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Photo by WallyG/Flickr. Some Rights Reserved
SCOTUSThe Supreme Court of the United States of America.
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GalileoThe Rev. Joey Reed says he's not among those Christians who want to decide the fates of others, such as when Galileo faced the Roman Inquisition in this painting by Cristiano Banti.
You likely have an opinion.
I do, too. I’d like our opinions to meet, have coffee, and learn from each other.
Here’s mine. The ruling of the Supreme Court makes perfect sense if you understand that the Constitution is the operative document.
The ruling of the Supreme Court makes no sense if you think that the Constitution is based on Scripture as the operative document.
The ruling of the Supreme Court makes some sense, but adds a great deal of tension to our legal, ethical, and moral understanding of the Constitution, a document influenced by Scripture and written by men who were at least familiar with the principles contained therein.
That said, I think it is time for a clear distinction between legislating our beliefs and legislating ethical behavior. We’ve spent far too long on the former and ignored the latter.
A Developing Philosophy of Government
The business of legislating is designed for the common good. I know enough about the Constitution to understand that. Laws are not about making people agree with a cultural or religious position. Our society no longer has the ability nor the desire to enforce the broad cultural norms that once predominated.
For many, that’s a good thing. But for others, it is a moment of panic. It is a time of desperation. And legislation seems to be the last-ditch-effort weapon of choice.
As much as I would like people to agree with me on every subjective matter, I can’t see that happening. The reason is plain: I don’t agree with the growing majorities in society on a broad raft of issues. Should I mount some sort of morality crusade and get people back to behaving like “God-fearing Americans?” No, not really. Because God-fearing Americans disagree on some of these issues. And, as a matter of faith, it can be very difficult to bring an argument that doesn’t collapse under the weight of empirical evidence.
Most of these issues are subjective, which means that interpretation and choice is very much involved. In my way of thinking, this means that free-will Christians (if they are willing to put their money where their mouth is) should get busy wishing people well on their chosen path in life, even if it is a moment of disagreement.
One of the truest measures of our character is the manner in which we disagree with someone. Jesus forgave the very men who killed him. Jesus was civil to the men who were turning the political wheels that meant his death. He saved his anger for the moment when the system was forcing itself upon those who could not resist it and could not comply with it without detriment.