Sunday, March 17, 2013
Should Orthodox Jews demand gay marriage to be illegal?
The author of the Emes ve-Emunah blog laments about Western society abandoning Bible-based ethics and Bible-believing people supporting laws going against the Bible-derived ethics. He uses gay marriage as an example.
You can read the post to see his argument and to judge whether you agree or not.
Here is my comment to the post (it uses my approach to the issue which I have written about multiple times, so don't expect any novel thoughts here):
Your assumption is that laws should be based on societal ethics. But this is erroneous. The purpose of law is to create a society, not to create a particular ethical version of a society. There has to be a basic set of prohibitions that maintain the society: prohibition from murder, stealing, rape, and fraud. Without those, there is no society.
After that, people are free to create private communities in which they can implement their personal ethical standards. The communities don't have to be geographically segregated, they can coexist, just like in modern American cities, Catholics, Protestants, Muslim, Hindus, atheists, and, lehavdil, Jews, coexist and co-operate (trade with each other and even work together).
There is absolutely no need for a society to determine what "marriage is" at all. This is not the society's concern. Jews can define marriage one way; atheists can define it another.
Anyway, according to Judaism, there is no concept of marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew. Therefore what? Would you want to make that into a law? Before our ancestors came to US, they have lived in the lands where people thought it ok to impose their views of what is ethical on Jews. And that continues to be so: in California, people attempted to ban circumcision. In Germany (in the same country where being a Nazi is illegal), it was actually banned. (So, you may think that banning views that you dislike is a good idea, but be prepared for the majority to ban your lifestyle if it doesn't like it.) In Scandinavian countries, shechita is banned on animal cruelty grounds. In Sweden, not sending your kid to a public school is forbidden. And so on. Supporting ethical paternalism doesn't seem to be in our favor...
If your ethical, moral, and religious principles prohibit you from tolerating people in a society who behave according to ethical standards foreign to yours (e.g., those who live gay lifestyle, or those who worship what you consider avoida zara), to the point that you'd prohibit those lifestyles through a use of force (which is what law is), then start by not doing any kind of business with them or those that do business with them. Even if you live in Israel, I think you will find this position impossible. We have to trade with nochrim (both in our country and abroad) to survive. We have to rely on their technology and services that they provide. Sometimes we even have to work for them. We have, therefore, to co-exist with them.
If we have to co-exist with them, we cannot find it unethical for the laws of our society not to prohibit their lifestyles — unless, of course, aspects of those lifestyles endanger the concept of a society. (So, our laws can tolerate them worshiping gods but not sacrificing children to them. Because once you make murder legal, there is no society or law to speak of. It all becomes "might makes right".)
The whole issue of gay marriage is completely moot. There should be no government-approved marriage. I don't want some stinking bureaucrat to "bless" my marriage. Nor do I want him to bless anyone's marriage on my behalf. In fact, I don't want anyone to do anything on my behalf (including Obama dronning people in some far-away lands), unless I explicitly contracted him to do something.