The Gay Marriage Debate and Public Policy

“The wicked hate and envy; it is their way of admiring” – Victor Hugo

Today the Supreme Court will continue hearing arguments in one of a number of Gay-Marriage-relevant cases. This latest case apparently revolves around the extension of federally-mandated marriage benefits to same-sex spouses. The case offers, I think, a great opportunity to point out the necessary difference between morality before God and good public policy.

Just so I am unambiguous, let me say up front that I do not recognize “gay marriage” as morally viable under the Bible. The scripture is clear on the issue of homosexual acts (and people who say otherwise are willfully denying the obvious).

But good public policy and proper morals are not the same thing, for reasons also laid out in the Bible. In a democracy, “government” represents majority rule, and one should never equate “the majority” as a proxy for God. We the people are equals before God, and He is our judge. When we presume ourselves rightful judges over one another (for no other reason than “majority rule”) then we really stray from good ground. In this light, simple directives such as the Golden Rule (among others) should restrain us from certain morality-based decisions in public policy.

To my mind, the gay marriage debate falls in this list. Note that I’m not here saying that the government should legalize gay marriage, but rather that the government should not have a role in defining marriage at all.

Gay marriage isn’t the only place where I think the government oversteps reasonable policy though, and this case calls out some others. For instance, the impetus of the case is an estate tax bill. Edith Windsor “married” Thea Spyer in 2007 in Canada. Spyer since died and left everything to Windsor. Windsor was then hit with a $363,000 estate-tax bill that would have been zero if they were recognized as married. Regardless of the definition of marriage, I think the estate tax is an utterly immoral policy that should be dispatched immediately. By whatever means, Spyer accrued wealth over her life. To claim that the government has a right to a share upon her death is obscene. She should be able to leave it to whoever she wants to without taxation. In fact, she should have been able to give away to whoever she wants to without taxation while she was still alive (another thing that the government does not allow).

The article notes that “marital status is relevant in more than 1100 federal laws” – and I think this is what needs changing. Marital status is relevant because the politicians have understood that giving away “perks” is a great way to get votes. If you want the married-person vote (and there are a lot of married persons) then give them special policy favors.

I don’t know where this case will end, but the trend in America is clear: we are moving toward broad-brushed legalization of gay marriage. My hope in all of this is not that somehow we will “turn the tide” (though I certainly think the church needs to be forthright and clear on the homosexual issue) but rather that we the Christian voters will turn our attention away from mandating morality and to mandating freedom.

As we build the necessary government structures to enforce “right” behaviors, we also build the necessary structures to oppress freedom. And someday, we might not be in the majority.

 

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