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Frightening The Horses

Ben Domenech calls it. Excerpt: I think they have really been arguing against the rise of something which has a much larger impact than just a small number of homosexuals getting married — they have instead been arguing against the modern concept of sexual identity. And this is a much tougher task, considering how ingrained this […]

Ben Domenech calls it. Excerpt:

I think they have really been arguing against the rise of something which has a much larger impact than just a small number of homosexuals getting married — they have instead been arguing against the modern concept of sexual identity. And this is a much tougher task, considering how ingrained this concept has become in our lives.

During the sexual revolution, we crossed a line from sex being something you do to defining who you are. When it enters into that territory, we move beyond the possibility of having a society in which sex acts were tolerated, in the Mrs. Patrick Campbell sense — “I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses” — and one where it is insufficient to be anything but a cheerleader for sexual persuasion of all manner and type, because to be any less so is to hate the person themselves. Sex stopped being an aspect of a person, and became their lodestar — in much the same way religion is for others. As Walker Percy wrote, “Pascal told only half the story. He said man was a thinking reed. What man is, is a thinking reed and a walking genital.”

Domenech points out, correctly, that the problem with all this isn’t that gay people are living together as married. They always have been, and always will be. I don’t get out much, but I don’t know a single marriage traditionalist who lies awake in bed at night worried that somewhere, gay men and women in love are sharing quarters. The only really important questions in this debate are what this massive social shift in marriage and sexuality will mean for the family, and what it will mean for religious liberty when Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) orthodoxy on marriage is seen in law and by the mainstream opinion as hatred. Domenech again:

So the real issue here is not about gay marriage at all, but the sexual revolution’s consequences, witnessed in the shift toward prioritization of sexual identity, and the concurrent rise of the nones and the decline of the traditional family. The real reason Obama’s freedom to worship limitation can take hold is that we are now a country where the average person prioritizes sex far more than religion. One of the underestimated aspects of the one out of five Americans (and one out of three Millennials) who are now thoroughly religiously unaffiliated is that, according to Barna’s research, they aren’t actually seekers. They’re not looking or thinking about being part of a community focused on spirituality, in prayer, fellowship, worship, or anything else. Their exposure to faith is diminished because they want it to be.

In a nation where fewer people truly practice religion, fewer people external to those communities will see any practical reason to protect the liberty of those who do.

This is perhaps the most remarkable thing about this entire debate: how so many who favor gay marriage — including, apparently, five members of the US Supreme Court — see absolutely no reason why anybody could oppose it in good conscience. We trads are not just wrong, but wicked. We are entering a dangerous world for believers. Expect to see the Law of Merited Impossibility fulfilled a lot more in the years to come. I defined it once as:

The Law Of Merited Impossibility is an epistemological construct governing the paradoxical way overclass opinion makers frame the discourse about the clash between religious liberty and gay civil rights. It is best summed up by the phrase, “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.”

UPDATE: The WaPo’s Ruth Marcus, a supporter of same-sex marriage, credits Justice Scalia’s prescience a decade ago:

At the time of the Lawrence decision, I must confess, Scalia’s admonitions about the inevitability of same-sex marriage seemed overblown, more mischievous rhetoric than likely scenario. But the justice was right, and I was wrong. The jurisprudential implications of the ruling led to numerous state court decisions declaring a right to same-sex marriage and to Wednesday’s invalidation of DOMA. Kennedy cited Lawrence in arguing that DOMA’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages “demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify.”

At the same time, Kennedy took pains to assert that “this opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages” that a state has already recognized.

Scalia wasn’t buying it. “It takes real cheek,” he wrote, “for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it.”

Let’s hope he’s right, once again. The shoe can’t drop soon enough.

Yeah, well. What Scalia recognizes is that words mean things. Justice Kennedy, who authored the Lawrence decision for the court majority, logically and correctly cited Lawrence as one of the precedents used to overturn DOMA. If gay sex cannot be legally proscribed, as Lawrence holds, then, as Scalia predicted in his Lawrence dissent, there is scant basis for prohibiting gay marriage:

 This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Justice O’Connor seeks to preserve them by the conclusory statement that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a legitimate state interest.Ante, at 7. But “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples. Texas’s interest in §21.06 could be recast in similarly euphemistic terms: “preserving the traditional sexual mores of our society.” In the jurisprudence Justice O’Connor has seemingly created, judges can validate laws by characterizing them as “preserving the traditions of society” (good); or invalidate them by characterizing them as “expressing moral disapproval” (bad).

This Scalia knows how to read the tea leaves.



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