Townhall.com | Dennis Prager | May. 20, 2008
Americans seem mesmerized by the word “change.” And, by golly, they sure got it last week from the California Supreme Court. It is difficult to imagine a single social change greater than redefining marriage from opposite sex to include members of the same sex.
Nothing imaginable — leftward or rightward — would constitute as radical a change in the way society is structured as this redefining of marriage for the first time in history: Not another Prohibition, not government taking over all health care, not changing all public education to private schools, not America leaving the United Nations, not rescinding the income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax. Nothing.
Unless California voters amend the California Constitution or Congress amends the U.S. Constitution, four justices of the California Supreme Court will have changed American society more than any four individuals since Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison.
And what is particularly amazing is that virtually none of those who support this decision — let alone the four compassionate justices — acknowledge this. The mantra of the supporters of this sea change in society is that it’s no big deal. Hey, it doesn’t affect any heterosexuals’ marriage, so what’s the problem?
This lack of acknowledgment — or even awareness — of how society-changing is this redefinition of marriage is one reason the decision was made. To the four compassionate ones — and their millions of compassionate supporters — allowing same-sex marriage is nothing more than what courts did to end legal bans on interracial marriage. The justices and their supporters know not what they did. They think that all they did was extend a “right” that had been unfairly denied to gays.
Another reason for this decision is arrogance. First, the arrogance of four individuals to impose their understanding of what is right and wrong on the rest of society. And second is the arrogance of the four compassionate ones in assuming that all thinkers, theologians, philosophers, religions and moral systems in history were wrong, while they and their supporters have seen a moral light never seen before. Not a single religion or moral philosophical system — East or West — since antiquity ever defined marriage as between members of the same sex.
That is one reason the argument that this decision is the same as courts undoing legal bans on marriages between races is false. No major religion — not Judaism, not Christianity, not Islam, not Buddhism — ever banned interracial marriage. Some religions have banned marriages with members of other religions. But since these religions allowed anyone of any race to convert, i.e., become a member of that religion, the race or ethnicity of individuals never mattered with regard to marriage. American bans on interracial marriages were not supported by any major religious or moral system; those bans were immoral aberrations, no matter how many religious individuals may have supported them. Justices who overthrew bans on interracial marriages, therefore, had virtually every moral and religious value system since ancient times on their side. But justices who overthrow the ban on same-sex marriage have nothing other their hubris and their notions of compassion on their side.
Since the secular age began, the notion that one should look to religion — or to any past wisdom — for one’s values has died. Thus, the modern attempts to undo the Judeo-Christian value system as the basis of America’s values, and to disparage the Founders as essentially morally flawed individuals (They allowed slavery, didn’t they?). The modern secular liberal knows that he is not only morally superior to conservatives; he is morally superior to virtually everyone who ever lived before him.
Which leads to a third reason such a sea change could be so cavalierly imposed by four individuals — the modern supplanting of wisdom with compassion as the supreme guide in forming society’s values and laws. Just as for religious fundamentalists, “the Bible says” ends discussion, for liberal fundamentalists, “compassion says” ends discussion.
If this verdict stands, society as we have known it will change. The California Supreme Court and its millions of supporters are playing with fire. And it will eventually burn future generations in ways we can only begin to imagine.
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