“Do not ever say that the desire to do good by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives” -Ayn Rand
A recent blog post by The Gospel Coalition has freshly demonstrated that American Christian culture is absolutely beside itself with either power-lust or stupidity (or both). [I obviously agree with Rand that those are the only two possible motives behind such an idea -- but that is a different conversation, for a different time].
The blog, entitled Should The Church ‘Get Out of The Marriage Business’? claims to be a response to modern day Christians (like myself) who do not morally condone homosexuality, but want to allow legal same-sex marriages (i.e. Christians who do not wish to force their view of marriage onto society). The author disagrees, and believes that the Church’s definition of marriage should be “imposed on the public square” (via the Government). Why? There seems to be two primary reasons for the author’s position. The first has to do with his view of the Church. The second, with his view of the Government. Both are horribly erroneous views.
“The Church is Too Weak, So it Should Pick Up A Gun”
“This argument assumes that Christians can maintain and safeguard their own definition of marriage by refusing to impose a particular viewpoint in the public square.” -Andrew Walker (Author of TGC Blog)
Here, and later in the article, the author reveals that he believes that the Church is incapable of holding strong to it’s definition of marriage (as one man and one woman), without using the Government to force that definition on non-Christians. His argument is that the Church will be overcome by the cultural norms (in due time), and will inevitably bend the knee to the culture’s definition — similar to the way Christians have adopted the culture’s views on divorce.
Stop and think about what this means for a second: The Church is too weak to resist the influence of the culture — therefore, it should use physical force and coercion (through the Government) to protect it from the culture’s ideas. That is the essence of the authors argument, here: that Christians are not capable of maintaining their Christian worldview without pointing a gun at the heads of non-Christians to make them comply with that worldview.
I shouldn’t need to point out how disgustingly sick and evil such a notion is. If Christians in America are so limp-wristed and weak in their worldview that they will inevitably cave to cultural influences, then the problem is not with the corrupt culture, but with the intellectually (and morally) dead Church! If there is a problem with Christians following cultural norms, rather than standing firm on Christian truth, then Church leaders (like those at TGC) should not be trying to fix the corruption of the culture — they should be trying to fix the weakness of the Church! Why is the Church so weak? Why do Christians so easily cave to cultural influence? Could it be because the Church, on an institutional level, has taken an intellectual back-seat to the culture for the past few centuries? Could it be because Church leaders, in false humility, have shunned worldview (i.e. philosophical) thinking? Yes, the Church in America is weak. It is weak, blind, deaf, dumb, and stupid — all by choice; all to be “humble”. This is not the culture’s fault. This is your fault, Chirstian leaders. This is the fault of every influential Christian who refused to think, and to think accurately about all of reality. Picking up the gun of Government coercion will not strengthen the Church, but weaken it. It will weaken it by enabling it to go on in it’s anti-intellectual fantasy land [<blog] for another few years, until the corruption of the culture begins to scratch the itch of some other foul, leaking sore in the American Christian’s non-worldview.
But there is another egregious fault in the author’s position, here: This was posted by The Gospel Coalition. The Gospel is good news to be proclaimed by the Church in such a way that people fall in love with the God of the Gospel, and willfully change their lives as a result of their new-found hope in God. There is hardly anything more antithetical to the Gospel than the idea that Gospel morality should be physically forced upon unbelievers, at the point of a gun. And that is precisely what the author (and any Christian who agrees with him) advocates for when wishing to criminalize same-sex marriage.
The Role of the Government
And that brings us to the author’s other reason behind his position: the role of Government in society. Although he never explicitly spells out his view of the purpose of Government, the author leaves quite a few clues throughout the article. He mentions “the public trust”, “cooperation”, “common good”, and “common belief” as some of the goals of Government action. He, like many Christians, believes that the Government is supposed to help sustain these things, and that a Government enforced Christian view of marriage would be a step in that direction. But what are these things!? “Public trust” - Who is the “public”? The majority?; “Cooperation” – among whom? and to what end?; “Common Good” – as determined by whom?; “Common belief” – among whom? and what is being believed?
These vague bromides concerning the Government’s role in society are a Socialist’s dream! But vague bromides are horribly insufficient when discussing the legal use of physical force — and that is exactly what the Government is. No one would think it acceptable for a gun-safety instructor to simply say “be nice and be safe”, without ever going into any actual detail about gun-ownership, self-defense, the dangers of treating the weapon lightly, etc… So why on earth do so many Christians think it is acceptable to speak so lightly about institutionalized legal physical force (i.e. Government)!? Government is a gun - a very big, dangerous, complex, heavy-duty gun, and it ought to be treated as such.
The only proper use of physical force is in response to the initiation of physical force. Just as there is no justification for pulling out one’s hand-gun and forcing someone to tell you the truth when you suspect them of lying (even though lying is evil), likewise there is no justification for an individual or group to attempt to use the Government to forcibly keep others from doing something which does not initiate force against someone (no matter how evil what they are doing might be). The only proper role of the Government, therefore, is the protection of individuals from the initiation of physical force. Any other view of Government is necessarily tyrannical and authoritarian, at root. Abuse of the Government is as significant (and more so!) as the abuse of a weapon.
So, American Church: I know you’re scared. You’re scared because you’re weak, and you are afraid of losing your integrity by giving into the peer pressure of the culture. But, that is no reason to pick up the gun of Government coercion. You are weak by your own designs. You don’t have to be weak, and you don’t have to give into the culture. You can (if you will) be the strong, confident, “pillar and buttress of truth” you were meant to be — but not by force! Only cowards hide behind guns. If you want to be strong, you will need to think: think philosphically, think critically, think introspectively, think comprehensively, and think confidently. It is your only alternative.