Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kennedy's Marriage Decision Can Easily Be Overcome

But the American people don't want to do it. Keep in mind that the corruption of the American people is a bigger problem than the corruption of the Supreme Court. In five out of the last six presidential elections, voters have chosen presidents who would deliberately select liberal justices for the Court. (In the 2000 election, the will of the voters was inconsistent with the electoral college result, so the voters didn't get what they wanted, thankfully.) Those justices support the sort of judicial activism that gave us yesterday's ruling on same-sex marriage. Likewise, the American people are the ones who encouraged the Court to think they could get away with what they did by giving same-sex marriage so much support in the polls and in other contexts. They also encouraged the Court to think it could get away with doing what it did by reacting so apathetically, and sometimes even approvingly, to previous abuses by the Court. And so on.

The American people could do things like having Court justices removed and amending the Constitution if they wanted to. They don't. But there's an even easier solution, and it's something that could be done soon. Elect presidents who, when they have the opportunity, will replace the current bad judges with good ones. Then, reverse yesterday's decision and take the appropriate actions against same-sex marriage at the state level. But the American people won't do that anytime soon. Even if, say, a president Rubio would select some good judges to replace bad ones, and even if those judges would rightly reverse yesterday's ruling, I suspect that even the most conservative states would refrain from removing state recognition of same-sex marriage.

For one thing, most people in America, even many conservatives, like to flatter themselves with the notion that they're more loving, wise, etc. than they actually are. Advertisers regularly flatter them in an attempt to get their money, and politicians regularly flatter them to get their votes. That flattery has gone to their head. Once you cast them in the role of civil rights leaders, compassionately giving homosexuals what had wrongly been denied them for so many years, it will be hard to get them to relinquish that delusion. And even aside from all of the self-flattery, most Americans, including many conservatives, will misdefine concepts like love and wisdom in such a way that taking state recognition of marriage away from homosexuals after giving it to them would be some sort of horrible act.

For instance, people would tend to project themselves into a same-sex couple's situation and ask whether they would want state recognition of their marriage taken away. Of course, the erroneous nature of that approach is easy to illustrate by asking people what they would do if an abusive Supreme Court ruled that there's a Constitutional right to marriage between adults and children or some such thing. The question is whether such a ruling and the instituting of such forms of marriage are right to begin with, not whether the people whose marriages are later not recognized like having those marriages not recognized. There are all sorts of contexts in life in which people hate losing something they never should have had in the first place. That doesn't stop us from taking away what they shouldn't have.

Besides, even if people were unwilling to take away state recognition of marriages already recognized, they could enact a compromise approach by allowing same-sex marriages already implemented to continue to be recognized while not allowing any further ones to be recognized. That wouldn't be ideal, but it would be better than extending same-sex marriage even further.

So, how do we persuade the American people to change their minds? In the immediate future, one thing to do is for pastors, Sunday school teachers, friends having conversations in church, etc. to speak up on the issue during this weekend's church services. Follow the examples of John the Baptist, who spoke out against incestuous marriage at the cost of his life (Matthew 14:1-12), and Jesus and Paul, who argued against polygamy in their day by adopting the popular anti-polygamy argument of replacing "they" with "two" in Genesis 2:24 (Matthew 19:5-6, 1 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 5:31).

Try to have conversations about this issue with your relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Use your blog, Facebook, message boards, and other online contexts to persuade people. Use arguments like the ones I've outlined here.

Political solutions in the immediate future would include leveraging the sympathy people have for the losing side of the same-sex marriage dispute. Proponents of same-sex marriage won't be able to portray themselves as a persecuted minority the way they did in the past. We should use this window of opportunity to get as many religious liberty measures in place as we can, especially at the state level (since Obama would block them to a large extent at the federal level).

Make discussions of the problem of judicial activism prominent in the 2016 presidential campaign. However unpopular it will be to discuss same-sex marriage in particular from a conservative perspective, there wouldn't be such opposition to addressing judicial activism. Even many supporters of same-sex marriage recognize the dangers of judicial activism in other contexts. And I suspect that many of those who are ignorant or apathetic about the subject could be persuaded to be more concerned if Republicans would make the effort.

When Republicans are asked about same-sex marriage or related issues in the 2016 campaign and beyond, or they bring the issues up themselves, they should not only state their position, but also make a persuasive case for it. The days of merely appealing to opinion polls, making vague appeals to tradition, and arguing against same-sex marriage in other such unpersuasive ways ought to be over.

As a general principle, voters should look for the Republican candidates with the optimal balance of conservatism and electability and support those candidates. Generally speaking, forget about third party candidates. Don't sit out an election unless you have good reason to. Don't sit it out just to pout or throw a tantrum. Recognize that the corruption of your fellow Americans limits your options. Choose the best of the options you have and hold their feet to the fire. Make it clear that issues like marriage and the appointment of judges are important to you, and insist that the candidates make the right decisions once elected. They often won't make the right decisions, even if they claimed that they would. But sometimes they will do the right thing, and we should try to make that happen.

A lot more could be said, but I'll leave it at that. There's a lot that can be done, if we're willing to do it.


  1. Jason,

    I enjoy your posts. Just one comment.

    Sitting out an election need not be a pout or form of tantrum. Strategic boycotts can be wise, but of course wisdom can often be seen as impractical or too idealistic.

    In any case, we mustn't be motivated like the secularist who thinks: "Win at any cost, because you can't afford to lose. You won't get a second chance. You can't make up for lost time." That to say, when it comes to voting (or not voting) immediate results aren't everything. There are non-tantrum / non-pouting boycott results that must be considered as well as longer term considerations regarding our motives, which will be brought to light when we meet the Lord of conscience face to face.

    Best wishes...

    1. Reformed Apologist,

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      My comments weren't as clear as they should have been, so I'm going to revise my post to add some qualifiers. I agree that there can be good reason to sit out an election. And I think it sometimes makes sense to vote for third party candidates (an issue I addressed in the same sentence above, but which you didn't mention). I was providing a general assessment, but I allow exceptions. The large majority of the people I've interacted with over the years who don't vote or vote for a third party do so for bad reasons. But I agree that it's sometimes justified.

  2. Jason,

    I kinda figured that...

    Keep up the stellar work. ;)

  3. Personally, and I'm sorry to say, I think you might still be being much too generous to the American people. (I'm a Brit, BTW, and giving my impressions from afar; not at first-hand except through reading material on the Internet).

    Firstly, I seriously doubt that, when electing presidents, much of the electorate takes the time or effort to think past the sales-pitch at election time, and to understand the actual differences between the candidates. Taking responsibility in this way would mean allocating more time to reading, studying, thinking. I think plenty of the electorate prefers to fritter away their time in shallow entertainments. They support homosexual 'marriage' in the polls, because they're happy to imbibe shallow cultural signals without thinking them through.

    Secondly, I seriously doubt that even those who do understand and have sympathy for conservatism would actually prefer a society in which sexual norms and ethics were based on divine standards. People love their fornication, their adultery, their easy-divorce-so-that-you-can-get-a-younger-model, being able to gawp at and lust after other people's bodies on television and other media day after day (or simply just watch other people having intercourse). They love their so-called "sexual freedom". If homosexual marriage comes in as part of the package deal, then so be it. Better that, than the alternative package. In the UK "X wants to go back to the 1950s" is sometimes used by politicians as an insult, something so obviously wrong and stupid that it needs no explaining. (I don't claim at all that the understanding of male and female and their inter-relationships in the 1950s was Biblical - I'm just using the example of the slogan to make a point). "Homosexual marriage" has come as part of the working through of the logic of 'sexual freedom' - a logic which a vast, crushing majority (if we're going to talk about what would pass for the will of the people in any ballot) is in favour. The lack of it was an inconsistency - a happy one - but like most such, it had to be resolved one way or the other. And I'm pretty sure which way people would want it to be resolved. I think this best explains the push to get "social issues" off the agenda - not because it's politically inconvenient, but more fundamentally because actually people like and want their slavery.

    So, I think that the preaching of repentance shouldn't just be for the Herods out there in the world. It needs to come first to the household of God - to hit the respectable man in the pew who loves his pornography, is engineering or has engineered his divorce, etc.