Monday, 15 April 2013

Gay Marriage and Conservatism

Religious truth also limits government, as our Constitution recognizes. Theology is beyond the competence of politics, and for that reason Congress is not to make laws establishing (endorsing) or limiting the free exercise of (condemning) religion. Our religious convictions are practices beyond the purview of politics.

Redefinition of marriage to allow same-sex unions undermines the proper separation of cultural and governmental power that is so important for a liberal regime. Marriage is an institution as fundamental as religion and morality. It is more primitive and ancient than anything resembling organized government. It has varied historically and culturally, of course. But male/female complementarity and its procreative potential is universal, however diverse the forms. Government has always treated marriage like murder—a moral fact recognized rather than a policy formulated, a given truth framed in law rather than something to be fed into the machinery of political debate.

As marriage gets redefined we’ll see an expansion of government. That’s because gay marriage won’t just happen if government “gets out of the way.” It requires creating a new possibility that will not come to pass if traditional institutions and moral traditions are left alone. Government must intervene. Our moral traditions must be subjected to what activists think of as corrective surgery. With gay marriage we’re sure to get legislation redefining what it means to be a parent, and what it means to be a child, as is already the case in California. In the way of these redefinitions will come programs to “reeducate” John Q. Public to the “new realities.”

Here as elsewhere the progressive project is always political. It sees a problem: The pre-political institutions and traditions of society are violating rights and creating inequalities. Then it reaches for the ready tool for redress and correction, which is almost always the power of government—coercive force.

Read more at First Things.

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