On May 10, Huffington Post ran a story on President Obama announcing his support for gay marriage. On May 23, ABC News reported that support for gay marriage now outweighed opposition.
Perhaps ABC was simply reflecting a change in its own limited demographics, but the story reflects the importance of President Obama declaring his support for gay marriage. It also is an indicator of the weakness in American Christianity.
Those who support gay marriage and push for its legal sanction are enraptured with utopian ideas. This is nothing new. Humans have always sought some sort of utopia, some place of safety and peace free from dissent and persecution and such ideas are rampant in popular culture.
In Ohio, teen Maverick Couch won the right to openly wear a tee shirt proclaiming that “Jesus is not a homophobe” in the halls of Waynesville High School, arguing:
We need to accept others how they come no matter their religion, sexual orientation, the color of their skin. Everyone is who they are. We all need to come together as a whole and accept everyone.
In the intro to Lady Gaga’s video for “Born This Way” there is a Manifesto of Mother Monster:
On G.O.A.T, a Government Owned Alien Territory in space, a birth of magnificent and magical proportions took place. But the birth was not finite; it was infinite. As the wombs numbered, and the mitosis of the future began, it was perceived that this infamous moment in life is not temporal; it is eternal. And thus began the beginning of the new race: a race within the race of humanity, a race which bears no prejudice, no judgment, but boundless freedom. But on that same day, as the eternal mother hovered in the multiverse, another more terrifying birth took place: the birth of evil. And as she herself split into two, rotating in agony between two ultimate forces, the pendulum of choice began its dance. It seems easy, you imagine, to gravitate instantly and unwaveringly towards good. But she wondered, “How can I protect something so perfect without evil?”
This reflects a utopian idea held by the gay community. They are looking for a place where there is “no prejudice, no judgment” and “boundless freedom.” For those who accept gay sexuality, it is a grand idea and even one endued with its own sense of justice. However, the push for a gay utopia will indeed have prejudice and judgment and will only have boundless freedom for those who join the emerging society.
New York Times reports that Christians are divided over the issue of gay marriage. Mainline denominations, even in conservative quarters, are losing members en masse over the issue, even if a particular denomination does not support gay marriage.
The sought after Gaytopia will be a safe haven for people of numerous sexual proclivities not accepted by a Biblical view of sexuality. With President Obama supporting gay marriage, there is a tremendous amount of political courage for supporters of gay marriage. Knowing that the religious establishment would never legitimize gay sexual proclivities in the culture, gays sought legal empowerment through political establishment. With the most powerful man in the country backing them, gays and their supporters now have an open door to push hard for establishing their ideas without limit.
While some have been convinced to accept gay sexuality through guilt (by accusing them of hatred) others are accepting gay sexuality through the very real threat of persecution. With the political winds turning against the church, Christians have a choice. They can either stand for traditional biblical views on sexuality or they can seek peaceful co-existence with a community that will be recognized and protected by law. The push to abandon institutional denominations is a movement to take Christianity underground, make it private, and avoid persecution. It is downright delusional to think that once boundless sexuality has been fully enshrined politically that it will not be forced on the culture at large. Persecution for “hate crimes” will be the cultural and political norm. To avoid persecution, many Christians will openly accept gay marriage under the empty “God is love” theology.
When voters in North Carolina supported Amendment One, declaring marriage as one man and one woman, to the exclusion of gay marriage, they openly revolted against the shifting political winds that are bringing about Gaytopia.
Should progressives win the day and boundless sexuality is established by law in the culture, they will have to prosecute traditional Christians who dissent or the laws they enact will not be taken seriously. As I argued in a previous article, governments are designed to legislate morality and the immoral are punished.
Today, May 8, 2012, voters in North Carolina will be casting support or opposition to Amendment One, which recognizes marriage in North Carolina exclusively as one man and one woman. The primary goal of this amendment is to prevent the state of North Carolina from being forced into abandoning its ban on same-sex marriages, in the same way Texas was forced to legally abandon its laws against sodomy.
Opponents have put forth that the amendment would remove domestic violence protection and rescind benefits for unmarried heterosexual couples and their children. It is also argued that it would cast gay citizens as second-class citizens comparable to ethnic minorities and women in times past, subjecting them to persecution. Separation of church and state has been brought up and the idea that hurting a minority portion of the population is blatantly immoral.
In all the rhetoric, marriage itself is the issue.
Proponents of Amendment One are essentially declaring that they believe that marriage should be held to its traditional standard as a binding institution that unites one man and one woman for life. This important implication is that all other relationships that do not conform to the traditional standard, from unmarried heterosexual couples to homosexual couples seeking full recognition as a married couple, are not considered marriage.
Opponents of Amendment One are essentially declaring that marriage needs to shed its traditional boundaries and be open as an idea to whatever couple consents to be married and however they choose to define their particular marriage. Also, unmarried couples who are living together should not be excluded from having their relationship recognized without the requirements that marriage might entail.
The ultimate and fundamental achievement of those who oppose the amendment is the full acknowledgement of sexual relationships that are without boundaries or institutionalized expectations. Sexual relationships become organic, entered into and exited out of based purely on the desire of those involved. Traditional marriage is inherently inflexible and exclusive in its demands and limits placed on human sexual behavior. The shedding of those demands and limits is a major factor behind the drive to seek a redefinition of what marriage is and the inclusion of those who have chosen to reject marriage for the “undefined” relationship.
The line dividing traditional marriage from more flexible and inclusive ideas of relationships is mainly between traditional conservatives who argue for marriage to be framed around biblical declarations and modern secularists seeking a particularly non-religious, or at least religiously liberal, understanding of human sexuality.
In the traditional conservative view, marriage is about living a life considered right by biblical standards (which assumes non-biblical standards are wrong), keeping human sexuality contained, and procreation, the forming of families through natural offspring. In the moderate / liberal view, marriage and “undefined” relationships are about expressing love and happiness and companionship for people from all walks of sexuality. This is not to say that unmarried couples do not have children or form families, but staying together and preserving family is not the highest priority (of course “family” is now redifined to be a much more flexible term).
America is in a place where forty years of an open sexuality and feminist culture are moving from the people and into the legislature. For those who do not accept modern ideas of marriage and sex, they are facing laws that will inevitably force on them those modern ideas of marriage and sex. Sensing this, traditional conservatives are pushing out in an effort to protect what they hold dear from legal exclusion.
Socialism is the idea that capital should be in the hands of the government and not in the hands of citizens. The goal is to shift wealth away from the rich to the poor through government regulation. In the twenty-first century it would seem that the United States is closer to becoming a Socialist nation than ever before. The opposition to it is as loud as support for it is organized.
Those who support socialism, or at least the ideas behind it (without actually using the term), have several fundamental assumptions from which they operate. They assume that economics is a zero-sum game, meaning that the only way citizens gain wealth is by taking it from others. This is the idea behind the statement “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer” and the assumed exploitation of the poor is considered an injustice. With the assumptions that the economy is a zero-sum game and the wealthy have unlimited power over the common citizen, only the authority of the government is considered capable of righting the injustice. The rich are so by taking from others and leaving them in poverty and this cruel exploitation is wrong. The solution is said to herald the working middle class which supposedly is not interested in obtaining wealth and offers a path of deliverance for the impoverished through labor.
The problem with a simple three-class understanding of redistribution is that the level of government involvement in the economic affairs of citizens grows exponentially once it has been started. Beginning the process of moving wealth from the rich to the poor through government requires that first those citizens who possess wealth are to be identified and catalogued. Once that is done, they must be forced by law to sacrifice a portion of their capital to the government under the threat of punishment, as most are not going to do it voluntarily, having earned that capital.
In order to facilitate this gathering of both centralized information and capital, workers have to be hired and trained. The national nature of the work requires workers in a nearly every state. These workers are going to want a comfortable salary that will entice them to leave the private sector and work for the government. They will want to rent apartments or own homes. They may have families and will want paid vacation and sick leave as well as medical insurance. They will need buildings to work in and tools to help file and keep the information on wealthy citizens. Those buildings will need maintenance workers and the collected capital will need accountants. Where are the funds to cover all these expenses going to come from? From the taxes. The more tax revenue is collected the more workers are required to manage the revenue, increasing expenses and provoking a need for more tax revenue.
As the bureaucracy expands it will require more citizens being classified as wealthy through progressive tax rates, more workers and more comfortable incentives for those workers. But this only covers the taxation end of the economy. A whole other system must be put into place to catalogue poor citizens and determine who should receive benefits through social programs, thus effectively doubling the bureaucracy needed and the taxes required. The capital of working middle class can only remain untouched for so long before the government needs that capital to sustain its increasing bureaucracy and begins to gather it through taxation.
The United States is a very wealthy nation with a large population, so it might be argued that such a system would only target the top ten-percent who are rich and the bottom ten-percent who are poor, leaving the middle class citizen, who is privately employed untouched. Unfortunately, the three-class idea of rich, middle, and poor leaves out a fourth class, the government class. The massive influx of capital through taxation pays for the senators and representatives as well as for the executive and judicial branches of government. These leaders in Washington also require things like a home and insurance and they mostly likely will marry and have families. A political career can be very lucrative and comfortable and legislators have good reason to expand the definition of what constitutes a wealthy citizen and broaden the benefit packages for those who seek them since it will require more tax revenue and a greater influx of taxes can only benefit them and their families. Higher taxes do not necessarily translate into increased funds for the poor, but they do translate into an increase in security and comforts for Washington leaders and their families. The government class quickly becomes a small group of wealthy individuals using laws to glean wealth from the people for their own gain, the very problem they were heralded to solve.
Those in Washington would naturally feel entitled to a very comfortable existence and exemption from the taxes they levy on others. As Barbara Boxer famously said, “Could you say ‘Senator’ instead of ‘ma’am’? It’s just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title.” They are taxing and redistributing the wealth for the good of the poor and others who have been affected by the success of the wealthy. Theirs is considered a righteous cause against a wealthy private class and the government class is a means justified by the ends, all done for the cause of alleviating poverty.
Entitlement also affects those who receive the benefits. Once citizens believe that the government programs that relieve them of their discomforts was theirs originally before it was taken from them, there is no longer any reason for the poor to seek a mindset of independence and self-sufficiency. Their needs, from housing to medical, are completely and comfortably covered by government funds, so there is no need for them to labor toward entrepreneurial and productive solutions to their needs. Any cuts in benefits are met with violent protests because the government has made a promise and a guarantee to those citizens and a reduction of benefits is a breaking of that promise. What an entitled citizen does not understand is that while he may believe the government is under obligation to provide him with guaranteed comforts, it is the government and not the citizen who holds the authority over who receives what.
An entrenched class based on private capital is vulnerable because private citizens can always choose an independent path of employment, starting their own small businesses or choose a life of less luxury to avoid purchasing offered products. This has always been a threat to corporate power and a balance to organized large businesses. The government class however has the law on its side. Whereas corporations do not have militaries and police forces to ensure they can shut down any start up competition, governments do. In a socialist society, capital belongs to the government class (whereas under Communism private property belongs to the government class) and citizens are forbidden from developing their own independent source of capital from the property they own. For example, a citizen can own a yacht, but he cannot start a business of transporting paying citizens to seaside destinations to earn his own private capital. A citizen can own a bus, but he cannot start his own business of offering mass transportation. A citizen can own a large home with numerous bedrooms, but he cannot start a bed-and-breakfast for travelers. All capital a citizen earns from working comes from the government and belongs to the government. Entrepreneurial efforts are forbidden. Government is free to shut down any business that operates independent of its legislative limits.
The psychological impact is that citizens no longer live each day with a sense of freedom, but a sense of obligation, not to their fellow citizen, but to the government. Once such a system is in place, it cannot simply be discarded. Many factors can disrupt corporate power and even the wealthiest and largest companies are not immune, not even the mighty oil companies. Governments, on the other hand, can use the law and enforcement to ensure their immunity. Violent protests and revolutions can destroy property, but it ultimately only shifts one government class to another. In nations where people are violently protesting against their government, supposedly in the name of “democracy,” they are only transitioning from one form of oppression through dictatorship to another form of oppression through socialism. The government class once entrenched is nigh impossible to undo.
Yete, undermining the government class is possible. Christianity poses one of the largest threats to socialist systems. Whereas the primary philosophy behind socialism is peace and harmony through mass material security, Christianity offers a philosophy that defines life as consisting of more than mere material security. In the book of Matthew, Jesus offers this profound teaching:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:25, 33 ESV).
Socialism offers the comfort of guaranteeing through a government class food and clothing so that citizens do not need to struggle for those necessities through private labor. Christianity places the responsibility for food and clothing in the hands of God’s sovereignty and provision and not the sovereignty and provision of an entrenched government class. The net effect of believing in a transcendent source of provision is that the citizen lives a life where labor is rewarded and laziness is punished. While this may sound cruel and unfair, it offers a life of satisfaction and freedom that gives room for the human spirit to thrive. Even if a citizen labors and earns little what he has is earned and gives meaning and purpose to life. Being in possession of his private capital is a greater sense of security than a guarantee from an oppressive government class. Private capital freely earned and offered voluntarily to the poor carries tremendous power toward the lifting of psychological burdens and elevating the human spirit, both to the giver and the receiver. Nothing is more powerful than the heart of a volunteer.
The very foundation of Christian charity is based on the theological concept of grace. God in His infinite private spiritual capital voluntarily gave to spiritually bankrupt sinners to elevate them from a poverty of sin. This proactive act of charity from God to man is the model. The sinner who receives God’s grace purely as a gift is then called upon to take responsibility for it and labor so that he can give of his material capital to those who are materially poor. A man who voluntarily gives of his wealth to the poor in need is a material model for Christ who voluntarily gave all that He had to the undeserving.
This context makes socialism inherently evil. It oppresses citizens and crushes the human spirit by controlling the fruits of their labor. Voluntary charity from earned wealth is robbed of its meaning because capital belongs to the government. All that remains is for the citizen to systematically live out their days fulfilling whatever role the government has given them in the economy to sustain a utopia enjoyed only by the government class.