Everywhere we turn we see issues that frustrate Americans, regardless of political bent. From same sex marriage, to “Obamacare,” to gun control to budget fights Americans are divided more than ever. Why is this division occurring? Is this new? I submit that as long as we’ve had the Republic we have had these deep seated feelings when it comes to individual issues. The deeper inquiry, however, isn’t where you stand on a particular issue, but where you stand on the underlying principles that propel these various issues.
I submit that most of our current issues, topics and disputes can all be boiled down to one main principle: Where do you stand on the role of the government? Think about this for a moment. Most of where people stand on these issues can be determined by their view of what the government should or should not do. When you take the question to this level it forces people to think more deeply about the topic. Overall, I believe people want as little government as possible. Granted there are those who openly advocate socialism, but we can never convince those people of our way of thinking anyway. The others, the majority of citizens, who will honestly assess their views on this will intelligently consider how far they want government to go in their lives. Let’s take same sex marriage, for example. Many Christians argue against same sex marriage on the grounds that it is immoral. While I do not dispute that view, I do not think anyone will be swayed by the morality of the issue. Those who are moved by the morality argument are those who already disagree with same sex marriage. On the other hand, if you analyze the issue through the context of the role of government I think it opens up the possibility of convincing others. Here is how it works. Ask a person whether they are any more or less “married” depending on whether the government gives them a license or not. I suggest that most people will say “that is a commitment I made before God and my spouse” regardless of whether the government agrees or disagrees. Then you ask, “then why should government be involved in recognizing same sex marriage?” The argument all boils down to “should it be the role of government to be involved in marriage?” Time and space prevent me from a full legal analysis of how this plays out. It also fails me for fully explaining how this impacts on heterosexual marriage as well, but the point of my writing is to get away from a pure discussion of these social issues in the context of morality (let’s be honest … not everyone shares our same sense of morality) but in the context of the role of government. I know by saying this I run the risk of offending some, but, if we are intellectually honest with ourselves, there are times that Christians do want “big” government when it meets or satisfies their own personal views. This is true notwithstanding our general apprehension of government involvement. Thus, in a truly political context, I think the deeper question of what we see the role of government being is precisely the question we should be asking for all of our important issues of the day. By doing that I think we create more intellectually consistent views, behaviors and positions that are more often than not in line with what many people believe. In turn, we increase our chances of intellectually convincing more people to see things our ways.
What is your view of this and is it something that can be used to convince others of a good outcome but for different reason? We’d love to hear from you about this.
Until Next Time,