07/09/2006: Al Mohler, in his latest blog, reflects on Peter Berkowitz’s assessment of the direction of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), and its implications for Christians.
Berkowitz, from a legal standpoint, is right on the money. SCOTUS, since the 1960s–arguably before then–has been moving in the direction of individual freedoms with respect to issues tied to sexuality. The decisions regarding contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut), abortion (Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Akron Ohio, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey), and homosexuality (Lawrence v. Texas) seem to follow a consistent pattern, irrespective of the other quagmires they create.
Berkowitz also points out [correctly] that SCOTUS is prepared to legalize gay marriage. The arguments against it–from a pure legal standpoint–are weak. The argument advanced by many conservatives–we cannot have gay marriage because heterosexual marriage is a long-engrained historical institution of civilization–carries no weight. (The same, after all, could be said for slavery.)
I’m not trying to defend gay marriage–from a Biblical standpoint, I’m against it–but if you toss the Judeo-Christian foundation out the window, which we have, then anything goes.
In his assessment of Berkowitz, Mohler has this to say:
At this point the Christian worldview offers a much-needed corrective. The Bible grounds human freedom not in a sweeping claim of human autonomy, but in the fact that human beings are made in the image of God. Thus, the biblical concept of freedom comes with limits set from the very beginning by our Creator. We are not given the right, as Anthony Kennedy so sweepingly expressed, to define our own concept of existence “and of the mystery of human life.”
Peter Berkowitz’s analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the culture’s commitment to an ever-expanding understanding of freedom should help Christians to think seriously about the true nature of freedom and its limitations. His article will certainly inform the way we understand today’s cultural conflicts over issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage–but it should also serve as a catalyst for how we should understand a Christian description of human freedom. As this article makes clear, we now face two rival visions of human freedom and its meaning. The future of our culture depends upon which vision shapes the policies of the future.
Sadly, this is where Mohler is right, but futile.
Fact is, even conservative Christians are not on the same page with respect to the Scriptures, human freedom, and government’s role in our lives.
I tend to be more libertarian–I want all states completely out of the marriage licensing racket altogether, and want issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research to be taken away from the federal government and resolved by citizens in the several states.
On the other hand, many conservative Christians–such as Mohler and D. James Kennedy–probably differ with me on that matter, preferring a strong federal government with respect to these issues.
I tend to look at federal government as too large and bloated and a continuous usurper of our freedoms: if all these issues must be resolved at the federal level, then relying on five SCOTUS votes leaves us with tenuous freedoms indeed. On the other hand, many conservative Christians look to federal government to resolve the great issues of the day.
I guess the larger question is this: Is the Church prepared to address these issues among Her own ranks?
I’d be interested to know what Dr. Mohler has to say to that effect.