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  • Gay Marriage and the Golden Rule

    In his May 9 announcement that he supports same-sex marriage, President Obama linked his stance to the Christian faith. In particular, he cast his view as being consistent with the Bible by quoting Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:12, known as the “Golden Rule.” Obama said:

    [The First Lady and I] are both practicing Christians and…when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated…and that’s what motivates me as President.

    Since the President’s announcement, the largest Christian churches in America—including the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention—have reiterated that they don’t share the President’s interpretation of Scripture on this issue.

    Others have pointed out that the President’s appeal to the Golden Rule is problematic as a guide for complex ethical decisions, including whether or not to support same-sex marriage.

    Baylor University professor Francis Beckwith notes that if the Golden Rule simply means giving your neighbor what you happen to want, it would lead to all sorts of immoral conclusions. For instance, a masochist could claim that the Golden Rule means it’s acceptable to inflict pain on others.

    To avoid this kind of warped reasoning, Beckwith argues that one would have to situate the Golden Rule within the larger canon of Scripture and the Church’s “moral theology including its understanding of marriage and the common good.”

    Moreover, Beckwith wonders to what extent President Obama is willing to apply his interpretation of the Golden Rule more generously:

    Will he extend it to the unborn or even the survivors of abortion?

    Or church-affiliated and private businesses that cannot in good conscience provide contraception and abortifacient coverage under his [contraception] mandate?

    Or private citizens, businesses, and charitable organizations whose moral theology forbids them from blessing or supporting same-sex unions?

    Or what about those Americans whose representatives in Congress listened to their voices in passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996? Did those citizens not in essence say that one of the ways they want to be treated is to have traditional marriage defended at the national level? Yet Obama has instructed the Justice Department not to defend this law in court, a point he made in the very same interview in which he appealed to the Golden Rule.

    In short, church bodies and individuals alike have pointed out that the Golden Rule, stripped of any relationship to an objective moral standard, isn’t helpful on the question of same-sex marriage—or many other ethical matters. To employ the Golden Rule to help guide ethical reflection on this issue, one would have to first answer the basic question “What is marriage?”

    Obama bypassed this substantive question, putting forth instead a simplistic and inadequate model of ethical decision-making from a biblical viewpoint.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Gay Marriage and the Golden Rule

    1. el_polacko says:

      those who pushed for DOMA were not saying how they wanted to be treated but rather how they wanted gay citizens to be treated…the golden rule in reverse. straight folks already had marriage rights and nobody was talking about stripping them of those rights. this so-called "defense of tradition" was about keeping a certain segment of society from joining in those traditions.

      • adam h says:

        If government defines marraige we are doomed. Thankfully it can neither define it nor ratify it.

    2. Walt says:

      Dr. Tony Evans gave the best response to the error of connecting the Golden Rule to gay marriage on CNN.
      See http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/05

    3. Stirling says:

      Mr. President please stay out of our Freedoms of Religion, your twisting of our beliefs is very offensive personally to those who have faith.. Your "populus" spin, and the liberal media's spin shows lack of understanding, and disrespect for those of faith.

    4. Conrad says:

      Like all arguments opinions/theories premises must first be agreed to or totally rebuked. Obama did not quote the verse per se.

      Stop here.

      He is deliberately lying or made another deliberate mistake.

    5. Bobbie says:

      do unto others as you would have others do unto you? well simply put, obama must have been lied to, cheated on and stolen from all his life to suggest the golden rule makes it okay for Obama to lie, cheat and steal from all of patriotic America who did nothing to promote this adolescent mindset whom live above it regardless of the liars, cheaters and thieves in our lives. Sorry, we expect American leaders to be above that also. You know, THE OPPOSITE from those we're obligated to pay with corrections and accountability to that pay regardless of how the golden rule is misinterpreted in his life! Adding "gay" to marriage is misinterpreting the real definition and abhorrent when it's benefits gays want using marriage gays don't fit into! What a radical extreme just for benefits!!!!

    6. Patti says:

      A Christian would be aware of Leviticus 20:13 which states: " If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." I think this scripture is VERY clear about God's opinion on homosexuality, which by direct reasoning one could conclude that God would NOT be in favor of a society giving its blessing to such unions (legalizing gay marriages). It seems Obama and his wife do not read their Bibles very often.

    7. Marcie Jones says:

      I thought Federalists were about the separation of church and state? Staying out of people's business without a compelling interest? So much for that. As it happens my religious belief is that God is the only judge and God made everyone in his image– gay people too– and does not approve of unequal civil treatment for any adult. Nor to I believe in punishing kids for the sins of their parents– why should a kid brought into a same-sex union through no fault of their own be denied the support and benefits of two legal parents? If 'traditional' marriage is what you're after, then should the U.S. regress to 1776, when black people couldn't get married, a 60-year-old could marry a 12-year-old and you could beat your wife and kids?

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