What is your basis for working towards a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex couples from getting married?  Why would you care about who someone else wanted to marry?

As I have thought and prayed about this, the following is the type of “natural law” based approach that God has put on my heart:

1.             What is the source of our human rights?  Are they solely due to legislative/judicial processes (government)?  If the answer is only from government, then what government gives, government can take away, right?  Since our government is “of the people, by the people and for the people,” shouldn’t the people get to choose what rights to give and what rights to take away, based on their moral and spiritual values?  What right does one person have to criticize someone else’s vote based on their values? 

2.             Basic human rights, however, should never be based on the decisions of government, because that gives moral authority to any government to repress people.  If human rights are only based on the choices of a particular government, we have no right to criticize a Nazi, communist or totalitarian government, regardless of how oppressive that government, because that government is only doing what it has a right to do.  So, in order to protect basic human rights, there has to be a principle at work that trumps action or inaction by a particular government. 

3.             In the Declaration of Independence, this right that trumps governmental policy is referred to as the “Law of Nature and Nature’s God.”  That was the higher authority that gave the colonists the right to separate themselves from a government that violated basic human rights.  In the absence of such a higher authority, there cannot be any universal basic human rights.  There are only two alternatives:  (1) all human rights are only based on the actions of the government to which we are subject, or (2) there are basic human rights that are universal principles and that apply to all people everywhere regardless of the actions of their government. 

4.             So, we are all dependent on the concept of basic universal human rights, because the alternative is totalitarian authority of government, which usually results in oppression. 

5.             For the person in the west who rejects God’s role in human life, little thought is given to the need for an appeal to a higher authority.  In part, that is because life has been protected by basic constitutional freedoms that emanate in one way or another from principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution – documents that presuppose a power/authority/principle that is greater than human government authority. 

6.             So, for us, who believe that some day we will all stand in the presence of a Holy God, before Whom we must give an account of our lives, the overriding question on issues like abortion or homosexual marriage is “what does God think?”  The same Bible on which every U.S. President and Supreme Court Justice has sworn their oath of allegiance to the United States, is the same Bible that we believe has instruction for us on these issues. 

7.             What we believe about these issues is not based on some recent fad or prejudice or bias, but is based on several thousand years of Judeo-Christian thought and principles.  These are the same principles that led to the incredible freedoms and blessings that we experience today as a nation.  These are principles that should not be trashed as just another source of “discrimination,” because without these principles there would not be any basis for the unique historical freedoms that we have experienced as a nation.

8.             Christians have often been behind changes in societies that produce human freedoms. The abolitionist movement in the U.S. was a church-based movement.  William Wilberforce led the movement leading to the abolishment of the slave trade in England because of his Christian faith.  (Watch the movie, Amazing Grace.) 

9.             Christians care about human freedom and justice.  As an example, International Justice Mission (IJM) is an international anti-slavery movement established by a Christian attorney who grew up in Sacramento.  See www.ijm.org.  For the Christian, God establishes what is right and good and evil.  For the Christian, it is not possible to pursue the freedoms and rights that originate with Him without also accepting His instruction as to what  blesses a society and hurts a society. 

10.          Marriage is first and foremost a spiritual idea in any society.  Marriage was a spiritual and a Christian idea before the establishment of any nation in Europe, before the establishment of the U.S. and certainly long before there was any thought of a State of California.  California, like most of western culture, took a spiritual concept, marriage, and incorporated it into the laws of the state.  Again, like most of western culture, the incorporation of marriage into law also incorporated the Judeo-Christian principles that accompanied marriage.  So, until recently, people were married or unmarried – there was no in between.  Civil unions developed as a wholly secular and civil (as opposed to spiritual) concept.  A civil union in California is a contractual relationship that provides the benefits of marriage without being a marriage. 

11.          Until the last few years, California had a long history of protecting the foundation of marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.  One of California’s most liberal jurists, Justice Tobriner, wrote several opinions on the importance of protecting marriage between a man and woman in California.  Those opinions, and others, explain the foundational and essential structural role that marriage provides for any society.  Marriage was not traditionally about rights, but about a commitment to responsibilities, and an understanding that a healthy marriage relationship was the best environment in which to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids.  The traditional thinking has been that if the established institution of marriage is undermined, society will suffer. 

12.          In the last few years, the role of marriage as a place where responsibilities are encouraged has been replaced with a concept of “rights.”  The thinking has become that if the right to marriage is rejected, then we who reject that right are discriminating.  We actually all discriminate regularly on grounds that we believe are justified.  We discriminate against some Mormons and Muslims, because we do not allow one person to be married to multiple spouses at the same time in California or any state in the U.S.  If we reject traditional notions of marriage, what ground do we have for continuing such discrimination against those who choose multiple marriage partners?  If a bisexual person wants to be married to both a man and a woman, what right do we have to discriminate and reject such a “marriage” relationship?  When we throw out the traditional confines of marriage, a wide door is opened.

13.          All of us, of course, make moral judgments based on what we believe is best for our society.  Our collective moral judgments contribute to our pluralistic society – the concept that all of us contribute our diverse ideas and agree to abide by the decision of the whole.  There are many influences that go into that moral decision-making, including spiritual and experiential influences. 

14.          I would submit, however, that several millennia of Judeo-Christian principles should not be so readily tossed out when something so fundamental to a healthy society is at stake.  Given the history of this nation and the history of western civilization, the burden is really on those to want to change the long-established definition of marriage to demonstrate (1) well grounded reasons for such change, and (2) that such change will not undermine the fundamental institution of marriage.  My perspective is that this is a huge social experiment with significant consequences.  We don’t want to get it wrong.  I believe that what we as society say about marriage affects all of us, and especially our children, because it is a collective statement about what we value most as a society. 

15.          For those of us who oppose such a fundamental change in values, our perception is that this is part of an ongoing attack on Judeo-Christian traditions that have served this country and this state very well.  Is there a good reason that we should just be quiet and join the crowd on this issue?