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Monday, February 17, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage: Paganism, the Founders, and Natural Law

In the ongoing debate on the definition of marriage (yes, it rages on, see Kentucky and Virginia), I have made it clear more than once that both sides are making a moral argument, and thus it is futile for anyone to decry the “legislating of morality.” I have also made it clear that, whether the issue is marriage or homosexuality, and whether one appeals to Scripture, Natural Law, or science, the morally superior position lies with the conservative Christian views on these matters.

When I ask a liberal upon what moral authority he relies when he reaches his pro-homosexual/same-sex marriage conclusions, inevitably the answer is the U.S. Constitution. No doubt, throughout our history, in order to further the pagan liberal agenda, liberal jurists have “interpreted” the U.S. Constitution nearly beyond recognition.

If you doubt my use of the word “pagan,” consider that, in order to understand properly how we’ve gotten where we are when it comes to marriage and the homosexual agenda, one must first understand that this drastic change from long-held attitudes towards sexuality and family is not as sudden as it appears. Our obsession with sex and the attacks on the City of God (as Augustine put it) did not begin with the 1960s sexual revolution in America.

For millennia human beings have sought to shed the tenets of our Creator and go our own way. This is especially true when it comes to our sexuality. Much of the history of ancient Israel, as described by the Old Testament, included the struggle of the Jewish people with idolatry, false gods, and sexual immorality. Chief among these false gods which often drew Israel away from the God of Abraham was Baal.

Baal was the proper name for the most significant god in the Canaanite pantheon. When the judges ruled Israel, there were altars to Baal in Palestine. During the notorious reign of Ahab and Jezebel the worship of Baal was prolific. In spite of the warnings from the prophets (including the dramatic demonstration on Mt. Carmel by Elijah), the struggle between Baalism and the worship of God continued for centuries.

The worship of Baal included offering of incense and sacrifice—including human sacrifice. However, Baal worship was chiefly marked by fertility rites. It was believed that Baal made the land, animals, and humans fertile. In other words, Baal was seen as the god of “sacred sexuality.” To encourage the god to carry out these functions, worshippers would perform lewd sexual acts. Baal temples were filled with male and female prostitutes for such purposes.

The female consort to Baal was Ashtoreth. This goddess was also associated with sexuality and fertility. The worship of Ashtoreth also included obscene sex acts. Israel forsook the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and served “Baal and the Ashtoreths.” (Judges 2:11-23).

A third rival to the one true God was Molech (or Molek), the god of the Ammonites. The worship of Molech included the fire sacrifice of infant children. Ashtoreth is also seen as the female consort to Molech. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover describes the relationship between the “virgin-whore who copulates and conceives, but does not give birth (Ashtoreth) [and] the god to whom the unwanted offspring of these practices were sacrificed (Molech).”

With the rise of abortion (in lieu of sacrificing unwanted children at the altar of a heathen god, we do it in the hygienic atmosphere of a clinic), adultery, divorce, fornication, homosexuality, pornography, prostitution (especially the child sex trade), and so on, modern American culture makes the misled ancient Israelites look rather righteous. The same philosophy that led Israel astray is well at work in the U.S.: paganism.

Occultist, bisexual, and habitual drug user Aleister Crowley described the creed of paganism well: “Do What Thou Wilt.” As Satinover notes, whether expressed openly or tacitly working behind the scenes (with many individuals completely unaware of the philosophy to which they’ve surrendered), pagan principles are quickly coming to dominate our public morality, and “Do What Thou Wilt” is a guiding philosophy for one of the major U.S. political parties.

Thus, displays of the Ten Commandments on public property are ruled to violate the U.S. Constitution, while businesses peddling pornography are seen to be protected by it. When ruling on a matter pertaining to the Constitution, courts ultimately will rely on the words and deeds (though often rather selectively) of our Founders as evidence to the correct interpretation of the words of the Constitution.

One would have to have been raised by squirrels (or be a cast member of an MTV reality program) to be an adult in the U.S. and not at least have heard of the “Separation of Church and State.” In declaring government religious (mainly Christian) expression unconstitutional, the courts refer to the First Amendment, and they interpret that amendment through the words of Thomas Jefferson in a letter that he penned to the Danbury Baptists, which declared “a wall of separation between Church and State.”

For over 70 years, time and again U.S. courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have referenced Jefferson’s “Wall” in order to restrict religious (almost exclusively Christian) expression in America. Thus, as we weigh and debate marriage in the U.S., it would be an ironic travesty not to consider the words and deeds of our Founders as we draw our legal conclusions.

I submit (with sad and stunning trepidation that such a submission is even necessary) that not one single Founder would give the notion that marriage is anything other than the union of one man and one woman more than a half-second’s thought before (rightly) concluding that such an idea is either a terrible joke or spoken by a lunatic.

First of all, forget marriage; the idea that homosexuality should be considered normal and acceptable behavior would be deemed a wicked and ridiculous conclusion by our Founders. Under British law, sodomy was a capital crime. Sir William Blackstone was a renowned and favorite English jurist of our Founders, and his Commentaries on the Laws of England served as the basis of legal jurisprudence in America.

As David Barton remarks, “In addressing sodomy (homosexuality), [Blackstone] found the subject so reprehensible that he was ashamed even to discuss it.” Nevertheless, Blackstone declared:

“What has been here observed…the infamous crime against nature committed either with man or beast. A crime which ought to be strictly and impartially proved and then as strictly and impartially punished….I will not act so disagreeable part to my readers as well as myself as to dwell any longer upon a subject the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature [sodomy]…A taciturnity observed likewise by the edict of Constantius and Constans: …(where that crime is found, which is unfit even to know, we command the law to arise armed with an avenging sword that the infamous men who are, or shall in future be guilty of it, may undergo the most severe punishments).

“THIS the voice of nature and of reason, and the express law of God, determine to be capital. Of which we have a signal instance, long before the Jewish dispensation, by the destruction of two cities by fire from heaven: so that this is an universal, not merely a provincial, precept.”

Following the same moral precepts, each of the original 13 colonies treated homosexuality as a serious criminal offense. Thomas Jefferson himself authored such a law for the state of Virginia, prescribing that the punishment for sodomy was to be castration. (You think modern courts will look to this for guidance?)

New York’s law read, “That the detestable and abominable vice of buggery [sodomy] . . . shall be from henceforth adjudged felony . . . and that every person being thereof convicted by verdict, confession, or outlawry [unlawful flight to avoid prosecution], shall be hanged by the neck until he or she shall be dead.”

Connecticut’s law read, “That if any man shall lie with mankind as he lieth with womankind, both of them have committed abomination; they both shall be put to death.” Georgia’s law (surprisingly—at least for today’s liberals) did not call for the death penalty, but stated, “Sodomy . . . shall be punished by imprisonment at hard labour in the penitentiary during the natural life or lives of the person or persons convicted of th[is] detestable crime.”

It is also noteworthy that the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (the Fourteenth Amendment being ratified in 1868) did nothing to prevent all 50 U.S. states, including each state that entered the union after 1868, from enacting laws against homosexual behavior. As recently as 1961, sodomy was a felony in every state in the U.S.

In other words, for nearly 200 years and without any Constitutional conflictions or any serious debate, homosexual behavior in America was seen as immoral and therefore illegal. Thus, we see that the Founders do nothing but support the traditional (biblical) view of marriage.

Sadly, this history has escaped many of our current jurists and politicians—even so-called conservatives. For example, last year Ohio GOP Senator Rob Portman, who, for several years was frequently in the conversation for national office, reversed himself and declared his support for same-sex marriage. According to Portman himself, two years ago, his son Will announced that he was gay. Not wanting to stand in the way of his son’s opportunity “to pursue happiness and fulfillment,” is, evidently, what led to Portman’s change of heart when it comes to the definition of marriage.

Writing for New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait (a supporter of same-sex marriage) described Portman’s decision as a “moral failure, one of which he appears unaware.” According to Chait, this “moral failure” is due to the fact that Portman “opposed gay marriage until he realized that opposition to gay marriage stands in the way of his own son’s happiness.”

Chait goes on, “Portman ought to be able to recognize that, even if he changed his mind on gay marriage owing to personal experience, the logic stands irrespective of it: Support for gay marriage would be right even if he didn’t have a gay son. There’s little sign that any such reasoning has crossed his mind.”

Notice that? Chait is appealing to a moral standard (one of which he appears unaware). Chait decries Portman’s “moral failure” while appealing to logic, reason, and what is “right.” What makes Portman’s seemingly self-serving conversion a “moral failure”?

After all, isn’t looking out for one’s children noble behavior? Why must Portman think of others (or, as Chait puts it, “consider issues from a societal perspective”) to be considered moral, himself? What standard is Chait using?

Of course, Chait is appealing to Natural Law (more on this later). He has rightly recognized Portman’s apparent hypocrisy. However, by appealing to what is “right” in one situation, but ignoring it in another, he is sawing off the limb upon which he is sitting. For millennia, guided by Natural Law, civilizations the world over have deemed homosexual behavior as immoral.

No less than the U.S. Supreme Court has said so. As recently as 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, “Proscriptions against [homosexual] conduct have ancient roots. Sodomy was a criminal offense at common law and was forbidden by the laws of the original 13 States when they ratified the Bill of Rights. . . . In fact, until 1961, all 50 States outlawed sodomy, and today, 24 States and the District of Columbia continue to provide criminal penalties for sodomy performed in private and between consenting adults. Against this background, to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is ‘deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition,’ or ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’ is, at best, facetious [silly].”

Of course, the Court reversed itself in Lawrence vs. Texas in 2003, declaring that, “The petitioners [Lawrence and Garner] are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”

In his dissent, Justice Scalia correctly concluded that, “Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.... [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.”

Unsurprisingly, after gaining the legal justification for homosexual sex, the next moral domino in the sights of the homosexual agenda has been marriage. On November 18, 2003, just four-and-a-half months after the Lawrence decision, the Judicial Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled in favor of legalized same-sex marriage. Thus Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant marital rights to same-sex couples.

The Chief Justice of the Massachusetts court, Margaret Marshal, referenced Lawrence in the ruling: “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”

But “mandating our own moral code” (“Do What Thou Wilt”) is exactly what supporters of the homosexual agenda seek to do. Again, what existing moral code are they using to justify homosexual behavior? They rarely, if ever, appeal to one. The argument is simply, there are some people who want (it makes them “happy”) to engage in homosexuality, thus “liberty of all” dictates that it should be allowed.

The majority in Lawrence also concluded that, “[Liberty] gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.” Of course, no such conclusions have been reached when it comes to prostitution, or polygamy, or incest, or bestiality. In other words, liberals have decided that homosexuality deserves special privilege when it comes to the law and “private sexual conduct.”

And thus we see the real goal of the “so-called homosexual agenda:” the legal legitimization of homosexuality across all of America. After all, if it makes liberals “happy” then it shouldn’t be illegal. And if it’s not illegal, well then, it must be moral (or, in the words of Chait, “right”).

Of course, making things “right” means that there is a standard to which we all are (or should be) held. As I noted at the beginning of this piece, and despite frequent notions to the contrary, as we argue and debate the issues of our day, ultimately each of us relies on such a standard, or some notion of right and wrong, or fair play, or rules, or morality, or whatever you want to call it.

What’s more, the very foundation of our government depends upon such a notion. In fact, the foundation of any good government, culture, society, or virtually any situation where human beings interact with one another rests upon what used to be called Natural Law.

Our Founding Fathers understood this well. However, the idea that liberty, good government, and just laws have their roots in Natural Law, or “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” did not begin with the founding of America. For millennia many philosophers, politicians, priests, and lay people alike knew the role that Natural Law should play in the “Governments [that] are instituted among men.”

Jim Powell, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and an expert in the history of liberty, credits the Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C. to 43 B.C.) with expressing the “principles that became the bedrock of liberty in the modern world.” Cicero was the leading lawyer of his time, and Thomas Jefferson credits him not only with influencing the Declaration of Independence, but also with informing the American understanding of “the common sense” basis for the right of revolution.

“True law,” as Cicero called it, is the “one eternal and unchangeable law [that] will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law…”

“[The] Law of Nature” wrote English philosopher John Locke (who also profoundly influenced our Founders), “stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions must…be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e. to the will of God…”

Blackstone declared in his presuppositional basis for law that, “These laws laid down by God are the eternal immutable laws of good and evil…This law of nature dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this…”

C.S. Lewis concludes that, “Natural Law or Traditional Morality [whatever one chooses to call it]…is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained.”

Throughout the early colonies, the incorporation of Natural (or “Divine”) Law was prevalent. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (the first constitution written in America), as well as similar documents in Rhode Island and New Haven, specifically mentioned that their civil law rested upon “the rule of the word of God,” or “all those perfect and most absolute laws of His.”

References to, not vague religious babble, but specific biblical texts, such as the Ten Commandments, can be found in the civil law of every original U.S. Colony. It is a fact of history that throughout our pre-Colonial, Colonial, Revolutionary period and beyond, America’s lawmakers and laws were steeped in Natural Law. Of course, this is why each of our original 13 colonies treated homosexuality as a crime.

Thus we can conclude that from the beginning our government has been “legislating morality.” All law is rooted in morality. “Laws without morals are in vain,” said Ben Franklin. Not only that, but as I implied above, every debate we have is rooted in morality.

It is absurd and ignorant to lament conservative Christian efforts when it comes to abortion, marriage, and so on as some attempt to “legislate morality.” The other side is attempting the very same thing! In fact, the lamenter (whatever his political persuasion) has also taken a moral stand. Thus, he is like the bank robber who calls the police because his get-away car gets stolen.

What’s more, those who attack Natural Law (because an attack on a position that stems from Natural Law is an attack on Natural Law) do so with arguments that are derived from Natural Law. It is a self-defeating effort.

As Lewis puts it, “The effort to refute [Natural Law] and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There never has been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) ‘ideologies,’ all consist of fragments from [Natural Law] itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to [Natural Law] and to it alone such validity as they possess.”

In other words, it is folly to make moral arguments in favor of sound fiscal policy (take note my Libertarian friends), same-sex marriage, a woman’s “right to choose,” and so on, all the while decrying the “legislation of morality.” Americans simply need to decide by whose morality they want to be governed.

Copyright 2014, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

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