In working through the cultural significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage with a friend, this weekend, it occurred to me that one critical thing that appears to be missing from the political philosophy of America’s ruling elite is a sense that culture must include some mechanisms for survival. It can’t all be about self actualization. At the end of the day, we’re all still human and we continue to live in a world and a universe full of chance, risks, and hostile forces.
An obvious application of this principle to the marriage debate is that a society must make some provision for the continued propagation of new generations. It must have some means of encouraging childbirth, as well as child-rearing that passes along the society’s values and collected wisdom. I’d argue that an inability to define, in law, couples that naturally create children as something distinct is a major blow to that necessity.
However, the issue doesn’t touch on marriage alone. The Supreme Court’s ruling is ultimately just a milestone in the advancement of a particular worldview — one that, on its mild end, diminishes the importance of religion and concepts of absolute Truth and, on its extreme end, aggressively seeks to eliminate belief in God, or any higher power than the duopoly of government and our own animal impulses.
Broaden the topic a bit, and one can say that multiple rulings that the Supreme Court issued last week made it clear that ours is not truly, at its bottom, a representative democracy any longer. Religious believers, in particular, are increasingly forbidden from using their democratic rights to fashion government in a way that accords with their beliefs, particularly when they conflict with the worldview/faith of the secularist, progressive ideology.
This raises an important pair of questions: Who is going to risk his or her life for a country that is absolutely forbidden from representing his or her values? And who is more likely to put life on the line to defend a country’s principles: somebody who believes in a higher power, or somebody whose worldview is about individual fulfillment?
I thought of this, again, when I came across a post by J.E. Dyer. I think Dyer is too pessimistic, but the point is illustrative:
One of the first ways I expect this ruling to affect religious institutions is in the military chaplaincy. It will not be very long now until Barack Obama’s Department of Defense makes it impossible for chaplains whose sponsoring institutions have a traditional, Biblical view of marriage to serve with the U.S. military….
The same forces of intolerance already argue that people in private business should have to give up their religious beliefs as a price of engaging in commercial enterprise. It will be no stretch for them to advocate an immediate clamp-down on government employees. It won’t matter at all that service members will have to be denied the solace of chaplains from their faith traditions. That’s the consequence of establishing a “right”: other people have to accept limitations on what they get to do.
The deprivation this would impose on service members is a first-order effect. The second-order effect would be deprivation of the country of such brave men and women. When a country asks for volunteers to fight for it and then uses their generosity as an opportunity to cut them off from expression of their religious beliefs, the number of volunteers is likely to shrink, particularly when it has insisted that their values cannot be used to guide its laws.