This is a re-print of a letter from a local pastor inresponse to my column last week.
To the Editor:
As a Christian pastor I don’t normally “talk back” to the one who speaks “From On High” but in this case I think I’ll “chance it” as a bit of clarification is in order.
In last week’s “The Word from on High (Avenue)” column it appears that Liz Reishus took issue with my statement (and the statement of the Catholic Church) that the novelty called “same-sex marriage” is NOT a civil rights issue.
Perhaps Liz would be willing to state specifically what civil right she is referring to. Where in the Constitution (either State or Federal) is marriage enumerated as “a right” that the State must guarantee to any two people who claim it? As I read our Constitution there is no such right nor does the fact that the State regulates marriage elevate it to that status. For example, the fact that the State regulates the licensing of drivers does not obligate the State to award such licenses to anyone who asks for one. Such applicants must first meet the criteria (age, training, eye sight, etc.) established by the State in order to quality for such a license. It’s a matter of the public good…of public safety. Similarly, marriage is also a matter regulated for the public good.
If she would like to have the State’s criteria – the State’s definition of marriage – changed from the one man/one woman definition is has been since the founding of our nation to something else, she has every right to advocate for such a change. What she is not allowed to do is claim such a change as “a right” – as something the State is obligated to do.
As much as Liz would like to assert, and does assert, that we live in a purely secular nation…governed by purely secular laws – laws which have no moral quality to them…which do not attempt to judge between right and wrong (that’s what a moral judgment is), the simple fact is that ALL our laws are based on moral judgments. That is, all our laws are based on the moral judgments of the people as enacted through the democratic process…the moral judgments of the people as formed by the exercise of their reason and the insights of their particular religious faith, whether that be the faith of Islam, Christianity, atheism or any other.
Liz would have us divorce such moral judgments from our laws…but I would contend that she cannot do so unless she is willing to live with some very unpleasant consequences – the same consequences that the people of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia or PolPot’s Columbia were forced to live with. I for one am not willing to step into that “brave new world” and, I suspect, neither is she.
Your fellow citizen, Rev. Fredric Hinz