When I see articles like this one from Al Mohler I must admit that I get depressed. Our most vocal leaders in Christendom just don’t get it:
But, once again, not all moral principles are examples of oppression. To the contrary, human life is only possible within the context of enduring moral laws and principles that liberate all human beings to their true humanity. This is where those who support same-sex marriage and those who oppose it face each other across a huge gulf of understanding. One side sees a moral mandate to liberate marriage from its heterosexual limitation. The other side sees natural marriage as a liberating, God-given institution for human flourishing. There is precious little shared ground in this debate.
While I don’t know what he means by being “liberat[ed] to” our “true humanity,” I don’t have much to argue with in his description of the situation as two side staring at each other across a gulf where they both claim that their ground is the moral one. But, when you combine his analysis in this piece with his article from last week about Obama dropping his support of the Defense of Marriage Act you get the sense that the moral aspect of this marriage debate is all he sees:
Attorney General Eric Holder informed Congress yesterday that President Obama had ordered the Department of Justice to cease all efforts to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts.
In the second place, this announcement means that President Obama and his advisers now believe that the full legalization of same-sex marriage is both inevitable and without major political risk to the President and his plans for re-election. That, in itself, represents a moral earthquake. The President clearly believes that a sufficient number of Americans will either support or accept same-sex marriage — and this comes just a few years after a majority of the states passed constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, and most by huge margins.
The President has made his decision. The Attorney General has now made his announcement. Mark your calendars for yesterday. That day now represents a tragic milestone in the betrayal of marriage.
Moralism has completely blinded our church leaders to the fact that the enemy is not the immorality of homosexual marriage, but the State’s confiscation of the means of marriage. If the state had not appropriated to itself control over the institution of marriage, this whole debate would not exist. There would be no “moral earthquake.” There would not be two sides staring at each other across a chasm, because there would not be two sides. This whole moral swamp has been artificially manufactured by the simple fact that the State, through the steady passage of more marriage laws and marriage licenses, has constantly sought to make itself the decider of who can marry whom. And that fact alone has damaged the institution of marriage and allowed this debate to be born. It was inevitable.
Throughout American history, marriage licenses were used to arbitrarily restrict racial intermarriage. And while mixed race and same-sex marriage are two completely different things(one being morally inocuous and the other being morally engendered), the comparison is just too ripe not to be picked. Indeed the comparison between restricting interracial marriage and restricting same-sex marriage has “restriction” as it’s primary idea. And there’s only one institution that can grant itself the power to restrict a natural right. The State.
The percentage of the population that is homosexual and wants to be “married” is miniscule. In a free market of social interaction where nobody controls marriage from a central authority, society as a whole would just absorb this issue in the same way it handles something like alcoholism. Alcoholism is morally detrimental to the family structure. But we, as Christians, don’t see alcoholics as a moral enemy to be armed against. No, we try to reach them for Christ and convince them of their need of Him. But because the State claims control over the marriage process, society has been removed from this debate. Instead we’re left helplessly on the sidelines to watch with baited breath as the next supreme court ruling comes down. What nonsense.
So, what am I saying? Am I saying that homosexuality is moral? No. Am I saying that same-sex marriage is moral? No. I’m not saying anything about the morality of the issue at all. Instead I’m talking about the morality of the state stealing the right of society to decide for itself, without interference, what is and is not morally acceptable. I’m saying that if the State got out of the marriage business altogether, and put marital authority back into the hands of the social market where it belongs, these issues of morality could be properly addressed without resorting to the use of force. The issue would vanish.
The enemy is not same-sex marriage. The enemy is any earthly institution that tries to set itself up with monopoly power over marriage. Marriage belongs to society(for Christians, the Church. For non-christians, the family or community), not an all powerful State.