The US Supreme Court recently invalidated the Defence of Marriage Act which had been signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 which denied certain federal benefits to same sex married people. The court was ruling from the position that since marriage laws were in the domain of the states and some states had passed legislation legalising same sex marriages, the federal government had no right to discriminate against such married people. The court made it clear that it was not ruling on the merits or otherwise of same sex marriages in the process. However as one can imagine, this ruling actually serves to strengthen the legality of same sex marriages, and that was what many Christians in the US were wishing would not happen. Also, such instances taking place in the US soon percolate to other countries also, finally affecting a large number of human beings. Simply getting upset about this will not do. What we need to do is to understand what is really going on and take action at the appropriate levels.
One of the outstanding court decisions in this context that took place many years ago, was to provide support for women who did not want their pregnancy, by permitting them to abort their babies. This was touted as supporting women to be free to choose their own life-style and to have the right to decide when or whether at all they wanted a pregnancy. But as many Christians have pointed out, aborting a foetus amounts to murder, and concerns about that were being vehemently pushed aside in the process! The focus was shifted to defining when a foetus could be considered as a baby, which is only a ploy to avoid consideration of the moral impact of abortion. Even the prohibition on abortion of foetuses beyond a certain time of pregnancy is only put up to avoid physical harm to the mother and not because people cannot any more avoid recognising the human being in the womb. It is the women’s rights that are primary. The right or wrong of killing unborn babies, the resulting feelings of guilt to the mothers and also the fathers, reduction in the restraints on premarital or other unlawful sexual relations, the confusion and pain caused in many relationships, and the overall negative impact on society are all put away on the side in order to provide women their rights!
Another big gain under the umbrella of human rights came when homosexual behaviour was legalised. ‘Scientific’ studies, many of them done by homosexuals, came out to show that homosexual activities were ‘normal’ even in animals, and further that homosexuals are born that way and had no choice but to live that way. Following this, homosexuality was dropped from being considered as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) because they felt that, if people were born with it and it could not be ‘repaired’ by therapy, it should not be listed as a disorder. Science has not really been able to establish that some are born homosexual. On the contrary, the general understanding currently seems to be that sexual orientation is likely affected by a complex interaction between people’s genetic make-up and their early experiences in their environment. There are psychological and spiritual aspects to homosexuality that are being put aside in the attempt to show that a homosexual has really no choice at all for his condition and behaviour. If it had been on any other subject that did not raise up emotions like this, these so-called scientific studies could not have been recognised as being valid because of the unscientific way in which interpretations have been made. But the media hype around this and people’s unwillingness to be seen as being not open minded or progressive have led many to accept a ‘homosexual orientation’ as a natural phenomenon without any moral implications. The result is that even many Christian leaders and churches have capitulated on this subject. Not to do so is being ridiculed as being ‘homophobic.’
For Christians, this is unthinkable as it is a perverse form of sexual behaviour. But for the gay activists it had nothing to do with right or wrong, but it was promoted as a simple matter of the individual’s right to decide his or her own life-style. For them no one had any right to dictate to them how they should behave. The courts, again not ruling on the moral right or wrong of the issue, had to say that individuals had the right to choose their own life-style.
Live-in arrangements came to the court seeking for recognition as being equivalent to being married. Courts and governments all over are recognising the inevitability of granting them legal status because not to do so would be questioning an individual’s rights to make his or her own decisions on their relationships. People do not seem to consider the long term effects of this on people and society. Consensual sex is being recognised as rights of individuals which courts and governments dare not oppose! The attempt going on now is to lower the age of consensual sex so that even adolescents can exercise their rights more freely! By their nature, courts can adjudicate only on matters of the law, and do not wish to take the role of moral agents in society. Rape is still considered a crime because it is against one person’s choice, but will a time come when consensual sex between people outside their marriage will no longer be called adultery? It is all a matter of individual rights!
Same sex marriage works along the same lines. If homosexual relationships can no longer be questioned, which court or government can prohibit such marriages? Activists are now proposing ways to legalise such couples having rights to adopt children and to enjoy all such benefits of normal marriages.
What is happening in cases like these is that battles against Biblical values and moral stances which are based on them are being fought in the courts as questions of human rights rather than human values. By taking the battleground away from what is right or wrong and what is good or bad to the rights of people to make decisions concerning their own lives, people who want to promote their own immoral behaviours are getting more and more success.
Christians are fighting a losing battle against such developments because the battle is on the plane of human rights and not moral values. Instead, what we should be doing is to fight at other fronts. Sociologists can study the possible impact of abortion, homosexuality, live-in arrangements and same sex marriages on society in future. Scientists can examine the studies made by those who classify sexual disorientation as natural and expose their fraudulent claims. Legal experts can examine the extent of individual rights when individuals exercising their ‘rights’ can harm society in the long run. After all, all that God asks us to do and to avoid doing is for our own good. “You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good” (Neh.9:13 NIV), and when man imagines he knows what is best for him and that he has every right to decide what he should do, it is surely the height of folly.
We know that, as the day draws nearer to the coming of the Lord, things on earth are going to become worse and worse (Matt.24:37,38;Lk.17:28-30). We are not likely to succeed in reversing this trend, but we can do our part as the salt and light of the world and hope that at least some people, especially those who belong to the Lord, would be saved from the decay that is happening around us. Even though it has become a cliché, we must also make sure that, while we hate sin, we must not stop loving those who are caught in any sin (Gal.6:1).