Virtually everyone nowadays has an opinion regarding the issue of gay marriage. Both political sides – Republicans and Democrats – make declarative points and counterpoints as to the nature of equality, morality, and such but few politicians are actually taking the correct stance, from the point of view of a just role for government and the Natural Law it was instituted to uphold.
And therein lays the inevitable and unavoidable inconsistency of Big Government that ultimately erodes its legitimacy and credibility. Many on the Right seek to use Big Government in this case to legislate morality on the masses (ironically similar to how the Left does so with different issues), a long-proven failure of social engineering that has given mankind all manner of troublesome authoritarianism. Conversely, many on the Left wish to wield Big Government in this case to socially legitimize a lifestyle that many find inherently immoral, another long-worn and failed approach that violates the government’s just role in our lives.
Few people are asking the right question regarding this issue: what business does government, at any level, legitimately possess to involve itself in marriage at all? Marriage is, no matter how one defines it with respect to its peripheral physical characteristics, a willing commitment between two consenting adults, a commitment moreover that does not violate the individual rights of others. This is the true nature of marriage as it relates to a just, limited government and one that neuters its ability to play one special interest against another, at the eventual expense of the loser.
For my part, I do not morally support the homosexual lifestyle nor do I equate it to a civil rights issue. There is a big difference in my mind between the natural states of being typically associated with civil rights, such as sex or race, and the acts that define certain immoral (in my opinion) behaviors, such as adultery, drug use, and the currently discussed topic. But that said, I have no desire to get involved in other peoples’ personal lives, as much as I will not tolerate their intrusive involvement in my own.
Ultimately, marriage is an institution of commitment between consenting adults, their God, their pastor (or other spiritual representative), and/or their families. If a particular church or religious entity does not wish to marry two people on moral objections – be it for homosexuality, a lack of chastity, previous marriage status, lack of membership in the church, and so forth – that is that given church’s business. If folks wish to pledge their allegiance to each other absent any ceremonial proceedings it does not change the personal responsibility or commitment that they have consensually entered into. A government-issued piece of paper cannot change a thing from what it has traditionally been for millennia, no more than it can make a society or individual moral, any more than it can deem something or someone moral that is not. Generally speaking, both sides of this issue are inappropriately wielding Big Government for authoritarian reasons.
But notwithstanding this, some have suggested that in order to establish or maintain harmony and morality in society we must eliminate society’s exposure to immoral behavior, even when it does not pick our pockets or break our legs. I could not disagree more. Life is diverse and given that we are all individuals by design, disagreement on a multitude of topics is destined to occur provided we retain the right and ability to think for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with being passively exposed to different perspectives, provided that we are free to make up our own minds regarding them and that those perspectives do not violate our own rights (such as to turn away, figuratively speaking).
If we choose to eliminate such exposures, where does this approach end? Already the exact same arguments are being used to rationalize socio-political attacks from diametrically opposed perspectives: many on the Right seek to suppress homosexual perspectives and many on the Left seek to eliminate religious (particularly Christian) ones. Neither group wishes to be exposed to that which they disagree with, rather than acknowledging that freedom is inconsistent with government that seeks to protect certain groups from exposure to others’ perspectives via suppression. These simply are not functions that government was established to pursue.
Though I believe in Christ as my personal Savior, I do not even agree with many self-identified Christians and their interpretations of the Bible, or their subsequent actions. But beyond simply having an opinion and discussing it openly the real question is, so what? In a free society, should government force other people to necessarily care about my opinions? It is one thing to freely exchange ideas and voluntarily engage in civil debate – that is a natural and healthy side effect of liberty – but it is quite another to use government as a mechanism to force others into a particular lifestyle that is not of their choosing and that does not directly violate anyone else’s freedoms.
Granted to us by our Creator is the prerogative to be who we wish to be, even if others disagree with that choice – indeed, even if He disagrees with that choice. God gave us the right to live our lives in sin by granting us free will. In fact, it is pretty clear that all of us fit this description in some form or another. In a free society, man is empowered to wield force to protect his fellow man from each other’s encroachments – and nothing more. Only God rightfully retains the authority to judge victimless lifestyle choices and dole out consequences for them. This is why the Commandment of murder is justly illegal and the Commandment of worshipping only God or properly observing the Sabbath is not.
In the end, the only way for any society that has even the slightest hint of heterogeneity to coexist peacefully is to consciously decide to leave each other be, to simply forgo the libido dominandi. This can only be accomplished in a limited government that functions solely to protect and defend the individual’s rights from intrusions by others. Only this approach leaves everyone to live their private lives how they see fit while eliminating government as a tool of forcing social acceptance of suspect lifestyles on others.
As the only politician of late that has this issue correctly pegged wrote in 2011, “when we no longer believe that civilization is dependent on government expansion, regulating excesses, and a license for everything we do, we will know that civilization and the idea of liberty are advancing.” To embrace either side of this debate without acknowledging that government has no just place in it is to embrace Big Government itself, thereby empowering and expanding its reach even while we would ostensibly claim to be working against it. So long as Big Government exists there will always be someone with whom to wield that power over, and the “victory” that the Left, Right, and special interest simultaneously seek is just a temporary one on the road to the next fight for total authoritarianism. “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others,” and only such a government occupies the moral high ground by consistently applying the ethos of the people, by the people, and for the people. Otherwise, we must learn to embrace a new ethos: of the special interest, by the special interest, and for the special interest, whatever form it may take at the time.