The Whining of the “I’m Outraged” Crowd about North Carolina

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State seal of North Carolina

State seal of North Carolina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

North Carolina voters passed the marriage amendment with a vote of 61% in favor and 39% against. In my own county (Cumberland) the vote was 69% for and 31% against. With the cry from the Left and from many of the “intelligentsia” (notice the quotation marks), one would think that the world is coming to an end. To the elites of society, North Carolina is full of backwoods people who are not enlightened enough to support same-sex marriage. To the majority of the people of North Carolina, the “elites” are out of touch with natural law, with Christianity, and with their fundamental values, values that would have been accepted by the majority of the “elites” only forty years ago. Calm down, ye “outraged.” What has happened in North Carolina is in the state constitutions of thirty states; this is not some new thing that makes North Carolina unique. Instinctively, the majority of people now and throughout history have recognized that marriage is only between a man and a woman. “Oh, the horror,” say the elites. “An appeal to nature is a fallacy.” Really, now. To the modern and contemporary worlds, nature is considered to be infinitely malleable by human will, so it would not make sense to modernity to appeal to a stable natural law. Beliefs do not change facts. Only a man and a woman can produce a child. Appeals to the possibility of cloning do not suffice to argue against the view that in human nature, without massive technological intervention, only a man and woman can bring a child into the world. Usually it is the biological parents that rear the child, and in order for the child to have a stable home, a permanent bond, marriage, has been established by almost all known human societies. There may be differences in the number of spouses allowed and in other details, but all such arrangements are between men and women. Even an enlightened ancient Roman who was tolerant of homosexuality would be horrified at the contemporary attempt to legitimize what cannot be legitimized. Most people recognize this unless they have had this belief educated out of them by liberal and radical elites.

The reason for the vicious anger and personal attacks by supporters of same sex marriage on decisions such as the one the voters made in North Carolina is not mere disagreement. After all, people disagree over many things, but do not post a message on a blog calling the blogger a f….g a…..e, as someone posted to me a couple of weeks ago. This is an issue involving world views: one world view affirms natural law, the other denies it. There may also be a sense among some people that their actions are wrong, and it infuriates them when someone challenges their lifestyle. If they were secure in their beliefs, why would they become so angry? Who knows–judging motivations is risky, but I do know that I am proud of my adopted state of North Carolina for doing the right thing and adding the provision in the state constitution affirming that marriage is only between a man and a woman. If whiners, the outraged, and those who are the real haters wish to attack this vote (and those who supported it) with viciousness, so be it.

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Defending Marriage: The North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment

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Topographic map of North Carolina

Just because the suicide of Western Culture has weakened the institution of marriage does not mean that Americans can do nothing to stop its decline. Advocates of same sex marriage have been aggressive in promoting their goal of the legal acceptance of same sex marriage by all states. Such a view of marriage is a radical break from all previous human cultures–for good reason. Although the ideal is not often reached in real life, a marriage between a man and a woman is the best way to bring children into the world and rear them. Multiple studies by sociologists and psychologists, no friends of traditional institutions, have shown this to be the case. Only a man and a woman can make a baby through the act of sexual intercourse. Attempts by same sex couples to rear children occur either by adoption or by a woman offering an egg as a surrogate for one of the partner’s sperm (in the case of male same-sex couples; in the case of female same sex couples, one of the partners would offer her egg and donated sperm would fertilize it). Such practices go against the fundamental ends of human families and human societies to bring the next generation into the world in a way consistent with human biology. Supporters of same sex marriage ignore biology, as if human beings could be separated from their bodies, or as if maleness and femaleness is somehow not part of one’s personal identity. Even apart from same-sex marriage, homosexuality is unnatural in orientation and morally wrong in practice. To fully embrace homosexual practice in the context of marriage is a violation of natural law so severe that it can only bring irreparable harm to society. The decline of marriage in Western Culture, its separation, in the public mind, from bearing children, and later from permission for sexual intercourse, has produced a society that is promiscuous (why be married when you can enjoy sex before marriage without worrying about having children) and one in which marriage is considered to be only a legal contract instead of a sacred vow. Same sex marriage would put the nail in the coffin’s head of marriage in any meaningful sense–and with activist judges threatening state laws, defining marriage as between a man and a woman via state law alone is inadequate. Moves to pass state constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman are welcome, giving the people as a whole the chance to save what is left of traditional marriage.

As part of the North Carolina Primary on May 8, the voters of North Carolina will decide whether to pass the “Marriage Protection Amendment” to the state constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. I strongly support this amendment and encourage the citizens of North Carolina to vote in its favor. If it passes and opponents go judge shopping to find a liberal federal judge to try to throw out the amendment, this would make it clear that the judge is attempting to thwart the will of the people, . It would also allow appeals up the federal court system so that eventually the sovereign right of the people of a state to define marriage might, hopefully, be affirmed. At the very least, this amendment grants the voters of North Carolina the opportunity to do their small but vital part in defending a sacred institution and in slowing America’s attempt at cultural and moral suicide.

On Being “Divisive” on Marriage

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ancient roman marriage

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A local newspaper described the proposed state constitutional amendment in North Carolina banning homosexual marriage as being “divisive.” Not only does this reveal the lack of integrity among journalists, who claim to be unbiased but reveal their bias in their terminology, the word “divisive” can cut both ways. It is divisive to push a lifestyle on people (sometimes openly and in public) that offends the moral sensibilities of the majority of North Carolinians. It is divisive to oppose natural law and to support a practice that violates the fundamental ends of marriage, which not only include companionship, but also include bringing children into the world. Yet those who want a state constitutional amendment to recognize what has been recognized as law in all cultures for thousands of years are called “divisive.”

This attitude reflects a trend in mainstream media coverage of social issues. Those who support the right of an unborn child are called “divisive,” while those who support the act (abortion) that kills an unborn child are not. Those who oppose a physician helping someone to kill himself are divisive, while those who desire the medical profession to be involved in the business of killing are not. The press’s double standard is appalling. ANY social issue is going to be divisive, no matter what side a person takes on it. There are deep divisions in American culture, and to label one side or the other as being the only “divisive” side is inaccurate and dishonest.

Legal Positivism and the Attempt to Remake Reality

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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., circa 1930. Edited...

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Why did the United States Supreme Court reverse over 1500 years of legal tradition and create an almost unlimited right to abortion? Later judicial rulings extended the right through the third trimester of pregnancy if a doctor signed a statement to the effect that a woman’s physical and/or mental health is endangered. Even Western Europeans outside of the U. K. have been shocked by the breadth of U. S. abortion laws.

Why did a California court reverse thousands of years of tradition and support same-sex marriage (later the state legislature made a court ruling unnecessary)? Why did federal judges, who ruled like dictators over broad swaths of the South in the 1960s and 70s, force children to get up at 4 a.m. to go to schools many miles from their neighborhood to achieve “racial balance,” a social engineering scheme that has been a dismal failure?

The arrogance of judges who wish to remake reality in their own image is due, to a large extent, to legal positivism. This holds that law does not gain its legitimacy in being consistent with the natural law, but that laws are simply products of legislative or judicial action. St. Thomas Aquinas‘ eternal law, natural law, and positive law is whittled down to positive law alone. Legal positivism is consistent with the eighteenth century Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, in which Western Europe, and later the United States, believed that man could remake society according to his own reason and will. With the help of science, a new social order, “a new order of the ages” (novus ordo seclorem) would be created, a heaven on earth, would be created as man remakes nature in his own image. As Francis Bacon said in the seventeenth century, man will “hold nature to the rack,” pulling out its secrets, and by dominating nature, create technologies for the comfort of man. Ideologically this idea is opposed to the notion of a set natural law man should follow, either in science or in ethics. But exploiting nature is parasitic on a set order of nature, and thus science cannot fall into total positivism without destroying science. Ethics and law, however, were other matters as the nineteenth century’s machines ground on like clockwork. Man could exploit ethics and law for his own purposes, for reshaping society, and there is no set order of nature that applies to ethics and law. This view was enshrined in the work of U. S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (another contribution of New England cultural rot to the ruin of the United States). Holmes was influential in pushing a legal positivist framework that quickly became the dominant framework among U. S. judges–to the point that some liberals were claiming that Judge Clarence Thomas‘ acceptance of natural law disqualified him from serving on the Supreme Court. I wonder what the liberals would say about the noted scholar and judge, John Noonan, who accepts natural law and sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives.  Justice Holmes was consistent with his positivist framework and appealed to the abstraction of “social welfare” to justify his position. In Buck v. Bell, 274 US200, 1927, Justice Holmes, in his majority opinion concerning the case of a woman ordered to be sterilized for being “feeble minded,” says, “It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” Holmes’ attempt to justify sterilization appeals to the public good–it is a utilitarian appeal–and utilitarianism only makes sense in a moral and legal world bereft of a concept of natural law. If law is just a positive act of legislatures and judges, then any kind of action by the state can be justified for “social welfare” or “for the public good.” Natural law offers a constraint on the tendency to remake society by getting rid of people that society finds uncomfortable.  But without the restraint of natural law, the state can justify any use of power against individuals or groups as long as it can be justified in terms of the “general welfare.” Note the terminology used by the U. S. Constitution, which is more of an Enlightenment Doctrine than some of its conservative advocates claim. Given the presuppositions of the Enlightenment that were not removed by the latent Christianity of the founding fathers of the United States (and the more active Christianity of others), the turn to legal positivism was a logical turn–but a turn that has led to a further breakdown of American society and the dismantling of the ethics and laws upon which Western Civilization has depended since the rise of Christianity.

Judge Walker’s Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

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Wedding cake of a same-sex marriage, photo tak...

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U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage, approved by California voters in a referendum, violates federal equal protections and due process laws. This is not the first time a federal judge has tried to override the will of the people in order to push his own moral and legal agenda, and it will not be the last. For many years the federal courts have trumped the authority of the states, violating the tenth amendment to the U. S. Constitution with impunity. This usurpation of power by the courts, as Thomas Jefferson noted, results in a judicial dictatorship that violates the fundamental principles of the republic. It is for this reason that Jefferson disagreed with Chief Justice John Marshall on the issue of judicial review. Even if there are situations in which judicial review has been used for a good moral end, the power judicial review grants to judges allows them to also use that power for bad moral ends. The rights of the people of each state to legislate is thereby cut off by raw judicial power that is backed up by the machinery of the federal government—and sometimes, by means of the military.

Besides the constitutional issues involved in this case, a ban on same-sex marriage is in line with the natural law. Of course most people today, especially among the scholarly elite, do not believe in natural law. Most American philosophers are utilitarians, and most judges accept a legal positivism that separates law from nature. But natural law argues that moral principles are derived from the kind of beings human persons are—rational animals. To separate law from human nature ultimately makes law subject to the arbitrary whims of the judiciary. In the case of same-sex marriage, a ban is in line with natural law due to the goal or function marriage serves in human life. Contrary to some naïve critics of natural law, the problem with same-sex marriage, and with homosexuality in general, is not merely a matter, to put it crudely, of a bodily organ going into a place on another person where it does not belong. The issue is teleological—what is the proper function of sex and marriage in human life? Even into the modern era, sex and marriage were understood primarily (though not exclusively) in the context of procreation, of bringing children into the world, with marriage providing a stable household for the moral development of such children. This does not imply that this is the only function of sex and marriage—love, companionship, and in the case of sex, physical closeness and great pleasure are obviously goods that result from sex and marriage. But all these goods are subsumed under the fundamental human need to pro-create, to bring new life into the world, and to nurture that life to fulfillment by moral training. Practices that oppose such ends result in social chaos, as is empirically shown by the social disorder in communities with high rates of illegitimacy. Encouraging homosexual practices also thwarts the natural human goods of reproduction and family. Adoption of children by homosexual couples, or, God forbid, in the future, cloning, will not change this fact—children need exposure to both a man and woman to receive the unique insights of both.

This point is not original to me, and I do not remember who brought it up, but our society began by separating marriage from procreation with the invention of the birth control pill. Now I do not have a problem with a couple using the pill as long as (if the couple is married) they are open at some point in their marriage to having children. But as a matter of empirical fact, both marriage and sex were separated from procreation. With the sexual revolution, marriage was no longer considered a moral requirement to have sex. With both sex and procreation separated from marriage, it was a small step for contemporary liberal culture to say that marriage is a private contract between two individuals, and it does not matter what sex they are. But encouraging this societal down slope by legalizing same-sex marriage will only accelerate the breakdown of the traditional family structure that is essential for human flourishing. The voters of California were wise in approving a ban on same-sex marriage, and Judge Walker’s decision, sadly, was wrongheaded and foolish.

This is not to say that there should be a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage—the decision should be in the hands of the people or their representatives in each individual state. It is almost certain that Judge Walker’s decision will eventually reach the Supreme Court after its journey through the Ninth Circuit, and hopefully the Supreme Court will recognize the rights of the people of California to make their own decisions in this matter.