Saturday, January 21, 2006

Morality and the Family: New Developments

A judge in the state of Maryland struck down a Maryland law that limited marriage to the union of a man and a woman on the basis that it violates the equal protection clause of the Maryland Constitution. The law, enacted 33 years ago, is similar to laws adopted in a number of other states as well. The judge then issued an immediate stay to allow the decision to be appealed to the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in Maryland. The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by the ACLU on behalf of 19 plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, the Family Pride Organization and other activist groups are planning to focus their efforts toward obtaining tickets to the national Easter egg roll at the White House, to showcase their campaign, "Love makes a Family," on behalf of gay and lesbian families. Tickets to the event, which are free, are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis two days before the event, which takes place this year on April 17th. According to the news report, some 16,000 tickets were distributed last year. Apparently, the Family Pride Organization is urging its supporters to "camp out" in line the day before ticket distribution begins; and now some conservative groups are pondering taking the same action.

Of the two situations noted above, the Easter egg event seems almost childish on the part of both the liberals and the conservatives. What's next: "Love Makes a Family" protests at Little League games? "Love Makes a Family" signs in the end zones at NFL games? Of course, love makes a family -- but there is more to it than that -- at least, from an Orthodox Christian point of view.

The decision by the Maryland judge -- admittedly, only one judge (so far) in the system -- has much greater implications. After all, the situation in Massachusetts was triggered initially in just about the same way, if I recall correctly. Among other things, the trend for state legislatures to adopt laws restricting the definition of marriage, only to have these laws struck down as unconstitutional, has led many states to amend their constitutions to place the restriction at that level; and to calls for doing the same in the U.S. Constitution.

Even as groups organize themselves on either side of the issue, it seems that public opinion is being swayed, and it is moving toward the more permissive position. After all, can anyone have imagined that courts would be legalizing same-sex unions as marriages by judicial order twenty years ago? For that matter, although this is admittedly a poor point of comparison, when the 1999 movie "Wild Wild West" first aired on television, the line spoken at one point by Will Smith (starts with a "d"; rhymes with "ham"...) was bleeped; but not today. When that line was used by Clark Gable as Rhett Butler at the end of 1939's "Gone with the Wind," what an uproar took place! ("Frankly, my dear, I don't give a ...") It's a small piece of the puzzle; but it shows, I think, the movement of our culture from them until now in the more permissive direction. What once was shocking is now, all too sadly, routine...

Here's the point: The appeals being made by those who oppose the recognition of same-sex unions as marriages ultimately rest upon a Christian foundation; and, as that foundation loses its place in our culture, as it is eroded by the increasingly permissive morality of our culture, we will see the state part company with its heretofore Christian-derived position. Same-sex unions will be legally recognized as marriages; perhaps even in a generation, or less. It's a "brave new world" ahead for the faithful...

We must not lose heart; and we must not ever contemplate surrendering what we believe and practice. If the state chooses to recognize same-sex unions as marriages, and same-sex households as "families," we must continue to hold to the Truth that has been revealed to us.

But let us pray now that that day is long in coming...