Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Due to the nature of some of the responses that I have received from my post a few days ago, I decided I needed to clarify a few things.  At the time I was much too angry to form a coherent argument, so I instead resorted to satire, a tool that I find to be (generally) quite effective.  However, it may not be so effective at the time because, unfortunately, there are so many people in the world right now who would whole-heartedly agree with the ridiculous stance I took to mock them.

So, a bit of an argument then.  I suppose I should start with why we have laws.  I plan on being simplistic and non-philosophical here, so excuse my lack of true investigation into the matter.  We have laws to maintain order in society, to moderate and standardize behavior, to protect individuals from each other, and to determine right from wrong.  Fine then.

That being said, there are two different types of law.  There are laws that deal with matters of justice, and laws that deal with matters of morality.  In America, a country founded on freedom of thought, opinion, and religion, basically the right to believe whatever one desires, we divide these laws: the state turns matters of justice into universal law, while matters of morality are (supposedly) left to the individual to decide--Christians follow their moral law, Jews follow theirs, Muslims, Atheists, etc.  All are free to decide what is right and what is wrong.

What then separates a Universal Law of Justice, which is regulated by the state, and an Individual Law of Morality, regulated by one's religion, creed, or conscience?  Precisely this: a universal just law is one that draws the line between the rights of the individual and the rights of those he lives with.  Once his right impedes on the rights of others, it is no longer his right.  Thus, it is legal to hate people; it is illegal to hurt them,  It is legal to have sex with whomever you choose, whether married or not, it is not legal to rape or sexually abuse someone.  It is legal to buy pornography, it is not legal to peep into other people's windows.  I could go on and on.  I will stay away from the "grayer" areas, prostitution, drug use, etc, as they can be argued from either side.

Homosexuality, however, cannot.  There is nothing gray about the right of a man or a woman to be gay, as it obviously does not impede on the rights of anyone else.  It hurts no one, disrupts nothing in society, and is simply not a matter of justice. 

It can, of course, be argued by some that it is a violation of morality, but we have already shown that morality is not to be decided by the state.  It seems to me that Christians in the USA, now comfortably accustomed to being in the majority, have forgotten how precarious this situation can be in history.  I live in Jerusalem, which over the course of thousands of years has been through its share of occupiers, all of them exercising the right to legislate their own idea of morality, and all of them indifferent to the suffering it caused to those who disagreed with them.  Christians in America are not bothered by the idea of legislating morality because, at the moment, they are safe in the knowledge that it will be their morality, but they forget that this may not always be the case.

Once you set such a dangerous precedent, you are not far off from destroying the very ideals our country was founded on; in fact you are already beginning to destroy them.  How is it that Christians forget that in certain countries, Christianity itself is "immoral," and that its followers must practice their faith illegally and in secret?  Surely we would call this law an unjust law, as it imposes one group's morality onto another and restricts freedom.  Thus, while Universal Law is truly just law, as it protects rights (by restricting freedoms, yes, but only those freedoms which could harm another), Moral Law, when it no longer is left up to the individual, is unjust.

So how can one possibly argue that the right to marry should be restricted to those whose moral code calls marriage a union between a man and a woman?  Certainly two gay men in love, who desire to make a life-long commitment to each other, should have the right to do so, and have it recognized by the state that claims its citizens have the right to decide their own morality?  I have heard people worry that it would destroy the "sanctity of marriage."  Last I checked, the "sanctity of marriage" was not a person, and therefore doesn't fall under the protection of universal law.  We are free to destroy it at will, as we do every day with our (legal, I remind you) divorces, illicit affairs, and many other things.  I am not arguing whether these things are right or wrong; I believe I have pointed out that this has no bearing on the argument whatsoever.  I am merely pointing out that "marriage" as most Christians view it, is being violated every day, with the protection of the law.  But as long as it is heterosexuals violating marriage as depicted by the Christian Bible, we will tolerate it.  It is only when homosexuals expect the state (THE STATE, mind you, not the church, which I believe does have the right to prohibit gay marriage if it sees that as morally sound) to extend to them the right to marry that Christians start weeping and gnashing their teeth.  They wail and cry--just call it something else, just don't call it marriage, how can you call it marriage?--and their attachment to semantics, to a name, which is not holy at all (it is the act of marriage, I believe, that is holy--it must be, as Adam and Eve are never said to be "married" and somehow I doubt that Christians hold their union to be suspect), blinds them to the suffering they are causing those who disagree with them.  They think they are doing God a favor by "protecting" his morality, when in fact they are hurting him by hurting and alienating those he loves, which includes homosexuals.


margot said...

very well written Becky!

kati said...

becca....did you see me comment to you a few weeks ago? i've been ruminating on these things, too, on my livejournal. come visit me there (, or just talk to me directly. i think you're interesting and want to see if you think i am, too.