U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s decision last month striking down California’s Proposition 8, despite the expressed will of 7 million voters, undoubtedly is radical.
Al Mohler summed it up as “one brazen act of judicial energy.” The ruling was so radical that even the unquestionably liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Walker’s order to immediately allow “gay marriage” while it reviews the decision.
But Walker’s language and reasoning are as radical as the decision itself:
Any belief that heterosexual relations are more moral, Walker wrote, “is not a proper basis on which to legislate.”
Proposition 8 “was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples.”
Walker said he “uncloaked” the voters’ main motive behind Proposition 8—”a desire to advance the belief that opposite-sex couples are morally superior to same-sex couples.”
“Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted,” he asserted, “and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.”
“The gender of a child's parent is not a factor in the child's adjustment,” Walker said.
“Same-sex couples,” he said, “are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions.”
“Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage,” Walker asserted; “marriage under law is a union of equals.”
Proposition 8, Walker ruled after setting aside every argument offered in its favor, “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”
“Indeed,” Walker said, “the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”
Yet the evidence indeed shows the indispensability of moms and dads for children. According to the Family Research Council book, Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows about Homosexuality, “Children reared in traditional families by a mother and father are happier, healthier, and more successful than children raised in non-traditional environments.”
Walker’s obnoxious dismissal of any arguments for marriage as a time-honored, life-affirming, bedrock Western institution has infuriated many observers. One simply labeled the ruling of Judge Walker, widely reported to be a homosexual, as an “anti-Proposition 8 farce.”
Karl Marx argued that history goes in cycles, “occurring first as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Since others have focused on the unmistakably farcical nature of Walker’s ruling, I would like to consider its tragic aspects.
Walker’s words seem more like the cry of a wounded lover than simply the latest legal maneuverings of an activist judge. This is not to deny the arguments of critics, but simply to put them in context. Walker’s indignation over Proposition 8 is out of place only if we expect a cool, dispassionate jurist to rationally review the law.
But Walker is invested in this issue. As a card-carrying member of the Sexual Left, Walker is expressing the inescapable hunger for transcendence that all of us experience, whether or not we acknowledge its true source and ultimate fulfillment. As the writer of Ecclesiastes notes, God has “set eternity in the hearts of men.” But our view of eternity can easily become blurred into a form of self-worship.
In days of old, men combined the religious impulse with the sensual in the temples of Aphrodite. We do the same thing; we’re just more subtle about it. Members of the Sexual Left try to fill Pascal’s God-shaped vacuum with sex, because they can think of nothing better. Because they have forgotten theancient ordo amoris, the hierarchy of love, they worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. Rejecting God, they attempt to mend their brokenness with sensation of every type.
They fight tooth and nail to protect their god of sexual hedonism, whether the specific issue is abortion, embryonic stem cells, or gay “marriage.” But a hedonistic quest to maximize pleasure and minimize pain is a recipe for perpetual disappointment.
Perhaps homosexuals hold so many “gay pride” parades because, deep down, they are not all that proud. After all, if homosexual attraction and practice are so “healthy and normal”—they aren’t on either count—would gays really have to work so hard to convince themselves?
Isn’t “gay marriage” just the latest version of the gay-pride parade? Instead of cheering themselves on, however, gays are attempting to join another parade in which they have no part—marriage—and demand that the rest of us cheer them on.
Homosexuals, in most cases, don’t need marriage if the goal is to enjoy the right to hospital visits, tax breaks, and other tangible benefits of marriage. Society has already granted them all this. But if the goal is to win not just tolerance but societal admiration, then redefining marriage is essential. And every god, even the self, will eventually demand our worship.
Make no mistake; homosexual “marriage” is selfish at its core. It dispenses with God’s law and with time-honored understandings—such as Ross Douthat’s description of marriage as a “commitment to lifelong fidelity and support by two sexually different human beings—a commitment that involves the mutual surrender, arguably, of their reproductive self-interest”—and labels them bigotry. With no procreative potential of its own, it requires that the rest of us supply it with children.
Christians, who sometimes struggle with their own sexual brokenness, do well to fight such farces in the courts of law and of public opinion. The well-being of children and of the larger society demands that we continue to speak up. But we will never argue any man or woman out of his or her homosexuality. It is too deeply rooted.
Nevertheless, we must be willing to lovingly reach out to men and women, made in God’s image, whose personal tragedy is expressed in their homosexuality. We must humbly learn again the old adage, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” It won’t be easy in these challenging times, especially with the culture increasingly embracing the misdirected tenets of Judge Walker and the Sexual Left.
But it’s the right—and the radical—thing to do.
Stan Guthrie is author of All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, coming in November from Baker Books. He blogs at http://stanguthrie.com.
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