A blog on the The New Republic’s website about the progressive narrowing of the religious right’s social agenda reminded me of a question that’s buzzed around in my head from time-to-time. We all know this agenda includes banning gay marriage and abortion, because the Bible says these are no-no’s, but the question is, why does the religious right seek to make these social issues, subject to punitive legislation, rather than merely private concerns?
Because God hates them? Well, God hates lots of things, including adultery, divorce, and linen-wool blended clothing (Lev. 19:19), but no one is proposing to outlaw them, which I suppose is fortunate for a few mega-preachers.
Because they violate the Ten Commandments, upon which the entirety of western civilization is allegedly based? That might work for abortion (Commandment VI), but gay marriage? Is there some secret 11th commandment they’re not telling us about? Should we also ban other religions (Commandment I)? Playing golf on Sunday (Commandment IV)?
Because Jesus specifically forbade them? No good there, either; he was completely silent on these issues.
Because they’re personally harmed? It’s hard to see how two same-sex individuals uttering marriage vows harms anyone. And wouldn’t aborted babies get a ticket straight to heaven?
Because they’re slippery slopes, leading inexorably to the complete destruction of society? I’d think the religious right would want society to fall into moral turpitude, do everything to hasten it, in fact, since that would fulfill prophecy of Jesus’s return (2 Tim. 3:1-4) and the moving in to their new heavenly mansions.
I’m trying quite hard, but I fail to see the religious right’s method for determining when a Biblical injunction should apply only to themselves, and when it should apply to society as a whole.
Even more curiously, these behavioral autocrats believe that man is inherently fallen and will always do all sorts of nasty stuff. So why should they even care what any non-believer does? Are laws against certain sins supposed to make the country more moral? If so, why not scrap the entire legal code and make the Bible the basis of our laws, turn our democracy into a theocracy? Because, as we know, that’s worked so well in the past.
As a libertarian, I find their professions of faith in freedom hypocritical. Liberty is not granted piecemeal; it’s not even a grant, but our inherent right. The best protection of one’s own freedom is the protection of everyone else’s. A government with the right to trample on your neighbor’s freedom also has the right to trample on your own. If the religious nannies really practiced what they preached, they would cease being obstacles and live their lives as an example.
If you wish to observe a particular day as holy or refrain from pre-marital sex in compliance with the dictates of your particular religious brand, more power to you. Just don’t extend those rules to the rest of us, or you may find yourself living by the rules others think you should live by.