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“California would strip the tax-exempt status from youth organizations like the Boy Scouts if they have policies that bar gay people from participating under a bill introduced at the Capitol Tuesday.” So began the report at sfgate.com. With prominent elitist faction GOP leaders like Mitt Romney pressing the BSA to end its ban on homosexual activity, the campaign to enforce respect for so-called “homosexual rights” is quickly moving toward what I have for a long time warned would be its inevitable result. By allowing the language of fundamental right to be abused in a way that perverts its logic, we have set the stage for the systematic abuse of the coercive power of government in order to force people to abandon their conscientious disapproval of homosexual behavior. Ideas have consequences, especially bad ideas.
Some people try to maintain the position that government has no lawful authority to interfere with human freedom. But according to the premises of American self-government, their view is patently illogical. The American Declaration of Independence (part of the organic law of the United States) states that all just governments are instituted to secure unalienable rights. When wrongdoers ignore and violate those rights (by criminal acts like murder, theft, rape, etc.) government is obliged to curtail their freedom. This is why the criminal law exists.
However, any action provably consistent with God’s natural law (as it applies to human activities) is an exercise of right. That’s why otherwise innocent people who kill to defend their lives against unwarranted attack are not charged with murder (unlawful killing), since their actions accord with the first law of nature. In this respect a provable claim of unalienable right trumps any provisions of human law that contradict it. The obligation to respect God’s authority supersedes the obligation to obey human authority.
In what we call the Bill of Rights, preventing government coercion with respect to religion is the first order of business. This reflects the fact that the very idea of unalienable right depends on acknowledging that all human beings are obliged to respect “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”; that when they act accordingly they do what is right; and that they therefore have an unalienable right (i.e., a predisposition arising from the provision of God for their existence and well-being) to act as they do. As its origins may imply (from the Latin, religare, to bind fast) the word religion has to do with the views and practices connected with the natural sense that we are beholden to God for our existence, and bound to respect the provisions of God for our good.
Does this mean that every claim of right made in the name of religion authorizes people to break the law? Of course not; such claims must be examined in light of a reasonable appraisal of our knowledge of God’s law for our nature, as it applies to all human beings. Thus government may reasonably curtail the freedom of people who believe that their god requires them to murder innocent people (as was reportedly the case with the cult of devotees of the Hindu Goddess Kali, known as Thuggee; and as is true of some Islamic jihadists today.) In general a claim of religious belief, however sincerely asserted, does not supersede the obligation to respect the God-endowed natural rights of others.
Today the elitist faction promoters of so-called “homosexual rights” use and abuse the language of rights even though they reject the logic that, in light of America’s political heritage, invests that language with moral force. By that logic every claim of unalienable right (i.e., a right that trumps the provisions of merely human law) can be tested with a simple question: What is the provision of the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” that obliges and authorizes the action or activity the claim involves? The pursuit of pleasure, sexual or otherwise, does not in and of itself correspond to such an imperative (even though, thanks to the goodwill of the Creator, most bodily activities required for our survival, are in some degree pleasurable.) Loving human relations are of course an imperative of our nature. But loving human relations need not involve the particular physical pleasures connected with what we call “sexual relations.” If by natural necessity they must, then the prejudicial prohibitions against incest or pedophilia would be as much a violation of right as those that target homosexual relations.
Absent any God-endowed natural imperative to engage in homosexual relations, doing so is a matter of choice involving a preference for one form of sensual gratification over another. It’s absurd to suggest that government should by law, force others to approve of and accommodate such preferences, especially when doing so requires trampling on proven claims of unalienable right, like the right freely to exercise (put into practice) one’s religion. We may justly penalize the neglect of right that permits some to feast while others are denied the opportunity to glean bare subsistence from their leftovers. But it makes no sense to say that because some people want to eat pork others are forbidden to disapprove of doing so, and that the latter are required to prepare and serve it whenever pork eaters demand that they do so.
Moreover, unless we mean to repeal the laws against rape, no one can by law be forced to respect or cater to the sexual appetites of others. Even temple prostitutes could discriminate against those who desecrated the idols they served. Shall we then submit to laws that require that we violate our obligation to the Author of our nature, the very authority from which our whole people derives its right of self-government, and from which our Constitution and laws derive their claim to our allegiance and respect? As the famous American patriot said, on the eve of the war occasioned by a less egregious travesty of right, “Forbid it, Almighty God.”