Towards an Answer to the Imperial Court Part 4: Political stakes

            As much as we might desire to avoid politics, they are, unavoidable.

As I noted previously, I consider opinions of a “living constitution” to lack intellectual integrity. I should note from this basis, that I am a limited government conservative, this is motivated both by a view of the original intent of the authors of the constitution as well as by the considerations of Christian doctrine. If man is tainted by sin, and naturally inclined towards evil, then power indeed corrupts. Limiting any one person or body in their scope of power seems the most logical means of preventing government from using power to spread evil rather than to maintain government’s role of keeping human evil in check. Some will argue that this will influence my approach, but then again, this is historically within Baptist views. Baptists were important supporters of Jefferson, Madison and Cromwell.

That said, we should focus our political discussions not in terms of the state’s recognition of marriage. For the moment at least, this battle is lost.

There are two separate, but equally important questions concerning marriage and the court’s decision. The first is the recognition of gay couples by individual government bodies. As I have noted before, I recognize the legal, but not the moral authority, of individual states and the nation to make their own rules in this regard. I ultimately do not care about what tax rates gay couples might pay, and I tend to be libertarian enough to assume that people ought to be able to make their own choice in who makes hospital visits.

Yet the second question, the one we should focus on is the right of Christians to practice our faith unmolested. Gay marriage, as I have argued elsewhere, is being turned into the choice our theological forebears faced in ancient Rome. We are of course allowed to believe what we want, so long as we do not allow it to affect our participation in the civil society. This is, ultimately the problem of the bakers and florists who have been sued and fined into poverty. As has been noted elsewhere, the state of Oregon described this as rehabilitating business that opposed same-sex marriage,[1] this of course is not the same as a Soviet labor camp in form, but it is quite similar in principle. A baker in Colorado has been forced to attend sensitivity training.[2] In New Jersey, a church was required to allow a gay wedding on property it owned.[3]

Make no mistake about it, “Marriage equality” is an establishment of religion, requiring Christians to accept gay marriage in our public lives, no matter what we think in our private lives. Nor is this a law that is merely passive acceptance, it is instead a compulsion by the government in our public actions. Some will argue Christians is discrimination against homosexuals as a class, but the question is not the class of customers, the question is the nature of the event. There are no controversies I am aware of involving a bakery refusing to sell a birthday cake, a cake for a promotion at work, etc to a gay person. The only cakes that have been at issue are wedding cakes. The question, then, is not the character of the person involved – Christians object to the event, itself, and the solution is not to chose a baker who has no such religious compunctions, it is instead to compel by force of law Christians to abandon their principles.

Economic force, while not as arduous as threat of imprisonment, torture or death, is still a use of force to compel religious compliance. It is different then in severity, but not in kind to Roman Imperial persecutions of Christians who refused to offer incense to the emperor, or who refused to worship the Roman gods,[4] but is equivalent in kind. It is thus the importance of first amendment protections that should and must be emphasized.




            [4] To the Romans, Christian opposition to Roman worship was “atheism.” Romans considered Christians dangerous because they believed Christians broke the Pax Deium, the peace with the gods, and thus must be compelled to return to the imperial temples.

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