There is a growing movement on the right to bifurcate marriage. There can be government recognized marriage and church recognized marriage. It is a convenient compromise to avoid a coming fight.
The compromise ignores that the left will never separate marriage from government. The left cannot because for so long it has been government through which marriages were legitimized to the public. The left must use the government to gain legitimacy for its version of marriage and use the tools of government to silence dissent.
Many are convinced the right is just trying to use government to enforce religious morality. The reality is, marriage proponents are merely trying to get the government to refrain from redefining an institution that government did not create. If government can redefine marriage to be something it has not in 5,000 years, government can then force people to accept the definition.
The left has done an admirable job in secular society making the case that gay marriage merely allows a class of people to have what everyone else has. The front on which the gay rights movement has failed is the religious and, in particular in the United States, the Christian front.
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In Matthew 19, Christ defines marriage thusly, “at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
Therein lies the problem for the gay rights movement. As long as there are still Christians who do not obfuscate this passage, a vast number of people around the world -- never mind Islam -- will never ever see gay marriage as anything other than an encroachment of God’s intent. So those Christians must be silenced.
The left exerted a great deal of energy to convince everyone the gay lifestyle is an alternative form of normal. It then has exerted a great deal of energy convincing people that because the gay lifestyle is just another variation of normal, gay marriage must be normalized.
Meanwhile, those Christians saying homosexual practice is a sin and gay marriage is a corruption of an institution, must be silenced. Any Christian who refuses to recognize that man wants to upend God’s order will have to be driven from the national conversation.
Already we have seen florists, bakers and photographers suffer because they have refused to go along with the cultural shift toward gay marriage. At least one church has already lost a tax exemption for refusing to allow a gay wedding on property it owns. There will be more.
Years before the gay marriage debate, my friend Dan McLaughlin broke down the seven stages of liberal legal activism:
1. It’s a free country, X should not be illegal.
2. The Constitution prohibits X from being made illegal.
3. If the Constitution protects a right to X, how can it be immoral? Anyone who disagrees is a bigot.
4. If X is a constitutional right, how can we deny it to the poor? Taxpayer money must be given to people to get X.
5. The Constitution requires that taxpayer money be given to people to get X.
6. People who refuse to participate in X are criminals.
7. People who publicly disagree with X are criminals.
We are on stage three now. The slope down gets even slipperier. As much as most would love a compromise between gay rights and religious freedom, there is an aggressive activist core on the left that will make such compromise impossible. We are headed toward troubling times for religious freedom in America.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.