Matthew Lee Anderson wrote a fabulous piece at Mere Orthodoxy on the religious liberty debate we are currently having in the context of the rise of the legal momentum that LGBT activists have seen. That debate devolved into a firestorm with the passage (and then weakening) of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The particular excerpt I want to point out makes an excellent case why evangelicals should have never stood for sodomy laws in the past. I remember when the Supreme Court struck down Texas’ sodomy law and how I had Christian friends bemoan that fact. I didn’t because my inclination was “why in the world would I want government to police the bedroom? Why stop at sodomy if that’s the case?”
Anderson does a far better job articulating what I thought at the time (and still think when I see friends and pundits complain about that ruling):
Now, it is doubtlessly the case that conservatives have sometimes defended and promoted certain illiberal laws, like sodomy laws, which gay marriage supporters have effectively turned against us in support of their own cause. I am opposed to such laws, for a variety of reasons, but one of which is that by creating an overly legalized context for the preservation of sexual norms, they tacitly transfer authority for such maintenance to the government. This potentially creates a false confidence in the stability of such norms, and threatens to displace the first and primary defender of sexual norms, namely the Church, as well as the family itself and all the non-governmental spheres of civil society. While such laws once enjoyed wide support, they were also overly morally restrictive and intrusive. Such overreaches have proved enormously costly to our own position in the world since the gay community has effectively and powerfully used them to portray themselves (with some legitimacy) as a persecuted minority.
Exactly! It backfired. One could also say that he who wields the sword could one day have the sword wielded against them when society pivots on a certain subject, like what we’re seeing today. That doesn’t excuse the trampling of religious liberty, but it provides a convenient excuse for those doing it.
Be sure to read the rest of Anderson’s excellent piece.