Debbie's post was both a familiar and a novel reading experience for me. It was familiar in that I kept nodding "yes, yes" as I read. It was new in that when I was finished, I wanted to say "yes, but ...". So here's the "yes, but."
Debbie makes a clear classical-libertarian case for the government not making decisions having the force of law concerning who lives with whom and why. Her concluding paragraph:
If you strongly disapprove of gay marriage on moral grounds, I respect that, but find ways outside of government force to persuade others to agree with your moral views. To do otherwise only helps legitimize the use of government force against your own family. It’s really simple for heterosexual and gay alike: just follow the Golden Rule.As I said above, I can applaud that statement. As one who acknowledges the authority of the Scriptures over all parts of my life, I recognize two things related to this discussion that I shouldn't do. One is to engage in the homosexual activity, and the other is to mind other people's business, absent their requesting my help or advice. In a libertarian world, that's all as it should be.
But here's the thing: we're not living in a libertarian world. We live in the shadow of a vast, omnipresent government that considers everything its business. And because we've permitted government at all levels to grow so oncologically in power, reach, and interest, we all have to be very concerned about what it Officially Thinks About Things. After all, we're living in an order in which everything is either compulsory or forbidden. Well, not everything, not yet; but the field of state "neglect" -- what some of us would call "liberty" -- grows narrower every day.
Suppose you're a member of a church -- you know, one of those retrogressive sorts of church that would never employ a pastor who is a practicing member of the inverted fraternity. Today, you're OK. But let's look down the road fifteen or twenty years, projecting the trends. Think there's any chance your church might find itself looking up the shotgun barrel of an employment nondiscrimination action of some sort? Could very well be. And maybe someone's blog (yes, I know there won't be blogs by then, we'll have moved on) will say something like:
If you strongly disapprove of employment discrimination on moral grounds, I respect that, but find ways outside of government force to persuade others to agree with your moral views. To do otherwise only helps legitimize the use of government force against your own family. It’s really simple for nondiscriminatory and discriminatory alike: just follow the Golden Rule.But the government won't be much of a blog-reader (unless it's to round up subversives).
In some ways, then, I can understand my fellow-believers' willingness to try and pick up the weapon of government power and use it to get their own way. They're just being good modern Americans, and that's what good modern Americans do. That particular shotgun is lying there on the sidewalk; if you don't pick it up and use it against your opponent, he is all too likely to pick it up and use it against you.
In Solzhenitsyn's great novel Cancer Ward, Yefrem Podduyev is given a little book of didactic stories by one of his fellow patients in the ward. The stories teach the conventional moral lessons that Yefrem might have learned "at his mother's knee," if he'd been listening. The stories taught mercy, humility, kindness, and generosity. That's fine, he thinks, that's how everyone ought to live -- but who goes first? Who is the first one to start living by "the golden rule" and risk being taken advantage of by those who won't start until next week?
Now, I shed no tears for the legislation's demise; I think there's much truth in the saying that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church," and that the church has never grown in faithfulness and effectiveness by currying the favor of the State. But I think I may be understanding the motivations of some who did invest themselves in this legislative approach, and I wanted to explain it. I think they're not making the best choice; but I also think their reasoning may not be widely understood.