Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), a devout Roman Catholic, sowed the wind to reap a whirlwind when he stated regarding a pending Supreme Court case on the Texas sodomy law, “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”
The Senator is making a legal argument. I think it is one firmly grounded in basic Judeo-Christian morality.
The League of Gay and Lesbian voters and “OUTfront,” a wing of Amnesty International, among many other gay-rights advocacy groups viciously attacked Santorum’s remarks. The Democratic left is incensed. What’s new?
Santorum holds that he firmly believes in equality before the law for all Americans regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation and we should take him at his word. The sinfulness of homosexuality is more of a moral argument than a legal one but it also is fundamental to a Judeo-Christian understanding of morality. Biblical proscriptions against homosexual behavior appear in both the Old and New Testaments. Leviticus 18:22, in a portion of the Jewish Law dealing with basic morality, describes homosexual behavior as “detestable.” The verse above condemns child sacrifice and what immediately follow forbids bestiality. Two chapters later, Leviticus 20:13, also describes homosexual practice as a “perversion” punishable by death. The previous verse deals with incest … same punishment … the following addresses sex with one’s mother-in-law … and verse 15 requires death for bestiality. (PETA take note, the animal dies too.) Likewise, the Apostle Paul condemns homosexual behavior in Romans 1:24 and in I Corinthians 6:9. Santorum’s position is grounded in Christian morality.
While not all Christians accept Biblical proscriptions against homosexuality, the majority do. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination to which I belong, for nearly two decades a small but vociferous minority advocated ordination of gay and lesbians and performing same-sex marriages. In three separate votes put to the Church’s membership, elders and ministers affirmed retaining Biblical standards of sexual behavior by successively larger margins. Furthermore, the position condoning homosexuality as an “alternative” to heterosexual relations within the sanctity of marriage is a minority position within Christendom as a whole. The same goes for Judaism and I would imagine Islamic proscriptions against homosexuality would be equally strong.
Rick Santorum, like us all, is a man informed by his morality. His comparison of homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery no doubt offends many people. While Sen. Santorum claims that his remarks must be taken within their legal context, legality and morality do not always equate. After all, chattel slavery and segregation were legal. German lawyers were present in force at the Wannsee Conference on Jan. 20, 1942, when Reinhard Heydrich planned the Holocaust.
Whatever the legal ramifications, the notion that homosexual practice is immoral issues from traditional Judeo-Christian understandings of sexual morality. To accept homosexuality as moral within a Biblical context one also must accept bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery. Ultimately not even our pets will be safe.
Advocates for gay and lesbian rights, particularly those who argue that homosexual activity is morally acceptable, base their arguments on several related assumptions.
First, and perhaps most compelling, is that since homosexuals are “born that way” their behavior is natural and, therefore, acceptable. Leaving aside that the evidence that homosexuality is a matter of genetic disposition, from a moral perspective it also is irrelevant. The evidence that alcoholism results from genetic determination is far greater, but does that mean we condone public drunkenness? Try that argument on your highway patrolman. What about getting smashed in the privacy of your own home? Certainly, we have that right, but insurance companies also have a right to decline health and homeowners insurance to drunks. Natural does not equate to good. Otherwise Ted Bundy might be a free man getting his “natural” gratification by inflicting pain and death on co-eds.
Second, a modified form of this argument holds that this is a social justice issue, like civil rights for African Americans or women’s rights. Legally, that argument may have merit, but morally it fails because it is no more a sin to be born an African-American or a woman than it is to be born a white male. From Judeo-Christian perspective, we are all subject to original sin. Christians believe sinners need redemption, not confirmation. Gay and ethnicity do not equate.
Third, there is the argument that homosexuality is widespread, so it must be socially and morally acceptable. How “widespread” homosexual behavior actually is a matter of debate. Gay-lesbian groups tout figures such as”10 percent” but in reality 2 to 3 percent probably is more realistic. The fact is the vast majority of us are heterosexuals.
In the final analysis, what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is their business, a matter between them and God. Sen. Santorum said nothing that denies treating everyone equally before the law. One’s moral fiber, however, is essential to one’s character and it will determine their weltanschauung. All Christians believe in forgiveness and redemption. Ultimately, the voters of Pennsylvania, of which I am one, will decide if Senator Santorum’s service to our interests warrants keeping him in office. A factor I will weigh is the extent to which his moral convictions determine his political actions.