Two wrongs and two rightsNovember 19, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Chuck Colson complains about the “intolerance” of the gays.
Two days after the election, 2,000 homosexual protesters surrounded a Mormon temple in Los Angeles chanting “Mormon scum.” Protesters picketed Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, holding signs reading “Purpose-Driven Hate.” Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills was spray painted. Church members’ cars have been vandalized, and at least two Christians were assaulted. Protesters even hurled racial epithets at African-Americans because African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage.
This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us!
I’ll give you time to sweep up the smoking remains of your irony meters…
Back? Ok, let’s have a look at what Colson gets wrong. First of all, these protesters aren’t “those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance” as they are “those whose fundamental human rights have been trampled by Christians.” Let’s pass amendments forbidding any definition of marriage other than “marriage is the union of two non-Christians” and see how meekly believers embrace their new second-class status! Excessive protests may be wrong, but they are hardly surprising. Not everyone takes abuse calmly and rationally.
Next, consider that two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s true in a couple of ways. It’s true that the actions of Christians don’t make it right for protesters to vandalize other people’s property, or to assault them. But by the same token, the crimes committed by some protesters do not diminish the substantial wrongness of the original abuse of human rights. Yes, the excessive protests are wrong (if understandable), but it’s a far greater wrong to subvert democracy and make discrimination legally binding, especially considering this oppression is both gratuitous and unprovoked.
We call human rights “inalienable” because human law has no power to make or unmake them. The law can protect human rights, or the law can suppress and deny human rights, but it cannot create them nor can it make them go away, not even by majority vote. People have a fundamental, inalienable right to marry and be married, and the law cannot change that, not even at the constitutional level. The state may have a legitimate interest in delaying marriage until both parties are of an age of consent, but it is none of the state’s business whom a person chooses to marry.
What’s more, when some selfish and unprincipled group takes advantage of their majority status to oppress some minority group, then that the members of that minority, and all men and women of good conscience, have the right to denounce the evil, bigotry and injustice of the perpetrators. You don’t get to claim to be the good guys when you’re playing the bad guy’s part. If the hobnailed boot fits, wear it.
Colson’s defense for the indefensible actions of Christians is to ask “What would Jesus say about same-sex “marriage?” But that’s irrelevant. Nobody is attacking Christians’ right to have their own definition of marriage, or to practice marriages that conform to that definition. It is Christians who are seeking to impose an exclusive, sectarian definition of marriage on everyone else, and to create a “thought police state” in which it is against the law to define marriage in any way that disagrees with the Christian view.
Gays aren’t trying to force anyone to change their definition of Christian marriage, they’re only asking that people respect their right to have a different opinion on the matter, and basically mind their own business. It is Christians who are meddling in other people’s relationships and families, and abusing the democratic process, and turning prejudice and bigotry into the law of the land. In so doing, they are erasing that crucial distinction between true democracy and mere mob rule.
Genuine democracy can only exist where there is a fundamental and sacred respect for inalienable human rights like the right to marry regardless of who or what you are. Without a foundation of respect for human rights, democracy becomes a unique form of tyranny that debases humanity and forces everyone down to the lowest common denominator.
Yes, excessive protests are wrong, but the human rights violations are worse, especially since they have been made into law. People have a right to marry, and to protest when that right is systematically and oppressively violated. Two wrongs, and two rights. And Colson is clinging to the wrongs.