Moral Tradition and the Assault of Gay Activists

OrthodoxyToday.org | Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse | Nov. 24, 2008

It used to be that when the voters settled on something — even twice, the matter was decided. No more. Proposition 8, the bitterly fought constitutional amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman that squeaked by in California recently, needs to be “overturned” — or so the homosexual activists tell us.

Overturn a constitutional amendment? If judges can overturn the amendment, then effectively we have no constitution and we will be governed by the whims of a non-elected judiciary. Say goodbye to the constitutional republic.

The call reveals something that the critics of homosexual activism see clearly: many in the movement embrace lawlessness. They are, to use a modern twist on an old philosophical term, anti-nomian — (against the law). But it’s not merely the legal culture they hold in contempt. It goes deeper.

The tradition of American civil rights is a noble — and fragile — enterprise grounded in the belief that all people have inherent rights. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Truths? Created? Creator? Almost makes you think the American Founders believed that God exists and that rights flowed from Him.

This declaration is a moral precept grounded in centuries of Western history. But as the Founders and countless others understood, any claim of rights must have at their source the belief that man indeed possesses “inalienable rights.” Religion, in other words, is the wellspring of the morality that shapes and guides the culture. In our world, Christianity (and Judaism through it) is that wellspring.

Human rights then, depend on a religion that serves as the source of a shared moral tradition and shapes a consensus on basic matters of right and wrong. If that tradition is abandoned the consensus shatters, and our ideas of what constitutes a human right are shorn from their moral moorings. (Think a moral tradition doesn’t matter? Reflect on Islam and see how its notions of rights differ from ours. Not religious? Think of the blood spilled over Nazism, Marxism, and other utopian replacements.)

Homosexuals are, of course, afforded the same rights as any other American. What makes the American experiment so valuable is that one need not be a practicing Christian or Jew to be accorded these rights. One can be a hostile to all things religious and still make a claim to “inalienable rights,” and still be protected by them.

So what explains the aggression of homosexual activists especially toward churches in California and elsewhere? Is it just because they lost the vote or is something else at work?

The homosexual lobby argued that marriage is a fundamental right denied to homosexual couples. They overlook the fact that homosexuals already have the “right” to marry. They just can’t marry a member of the same sex, just as a man can’t marry multiple women, a woman multiple men, a father to a daughter, a brother to a sister, and so forth. Nothing is “denied” to them that is not denied to everyone else.

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