Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Defining Morality -The Meaning of Marriage in a Free Society

This week begins the senate hearing on the confirmation of Judge Alito, a political conservative who is also a religious man. In a previous essay I discussed why it was important to look at how Judaism views the issue of abortion. I now turn to the issue of homosexual marriage. This is an issue which may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Should this great nation with unparalleled freedom recognize gay marriage on par with heterosexual marriage? How should Torah Jewry view it and how should we express it as American citizens?

There are two conflicting principles here:

1. The Judeo-Christian ethic that defines the moral character of our founding fathers and the vast majority of our nation, thereby defining those who commit homosexual acts as immoral.

2. Democracy’s imperative to protect the rights of any identifiable group to be free to practice any and all behaviors as long as those behaviors do no individual or communal harm... and leave any moral issues behind the church door.

In a free non-sectarian society where religious doctrines are not a part of that society’s charter it behooves the government to protect the rights of the non-religious minority against the tyranny of the religious majority whose guiding principles are governed by religious doctrine. This argues for a granting of all rights to a gay population which arguably does not harm the majority through their practices.

However, any nation which claims to have concepts of morality cannot divorce itself from their religious origins no matter how much they claim to be a moral nation without it. Morality cannot be relative, for then it loses all real meaning and becomes simply a whim of the times... the so called zeitgeist which is fickle at best and can become evil at worst.

The question then becomes, do we sacrifice absolutist concepts of democracy in order to maintain the moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian heritage? Or do we ignore that religious heritage on the alter of complete and unfettered freedom at any cost?

What might that cost be? It is nothing short of the decay and the ultimate destruction of civilization as we know it. Because once relativism takes hold as the definitive morality of a free society then nothing but a whimsical public that is strongly influenced by a powerful entertainment industry will begin to accept any and all of even the most debauched of behavior.

It is this industry honed in a kind of humanistic relativism, driven mostly by a profit motive... combined with a large portion of the public whose insatiable appetite for pornography is demonstrated by the virtual explosion of available pornography and its relatively easy access, that can and will lead America down a path of moral decay.

Hollywood constantly pushes the envelope of what is considered acceptable sexual behavior. Now Homosexuality is the big issue. And there has never been a movie so stridently pushing the envelope of acceptabily than the critically acclaimed, "Brokeback Mountain". Can bestiality, incest, and pedophilia be far behind? These immoral behaviors can eventually become as acceptable as apple pie if the slippery slope continues. Is this what we want for our county’s future? I hope not.

It, therefore, becomes necessary to choose the absolute morality as defined in the Judeo-Christian ethic over the complete freedom of an unfettered free democracy and not accept gay marriage as equal to heterosexual marriage. To equalize homosexual marriage with heterosexual marriage could take us down the slippery slope of societal suicide.

I don’t know if the Supreme Court can decide issues of morality. Perhaps in a democracy like ours the courts have no jurisdiction to do so and can in fact prevent congress from legislating against immorality. I don’t know. But it is good to know that a man like Judge Alito is there who understands what is at stake.