’t grounded in and animated by Christian notions of what human beings are? Would anyone seriously reduce those laws to Darwinian expressions of the survival of our species?

    There are no clothes on the secular emperor, nor have there ever been: once that’s understood, accepted and internalized, maybe then a serious and reasoned discussion can begin… and this paper-tiger (albeit in some cases deadly) secular ghost of secularism can be relegated to the dust bin of history.

    No, I’m not advocating a theocracy, but an understanding of what the basis of “secular” law is and should be: not an “external imposition” (except in its practical application) but laws that reflect what human beings actually–made in His image and likeness. There should be no shame in the Christian Natural Law basis: how many great minds throughout history have said just that… and why don’t we listen? That’s not theocracy–it’s common sense for those who have ears to listen and eyes to see.

  13. AR

    If the 55 mph limit in CA was based on a religious argument, it would be unconstitutional.

    No it would not. Lawmakers use religious arguments in floor speeches and in public to persuade other lawmakers to pass or reject a law.

    The language of the law itself cannot contain religious language, or invoke God, from what I understand, but I could be wrong about that. Prop 8 doesn’t contain religious language.

    Trivia: Did you know that an engineering license in California is not valid or recognized in all states?

  14. AR,
    Related to Tom’s point about religious liberties, but unrelated to this particular topic – did you know there are 7 basic religious freedoms outlined by the U.S. Department of Education?

    1. You can pray, read your Bible or other religious material, and talk about your faith at school.

    2. You can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and announce your meetings.

    3. You can express your faith in your class work and homework.

    4. Your teachers can organize prayer groups with other teachers.

    5. You may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.

    6. You can express your faith at a school event.

    7. You can express your faith at your graduation ceremony.

  15. Tom Gilson,

    “Rational basis” in law has a specific meaning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_basis_review); saying that Prop 8 has no rational basis is not saying that it is irrational.

    As to whether “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians”, you could disagree, I guess, but that’s your right, which is not impeded by Walker’s judgment. It wouldn’t change Walker’s conclusion that Prop 8 has no secular component.

  16. I think it’s perfectly legitimate for you to press for legislation that is in accord with your moral/religious beliefs. I think we all do that. Fortunately, we are protected from our government acting in accord with any one set of moral/religious beliefs. That’s the beauty of our country.

  17. Protected from acting in accord with any one set of moral beliefs? Huh? What do you think our civil and criminal code is? Did I misunderstand what you meant by moral/religious?

  18. Sorry, should have been clearer. I meant that our government cannot align with any one specific set of or any one group’s moral/religious beliefs. Say more what you’re thinking about our civil and criminal code.

  19. The civil and criminal codes are our agreed versions of what is right and wrong, as far as will be enforced by legal authorities. They are in that sense an enshrined moral system.

  20. AR,

    If Walker’s only objection to Prop 8 is that it has no secular basis, then (1) he is wrong on that, and (2) he’s setting a very anti-religious precedent. Not neutral, but anti. And that’s a very significant threat to religious freedom. The language in his opinion opens the door for the government to declare illegal any religious expression regarding homosexual immorality.

    I would have to re-read the opinion to detail that for you, and I don’t have time to do that this morning. In any event, we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the courts.

  21. You said it yourself, Tom: the civil and criminal codes are “our agreed versions”–not any one group’s version.

  22. “If Walker’s only objection to Prop 8 is that it has no secular basis, then (1) he is wrong on that,”

    Possibly. That’s what the appeal is about.

    ” and (2) he’s setting a very anti-religious precedent…The language in his opinion opens the door for the government to declare illegal any religious expression regarding homosexual immorality.”

    Not even close. The ruling does not prevent you or anyone else from saying that homosexuality is immoral (and does not open the door even a little in that direction). It just stops the state government of CA from writing your beliefs into secular law.

  23. “It just stops the state government of CA from writing your beliefs into secular law.” Exactly. We are protected from any one set of beliefs being made into law. Thank god.

  24. Here’s one note I can add before doing that re-read. You say, AR,

    “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians”, you could disagree, I guess, but that’s your right, which is not impeded by Walker’s judgment.

    When Walker ruled that these beliefs “harm” some persons, he contradicted historic Christian teaching and made that contradiction a matter of legal precedent. That is, he made a legal judgment that these historic religious beliefs are in error. That’s not the government’s role, first of all. Second, it opens wide the door for lawsuits and/or criminal cases against Christian preachers, speakers, and writers who “harm” others by saying that homosexuality is, on biblical, religious grounds, wrong. When the state rules an historic Christian belief harmful, that’s a threat to religious freedom.

  25. Tom, I can see from what you quoted why you are concerned. A couple of things, though: 1) Why are you not questioning yourself? If someone told me that my beliefs harmed others, my first response would be to ask myself whether this were in some way true. I may not change my beliefs, but I would at least think about whether I was harming someone in some way; 2) Would you agree that others’ beliefs harm groups of people; for example, those who have co-opted Islamic beliefs? And certainly you think that gay rights activists’ beliefs harm others.

  26. Why do you assume I haven’t questioned myself? Have you looked at this series (especially 2a and 2b)? Sheesh.

    The problem with Islam is not a religious one. It’s not an issue of religious freedom. Islam is not really a religion (though it includes one). If it were, its potential harm would be very limited. Instead it is a tightly integrated, inseparably connected religious/military/political composite unlike any religion elsewhere to be found. We have given nowhere near enough thought to how and when the First Amendment may or may not apply to such an entity.

    I am not arguing that we should give room for any belief regardless of its potential harm. Gay rights activists do harm without the protection of the First Amendment. Christianity has that constitutional protection, and for very good reasons which simply do not apply to sexual practices or the advocacy thereof.

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