In the contemporary world, we’re at an interesting crossroads, brought about by a flurry of recent events both nationally and abroad. At the center of many of these events is the issue of “true freedom” which seems not to be an ironclad concept, but a constantly evolving ideology that conforms itself to the situation. On the issue of gay marriage, for example, the practice is now legal in 36 states, with the recent addition of the state of Florida last month. “Equality” is increasingly being codified as law, and a typical response from religious conservatives is that their religious freedom is being trampled in the pursuit of egalitarianism.
Now, let us all be clear about marriage-equality laws. They do not in fact mandate what happens inside of a church, so the State cannot force a clergy member to wed a same-sex couple. Civil weddings are what the law applies to. However in spite of this, many members of society are being penalized for refusing elective services to same-sex couples. A bakery in Oregon became one example by refusing to serve a wedding cake to a lesbian couple. The bakery is under investigation for a civil rights violation, according to a 2007 Oregon law. With similar cases popping up all over the country, I can sadly envision a future where a same-sex couple brings up a legal case against the Church for standing by the truth and refusing to allow secular authority to tell spiritual authority who has ultimate dominion.
Marriage has traditionally been a religious sacrament, and is an elective covenant. It is not a right bestowed upon us by natural law, and is therefore not preexistent, as are the rights to one’s own person and life. This distinguishes and separates the issue of gay marriage from other natural phenomenon such as gender and race, rendering analogies to using biblical dogma to justify racism and sexism null and void (in fact, racism derived from the Bible entails the misinterpretation of Scriptures). And, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, marriage is meant to be an inseparable binding between a man and a woman in the eyes of God only. So, secular authority cannot legitimately redefine marriage—Biblically defined as a union between a man and a woman—to fit its own ends because therein lies the tacit assertion that said authority is superior to sacred doctrine.
Furthermore, the Biblical formulation on marriage is a precedent that has existed for more than 2,000 years—well before any modern government, special interest group, or contemporary political faction came to be. From the standpoint of legal precedents, religion wins.
But herein lies the philosophical dilemma many in modern society seem to deal with. If a member of clergy refuses to marry a same-sex couple, or if a baker refuses to serve a same-same couple cake, that has to be ok. Why? Because freedom actually means freedom. Freedom is expensive, it can hurt your feelings, and it often means dealing with people that you can’t stand. And here’s the big kicker: proponents of gay marriage would like everyone in the United States to support and conform to their ideology, and want no private business person to refuse someone service based on their sexual orientation. Essentially, they want everyone else to act and behave the way the “marriage equality” lobby desires. That isn’t freedom, but blatant coercion and the new form of 21st century totalitarianism codified by law and animated by the status quo.
Now don’t get me wrong—gay marriage as an issue really is a first-world problem, considering everything else going on in the world. Meaning, same-sex couples who live their own lives, drink coffee, go to work, and are everyday members of society are an offense to no one. The problem arises when that cohort takes the next aggressive step and mandates that everyone else like and cater to their special interests. This is an offense to everyone through the molestation of liberty and religious freedom, and is in effect bigotry in reverse.
Here’s a perfect example of such reverse discrimination in action: Kelvin Cochran, the former Atlanta fire chief who was fired last month by the city’s mayor, Kasim Reed. The NY Times reported that “Mr. Reed fired Kelvin Cochran … over the distribution of his book, which condemns homosexual acts as “vile, vulgar and inappropriate.” As a public servant, Mr. Cochran has a responsibility to those people who fund his salary, but if his job performance and service were in no way lacking, what does that say about freedom if people are penalized for their personal views? It seems to me, at least in Atlanta, that freedom is only free when you don’t do or say anything offensive to the gay community.
The recent tragic events in France are another example. The deplorable events that left twelve members of the magazine Charlie Hebdo dead weighs heavily on all our hearts. The motivation for the terrorist attacks was the alleged defamation of Islam by certain members of the French magazine. Yet, within one week of the tragedy, the same magazine exercised their right to free speech by printing a version of their magazine with a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (an offensive heresy) weeping. Was this a wise move, to throw salt in the wound that prompted a national tragedy? Of course not—but it’s free. Yet, French freedom is a matter of perception because if you used “free” speech to support the terrorists, then you risk being imprisoned. As of the middle of last month, nearly 100 people are under investigation and facing prison time for making inflammatory remarks.
Indeed, true freedom is not free, nor is it always convenient. The root of the word should never delude any of us because true freedom is always costly.
Free speech is certainly an ideal, but that often means hearing things you would rather not, and dealing with people whom you would rather not. In the end, everyone should simply get over it because someone else being “free” to say what they want means you also are “free” to say whatever you want. Political correctness only shields the wolves who prance around in sheep costumes.
Having a free mind is one of the greatest gifts God ever bestowed on humankind, and He intended for all of us to use it. So, if we, as subordinate human beings, are able to reject God, then who gives humans the right to mandate what other humans must and must not reject? Certainly, for the sake of communal well-being individual freedom must be sacrificed for the collective whole, but that should never involve thought preference, prescribed behavior, or selective application of said freedom. Because if that is the case, then what you’re left with isn’t freedom at all, but the greatest trick that democracy and progressivism has ever pulled: the relinquishment of liberty under the pretense of tolerance and under the guise of “egalitarianism,” the modern euphemism for “coercion.”
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal