The Culture War: the battles continue
The pastor of a church in Hometown, USA is married and has two small children. He attends a church meeting in another city where he meets a woman with whom he has sexual relations. He leaves his family to live with the new woman. His shocked parishioners fire the unfaithful pastor.
The pastor of a church in Middletown, USA, attends a church meeting in another city after which he goes to a gay bar where he meets a man with whom he has sexual relations. The pastor leaves his family and moves in with his gay lover. But, in this case, members of his church overlook the betrayed wife and the abandoned children. Instead, they back the pastor’s promotion to and confirmation as a Bishop
If you have been following the recent controversy within the Episcopal Church, you might recognize the second example as an exact reflection of the history of the Episcopal Bishop who was just confirmed in office by the general assembly of his church.
Irrespective of how one feels about homosexual behavior, the Case of the Gay Bishop is just another battle in the culture war that began during the counter-culture movement of the 1960s.
Other manifestations of this on-going war are those who would use the First Amendment to defend the taking of the Lord’s name in vain in print, on film and via the air waves yet use the First Amendment to try to force the removal of a granite monument bearing the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of Alabama’s judiciary building.
Three recent events are illustrative of the on-going Culture War: The Case of the Gay Bishop, the Case of the Ten Commandments and the Lawrence versus Texas Case which decided certain types of sexual behavior proscribed by Scripture and many state laws are no longer criminal.
While the Ten-Commandment Case in Alabama is merely illustrative of the extent to which the ACLU and other liberal groups will go to misinterpret our Constitution’s “separation of church and state” clause, the Bishop and the Lawrence Cases pose the greater questions for society.
Every code governing human conduct from the Code of Hammurabi, to the Holy Bible, to the Code Napoleon, to the English Common Law, to our American system of jurisprudence shares the common goal of trying to achieve fairness and consistency in the application of the standards of behavior contained in these codes and legal systems. In other words, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
In that regard, the Episcopalian Church may have cooked its goose. What will it do the next time a married, heterosexual pastor abandons wife and family and goes to live a woman not his wife? Fire him or promote him?
The Lawrence Case; however, may have even far more reaching consequences if it prompts any one of the several states to pass legislation approving same-sex marriages. Those who live out on the Great Plains may not think the passage of such a law in some eastern seaboard or some Left Coast state will affect them. But it will.
Article IV of the U.S. Constitution contains the Full Faith and Credit Clause which mean the laws enacted by one State must be given “full faith and credit” by the other 49 States.
Years ago, when divorces were difficult to get in most states, some people left their home state, moved to Nevada for six weeks, established residency, got a Nevada divorce which then, due to the “full faith and credit clause” had to be recognized by their home state. This means same-sex marriages would have to be given the same legal status throughout the United States. Such marriages will have a major impact on government –mandated entitlements for “spouses,” such as health care.
Long term, the outcome of the Culture War will have greater impacts on our society than the War against Terror.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today.
©2003. William Hamilton.