Thursday, June 27, 2013

Enemies of the Human Race

It would be an understatement to say that I have been frustrated the past couple of days. But this usually happens at the end of every June, when the Supreme Court hands down its most important cases. Legal thought, in a pure sense, has been on the decline since the 1940s. In prior days, the judiciary was separate from the political/policy machine; now it is its most powerful member. I'll write more on how we got to that point at a later time.

For now, I want to mention the DOMA case and how Christians are slowly becoming enemies of the human race. Although not as contentious as other pressing issues on the national scene, the DOMA case caused much consternation. Not because of so-called gay marriage, per se—although I do believe in and support the biblical definition of marriage. But when socially sensitive issues reach the Supreme Court, the nation's highest court of law, it's a rare occasion that law rules the day.  That's what sends me over the edge: disregard for law and a tenacious commitment to results-based jurisprudence. And results-based jurisprudence exists because we idolize self above all else. Let me explain where I'm going with all of this.

In the DOMA decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that there is no rational basis to oppose same-sex marriage in our society, especially because it has gained such wide-spread acceptance among the intellectuals and educated persons. Anyone who disagrees with the Court's acceptance of same-sex marriage is irrational. He also suggested that those who oppose same-sex marriage condemn, demean, and humiliate people who identify with that lifestyle. It's a severe pronouncement, and it couches disagreement with the issue in such a way that one side is right, the other side is hateful. This is, of course, incorrect, as Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out in his dissent:
But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority's judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to "dis- parage," "injure," "degrade," "demean," and "humiliate" our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.
His suspicions have been immediately confirmed, many times over. For example, TIME journalist Adam Cohen writes that "a good indication of just how completely the court's majority embraced the equal rights of gay people is how bitter Justice Antonin Scalia was in his odd and meandering dissent." Scalia's dissent, written from the basis of a constitutional, legal argument, is now used as a poster for how bitter conservatives are that gay people now have their human rights recognized. (Cohen called the opinion "self-pitying."). There is no place for reasoned disagreement, especially about sensitive social issues. Cohen described it this way: "Yes, shed a tear for the poor people who want to discriminate against and demean gay people—they are being treated so cruelly." There is no mention of legal principles or arguments, or even the possibility that reasonable people may disagree over the issue—just a straight pronouncement that any disagreement is unreasonable. And this coming from a law professor.

My point is that the time is now over where we can disagree and not be seen as judgmental, demeaning, and discriminatory. Any disagreement at all is de facto judgmentalism. This will present a serious challenge to Christians who wish to stand for truth and engage the culture around them, which grows increasingly hostile to biblical standards—even when presented in a loving, winsome way. We are coming to a place where all dissenting voices will be silenced and dismissed as hateful. We will be called enemies of the human race by our nation's highest court. That old tolerance buzzsaw. 

Of course the source of the problem is always the same: self idolatry. When you are your own god, results-based jurisprudence is the only kind of jurisprudence that matters. Anything else requires you to submit to an authority outside of yourself, a concept blasphemous to the god of self. So, Christians who submit and call upon the authority of God's law will be labeled as blasphemers and cast aside to the margins of social conversation.

But here's the encouraging news for Christians willing to stand for truth in the middle of this maelstrom: Christ still reigns, and God will still accomplish His purposes through us, His church. As long as we keep preaching repentance and faith, and telling that old gospel story, God will be at work, no matter the storm around us. So take heart, God is with us, He will use us, and no power or principality will stop Him. He will make all things new, with or without society's approval.

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