It’s Never Been About Civil Rights

The Late Modern War Against Nature

(HT: Mike Opelka) In this video, Lesbian activist Masha Gessen makes explicit what’s been known underground in the homosexual community for a long time: Homosexual marriage is not about civil rights. It never has been. Camille Paglia exposed that story in the early 90s in her essay, “The Joy of Presbyterian Sex.” She said the whole point of homosexuality is to break convention. Homosexulity is enticing because it’s illicit and she mocked the mainline Presbyterians (i.e., the PCUSA) for vainly trying to domesticate what was always going to be a wild animal, as it were (i.e., homosexual activity).

Gessen says,

fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do when we get gay marriage.

Indeed. The point of redefining marriage is to redefine marriage. This isn’t really, ultimately, about homosexual marriage. It’s about nature. It’s about limits. It’s about givens. It’s about creation and it’s about God. Yes, I’ll even invoke Sodom and Gomorrah. Those episodes were about defying divinely established limits revealed in creation (Rom 1). To the degree that Christians talk about homosexual marriage as if it were about “civil rights” to the the same degree they’ve accepted a false premise. It’s about gaining civil sanction for defying creational limits. The state (magistrate, legislature) can no more redefine marriage than it can redefine gravity. As they say in sports, it is what it is.

One result of telling ourselves that it’s about civil rights is to reduce the tension between Christians and the culture, as the latter slides into chaos and old night but at what cost to Christians? Does the magistrate bear the sword in vain? If he doesn’t enforce natural law, then what does he enforce?

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Professor Clark

    Great post. I think Dr James R White read from this piece on his podcast show The Dividing Line.

    Question: Does the civil magistrate in the Western tradition enforce the entire scope of natural law?

    It seems the point of English Common Law was to enforce the “neighbourly duties” of the natural law. As Thomas Jefferson said “if it doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg, what do I care.”

    My point is it would seem many things not illegal according to civil law are contrary to natural law. Yet, the civil magistrate from a classical liberal perspective would not enforce such dereliction.

    I’m asking here, not criticising.


  2. Dr Clark


    I think we agree. I was just curious as to your thoughts because I know along with being a theological professor, you’re well aware of the classical liberal underpinnings of the American republic—of Edmund Burke and Adam Smith (Theory of Moral Sentiments), etc.

    Have a blessed day!


  3. I haven’t been following the debates as closely as others, so perhaps this has been shown to be unreasonable or not capable of being implemented. What if we were to instead gradually move the government away from officially recognizing marriage as such, and instead have only the recognition of civil unions? So basically, the government would no longer be involved determining what is or is not marriage; we would have the replacement of marriage before the law with only civil unions. Instead of the gov’t being the final judge of the issue, let different groups argue and practice their ideas without gov’t approval or disapproval.

    • Alberto,

      That’s been suggested. Can there be a society where there is no agreed definition of a family? Has that ever existed before?

      Where would the civil line be drawn and on what basis? If nature doesn’t apply to marriage, to what does it apply?

  4. I just don’t have confidence that our society, even some people who call themselves Christian, are willing to listen and seriously tackle good arguments. When even some who identify themselves as Christians portray us as hate filled or at best an impediment to progress, I don’t think we can face the future with confidence that we will be tolerated as we are at the present. I remember reading an article when New York was working on its gay-marriage legislation and how language was being added so that the law would not violate certain religious freedoms; I found this troubling.

    I don’t deny natural law, it just seems that the redefinition of marriage and the family is inevitable, so I am thinking of possible alternatives. I am still thinking.

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