In the video below, Glenn Beck takes an effectively pro-gay marriage position. To put a fine point on it, Glenn Beck tells his audience that while it’s okay to be personally opposed to gay marriage, conservatives shouldn’t oppose gay marriage as a matter of public policy. In other words, he believes that gay marriage should be legal.
Later in the conversation, he gives his rationale. After citing his “biblical” convictions about marriage, he tells listeners that they need to remember that they are “libertarian constitutionalists first.” I disagree. Christians ought to be Christians first. That doesn’t mean that we ignore the Constitution. But it does mean that our view of the common good and of public policy should be decisively shaped by what God has revealed. And God is not silent about what marriage is. That’s not to say that Christians are holding a winning hand in the debate over public policy and gay marriage. We aren’t. It is to say that we don’t trim our sails on what ought to be just because the winds of change are blowing against us. Some battles are worth fighting even if you know you’re going to lose.
Beck also miscalculates what the implications of legal gay marriage will be for Christians. He acts as if there are no religious liberty issues at stake in marriage law. He couldn’t be more wrong. On this point, I can’t say it any better than Rod Dreher has. Commenting on Beck’s remarks, Dreher writes:
[Beck’s] idea that churches (and Orthodox synagogues, and mosques) are going to be untouched by SSM is fantasy. Marriage law affects a myriad of other laws, and there is an unavoidable encroachment on religious liberty. This will be sorted out in the courts, but the real and serious and consequential conflicts do not disappear because one declares them non-existent.
This idea that the government should not be involved in marriage is wholly unrealistic; our entire society, including much of our legal framework, is built around the concept of marriage. For example, if the government did not recognize marriage (in whatever form), the constitutional protection spouses have against being compelled to testify in court against their spouses would be meaningless.
Whatever the flaws in Beck’s argument and vision, I think it’s highly significant because it shows that this is the route through which the populist right will come to embrace same-sex marriage. If conservatives are going to accept SSM, they ought to at least understand the full meaning, and the implications, of what they are accepting. Beck either does not see it, or will not see it. Don’t know which. But he is useful to the pro-SSM cause.
(HT: Andrew Walker)