Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The lie

A lie about the nature of man has spread that threatens our ability to be the people God made us to be. The lie substitutes man’s self-image for the image of God and rejects the dignity of “all men created equal.” It finds unique expression in Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. It was evident in Kennedy’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changing how government defines marriage.

He wrote:

Were their intent to demean the revered idea and reality of marriage, the petitioners’ claims would be of a different order. But that is neither their purpose nor their submission. To the contrary, it is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. This, they say, is their whole point. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment. (Emphasis added)

The “immutable nature” phrase is a legal nod to the suspect classes test that judges use when determining whether discrimination is unjustifiable. A man’s maleness is his immutable nature. A black man’s blackness is his immutable nature. An Irishman’s Irishness is his immutable nature. All these accidental facts describe man’s literal genetic makeup and his origins, which are unchangeable. They are historical fact. The idea behind outlawing this type of discrimination is that no man should be limited in his pursuit of happiness because of circumstances of his birth that he had no control over.

Kennedy maintains that same-sex attraction is on the same level as gender, skin pigment, and national origin. He says that if you’re attracted to a person of the same sex, that attraction is part of your innate nature, set at birth and constant through your lifetime. That is false. Who and what we are attracted to changes throughout our lives. “Nurture,” as opposed to “nature,” has a huge impact on sexual development. Why are sexually molested children more likely to become molesters themselves? Why are children raised by same-sex couples, who cannot conceive naturally, more likely to be gay than children of heterosexual parents? Why does watching pornography limit what one finds erotic to those filmed scenarios? Whether we are born sexual blank slates or not, the images we see and the positive and negative reinforcements we receive from our surroundings play a large part in what we find attractive. The fact of the matter is claiming same-sex attraction is fixed, obvious, and immutable is a statement of faith with far less reasoning in support of it than the opposite conclusion, that sexuality is malleable and subject to an infinitude of post-natal factors. (I haven’t mentioned the complex issues of self-identification, behavior, or will.)

Aside from the constitutional harm, the travesty of Kennedy’s decree that there is anything about “immutable” about the petitioners in Obergefell is it forecloses to them the possibility that they can change. To be sure, they will change. It is impossible that they will not change. But the ruling deceives them by spreading the lie that they have no agency in their condition, that their “orientation,” whatever it is now or a year from now or 10 years from now, is hard-coded into them. They are confirmed in the belief that they have no choice in whom-what-where-how they are sexually gratified, and therefore they are entitled to pursuing that gratification, just as the Irishman is entitled to be from Ireland—because he has no choice in where he is from.

Think what effect this has on someone—I should say everyone—who struggles with sin, who treats his spiritual isolation with vain pursuits and empty pleasures, who yearns for God and doesn’t know it. Is he more or less likely to discover his way into God’s glory if he believes he was born like this and there’s nothing he can do to change it? What hope does this person have when he hears the fulfillment through the flesh that eludes him, that tortures him, that mocks him, is his highest aspiration? None.

This consigns man’s body and his time on earth to illegitimate ends. We are not made to find meaning in self-gratification. It leaves no room for the Spirit that changes or individual will. “Futile! Futile! Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!” Solomon concluded (Ecclesiastes 1:2). The truth is better: God provides sanctuary from our diminutive form in His Son’s crucified and risen body. Paul writes:

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Secondly, Kennedy assumes license to redefine marriage in order to give the petitioners the personal fulfillment, which he conflates with dignity, that they seek in marriage’s privileges and responsibilities. He says same-sex marriage is the “only” path to such ends—not only assuring the outcome of the case, but making the petitioners’ dignity dependent on the Court’s action. Combine this with gays’ “immutable nature,” and the Court’s rationalization is complete:

  1. Gays can’t change.
  2. Gays’ only path to dignity is via same-sex marriage.
  3. Therefore, gays must be able to marry.

As Clarence Thomas says in his dissent, government does not sit in the divine judgment seat. Government does not bestow dignity on people by issuing a marriage license. Government does not make one man inherently equal to another by giving official sanction to his desires, innate or otherwise. God has already made him equal. Man’s dignity derives from the Creator.

Government does not make one man less valuable than another because the same law applied equally to them circumscribes his will more than the other. The law is about what is just. It does not change because some find it more difficult to obey than others.

Had the Court denied the petitioners, their dignity would still be intact. The law’s demands of them still would be no different than of anyone else. They would be as they were created: equals before the law. Contrary to Kennedy’s claim, they could deal with the law’s conflict with their nature in a number of ways. They could grudgingly respect it and struggle with it. Or they could ask God to free them from the yoke of sin, to pull them off the path that their own feet have led them down. That would require an admitting fault and a willingness to change.

That’s what the lie expressly forbids, which makes it so insidious. Man substitutes his own truth for God’s, prying him away from the one true remedy to his spiritual condition.

Related: “Thanks for Everything, Justice Kennedy.”

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