There’s a surprising, and specious, argument being used by some proponents of homosexual marriage in California–they’re saying that those who are in favor of traditional marriage have religious motives, and this somehow invalidates the cause. If you believe in religious liberty, they say, you must be against anything that arises from religious motives.
Under this sort of reasoning, lovers of liberty should have opposed the American Revolution, because the revolutionaries claimed religious motives:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Under this sort of reasoning, lovers of liberty should have opposed the abolitionists who sought the liberty of the slave, because they, too, appealed to the justice of God. But, alas, so did those who wanted to preserve their own “liberty” to hold slaves. Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural, pointed out the discrepancy in a speech full of religious language that these “lovers of liberty” must also renounce:
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Under this sort of reasoning, lovers of liberty should have opposed the civil rights movement, driven as it was by protesting pastors such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who summed up their demands and their methodology thus:
We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live. …
Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, “When God speaks who can but prophesy?” Again with Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,” and he’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.” …
It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
People with religious motives support and oppose many things. How dare they say we must oppose something just because people with religious motives support it?
And in this case, ironically, there are religious motives on both sides. Many people with religious motives support traditional marriage–Christian and Jew, Muslim, and Hindu. But there are some who promote homosexuality because of religious motives–Unitarians and UCC and MCC and atheists who reject the Bible’s teachings and want to impose their new version of morality on the nation and its children. But these lovers of liberty do not complain about that (nor do they see their own hypocrisy, because they, too, have “religious motives”).
The “laws of nature and of nature’s God” both tell us that we humans are made male and female, complementary, and that the purpose of this sexual complementarity is so that we may reproduce. It is to the benefit of the state that this union has the protection of law, so that the family is stable, and that children may be raised in a secure setting. This is the fundamental building block of all human societies, and states have interfered with it to their own peril. Those who use religious liberty arguments to undermine this foundation know not what they do.