Permission, not Approval.
Getting Straight on Homosexual Behavior_Barnabas-Permission, not Approval.
The Supreme Court voted 6-3 on Thursday to strike down a Texas law that banned sex between homosexuals, a decision that was an unprecedented show of respect for gay men and lesbians... Tom Minnery, of the evangelical group Focus on the Family, said the ruling lifts "the boundaries that prevent sexual chaos in our culture."
—USA Today, Friday, June 27, 2003
For the Supreme Court to strike down a law it deems unconstitutional is hardly “an unprecedent show of respect for gay men and lesbians,” as the USA Today
writer asserts. The Court surely had more on its mind than showing respect for a particular group; it could have rendered its judgment and had zero respect for gays and lesbians in their sexual identity. Their respect is for the Constitution, the laws that apply it faithfully, and for all the people who are under its protection. The Court ruled that the law should stay out of people’s bedrooms so long as what goes on there is not criminal (such as, but not limited to, . assault and battery, rape, child abuse). In a free society, their ruling is the only way to go.
Does this mean that I think homosexual relations are “okay.”? No. Permission is not approval. I do not think it is okay, either in ethics or religion. For example, I would fight hard against the ordination of a practicing, unrepentant homosexual in my denomination, because the practice does not accord with biblical teaching as we discern it. But then I would also fight hard against the ordination of a heterosexual known to be unrepentantly engaged in fornication or adultery, neither of which accord with biblical teaching as we discern it.
Nobody has the right to be ordained, but everyone except criminals has the right to be left alone. So we say to the legislatures, the cops, and the courts, “Stay out of our bedrooms and sanctuaries. Let families, individuals, religious bodies, and other voluntary groups discipline their own morals.”
Does this mean that I agree with the Chicken Little response of Focus on the Family, that the ruling lifts “the boundaries that prevent sexual chaos in our culture”? No. What boundaries? Where is the evidence that these laws have prevented sexual chaos? What have we been living in for the past thirty-five years, except sexual chaos? It looks as though some conservative Christians who have watched, and then participated in, the failure of law to prevent fornication, adultery, and illegitimacy, are still trusting in the legislatures to do their work for them. When have legal boundaries ever prevented sexual chaos? Ethical standards personally held, and religious discipline voluntarily submitted to, have limited success; laws alone, never.
Sexual chaos is a societal state of mind in which any or all seek approval for whatever they want to do. Without the approval they’ll still do it; they just won’t be as happy about it.
The difference between the United States and Canada in the past two weeks is that the U.S. gave permission, while Canada gave approval, by redefining marriage itself. The difference is huge. It’s ethics, not patriotism, that leads me to say that the U.S. got it straight and the Canadians got it confused.