In an article I saw this week, WND columnist Linda Harvey argues with good reason against the notion that the opposing views of homosexuality now fighting it out in every sphere of American life have equal standing. I applaud her stand, and not only because of the bad consequences she cites involving injustices now being perpetrated against individuals in the name of “homosexual rights.” I applaud it because it points to the need to argue cogently what the logic of both Christian faith and the constitutional sovereignty of the American people require. Unless we do, the push for homosexual rights is likely to be the spearhead of the decisive thrust that slays the moral heart of our nation.
Can the question of moral equivalence be addressed without dealing with the question, “What is the standard for judgement?” For Christians the answer to that question ought to come easily. We take to heart the Apostle Paul’s admonition, when he wrote “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We remember that Christ looked to His Father by way of the Spirit, saying “Not my will but thine be done.” He did so not only with His lips, but in actions, that were “obedient unto death, even death by crucifixion.”
But of course our society includes good people who have not accepted the way of life in truth that is Jesus Christ. They are such as the gentiles St. Paul alludes to (Romans 2:14) when he speaks of people who “do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; In that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them; in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men.”
When the British colonies in America declared their Independence from Great Britain, “the Representatives of the United states of America … appealing to the Supreme Judge for the rectitude of our intentions” acted “in the name and by Authority of the good people of these colonies.” As the standard of law in the Court of the Supreme Judge they evoked “the laws of Nature and of nature’s God,” including the very law, inscribed upon every human heart, which even those who do not follow Christ may choose to heed.
As a matter of historic fact, non-Christian people were included among those the Declaration describes as the “good people of these colonies.” So it was appropriate for that document to look to a standard of God that encompasses all human beings, a standard that disciplines the dialogue of conscience by which humans deliberate and their good will is determined. It is the standard of right and wrong God encodes into the inmost core of the nature all human beings have in common. In light of it, good people submit their wills to conscience, by way of deliberate reasoning from the premises it provides.
Conscience proceeds by “thoughts … accusing or else excusing” human decisions and actions. But what is the basis for the integrity of that process of deliberation? Is it simply a matter of chance and/or passionately willful impulse? From a Christian perspective, how can that be? According to the Scripture Abraham was a good man. “He trusted in God and God counted [by logical reasoning ascribed] it to him as righteousness.” But Scripture also depicts Abraham as a man who did not hesitate to pose logical questions to God about His judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah, as when he said to Him: “Far be it from You … to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are alike. Far be it from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
Abraham insists that, in judging the actions of human beings God applies a standard that distinguishes right actions from wrong, good people from bad. He proceeds just as St. Paul says human beings who act in good conscience are naturally impelled to do. Later, in the report of the prophet Isaiah (1:18), God speaks as if He is addressing the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, though He is actually rebuking the people of Israel for failing to keep faith with Him. Confirming Paul’s impression of conscience, the Lord invites them to plead reasonably with Him, as one pleads with another some cause at issue between them.
This thoughtful pleading is disciplined by a common sense of God’s standard for right and wrong. It proceeds in a way that keeps that standard in sight at every step. It is the aspect of mind that goes by the name of reason, called “rational” because it involves comparing one thing with another according to a rule that measures them both. In the Declaration of Independence, the representatives of the good people of the colonies pleaded their case against the British King in this way. They clearly stated the premises of right, according to God, violated by actions of the King, which actions they set forth in some detail.
Their famous statement of the premises of right (“We hold these truths, etc.”) informed every battle good people in the United States ever waged on behalf of justice, before the present depravity; up to and including the battles against slavery and for equal rights under the law, upheld despite differences such as skin color, that are extraneous to the common good of human nature.
Now, “there’s the rub,” as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said. Americans like Linda Harvey are right to question the notion that the opposing views on homosexual behavior are morally equivalent. But it is not enough to raise the question, take a side, and let our forceful passions decide the issue. As people have done in every battle over justice throughout the history of the United States, we must raise the Declaration standard; we must show why and how it applies to the issue of homosexuality; and we must ask our fellow Americans the critical questions: Do we mean to abide by the premises of right on which our existence as a free people depends? Or, do we mean to abandon those premises, even if by doing so we cast ourselves into confusion? If the latter, are we prepared to accept the already visible consequence that we will emerge from that confusion a people no longer free, but ruled by the age old premise of tyranny, that “might makes right”?
I have explored the thinking that justifies this observation in the essay “How the Claim to ‘Homosexual Rights’ Destroys the Logic of Liberty,” available free of charge by clicking the highlighted link. It is not enough to protest against the notion that the opposing views of homosexuality are not equal. We must help our people to see that what is at stake is the very understanding of rights and justice that upholds the claim of sovereignty the good people of the United States have made and sustained since the nation began. Ought we to surrender its basis in reason and God’s law so that a few people can shamelessly indulge their sexual desires? If our constitutional liberty is still the sine qua non of the good we have in common as a people, this cannot be right. Indeed, it is an outrageous injustice, against ourselves but most especially against our posterity; with the survival of our humanity, as always, obviously at stake.