Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Morality, Legislation, and Same-sex Marriage

Normally, I try to stay away from politics on my blog. This has been a way of explaining my faith and a means of trying to lift others. But sometimes politics bleed into matters of faith. Such was the case when the far right attacked members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency. And now such is the case as the far left attack members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for our support of California's constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Some of you, when you read this post, will be angry with me. I expect a backlash. If you think I'm a bigot or a hater, you're entitled to your opinion. I will not respond in kind. And to avoid contention, I am not allowing comments on this post, and attempts to comment on it on other parts of my blog will be deleted. If you need to respond, write it on your own blog.
But I need to speak up.
There's a tired one-liner that comes up when controversial laws pass: "You can't legislate morality." If what people who repeat it mean is that you can't force people to be good, they're right. But they usually don't. What they usually mean is that the government has no business telling them what conduct is acceptable and what is not. Thus, their meaning reveals the flaw in their argument.
Consider the following definitions from Webster's Dictionary:

Morality . . . 2 a: a doctrine or system of moral conduct b plural: particular moral principles or rules of conduct 3: conformity to ideals of right human conduct 4: moral conduct : virtue.

Moral 1 a: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior

So morality is a system which defines the difference between right and wrong.

And if the government has no business defining what conduct is right and wrong, there's no reason to have a government. If the government is not allowed to legislate morality, then we can't punish murderers or thieves or rapists or child molesters or child abusers or spouse abusers. We couldn't punish corporations like Enron. We couldn't prohibit tortious conduct. And Congress and State legislatures could do nothing to answer the current outcry for greater regulation on greedy CEOs and businesses.
The fact is that legislation is society's expression of its morality.
And our current system based on the ideals of popular sovereignty, democracy, and representative government grants the majority, with a few exceptions expressly outlined in State and Federal Constitutions, the right to establish the morality of society. It is a line that has been shifting throughout the last two centuries. What was wrongful conduct two-hundred years ago may no longer be prohibited, and what was once acceptable two-hundred years ago may no longer be acceptable.
State constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage are nothing more than an exercise of the majority's inherent right to outline what it feels is right and wrong.
Let me be clear, however, that I do not believe homosexuals are inferior to or not equal with heterosexuals. They are children of a loving Heavenly Father. As such, they have intrinsic and divine worth. They are entitled to all the blessings God desires to give them if they are willing to keep his commandments. And they should not be treated differently regarding hospitalization, health care, probate, employment, and receiving the protection of law enforcement and other government agencies.
But same-sex marriage is not and never will be equal to marriage between a man and a woman. Biologically, two men can't have sex with each other and produce offspring. Neither can two women. Further, God has only blessed marriage between men and women, and He has prohibited homosexual relationships because they are an abomination in His sight. Genesis 13:13; 18:16-33; 19:1-38; Lev. 18: 22; Lev. 20: 13; Deut. 23: 17; Isa. 3: 9; 2 Ne. 13: 9; Rom. 1: 27; 1 Cor. 6: 9; 1 Tim. 1: 10; Jude 1: 7; 2 Ne. 13: 9; see also Isa. 3: 9; Ezek. 16: 50; 2 Tim. 3: 3; 2 Pet. 2: 10; 2 Ne. 9: 40.
Society has the right to accept God's prohibition on same-sex marriage or reject it. The majority will decide. That's what happened in California and other States amending their constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage.
I am compelled by the covenants that I have made with God to defend His commandments and add my warning to that of modern Prophets:
We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World. And if necessary, I will defend God's definition of marriage until my last breath.
So help me God.