Torch, Fall/Winter 2007

20 TORCH P olitical issues do not appear in a vacuum. While it may seem the controversy swirling around gay rights is new, several decades of legal, political, and social trends have joined to create this quarrel. As evangelical Christians, we operate from a scriptural foundation in the hope of bending our culture toward the will of God. How we begin to accomplish this audacious agenda is a matter of discernment. Three questions must be addressed as we ponder the sources of, and our response to, gay rights in general, and gay marriage in particular. Can We Legislate Morality? There is no question we can use the law to enact our moral perspective. Even seemingly mundane policies, like government budgets, are full of moral decisions. The very act of choosing to fund one program (say environmental regulation), as opposed to thousands of others, reflects moral beliefs and a sense of priorities. To a degree, all legislation has a moral component, so our government is constantly “legislating morality.” There are limits, though, to what legislation can accomplish. Laws and public policies will neither change hearts nor create revivals. Only God’s grace can transform societies and cultures, so to hope that a policy, however right, will make people more godly is misplaced. While law is limited in its effect , we are also constrained by what we can attempt to do through the law. Can We Discriminate Against Those in a Homosexual Lifestyle? The Constitution defines appropriate uses of government’s power. If you think of politics as a game, the Constitution is the rulebook, with the Supreme Court as the referee. Even though a majority of citizens and legislators might espouse strong beliefs, if the policies that flow from those beliefs are contrary to the Constitution, as interpreted by the Court, those policies and laws are null and void. The Supreme Court, through a series of decisions, has By Mark Smith, Ph.D. Homosexuality, the Constitution, and Gay Marriage by Mark Caleb Smith, Ph.D.