WHEN I ARGUED IN THIS SPACE TWO WEEKS AGO that the debate over homosexual marriage has already, for the most part, been settled in this society, and that the pragmatic, secular, common-sense arguments most conservatives would like to use have lost their impact, I had no inkling I would stir up such a fuss.
So has Belz thrown in the towel, some readers inquired, on the Federal Marriage Amendment? Is he saying that the only arguments for a one-man/one-woman view of marriage are those that include a Bible reference?
Hardly. WORLD will continue to put its full editorial weight behind the toughest amendment to the U.S. Constitution that can possibly get through the U.S. Congress. And, of course, we will welcome every conceivable argument to achieve that end, whether the logic comes across as Bible-based or very secular.
But with every passing week, it seems more and more apparent that those who argue for a more-or-less traditional view of marriage are fighting a rear-guard battle. We may, for the time being, even have the polls on our side in some important venues. But time is not on our side. The permissiveness that is so pervasive in our culture today, and the implicit pluralism that grants to everyone the right to think whatever he or she wants to think about just about any subject on earth (except the subject of pluralism, of course), will almost certainly sometime in the next generation gobble up any gains we might achieve in the next year or two.
In other words, I'm all for the Federal Marriage Amendment, but we shouldn't pretend that even it is likely to prevent some pretty sobering changes in our culture down the road a bit. For the problem isn't so much that we have the wrong views on homosexual marriage; the problem is that, as a society, we have the wrong views about where we get our views. So, only a tiny minority in our society today really has any well-defined, specific idea why they're against homosexual marriage. And when the shallow thoughts and trivial convictions of the other folks pass away-even many who say they oppose homosexual marriage-they'll give way all too easily to a totally alien mindset.
That alien mindset is what we should really be worried about. And it is much closer than we tend to think.
This mindset is a point of view that does not simply seek permission to engage in certain kinds of behavior. It seeks instead to ensure that everyone else in society also engages in that same behavior, or at least gives it tacit approval. That's why the California Supreme Court ruled just a few days ago, by a convincing 6-1 majority, that the Catholic Charities organization in that state is required to provide for all its employees health insurance that specifically includes coverage for forms of birth control that Catholic Charities finds morally objectionable. It's not enough, in other words, to give some Californians the right to include such coverage in their health insurance; the court says everyone has to do what the minority wants the privilege of doing.
It is hardly a big step from that ruling to another that will force religious organizations to offer health insurance that includes coverage for abortions-or, a few years from now, coverage for forms of euthanasia. Rather than being surprised when that happens, we should be surprised if it does not happen just that way. Nor is it unthinkable in such a climate that courts will rule soon that WORLD magazine, and other organizations like us, will be required to hire employees-including editorial writers-who are ardent proponents of same-sex marriage, and, of course, who have already entered such relationships.
So in the end, the debate will be not just about what we are willing to tolerate in other people's behavior, but which parts of that behavior we are willing to endorse as our own. The Evil One never simply seeks permission to engage in his agenda; he wants to force even those who disagree with him to comply in that agenda. Dreading that day when every knee will bow to the Righteous King, the chief rebel is going all-out to force even that King's loyal subjects to bend their knees, however temporarily, in his direction. It's going to take a lot of courage in the days just ahead to resist.