Friday, June 16, 2006


The older I get, the less time and effort I find myself willing to invest into political matters. Aside from creating and widening divisions between people, political debates seldom seem to accomplish much of anything. Not that there isn't a time and place for defending one's (and others') freedoms, but the church never presents an uglier face to the world than it does when it abandons its God-given calling in favor of organizing as a political force.

The debate over the federal marriage amendment is certainly a good example of that. Even when I was otherwise fully invested in believing everything that I was told by Exodus, I recognized the damage that such an amendment would do to our federal system of government.

The U.S. Constitution was carefully crafted to protect individual freedom by regulating the size and scope of the federal government. The primary focus of the Constitution (and its first dozen or so amendments) was on strictly limiting federal power so that its citizens would be safe from tyranny. The federal government had a handful of specific responsibilities; everything else was left to the states or to the individual.

In stark contrast to that original formula, the federal marriage amendment would expand the power of the federal government at the expense of individual liberty by nationalizing an issue once left to the discretion of the states. The last time the Constitution was tinkered with to satisfy the whims of the moralists of the day (Prohibition), it arguably did far more to unravel the moral fabric of the nation than it did to improve it.

Anyway, Tom Ehrich has said it as well as I ever could. Hopefully this article won't disappear into a subscription-only archive anytime soon, but just in case, here are a few key excerpts:

The Constitution doesn't exist to implement a certain "American way of life." It exists to ensure an environment of freedom in which the ways Americans live can flourish and evolve, within a common commitment to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," as stated in the Declaration of Independence.

The Constitution doesn't exist to implement certain religious beliefs. The colonies had been down that road and it was disastrous. The Constitution exists to provide an environment in which all citizens are free to worship and to believe as they choose. It is difficult to imagine a situation more antithetical to the American way than faith by fiat.

Contrary to the notions of some, the Founding Fathers never set out to establish a 'Christian' nation, but one in which freedom of conscience was extended to all, within the limits of those few basic laws minimally necessary to the functioning of a free society.

It is remarkably short-sighted to think that one part in that morality debate is so compelling that it merits undermining the entire fabric of rights and laws. That is theological nonsense. If any topic of Christian morality deserved such a spotlight, it would be the one Jesus actually addressed -- namely, wealth and power.

And finally,

The stability of American society depends far more on freedom, justice, fairness and common sense than on banning certain expressions of human sexuality. History has taught us to ask: If gays are today's target for moralistic repression, who will be tomorrow's?

When they came for the Jews I said nothing, because I wasn't a Jew. And, well, you know the rest.

1 comment:

Dwight said...

Good point!

It is sad that politicians (I will not name names) need to bring this issue up so that they can be reelected. It is also sad that while we are in a war that pretty much everyone is agreed we need to get out of (it is just a matter of how to do so as to cause less harm then going to war to begin with) that Americans and politicians would rather spend time on this issue as opposed to war, healthcare, etc.

I guess if we didn't have a Christian state before the Republicans are trying very hard to get one now.