Against religious liberty (arguments)
I like religious liberty just fine, thank you very much. But I must say, I am tired of hearing the pro-family movement making religious liberty their primary argument against the Sexual Revolution. Too many of us have done this with the HHS Mandate (which amounts to creating a Contraceptive State) and Gay Marriage (which amounts to creating Genderless Marriage.)
I realize that we are poised for the US Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case on Monday. Still, I want to share my
objections to this rhetorical strategy:
First, religious liberty arguments do not address the underlying issue we are fighting about. We can make good rational, natural law arguments for our position, arguments that should be comprehensible to intelligent people of good will.
If we do not make such arguments, we sound as if we are dodging that issue. Some people on our side would rather talk about bakers and wedding photographers, than the real issue of why
marriage is the social institution that links the generations to each other, and that children have genuine rights that adult society ought to strive to respect. Some people frame the HHS Mandate issue in terms of the harm to Christian employers and institutions, when the real question is HOW THE HECK DID THE STATE EVER GET IN THE CONTRACEPTION BUSINESS IN THE FIRST PLACE??!?!?!?!
Second, religious liberty is a losing argument. The Sandra Flukes and Dan Savages of the world couldn’t care less about whether we are inconvenienced in our religious practice.
Which brings me to the third and final reason why I don’t like the religious liberty argument. We sound like we are whining. We talk too much about how religious people are being harmed. We are missing the opportunity to explain why the Sexual Revolution has been a disaster from the beginning, why it has not made people happy, and why future rounds of imposing Revolutionary Ideology on the society will not work any better than the previous rounds. Lots of people have been harmed by the Revolutionary Ideology. We would be more credible if we talked more about those people and less about ourselves.
The HHS Mandate is a teachable moment for American society. Catholics could have, and still should, take that opportunity to
teach. Oral contraception has numerous health hazards associated with it. Sex actually does make babies. Pretending that it does not, creates a whole batch of troubles for society.
Likewise, the relentless drive for genderless marriage provides numerous teachable moments. Christians of all denominations could be saying that children do have legitimate interests in the stability of their parents’ union, and in knowing their own parents wherever possible. This is a moment to say that yes, we have done wrong in allowing unlimited divorce and remarriage. We have done wrong in encouraging non-marital childbearing and in allowing the commercialization of childbearing. We pledge to do better in all these areas, and to speak out against things getting any further out of hand.
The truth is we are on the right side of history. Years from now, people will look back on the Sexual Revolutionaries and say, “What were those people thinking?” History will show that the people of faith were the only ones with the foresight to see that this would end badly, and the fortitude to stand up and say so.
The Sexual Revolution is the great Social Civil War of our time. That war will continue after Monday, even if we get the most favorable possible ruling from the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case.
So let’s stop talking about religious liberty already, and get down to the real business of evangelizing this culture.
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