The debate about legal recognition of same-sex marriage is ultimately grounded in our understanding of human nature, values, and the role of human relationships in creating and defining the type society we desire. For the vast majority of Americans, these issues are defined in the context of the Bible and religious traditions.
Everyone knows the secular and radical "gay rights" side of the argument; the public schools, universities, and mainstream media faithfully present it to us. Fewer understand the religious side of the argument, falsely portrayed as ignorant, bigoted, hateful, intolerant, and homophobic.
The idea that opposition to homosexual activity and its public sanction, same-sex marriage, is equivalent to or leads to hatred of individual homosexuals is a "big lie" created to demonize, intimidate, and silence opponents of the "gay rights" agenda.
In one of the founding documents of the "gay liberation" movement, published in the mid-1980's, the National Gay Task Force laid out its plan to create this "big lie." These are just a few quotes from "Waging Peace," as reported in The American Enterprise magazine:
The propagandists have been extremely successful! We let their Trojan horse enter our homes unabated, and we let them infect the minds of our children. But it is still a lie, built on anti-religious bigotry.
To understand the true religious position, it is critical to distinguish between "hating the sin" and "hating the sinner."
Judaism and Christianity both abhor the sin of homosexual behavior, but only teach love, respect, and toleration for individual fellow humans - all created in the image of God. Religious people who believe homosexual behavior is a sin and oppose same-sex marriage can sincerely say, "Some of my best friends are gay!"
The fact is that a person practicing homosexuality has committed a religious sin, a very serious one in God's eyes. But homosexual activity between consenting adults, practiced in privacy, is primarily a sin against God, and He will deal with it. It is not a matter for government regulation. The same cannot be said about same-sex marriage, which is the public sanction of homosexual behavior.
Truly religious people are tolerant of others with whom they disagree, such as homosexuals, and can live peaceably and neighborly with them in our free society. But the "gay rights" movement does not want tolerance; they want nothing less than forced acceptance of their lifestyle as normal, healthy, and moral; a position most religious people must reject for themselves and their children. And this is where the problems arise.
This undemocratic use of government force by a minority of citizens is at its most despicable when public schools are used to impose these ideas on children of religious families. And as if this use of public schools for ideological indoctrination were not enough, they then use judicial activism to control private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, which are only remotely connected to the government.
Are there intolerant religious people? Of course, but they represent only a small minority not fully observing a basic tenet of both Judaism and Christianity, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Their religious practice, however flawed, at least constrains their behavior, and in the long run it is an effective tool for improving their humanity.
On the other side, without religion as the basis for the public moral culture, what will constrain behavior and lead to an improvement of humanity? What will restrain secular intolerance from infecting not a small minority, but a large majority? History's grand experiment with a secular society, Communism, was an evil and dismal failure that killed over 100 million innocent people in the 20th Century. Add to that the Holocaust perpetrated by the socialist, neo-pagan Nazis. All of the (Judeo-Christian) religious wars in the history of the world pale by comparison.
Those who wish to ban religion from the "public square" and impose secularism on the majority of Americans would do well to rethink their position - the grass is not always greener on the other side. As Benjamin Franklin wrote to Thomas Paine in an attempt to persuade Paine to abandon his anti-religion essays: "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it."
Our free society will be lost forever unless Americans make a political stand to preserve our endangered "invisible framework of social stability;" a framework which can only be provided by Judeo-Christian values. That stand must begin by preserving the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman that has been the cornerstone of civilization for over 5,000 years.
"Sitting this one out" is not a viable alternative. We have to join one team or the other, so we must each choose which team is closer to our own personal values, or which team is further from our values. To avoid a choice is still a choice - one for the other team.
Samuel Silver is Chairman of Toward Tradition (www.towardtradition.org), a national movement of Jewish and Christian cooperation, fighting anti-religious bigotry and secular fundamentalism.
Note: This article is excerpted from: "Some of My Best Friends are Gay - A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage From the Manufacturer's Instruction Manual," available online at www.towardtradition.org/article_Gay_Friends_1.htm
Read this article on the Toward Tradition website. Reprinted with permission.