Sunday, November 19, 2006

Matt 24 Watch, 10: The 2006 South African Law on Marriage

This week, BBC and many other international and regional news media headlined the report that South Africa's parliament has now -- on a party-line vote, under the instruction of the Courts -- legalised so-called "same-sex marriage."

This follows up on two key developments over the past decade:

[1] The South African 1996 post-Apartheid Constitution has in it a clause that forbids "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation." As the just linked World Magazine article noted in December 2005: "At the time Christians warned the provision would open the door to gay marriage. Now it has."

[2] In 2002 to 2005, on a suit initiated by a lesbian couple, the High Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Courts in effect ruled that the common law definition of marriage had to be reworked to include same sex marriages. As Wikipedia reports, the statement of the last of these is telling: 'It ruled that the exclusion of same-sex marriages in South African law "represented a harsh if oblique statement by the law that same-sex couples are outsiders, and that their need for affirmation and protection of their intimate relations as human beings is somehow less than that of heterosexual couples."[2]'

Further to this, we should note, from a Christianity Today article, how a Constitutional Court judge responded in court to appeals to t he Bible made by representative Christian groups: 'Judge Albie Sachs then interjected to say it would be a "worrying day" if judges were asked to give meaning to religious texts.'

Not surprisingly, as the South African Globe and Mail reports, the Constitutional Court "gave Parliament 12 months to effect the necessary change in the Marriage Act. " In short, even the timing of the recent legislation was all-too-predictable: just before the deadline set by the court on December 1, 2005.

Of course, while there were protests that the matter should have been subjected to referendum -- and it would, with near certainty, have lost such a vote -- it is held that the proceedings just summarised are all legally and properly democratic, and merely give the same "legal right" -- h'mm, does anyone have an inherent right to marry? [I thought access to marriage was a matter of agreement and consent not binding claims against parties in disagreement . . .] -- to marry to homosexuals [the term properly takes in both males and females] as to heterosexuals.

In short, all seems "legal" and "proper."

So, why is there a sour taste in the mouth and a queasy feeling in the tummy?

For very good reason indeed -- for what is "legal" is not at all to be conflated or confused with what is proper. Indeed, slavery and apartheid and many other abuses now rightly rejected were quite legal in their time.

So, let us pause:

1] We see first of all a classic confusion of liberty with license, libertinism and outright amorality: the former respects the laws of nature and of our Creator, the latter (as Romans 1 - 3 warns of) throw over the traces and become a counterfeit. In particular, we are plainly made male and female, for obvious reasons aptly summed up by Jesus:
MT 19:4 "Haven't you read," . . . "that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,' 5 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' ? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
2] In short, marriage as properly understood is part of the creation order and reflects our fundamental nature, thus the inherent and inescapable law of that nature. It therefore has a naturally proper objective and obvious definition, and court rulings and parliamentary decrees that defy that nature simply try to separate what God has inextricably joined. So, quite similar to the easy- marriage- and- easy- divorce games Jesus directly addressed by defining what marriage properly is, and pointing out Who has the right to define it, the attempts by the South African Courts and Parliament and the wider promotion of homosexuality [NB: this term, strictly, covers both male and female forms] are objectively disordered and personally and socially destructive. This is exactly what Romans 1 warns of, for cultures that turn their backs on God and his moral law, as Judge Sachs of South Africa ever so plainly has:
Rom 1: 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

RO 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another . . . . RO 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
3] It is therefore no surprise then to see that in a Western culture that has through evolutionary materialism quite literally put images (often, as Wells pointed out, deceitful ones) made to look like men, birds, animals and reptiles in the place of God -- usually in Museums and textbooks and the media more generally -- that, professing ourselves to be wise, we have set out on foolishness, most notably sexual foolishness. It is further no surprise to see that our judges and legislators should take a lead in such folly, as the grim warning in Psalm 2 tells us!

4] It should come as no surprise then, to see that there is abundant research -- reportedly something like 10,000 studies, that children reared in a stable family with their mothers and fathers present, thrive far better than those raised in what used to be called "broken homes." Of course, this is subjected to the now all-too-familiar cynical, rage-filled strawman attacks, ad hominems and general dismissive mockery in pursuit of improper shifting of the burden of proof, by the usual agenda-driven activists and their fellow travellers. But in fact the glorified common-sense conclusion in the studies is not at all surprising or unexpected. Here is Focus on the Family [FOF]:
More than ten thousand studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by loving and committed mothers and fathers. They are less likely to be on illegal drugs, less likely to be retained in a grade, less likely to drop out of school, less likely to commit suicide, less likely to be in poverty, less likely to become juvenile delinquents, and for the girls, less likely to become teen mothers. They are healthier both emotionally and physically, even thirty years later, than those not so blessed by traditional parents . . . .
We must also consider a world of the future where immorality is even more rampant than today, where both unbridled homosexual and heterosexual liaisons are the norm. The apostle Paul described such a society in the book of Romans, referring apparently to ancient Rome. He wrote, "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless" (Romans 1:29–31).
It appears likely now that the demise of families will accelerate this type of decline dramatically, resulting in a chaotic culture that will rip kids apart emotionally.
5] In short, the first common-sense and technical issue is: why is it that we are setting out to rob children of a healthy environment for their upbringing by institutionalising "families" which cut clean across the natural order and the strong consensus of research? (Indeed, in too many cases, this includes exposing adopted children to pedophiles; even though there is something like a ten times higher probability of abuse in such situations. Contrast the telling prejudice against Christian couples in American states where the homosexual agenda -- and yes, it is an agenda -- is institutionally dominant.)

6] Further to this, now that several jurisdictions have for several years put in place so-called same sex marriages and/or civil unions more or less tantamount to the same thing, we can also see empirically that the unions in question are utterly distinct from proper marriages -- they are short-term [typically lasting at most 1 - 3 years], unstable and riddled with open promiscuity. They also tend to promote a tendency to simply shack up in the heterosexual community, due to the underlying message: marriage is dead, irrelvant and unimportant. For -- and this is the plain objective of the homosexuals in pushing for so-called same-sex marriage: for good or ill, the law is a teacher.

7] And that is the real agenda at work. For, as the same recent Focus on the Family report aptly notes:
. . . when the State sanctions homosexual relationships and gives them its blessing, the younger generation becomes confused about sexual identity and quickly loses its understanding of lifelong commitments, emotional bonding, sexual purity, the role of children in a family, and from a spiritual perspective, the "sanctity" of marriage. Marriage is reduced to something of a partnership that provides attractive benefits and sexual convenience, but cannot offer the intimacy described in Genesis. Cohabitation and short-term relationships are the inevitable result. Ask the Norwegians, the Swedes, and the people from the Netherlands. That is exactly what is happening there.
8] Finally, liberty is about establishing justice, which in turn protects our rights. But, a right, properly, is a moral claim we make on others based on our inherent nature as creatures under God fulfilling the purpose set for us by our Creator -- no other sustainable basis for rights exists. Indeed, the evolutionary materialist alternative [the relevant competing view] in the end boils down to this: might makes right, i.e power substitutes for rights; thence its absurd relativism and skepticism about rights, which wreaks havoc in the community, especially through manipulating institutions of power and law; it is a sign of the disintegration of Western culture as it seeks to forget God [Deut 8:17 - 20]. No wonder, then, that those caught up in a culture dominated by that self-referentially inconsistent worldview [follow up the links to see why I say that!] seek to undermine sexual morality and family life.

9] So, we should stand firmly on the telling point that Jefferson and the American Congress made in the US Declaration of Independence in 1776: it is self-evident (rejecting it leads straight to absurdity and/or hypocritical inconsistencies) that "all men are created equal" and that we are "endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights," which is it is the duty of the state to protect. As such, claimed rights, obviously, must reflect our underlying nature, which is of course defined by, inter alia, our maleness and femaleness.

Thus, judges and parliaments -- whether in South Africa or in the Caribbean or anywhere else -- simply cannot separate what God has joined together, and will bring destructive chaos in the attempt to do so.

May God open our eyes to see that and turn from such folly before it is too late. END

UPDATE: Link to BBC added, slight cleaning up and adjustments.

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