OPINION – The same-sex marriage conflict in Utah and elsewhere is simply one front of an intensifying culture war.
Both sides are claiming the moral high ground, but just how valid is a morality that rests primarily upon government force rather than persuasion?
Note that this question cuts both ways. This means it should apply to those who would use the state as a bludgeon either for or against same-sex marriage. The right to be left alone to peaceably pursue our happiness as we choose is one of the key tenets of liberty.
But this means liberating us from undue government influence rather than calling down more government power over ourselves and everyone else.
None of us has the right to force others to hold beliefs that they do not wish to hold. This is why government cannot be the sole moral authority in our lives.
A good example of why this is so was seen in the battle to abolish slavery. The institution of slavery was officially codified in the U.S. Constitution, yet the greatest opposition to its practice was found in America’s churches.
If not for the influence of a competing moral authority — religion — the abolitionist movement could not have succeeded.
One reason that religion is an effective moral authority in the first place is that, unlike the state, it must use persuasion rather than force to accomplish its goals. The same cannot be said for political correctness, which seeks to make certain moral conclusions binding upon everyone through government force. Its ability to affect change rests upon coercion.
As Leonard Read explained, this can be problematic:
But if people fail to understand the nature of coercion they will attempt to use this force of government even for creative purposes; they will vainly attempt to use a negating physical force – government – as a means of accomplishing a positive good. Unless they comprehend coercion, many of them will rob in the name of charity, plunder in the name of prosperity, and kill in the name of God.
This should be of particular concern when it comes to influencing our deepest held beliefs. Where religion claims God and revealed truth as its authority, politically correct morality is nothing more than the opinions of politically correct individuals.
People who hold to the personal conviction that right and wrong still exist are not judging others so much as they are evaluating practices. They understand that all of us have failings, yet refuse to pretend that our shortcomings justify base behaviors.
Political correctness insists that such non-violent viewpoints are so intolerable as to justify intimidation, guilt, and public shaming. This is why those who refuse to bow to the coercive demands of the new morality are so often accused of “hate.”
This is a rhetorical tactic known as “assuming facts not in evidence” and it’s meant to change the subject at hand while putting the accused on the defensive. When confronted with this tactic, the best response is to calmly restate the subject at hand rather than mount a defense of an ungrounded accusation.
It helps to remember that the accusation has nothing to do with actual proof. It is made solely to cause pain and humiliation in the hopes that we’ll remain silent. This is why it’s essential that we keep our moral compass calibrated.
Experts, pundits, and academics cannot answer the most important questions that any of us will face in our personal lives. Even our own reason will only take us so far. The greatest truth detector we possess, more often than not, is found within our conscience.
It is impossible to remain true to one’s deepest moral convictions without encountering opposition in some form. In our time, anyone who holds to the traditional morals of the Judeo Christian ethic will present an inviting target.
While the venom and vitriol we encounter is intended to discourage us, Joseph Sobran had sound advice for maintaining a positive attitude:
I’ve learned from experience to, as I like to put it, “look for the angels” — the people who, given a chance, will react to a kind gesture with their own kindness. The more you try to act like an angel, the more of these angels you’ll meet. The bigot is always looking for devils. And, with a sour pleasure, he’ll find them.
If there is a morality to which believer and unbeliever alike could subscribe, it should be something like the Golden Rule.
- Utah won’t recognize same-sex marriages
- On the EDge: Same-sex marriage isn’t dead, just on hold
- U.S. Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages in Utah
- Utah appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to halt same-sex marriages
- Tenth Circuit denies Utah’s appeal for stay on same-sex marriage ruling
- Marriage licenses issued, weddings had for same-sex couples in Washington County
- Judge denies Utah’s request for emergency stay, same-sex marriage decision
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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