Legal Periodical: How the Concept of “Sexual Orientation” Threatens Religious Liberty

Robert H. Knight, How the Concept of “Sexual Orientation” Threatens Religious Liberty, 4 Liberty University Law Review 503-536 (Spring 2010)

<em>(An excerpt is below. To view the full text, please use Westlaw, Lexis, a law library or alternative source.)</em>
“Sexual orientation” laws are not about the preservation of civil rights or even the creation of civil protections that are necessary to ensure the liberty of all citizens. Instead, they are about hijacking civil rights in order to empower homosexual groups with the ability to threaten lawsuits against any institution that will not go along with the idea that homosexuality is normal, healthy, and should be promoted.

It is important to understand that people who engage in homosexual behavior have the same basic rights as other citizens, no more, no less. But they should not be given additional rights based on their willingness to perform peculiar-and often medically dangerous-sex acts.

Like other terms that swiftly achieve common usage, “sexual orientation” is rarely examined. Yet “sexual orientation” is more than a neutral term that can be used to describe anyone’s sexual inclinations. It is a radical challenge to the beliefs of all major religious faiths because it attacks the notion that sexual behavior has moral dimensions. It especially challenges Christianity.

The underlying concept of “sexual orientation” is that all sexual behavior is equally valid and equally valuable to society. There are no good choices or bad choices, just desires. “Sexual orientation” laws are the legal embodiment of the old ’60s slogan, “If it feels good, do it.” However, the orthodox Christian view is that people who embrace sinful behavior as an identity are to be challenged like any other sinner, and they should be assisted in resisting temptation and overcoming it. They are to be encouraged to repent and avail themselves of the healing power of Jesus Christ. “Empowering” a particular sin serves only to trap sinners and encourages them to continue practicing their sinful behavior. That is why *504 supporting “gay rights” based on the relativist notion of “sexual orientation” is the opposite of Christian compassion, however well meant.

Over the past 90 years, a steady campaign has unfolded to overthrow Christian morality and replace it with an amorality that says desires in and of themselves validate behavior. It has been advanced largely by hijacking the rubric and moral capital of the black civil rights movement and attempting to apply such rhetoric to gain support for same-sex behavior. [FN1] The political Left has long been at war against sexual morals for strategic reasons. People conditioned to think as short-term opportunists instead of as members of the family tree with long-term moral obligations are easier to manipulate. Given the false promise of a painless future free from individual responsibility, they are less likely to recognize, much less oppose, further trespasses on their liberty. The marriage-based moral order has been in the bull’s eye of socialist activists since the French Revolution. [FN2] As German economist Wilhelm Ro pke observed, “the collectivist state has a strong political interest in the agglomeration of tamed and dependent masses, easily fanaticized and supervised.” [FN3] Strong families interfere with that vision by inculcating different values and loyalties.
In his 1884 opus, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Karl Marx’s co-author Friedrich Engels provided his own dark, historical view of marriage:

[W]hen monogamous marriage first makes its appearance in history, it is not as the reconciliation of man and woman, still less as the highest form of such a reconciliation. Quite the contrary. Monogamous marriage comes on the scene as the subjugation of the one sex by the other; it announces a struggle between the sexes unknown throughout the whole previous prehistoric period. [FN4]

Engels argued basically for “free love” as a byproduct of the advance of communism:
*505 With the transfer of the means of production into common ownership, the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. This removes all the anxiety about the “consequences,” which today is the most essential social-moral as well as economic-factor that prevents a girl from giving herself completely to the man she loves. Will not that suffice to bring about the gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse and with it a more tolerant public opinion in regard to a maiden’s honor and a woman’s shame? [FN5]
Freed from any economic implications, Engels argued, women and men will make up their own rules and be liberated at last: “[T]hey will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual-and that will be the end of it.” [FN6]

In 1935, British anthropologist J.D. Unwin gave an address at Oxford that was later turned into a book, Sexual Regulations and Cultural Behaviour. Unwin studied cultures on several continents and found that they thrived where monogamy was honored:

This type of marriage has been adopted by different societies, in different places, and at different times. Thousands of years and thousands of miles separate the events; and there is no apparent connection between them. In human records there is no case of an absolutely monogamous society failing to display great energy. I do not know of a case on which great energy has been displayed by a society that has not been absolutely monogamous. [FN7]

Unwin concluded that societies that lose respect for marriage eventually lose the creative energy that is derived from the delayed gratification that strengthens families. [FN8] Instead, people strive for immediate, sensory *506 pleasure, and societies become less dynamic and fertile. In our own time, government has grown bigger to pick up the pieces and create grounds for even greater hegemony as a result of the deconstruction of marriage and the ramifications that it has on families.