I’ve been criticized for my support of Referendum 71 and its effort to reject SB 5688, a bill passed by our state legislature that would extend all of the rights and responsibilities associated with traditional marriage, to “same sex domestic partners.” My (and the Constitution Party’s) support of the effort to overturn SB 5688, has offended some people who have taken it to mean that I think “fags are bad,” or that I want to force my religion on others. Some of the arguments seem to spring from the belief that government should not take sides in moral issues, thus meddling in people’s personal affairs. There is a belief out there that government can somehow be amoral and can manage to perform its necessary functions without addressing matters of public morality.
I concur with one point that was made to me, that at one time in our nation’s history there was no such thing as a government issued marriage license. I also strongly agree that the federal government has no Constitutional basis for regulating marriage, in fact, doing so would fly in the face of the Tenth Amendment which clearly reserves the matter to the states or the people.
Marriage is a spiritual matter at its root and is something that God instituted and that he alone can implement. Government lacks the spiritual power and jurisdiction necessary to cause two to become one and thus implement marriage. Conversely, a government’s refusal to issue a license cannot prevent God from joining two as one. God alone sets the standard for what marriage is and He alone causes two to become one when they covenant together according to His prescribed standard.
I join my critics in opposing government “licensing” of marriage with the idea that government has the power to cause marriage to occur, or for that matter, the power to cause it to end (divorce). Only man’s creator has the power and authority to join two members of his creation as one and only He has the authority to declare if or when they are no longer one.
However, I do believe that civil government (at the state and local level) does have a right to address moral conduct. In fact, it is the duty of civil government to establish standards that protect the moral fabric of society. Seeing as civil government does have such power, we as a society inherently are accountable for whether we use that power or not. We are as accountable for the laws that we make as we are for those that we fail to make and for the result of choosing not to erect barriers to certain immoral behavior.
The crux of the matter is that man is a moral being who inevitably will subscribe to one moral standard or another. It is merely a question of which moral standard we will accept, impose, or have imposed on us.
We can subscribe to the humanist view that man is the highest authority and therefore human reason is the final arbiter of right and wrong. However, not all men agree on one standard of right and wrong. If all humans are equal and human reason is the highest authority of right and wrong, then all human views of right and wrong are equally valid. If all views of right and wrong are equally valid, then we are all free to live by our own moral code. This is moral relativism – you think it is wrong for me to take your money, but I think it is right to take it, and who are you to judge me? Or we can live by the rule of the 51% and have pure democracy where the vote of the majority determines right and wrong, including when the 51% think it is right for them to have the wealth of the 49%.
I realize that I have used examples of moral relativism that include theft. Some of my detractors would argue that while they don’t believe in imposing their morals on others, yet actions that harm or defraud another person are “wrong.” However, the word “wrong” implies that there is right and if there are both right and wrong then a moral code exists and if human reason is the source of that moral code then we are right back at square one – who is to say that one persons moral code devised by mere human reason is any more right than another person’s moral code that is also the product of human reason.
The alternative is to recognize that there is a higher moral authority than the opinions of men and that men are accountable to their Creator to recognize Him and to recognize His right to be the final arbiter of right and wrong – the final arbiter of the proper and necessary morals of civil society.
We will either have a society where ‘might makes right’ and the strongest impose their moral code on the rest and call it right, or we will have a society that recognizes a higher authority than man and submits to the revealed moral laws of our creator. And so we return to the crux of the matter and the only true point of controversy, the question of whether man will submit to the moral laws prescribed by his creator, or rebel against his creator and look for some other moral code to live by.
Let me be quick to point out that I am not advocating government imposed religion. I don’t want anyone to be forced to practice, pay tithe to, or otherwise participate in a particular religion. Nevertheless, I still contend that man is a moral being and that civil society unavoidably will subscribe to and recognize one moral standard or another, or else live in anarchy and moral depravity.
If the God of the Bible is indeed the creator of mankind and the rightful owner of the heavens and the earth, then He is indeed the rightful arbiter of right and wrong – He has the right to be the one who makes the rules and establishes the laws and the most we can do is endeavor to discover and conform to His laws or else suffer the consequences of spitting in the face of our creator, telling Him that He won’t be God over us and informing Him that we have a different plan for His creature and His creation.
Despite our perpetual violating of God’s laws, it is my understanding, and observation, that due to His great love for mankind, He is very patient and kind, gracious and disposed to show favor. Nevertheless, I believe God is also just and at some point, despite any amount of love, He must be just and He must execute just judgment. Thomas Jefferson seems to have believed that the creator who endowed men with their rights was also a just God:
“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
I want it to be understood that I’m not looking for government imposed religion and this isn’t about hating homosexuals as some might think. In fact, I’m coming from the stand point of loving the person who engages in such conduct, or in any conduct that is contrary to our creator and His laws. This is not about judging people and saying that I’m better than they are, because I’m not better than they are.
This is about recognizing that there are certain paths that can lead both individuals and whole societies to a curse, destruction and judgment and that civil government has the power to approve or disapprove of, validate or invalidate, the moral conduct that leads to such calamity. Even as each of us are accountable for what positive peer pressure we can personally exert on others, we are also collectively accountable for the peer pressure that our civil government can exert. Government certainly cannot change a person’s heart or save a person’s soul, but it can put a road block between people and behavior that leads to destruction.
Despite what some might think, I don’t have a personal desire to meddle in other people’s affairs. Life would be a lot easier if I could just not care about the fate of others, deny responsibility for society as a whole and say, “to hell with everyone else.” However, if I see a blind person heading toward a cliff, or if I see a small child on his way to go play on a freeway, I have a moral obligation to do what I can to stop them. I realize that I do not have the moral authority to usurp a person’s free will and that I cannot forcibly prevent them from making morally wrong choices, but I am responsible for doing what I can to throw a road block in their path and make it harder for them to walk over that cliff.
If I stand by and let the government of my civil society erect a standard (like in the case at hand) that has the effect of teaching this and future generations that a cursed lifestyle has the same legitimacy as the God authorized institution of marriage, then I will be held accountable for standing by and allowing people to proceed to their own damnation unchecked.
Based on the knowledge of the consequences of certain moral choices, love compels me to take a stand against my fellow man’s destruction. Love compels me to intervene. I can’t stop people from choosing a path that will eternally separate them from a loving creator, but I am duty bound to do what is in my power to discourage people from making such a choice and to even use the institutions of the civil society to erect a standard against such choices.
If I am wrong and there is no God, no creator and no higher authority that we are accountable to, then I am guilty of wrongly attempting to impose standards of conduct that have traditionally strengthened and prospered societies. But if I am right, then there is indeed a hell to be shunned and a Heaven to be gained and individuals and nations that will be judged on the basis of their having acknowledged or rejected their creator and His laws.
As for me, I will endeavor to stand between my society and the consequences of rejecting our creator’s laws. Men can choose the path to hell if they want, but they’ll have to go through me to get there. Love for my fellow man demands that I value their eternal soul and not let them go without a fight.
Robert W. Peck
Chairman – Constitution Party of Washington