Same-sex Marriage and the New Dominionist Manifesto

By Mike Appleton, Guest Blogger

“So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.  Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

-Gary North, “The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right,” (Christianity and Civilization: The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, Number 1, Spring, 1982)

In Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S 1 (1967), the Supreme Court held that Virginia’s prohibition of interracial marriage violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. “The freedom to marry,” wrote Chief Justice Warren, “has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” 366 U.S. at 12.  Many people were hoping that the Court would formally accord that status to same-sex marriage last month.  But it did not happen.  Edith Windsor will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax refunds from the federal government, but the Court did not find it necessary to address the issue of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right, and elected not to do so. United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307 (June 26, 2013).

While that central constitutional issue remains unresolved, opponents of same-sex marriage are on the move.  The Freedom Federation, a coalition of civil and religious right-wing organizations ranging from Americans for Prosperity to Wallbuilders, has issued a pre-emptive strike in the form of a signed letter declaring that “the Supreme Court has no authority to redefine marriage… .”  The letter, which can be found on the Freedom Federation website, asserts that should the Court grant legal recognition to same-sex marriage, it “will be acting beyond its proper constitutional role,” and concludes with the vaguely ominous warning that “this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.”

We have witnessed in recent years an increasing willingness by state legislatures to adopt nullification statutes, facially unconstitutional but politically potent.  Now the religious right has determined to extend the nullification doctrine to the judicial branch, employing the language of religious freedom to hide a theocratic dominionist vision of government and society.

In 2004 and again in 2005, legislation known as the Constitution Restoration Act was introduced in both the House and the Senate.  If adopted, the act would have stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to consider any case challenging the acknowledgment of God as a source of law by any federal, state or local governmental unit.  The act would have also mandated impeachment for any violation.  The legislation did not make it out of committee, but its intention was crystal clear: the rejection of the secularist notion of separation of church and state.

The drafting of the statute was largely the work of Herb Titus, a lawyer who served as the first dean of the law school at Regent University and who famously represented Judge Roy Moore, the Alabama jurist removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for his refusal to comply with a federal court order compelling the removal from the courthouse rotunda of a monument to the Ten Commandments.

The failure of the attempted legislative assault on established jurisprudence construing the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, combined with the pronounced hatred of the LBGT community by many religious fundamentalists, virtually guaranteed that something resembling the Freedom Federation letter would emerge when it did.  The co-author of the letter is Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law.  In March of this year, Liberty Counsel welcomed the Florida Faith & Works Coalition to its member organizations.  The Coalition represents approximately 600 conservative pastors engaged in promoting universal Christian dominionism.  From its website: “Subduing and having dominion over all the earth commands responsibility over the entire animate and inanimate world including the moral values that form the basis of society.  We affirm that, historically, America was established as a Christian nation and its policies were based on biblical principles.  The guardian of those biblical principles has always been His church.  And His church, in recent history, has passively abdicated its guardianship responsibility.”

The arguments in the Freedom Federation letter are boldly theocratic.  First, it is urged that marriage solely between a man and a woman is mandated by “natural moral law,” a product of reason.  But it approaches natural law in the same manner that Justice Scalia approaches the Constitution, as a rigid and dead body of law. (It also fails to identity which system or systems of natural law it endorses, but that’s another topic.) The truth is that our understanding of natural law theory and of the Constitution have evolved precisely because reason evolves as it is informed by knowledge and experience.

The letter next asserts that natural moral law is “affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by Christian teaching,” thus adding the biblical foundation for the treatment of marriage between a man and a woman as divinely ordained and not subject to expansion or modification by positive law.  This is not only an argument against a secular view of marriage; in accordance with dominionist theology, it is also a rejection of religious pluralism.

Finally, the letter claims that same-sex marriage, once legitimized, will inevitably lead to its compulsory recognition by Christians, thereby undermining freedom of religion and conscience.  This position is demonstrably absurd, of course, since no religious sect has ever been compelled to grant sacramental status to any marital union that conflicts with its own doctrinal requirements.  And in the eyes of the law, no marriage has ever required religious approval as a condition of legitimacy.

Fundamentalist Christians must recognize by now that they are losing the battle against the ultimate acceptance of same-sex marriage.  But they are also patient and vigilant.  The Freedom Federation letter is a reminder that the preservation of secular government and religious freedom will also require patience and vigilance.


321 thoughts on “Same-sex Marriage and the New Dominionist Manifesto”

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  2. OS,
    I am betting that the new dictionaries will be banned from the schools here if they include gay marriages!

  3. Wingnut heads will be exploding all over the English-speaking world. Might as well include France, since same-sex unions have been made legal there as well, and definitions of marriage will be changed in French dictionaries too.

    From the Daily Mail:

    The leading authority on the English language has confirmed that the definition of the word ‘marriage’ will be changed now a law allowing same-sex couples to get married has been passed.

    Rest of the story at the link:

  4. Tony,
    Don’t you just love it when they have to resort to the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy?

  5. P.S. As your “final response,” I accept your surrender and admission that you cannot make your point, cannot answer my points, and do not know enough logic to put forth the premises you claim to know so well.

    Link all you want, cite all the experts you want, they aren’t here to argue. If you need them, I presume you don’t know your material well enough to explain it yourself, you need the imprimatur of an “expert” to protect yourself from attack; you want to deflect criticism of that position to somebody that isn’t here so you don’t have to deal with it. If you are just a parrot for other people’s thinking, then good riddance, there is no point in arguing with a bird brain.

  6. DavidM quotes: As I have argued, the principal difference is very simple and fundamental: the artificially delimited (two-person, lifelong…) category named ‘gay marriage’ or ‘same-sex marriage’ corresponds to no intrinsic reason or set of reasons at all.

    Yes it does, the intrinsic reason is that two people love each other romantically.

    DavidM quotes: It has few presentable counterparts in the real world outside the artifice of debate. Marriage, on
    the other hand, is the category of relationships, activities, satisfactions, and responsibilities which can be intelligently and reasonably chosen by a man and a woman, and adopted as their integral commitment, because the components of the category
    respond and correspond coherently to a complex of interlocking, complementary good reasons: the good of marriage.

    That is just circular reasoning, plain and simple. In fact, the components of a gay marriage respond and correspond coherently to a complex of interlocking, complementary good reasons too: Each feels like the other person completes their life, because they are sexually and romantically attached to them, each feels like the other person holds the key to their heart, each feels like the other person understands them, loves them, and can be their partner (sexual and otherwise) for life.

    If Finnis is talking about something as simple as a stick in a hole, I think that is irrelevant. (and certainly gay males have sticks and holes to put them in, and gay females have fingers and holes, and quite a large percentage of gay females do not want a stick in any hole they have; the thought of that repulses them as much as the thought repels most heterosexual men).

    But marriage is allowed without any sex at all, my widowed mother, after 20 years, seriously considered marriage again to another man she loved and was living with — who was incapable of penetrative sex.

    If Finnis is talking about the sex act itself, then this is simple bigotry, claiming that homosexual sex is unnatural and homosexual love is impossible and marriage should be reserved to people of whom he approves.

    I tried to point out to you the folly of considering “nature” infallible or deified, but you don’t listen. We bend nature to our will, you wear clothing, you live in an unnatural dwelling, you eat unnaturally farmed and ranched foods, you take medicines that are not found as any natural thing.

    Also, homosexuality is found in over 1500 species, it is NOT unnatural at all. You claim it is unnatural, but that is because you attribute intent to nature, and it has none; homosexuality presumably exists in so many species because either it provides an indirect survival benefit to siblings or parents of some sort, or it is an accident of complex development for which evolution has not stumbled upon a solution, or in the end for reproduction of the parents it turns out to not matter that much.

    But it exists, in dolphins, in apes, in water fowl. We do not need to prohibit it in order to ensure reproduction, 90% of people are born heterosexual and can they could triple the population every generation without any problem.

    If Finnis pretends he ISN’T just talking about physicality, then he must be talking about mental complementarity, and that is what homosexuals experience. It is not a sensation limited to heterosexual minds. A gay woman can only experience satisfaction and love with a female. A gay male can only experience satisfaction and love with a male. Prohibiting them the bonds of marriage is just cruel, and unnatural, because they are engaging in their natural inclination and doing no harm to anyone.

    Finnis is wrong. And you are wrong.

  7. David,
    I pulled your last comment out of the spam filter. It appears the filter identifies most long comments as spam, especially if there is a link in it.

    As for your assertions regarding an “honest” discussion. Discussions are a two-way street. We are all waiting for some kind of explanation of exactly how any heterosexual person will be harmed now or at some time in the future if same sex marriages are made the law of the land.

    We did our part by pointing out numerous ways gay people are harmed every day by discrimination, hatred, bigotry and oppressive anti-civil rights laws. Speaking of oppressive laws, I see that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is trying to overturn a judge’s order that Ohio recognize the marriage between John Arthur, a terminally ill man nearing the end of his life, and his husband, James Obergefell. This is not about money, inheritance, sex, reproduction or ‘natural law.’ The gay couple wants Ohio to recognize their marriage so they can be buried together in the family plot. The cemetery only allows legally married couples to be buried together. David, you would deny this couple that right?

    Story about the Ohio case is here:

    I also asked if you were a Domionist or a propagandist sent by one of the Domionist organizations and you never responded to that either.

    I get it that you have had enough and have decided to bail. Bye.

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