Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Liberty of the Individual...

A long, long time ago, in a land that seems so distant as to seem legend more than an actual discussion, I had let loose a vent of steam about the religious right and the act of encoding their beliefs into law that denied gays equal protection of their relationships (i.e., gay marriage, as it is so known). It had started a long and rambling discussion between Tom and myself, part of which made it onto one of his posts, which I will quote in part. The nutshell of which, though, is that, just as I disagree with them for trying to encode their beliefs into law, he says that I am also trying to legislate my morals on values onto the public resulting in a bit of hypocrisy on my part. His post said:

I was trying to tell you the other night that when you rail against the fundamentalist for trying to legislate his/her morals or values, you are being a hypocrite. Everyone in this country has a right to introduce legislation that promotes his/her morals and values. The fundamentalist does, and so do you. Your only defense was that your morals and values respect a wider plurality than do those of the fundie, but that is beside the point. It doesn't matter what their morals are versus yours; what matters is that you are trying to do the same thing that they are trying to do, which is legislate your own morals and values onto the general public. You can't get angry with the fundie for doing that which yourself desires to do as well. You can get angry at them for what it is they are trying to legislate, but you can't get angry at them for trying to legislate. All you need to do is redirect your anger and you won't sound so hypocritical.
After many moons (yes, many; this post was written on July 25 of 2006), I suppose I've come to terms with the gist of what he's is saying, and most fundamentally disagree.

And I may be wrong; that is for you fine readers to decide on your own, but nevertheless, here goes.

And I still hold that the key difference between what I would like to see legislated, and what your run-of-the-mill fundie would like to see legislated is more in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution by which our country is governed. But, as Tom said, that is a little (but only a little) beside the point, the utmost of which is the concept of individual liberty.

I have on the top of my blog a little banner which says "Embrace Diversity." I believe a plethora of beliefs and lifestyles are key to a society which is healthy, vibrant, and strong (with the understanding being, of course, that you have a right to live your life the way you wish as long as it does not infringe on another's right to live life as they wish). In fact, this is one of the very premises of our founding document, why we wrote it in the first place: All men are created equal. And in Amendment 14, the Constitution says quite clearly:

Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
[emphasis, of course, is mine]
One individual's liberty is no more important, or any less important, than any other individual's personal liberty. In fact, one of the greatest lies told this past century was that our country was A Christian Nation, when in fact we have not been, nor will we ever be, such. The Constitution simply doesn't allow for it. In fact, the Constitution states quite clearly that no religious test shall ever be used for taking the oath of office, and, on top of that, the government can't even refuse the establishment of a religion in our borders, nor prevent the practice of any such religion.

But beliefs are a lot more intangible than that, aren't they? One can very well believe something outside of the context of a church, synagogue, mosque, or any such religious building or symbol. And beliefs are what allow us to thrive as human beings. The fact that we sometimes don't like what others believe is of no consequence on an individual, one-person-at-a-time level (despite claims to the contrary) when one respects the boundaries of personal, individual liberty. Joe Schmoe's beliefs are of no consequence to Jane Brown's as they both go about their day, go to work, feed their children, go to sleep at night, relax on vacation, whatever.

But religion has never been a respecter of individual liberty. Religion is one of "collective," almost "tribal" mentality, as can be observed not only in weekly (or more) group meetings, group prayers, group songs--the very premise of the Christian church in particular is to fellowship with one another, reprove one another, polish one another, keep tabs on one another, lest one "fall into sin." Almost every religion has some sort of mentality along these lines, each with their pros and cons as to individual liberty and sense of self. Several key phrases of the Christian tenants come to mind: "Die to yourself," "Die to your sin," "Live for Christ," and on and on. Islam has many of the same tenants, as does Judaism, each in their own ways. Religions of the world are not interested in individual rights or liberties, but that you do the will of their respective (or one could say all of their single)
god(s). To "fight the good fight" for god, to spread the word not "being a respecter of persons." (I'll be the first to admit, this needs fleshed out a bit more, but this isn't off the mark--just not entirely spelled out as much as I would like...)

And herein lies the true crux. The fundies were upset not too long ago that a man swore on the Quran to uphold the Constitution, something they said the Quran blatantly says one cannot do if one holds to the precepts of Islam. It's almost a shame that their Bible asks them of the same thing: That, when it comes down to God or Constitution, you must come down on the side set forth in the Bible. (One wonders what keeps them from seeing this same conundrum with the thousands who swore to uphold the Constitution on the Bible.)

Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Lev 24:21-22 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I [am] the LORD your God.

Deu 28:58-59 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, [even] great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
Sky god is pretty clear, isn't he? When it comes between law of the land, and law of god, I doubt you'd find a Christian this side of hell to say they'd uphold the Constitution. Which is to say, if they have a chance to make this a country by, of, and for Christians, they'll do so, just so they can have their cake and eat it, too. That's really what this legislation against abortion and gay marriage and various other "taboo" topics are about, aren't they? While nowhere does the bible exhort them to make laws which will force everyone to behave as they believe, this "community" mindset which religion advocates openly may have something to do with the fact they feel they will collectively be found at fault for allowing laws to be passed contrary to the law of their book. And even though a passing of a "gay marriage" law would still allow for them to live by their codes and their so-called "laws," as a "community," they may be found "wanting" even though they would still have the right to call it "wrong," not have a "gay marriage," or even be called upon to partake in an "abortion" or "oversee" a gay marriage if they so chose not to (this is where "freedom of religion" comes into play). Their beliefs and mores are in no way threatened by these acts of others. But they feel that all should abide by their laws for the good of the "community."

Agnostic Mom touches on this briefly in a recent post. She says:

During a recent airing, talk show host Dennis Prager spoke to a man who apologized to his son for "giving a worse America to you than my father gave to me."

A worse America? This wasn't a new concept to me. Having grown up all around conservatives, I've heard this complaint many, many times. People lament what they perceive to be a decline in American values over the last forty years.

Although there may be a small amount truth in the statement, I have to wonder if it is really so, overall.
She goes on to point out a lot of strides this country has made over the last forty to fifty years in the way of rights and freedoms for collective minorities as well as for the individual. But, alas, we've been hearing this lament for years from the conservatives, mostly within the context of "walking away from the laws of god" type of way. But America has never been about the laws of god. It's always been about individual liberty. The right of people to live a life free of both religious and governmental interference. Only a cursory reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution makes that plain as the nose on a face. But, then again, religion has never been a respecter of the individual:

Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Romans 2:11-12 For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

1 Peter 1:16-17 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear.
This is definitely not in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution. Dare I say, it is the antithesis as such.

And hence, my disagreement with Tom's conclusion: That I am a hypocrite for being against them able to legislate their morality, while pushing for the legislation of my own. The very fact that we are a country who respects persons and does not respect mob mentality or group think, any type of legislation that would take away from a persons right to live the way they wish would be a hypocrisy for me to justify or get behind. The fact that I only support legislation that allows for diversity in freedom (as opposed to legislation which prohibits any type of freedom for persons) makes it nonhypocriphal. Now, if I were to support a ban on straight marriage while actively seeking a law to legalize gay marriage, therein would be a hypocrisy. If I were to support laws that take away a woman's right to bear arms while at the same time urging for a law that would make atomic weapons available at WalMart for only men, that would be hypocrisy. If I would advocate legalization of gay marriage with the intent to force conservatives and fundamentlists to perform such ceremonies against their will, this would be the hypocrisy I think Tom reads into my intentions...

But it is not a hypocrisy to advocate for legislation which expands individual rights while being against legalization to limit them. When laws only add to the rights we stand for while at the same time not taking away previously held rights of other groups (whether minority or not), this only adds to the spirit of the letter of our laws. Not laws from a book written by desert nomads or Roman citizens in persecution. Not laws written by crazed persons seeing angles and finding scrolls in Egypt. Laws written by our founding fathers. Laws that respect the individual. Laws of liberty.

13 comments:

rudy said...

I must give you credit. You are a clever homosexual. Twisting the words of law in your favor. The Bible reveals to the world what happened to Sodom and Gammorha.

I trust that, inGod we trust is not your motto. You will never know the power of God untill you live by his 10 commandments unless you have as much money as Sir Elton John. Whoop-de-doo!

Weird said...

In God we Trust is on coins not in the Constitution. Perhaps you have adopted a COINstitution?

If homosexuality is a sin unto God it will be forgiven like the perpetual lies of supposedly God-fearing politicians. According to scripture it is God's prerogative to judge and forgive, not Man's. We are here to trust in Him if we so believe. He does not require that all Men believe either, just that His message is heard. Nowhere does it say that all Men must accept it.

Herein lies the danger of forcing one's morality on others. It robs them of the CHOICE to follow God and turns them against God by judging them for their behavior which is not Man's place. Perhaps people who choose not to follow the Christian God will be sent to Hell, perhaps not. No Man knows this. We can have Faith, but we cannot know.

Sodom and Gammorha were supposedly destroyed by God for their wickedness. Was the same true for New Orleans? What about the one hundred and eighteen thousand people wiped out by the Great Flood caused by the tsunami? Were they wicked, Godless sinners? It is more likely that the fate of those biblical cities was a tragic disaster caused by an earthquake and the liquification of the salty sands surrounding the Dead Sea.

The Ten Commandments don't mention homosexuality, nor does the Constitution, Magna Carta, etc. anywhere. It only seems to be an issue of the modern church. We live in a country that guarantess separation of church and state.

Jason Hughes said...

So I'm a clever homosexual, am I? How have I "twisted the words"? Saying so doesn't make it so, and unless you make some sort of point, or explain the logic you emply, you really haven't said anything except for stricking your fingers in your ears and shouting "LA!LA!LA! I can't hear you! I can't hear you!"... Your silly argument about Sodom and Gomorrah has been dealt with by minds far better than mine or yours I dare say, but you can read my take on it here.

Weird, some excellent points. Jesus himself, once he said his piece, left people well enough alone, as can be seen in the story of the rich man (Matt 19: 16-22)

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother, and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Jesus let him walk away--didn't beat him over the head, didn't shout, "But you're going to hell!!!" Let him walk away. More fundies could take some lessons form this... Their god let's us choose how to live--they want to legislate how we should live...

Of course, rudy thinks I probably "twisted" this, too! LOL!

aaronjasonsilver said...

Marriage, a religious institution?


I have difficulty trying to understand why allowing gays to use the term “marriage” rather than “unions” to be such a sticking point. I have heard it often said by people that are opposed to gay marriage; say that marriage is a religious institution. Or using the term marriage will somehow make a mockery of traditional marriages. If marriage were indeed a religious institution, why then are heterosexual couples afforded such a wide variety of ways of getting married that have no religious affiliation whatsoever? Heterosexual atheists are allowed to marry and they certainly don’t want any religious overtones to their marriages. Straight couples can get married by the justice of the piece; they can get married by a ship captain on a cruise ship. They can be married underwater or on a mountaintop, it seems to me it just doesn’t matter and that there are no restrictions. The list goes on and on therefore, making the argument of about marriage being a religious institution absurd.

I have also heard many opponents of gay marriage say that same sex marriage will make a mockery of traditional marriages, meaning I suppose between a man and a woman. I think that looking closely at all of the statistics about the success of traditional marriages; they seem to be doing a damn good job of their own, making a mockery of the institution of marriage. Then when one looks at the statistics of how many straight lay men and woman who have extramarital affairs doesn’t look so good either not to mention many couples of the clergy who seem also not to have the greatest track record. So then, what do the opponents of gay marriage really mean by saying that same sex marriages would make a mockery of traditional marriage? One doesn’t have to be a sociologist or have a degree in statistics to understand that allowing gay marriages to exist would hurt no one. In fact gay marriage would likely cause gays to have longer lasting relationships. There has been a common complaint generally spouted out by the straight population, that gay relationships don’t seem last very long. Statistics do however bear out one thing in regards to marriage verses just living together as a couple, and that is that couples that are married verses couples just living together, do last longer if they are married. Perhaps this could be the answer in motivating gay couples to work harder at their relationships if they were legally bound by a legitimate contract, rather than just being able to just walk away as so often happens when they hit some rough waters as all relationships do at some point whether gay or straight. Thank you, Aaron Jason Silver Saugatuck, Mi 49408 269 561 6789 www.aaronjasonsilver.com
wsfm

Anonymous said...

Looks like Aaron Jason Silver wants a date Jason - he gave you his phone number - now thats "Weird"

agnostic mom said...

How many hits are you getting per day Jason?

Jason Hughes said...

Well, Agnostic Mom, I average between 80 to 100 hits per day, which isn't too shabby--unless we're talking gutter slang like Anon there, as hits on me on this web site are far and few between... LOL!

I think Aaron was just giving from sage insight and wisdom, and the link he provided goes to a book he authored, which I myself am tempted to buy. I can only imagine the # is to order the book, but as I have no plans on calling (as you can just as easily copy and paste the web addy into your browser to purchase it online), I suppose we'll never know...

Aaron? Care to elaborate?

FCSuper said...

"But it is not a hypocrisy to advocate for legislation which expands individual rights while being against legalization to limit them."

Yup. I've heard the reverse-hyprocracy argument before used on this topic and others by fundies. It is a play on discussion points more than an actual valid point. It doesn't make any sense that it would be hypocritical to demand equal protection under the law for individual liberty.

BTW, rudy, you've not read the story of Sodom and Gammorha appearentally, because if you did, you'd know they where destroyed for how their citizens treated others (lack of hospitality, rape, etc), not for homosexual activity itself. Homosexually between two consenting adults is not defacto rape, but sex with a minor is, so tell your pastor/father/preacher/minster to stop doing that.

Sylvia said...

I take aaronjasonsilver's point of view here, Ja. I was going to post almost the exact same thing. I never thought of the act of getting married religous at all. In fact, when John and I married, there was nothing religous about the entire thing. Well, maybe with the exception of the fact that I was thanking God the whole time, for finally letting this happen. LOL
I have a wonderful husband....sigh...neither here nor there...
anywho, back to your post.
Nobody - gay or straight - can make a marriage perfect. I'm sure that the same stats would prove the same for homosexual marriages as heterosexual marriages - given the time to do the studies. Nobody can convince me that if gay marraige were allowed, that they could last longer than hetersexual marriages.

"The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report which found that 43
percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years" Pretty staggering, huh....

Anyway, I support you, Ja...ya know that...

Weird said...

Rudy, Go read some Thomas Jefferson, http://jpetrie.myweb.uga.edu/TJ.html . Don't like it? Then join the Taliban if you want to live with zealots or move to Venezuela if you want to live under an invasive government. When you are ready for Liberty come on back.

Anon, HAHA, Here's what's "Weird";

1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of the preternatural or supernatural.
2. Of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange.
3. Archaic. Of or relating to fate or the Fates.

n.

1. a. Fate; destiny.
b. One's assigned lot or fortune, especially when evil.

2. One of the Fates.

In a country that was based on the idea of Liberty (not Freedom) and Separation of Church and State I have become weird and unlike the majority. Torn between socialistic Democrats and zealot Republicans I am fated to watch the decline of our society into a Theocracy with either God or the Government cast as the omnipotent diety.

Here's my stand on Government sanctioned marriage of ANY kind;

Get rid of it. Instead of fighting for marriage rights we should be fighting to remove them across the board. More legislation just costs more money. It's just another form of government control over our lives.

Why do we need a god OR a government to bless and sanction a personal decision?

http://www.policyofliberty.net/e-books/Why%20License%20Marriages.pdf

So much for Liberty. It's weird that this country has gotten so off-track.

Jason, 100% support for continuing to speak your mind, the only thing twisted in this whole section is rudy's logic!

Weird

Weird said...

Rudy, Go read some Thomas Jefferson, http://jpetrie.myweb.uga.edu/TJ.html . Don't like it? Then join the Taliban if you want to live with zealots or move to Venezuela if you want to live under an invasive government. When you are ready for Liberty come on back.

Anon, HAHA, Here's what's "Weird";

1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of the preternatural or supernatural.
2. Of a strikingly odd or unusual character; strange.
3. Archaic. Of or relating to fate or the Fates.

n.

1. a. Fate; destiny.
b. One's assigned lot or fortune, especially when evil.

2. One of the Fates.

In a country that was based on the idea of Liberty (not Freedom) and Separation of Church and State I have become weird and unlike the majority. Torn between socialistic Democrats and zealot Republicans I am fated to watch the decline of our society into a Theocracy with either God or the Government cast as the omnipotent diety.

Here's my stand on Government sanctioned marriage of ANY kind;

Get rid of it. Instead of fighting for marriage rights we should be fighting to remove them across the board. More legislation just costs more money. It's just another form of government control over our lives.

Why do we need a god OR a government to bless and sanction a personal decision?

http://www.policyofliberty.net/e-books/Why%20License%20Marriages.pdf

So much for Liberty. It's weird that this country has gotten so off-track.

Jason, 100% support for continuing to speak your mind, the only thing twisted in this whole section is rudy's logic!

Weird

aaronjasonsilver said...

Marriage, a religious institution?


I have difficulty trying to understand why allowing gays to use the term “marriage” rather than “unions” to be such a sticking point. I have heard it often said by people that are opposed to gay marriage; say that marriage is a religious institution. Or using the term marriage will somehow make a mockery of traditional marriages. If marriage were indeed a religious institution, why then are heterosexual couples afforded such a wide variety of ways of getting married that have no religious affiliation whatsoever? Heterosexual atheists are allowed to marry and they certainly don’t want any religious overtones to their marriages. Straight couples can get married by the justice of the piece; they can get married by a ship captain on a cruise ship. They can be married underwater or on a mountaintop, it seems to me it just doesn’t matter and that there are no restrictions. The list goes on and on therefore, making the argument of about marriage being a religious institution absurd.

I have also heard many opponents of gay marriage say that same sex marriage will make a mockery of traditional marriages, meaning I suppose between a man and a woman. I think that looking closely at all of the statistics about the success of traditional marriages; they seem to be doing a damn good job of their own, making a mockery of the institution of marriage. Then when one looks at the statistics of how many straight lay men and woman who have extramarital affairs doesn’t look so good either not to mention many couples of the clergy who seem also not to have the greatest track record. So then, what do the opponents of gay marriage really mean by saying that same sex marriages would make a mockery of traditional marriage? One doesn’t have to be a sociologist or have a degree in statistics to understand that allowing gay marriages to exist would hurt no one. In fact gay marriage would likely cause gays to have longer lasting relationships. There has been a common complaint generally spouted out by the straight population, that gay relationships don’t seem last very long. Statistics do however bear out one thing in regards to marriage verses just living together as a couple, and that is that couples that are married verses couples just living together, do last longer if they are married. Perhaps this could be the answer in motivating gay couples to work harder at their relationships if they were legally bound by a legitimate contract, rather than just being able to just walk away as so often happens when they hit some rough waters as all relationships do at some point whether gay or straight. Thank you, Aaron Jason Silver Saugatuck, Mi 49408 269 561 6789 www.aaronjasonsilver.com
wsfm

Weird said...

In God we Trust is on coins not in the Constitution. Perhaps you have adopted a COINstitution?

If homosexuality is a sin unto God it will be forgiven like the perpetual lies of supposedly God-fearing politicians. According to scripture it is God's prerogative to judge and forgive, not Man's. We are here to trust in Him if we so believe. He does not require that all Men believe either, just that His message is heard. Nowhere does it say that all Men must accept it.

Herein lies the danger of forcing one's morality on others. It robs them of the CHOICE to follow God and turns them against God by judging them for their behavior which is not Man's place. Perhaps people who choose not to follow the Christian God will be sent to Hell, perhaps not. No Man knows this. We can have Faith, but we cannot know.

Sodom and Gammorha were supposedly destroyed by God for their wickedness. Was the same true for New Orleans? What about the one hundred and eighteen thousand people wiped out by the Great Flood caused by the tsunami? Were they wicked, Godless sinners? It is more likely that the fate of those biblical cities was a tragic disaster caused by an earthquake and the liquification of the salty sands surrounding the Dead Sea.

The Ten Commandments don't mention homosexuality, nor does the Constitution, Magna Carta, etc. anywhere. It only seems to be an issue of the modern church. We live in a country that guarantess separation of church and state.