Some of That Magic Constitution Dust

A number of months ago, I debated Andrew Sullivan on the subject of same sex marriage, and one of the points I sought to make was a point that he just couldn’t get his head around.

To review, the point was this: a society that doesn’t know what marriage is in situation x cannot suddenly and miraculously come up with an understanding of what marriage is for situation y. Once same-sex mirage is established, or even semi-established, you can count on it, said I — polygamists will start lining up, and they will ask for a judge to sprinkle some of that magic constitution dust on their lusts too.

At the time, Sullivan was most indignant with my idea that the trajectory of marriage law in this country was going to blow right past the arbitrary and capricious restriction of two people per marriage. And since that federal judge in Utah struck down their anti-polygamy law as placing an undue burden on the horniness of the men of Utah, as if they didn’t have enough troubles, I have been waiting by the phone for Andrew Sullivan to call. Given his behavior in the debate, I must assume that this is because he is busy rallying all his same-sex homies, mobilizing them to fight for traditional marriage. You know, the kind with two and only two persons in it. The kind of marriage that we haters insist on.

The judge didn’t legalize legal polygamy quite yet, but he did strike down the illegalization of informal polygamy, and that huge moving sidewalk taking us all into the marital madhouse has lurched into motion again — not that it ever really stopped. But now that it is obviously moving again, that means we can turn our corporate attention once more to the pressing duty of accusing people of hate crimes whenever somebody asks “is this sidewalk moving?”

Gives us something to do.

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17 thoughts on “Some of That Magic Constitution Dust

  1. Pastor Wilson, is this not the weakness of the Constitution?  Without explicitly stating that the US is established upon the Christian moral code, and not merely a tacit or assumed statement of such, would this not be the necessary and inevitable next step given the sinfulness of man?


    Are they not being consistent with the Constitution?


    I genuinely ask that question seeking an answer because I’ve been thinking about how the Law of the LORD is perfect, but the Constitution is not the Law of the LORD.  It certainly is a great document, and it certainly implies a Christian foundation, but what does it mean that time is moving towards the consummated Covenant and Kingdom of God and not merely a perfect interpretation and abiding by the Constitution?


    Is there something to be said for the Church outlasting the Roman Empire as it decayed into moral and aesthetic decadence?  And what I mean by that is doesn’t this resemble the same?


    I’m not pressing a hands-off mentality at all, but, to borrow from Leithart’s philosophy (as I understood it) in Solomon Among the Postmoderns, could it be a good thing that the “Tower of Babel” of the US government appears to be crumbling?  Its being a “Tower of Babel” is illustrated through its overreaching policies (throwing Amish dairy farmers in to prison for the raw milk market), redefining morality (abortion and homosexuality), and its attempt to become our provider.

  2. I’ve often wondered why America is not critiqued more in terms of biblical imagery.  We draw on Babel, Babylon, Rome, etc. to criticize the surrounding nations and the world, but we often fail to look deeply into our own faults.

  3. “same-sex homies” – I think this may be a triple-entendre.  Let’s see…1) friends of Mr. Sullivan who share his political views…2)friends of Mr. Sullivan who share his “orientation”…3)homosexuals (homies/homos) in general.  If this was intentional; wow.  If it wasn’t; double-wow.

  4. That debate was exceedingly frustrating. Sullivan treated it like a rally, and failed at almost every point to engage with the substance of your arguments, which means you’ll undoubtedly grow old waiting for the phone call.

  5. I think you’re right, Doug.  Once same-sex marriage exists and is condoned across the board, other forms of marital expression will attempt to find legal expression.  One of the things people might draw on is religious freedom, at least in the case of polygamy.  As Christians we know GOd’s creational intent is good for everyone.  It’s public news that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Yet we find ourselves in a world where GOd’s kingdom has not yet fully come in the final sense.  This, too, is a reality.  I do not agree with the likes of Rushdooney, et. al., who seek to enforce God’s laws upon a society that does not want them.  I agree with Oswald Spengler who, in his “Decline of the West,” explained that Christianity was a religion of choice, not coercion.  The coercive approach became normative in the West and we see it today in the puritanical descendents who force others to be politicvally correct.  You rightly point out a problematic issue in the legalization of same-sex marriage.  But it’s a problem for society.  That’s key. Even if we envision great possibilities at the concrete level, one could never speed that up through some political process or through the imposition of imperatives that are not owned internally by the people. 

  6. A debate adjudicated by the indomitable Peter Hitchens who may have made the best point when he said “what were you excluded from?” Sullivan answered with “marriage.” Hitchens responded with “No, marriage existed and you seek to become part of it.” I think this is a good point because this sort of definition rendering isn’t really about bending a word to mean a different thing, but about trying to bend God to our design.

  7. Wesley
    When reading over the history of the Constitution that one point screamed at me. This government is based on a moral and religious people. Like you basically say it is proving itself out.
    “(T)he foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; …the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…”  George Washington, First Inaugural, April 30 1789
    “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams
    “Political interest [can] never be separated in the long run from moral right”
    “Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?  Thomas Jefferson
    As Paul Simon sang We’re working our jobs, collect our pay
    Believe we are gliding down the highway when in fact we’re slip sliding away. 

  8. The moving sidewalk will likely soon move on with court cases on behalf of those who want to marry immediate relatives. The state has a vested interest in preventing this – not because of concerns about consanguinity & birth defects. That boat left the dock awhile ago in this age of genetic testing & abortion on demand. Even if a case could be made on that line, there’s nothing to prevent a man from marrying his brother, or father, or son…no danger of birth defects there. We shall soon learn if the gay marriage advocates are as tolerant as they claim to be, when a man wants to marry his mother and have the state recognize the marriage.
    Thanks for your great blog!

  9. Francis Schaeffer, in “How Shoudl We Then Live?” speaks to this in his chapter dealing with the theme ‘freedom and order’.  He saw chaos in the 60′s revolution and feared anarchy.  He pointed to the increasing need for surveillance and security in such a society.

  10. I would like to know if the pastor was making another veiled allusion… An allusion to Heinlein.
    It was the Grand Master who first penned about the ‘slidewalk’ in The Roads Must Roll and he was a literary force bolstering the postmodern re-definition of cultural norms (see Stranger in a Strange Land and Friday). So, in a sense, RAH gave us the slidewalk and helped direct it into the madhouse.

  11. Wesley wrote:

    “Pastor Wilson, is this not the weakness of the Constitution?  Without explicitly stating that the US is established upon the Christian moral code, and not merely a tacit or assumed statement of such, would this not be the necessary and inevitable next step given the sinfulness of man?”

    The U.S. Constitution is noticeably secular compared with the culture and other documents and correspondence of the time.  This seems to be intentional, given some of the original phrasings that were debated and watered down in convention.  There is a sense that the Founders didn’t quite understand the central role of Christ in effecting liberty for all.  They seemed to think that explicit recognition of Christ might eventually become a liability to the now-central project of man’s pursuit of his own life, liberty and happiness.  Leithart pointed out that the Christian religious conflicts of Europe were something that our Founding Fathers wanted to skirt in the New World.  By placing man and his pursuits in the center, then man was “free” to add God as a seasoning, to suit his tastes.  Pax Americana.
    In spite of this, some Founders saw that this Constitution was entirely unfit to regulate an immoral (unconverted) people.  I’m in favor of Christians formulating and word-smithing a God-honoring constitution which could possibly be a model to be used at some point in Christendom, but one of the first things that it should explicitly state is that…no collection of words written on paper or stone, no matter how perfectly arranged, can ever permanently restrain or change the heart of man.  God proved this for all time when He gave His perfect Law to Israel, and they messed things up in no time anyway.  God proved that only a changed heart and generational covenant faithfulness will sustain a culture.  This requires an abiding Way of life, not words under glass.  However, words under glass can remind us of such truths.  Let’s get some skilled Christians to start thinking about this.  We might have need of a new founding document sooner than we think.  No point in waiting to craft it under stress.  If nothing else, it would be a fun exercise.

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