Monday, January 20, 2014

When License Replaces Liberty

Sexual license has become the bottom-line in defining liberty in America. To quote:
It is no surprise, then, that people whose belief systems are a muddle of Casey’s sweet-mystery-of-life passage and Modern Family bridle at the strict sexual morality of the monotheistic religions. This is exacerbated by traditional Christianity’s refusal either to conform to the spirit of the age or to go away and be quiet. The erosion of the state’s role in upholding public morality both foreshadowed and led to the cultural rejection of religion’s right to judge the morality or immorality of certain acts.

Evangelicals still loudly proclaim that one should “wait until marriage,” even if that command is largely honored in the breach. The Catholic Church has not relaxed its prohibition on contraception, even if many of its adherents ignore its teaching or even loudly oppose it. Both Evangelicals and Catholics (and those members of mainline churches who hold to traditionalist norms) grapple with the culture on multiple fronts—praying outside abortion clinics, attending the March for Life, objecting to FDA approval of abortifacients, decrying pornography, etc. In short, they have remained a thorn in the side of an ever-more-permissive culture for over forty years. (Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, and Islam also adhere to strict moral norms regarding sexual behavior, but attract less attention because of their status as minority religions.)

This cultural attitude has led to religious liberty’s current embattled position. Catholic bishops teach that contraception is a sin? Break them. The charities they oversee must, in some way, be forced to provide free contraception and abortifacients to employees. Contraception has been available for over forty years, but now, suddenly, we must force business owners and religious orders to provide drugs and devices they believe to be sinful.

The proponents of the sexual revolution successfully persuaded the state to support their views. Now they seek to use the power of the state to force private persons to violate their religious beliefs and conform to the new morality.

To illustrate the degree of the incursion on religious conscience, religious liberty advocates often compare the contraception mandate to requiring all Jewish deli owners to serve pork sandwiches or requiring a Muslim business owner to pick up the tab for his employee’s heart-healthy red wine. This is a valid comparison, but perhaps the average American thinks, “Oh, the government would never do that.” And they’re right; probably the government never would. Why? Because food is considered too unimportant to be bothered with, whereas consequence-free sex has become an American totem. (Read more.)

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