Monday, June 29, 2015

A Rejoinder to Issues Etc.’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Coverage from a Friendly Atheist Gadfly:

In my opinion Robert P. George did "Issues, Etc." listeners a grave disservice. When asked what arguments were made in favor of the Supreme Court ruling he said there were no arguments, there was no reasoning; in place of rationality there was just feeling. This was untrue, and deprived you and your listeners of the opportunity to gain a basic understanding of how the other side conceives the issues. If you want to understand how and why others disagree with you, I urge you to read the Supreme Court decision for yourself at , and to listen to the oral arguments made before the Supreme Court at . In the latter you will find, for instance, that R. P. George’s claim that the purpose of marriage is procreation was trounced in oral argument. It could not make sense of marriages performed between non-child-bearing couples.

Something that struck me, listening to Issues Etc.’s guests on this issue, was ... not exactly their hypocrisy so much as their utter failure to apply their principles impartially, their lack of effort to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Lutherans of your persuasion are anxious to defend not only your freedom of conscience, and the right to believe as your religion dictates, but to live by its precepts. Very well. But you don’t then turn around and recognize that those who, in good conscience, disagree with you about the nature of marriage and about whom it is right and proper for them to love and marry, have the same right to live by their own consciences and beliefs. Instead you want the state to enforce your beliefs over their lives.

I get that you are certain that your beliefs are true. But you also recognize that others don’t share your religion, and (perhaps only for that reason) you are anxious to defend your religious freedom against state coercion by denying to government any such power. Yet you are outraged that you are not able to bend the state to your purposes, enforcing your interpretation of the Bible. I take it back; that is hypocrisy. You want freedom for yourselves while denying it to others.... But to be fair, your certainty blinds you to your hypocrisy, so it isn't a form of dishonesty but merely unawareness of self-contradiction. You are unable to see others as equals, since you cannot see other religions and worldviews as the equals of yours under the law. But that equality is what your claim to freedom of religion assumes. It implies that others have the same claim to freedom as your own.

Matt Harrison claimed that this ruling establishes liberal religion. But just because conservative religion’s position on marriage has been disestablished in this case doesn’t mean that it establishes liberal religion. If no religion is to be established, what you have to do is imagine someone who doesn’t know which religion, if any, is true, and determine how that person would adjudicate, recognizing citizens’ equal rights under law. Arguably, that is what the Court has done here.

If asked, “Whose right is more important to protect, the right of a person to prevent others from living lives he disapproves of, or the right of a person to live his own life according to his own lights?”, I think most people would choose the latter. That is because we value freedom, even the freedom to be wrong (within limits). That, I believe, is one reason why you are losing, and why you are destined to lose on this issue.

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