Truth, lies, sex, and Iowa judges

Truth, lies, sex, and Iowa judges

By Harlan Brown
October 10, 2010

Recently I began going through Focus on the Family's "The Truth Project" with some friends in a small group from our church. Lesson 1 is titled "Veritology: What is Truth?"

The Truth Project begins by defining truth as "that which corresponds to reality." This absolute and eternal truth, at the heart of Jesus' mission on earth, continues to be the focal point of the Cosmic Battle in our own time.

The crazy woodworker

The story of the woodworker in Isaiah 44 teaches us something about truth. In that story a carpenter cuts down a tree and uses part of the wood to make a fire to warm himself and bake bread. Then he takes the rest of it and carves himself an idol to worship. He falls down in front of it, praying, "Rescue me! You are my god." The lesson is that lies are powerful and lead to insane notions.

If we knew enough about the woodworker, we could probably ascertain a step-by-step progression of departing from truth and accepting lies. Eventually the woodworker came to believe that a lifeless piece of wood that he had fashioned with his own hands could somehow rescue him.

Exchanging truth for a lie

We live in a culture today that exchanges truth for lies. As is brought out by Lesson 1 of The Truth Project, God is the ultimate source of Truth. However, in virtually all areas of life the world has chosen to turn away from God and choose an opposing set of values.

This is nothing new. In the first century A.D. the Apostle Paul was divinely inspired to write a letter to Christians at Rome in which he referred to people "who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever."

Paul continues, "For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error."

Such people lived in the city of Corinth in Greece. Some of them became Christians. God not only forgave their previous misconduct; He helped them stop doing it. Paul mentioned the particular misconduct under discussion as one of nearly a dozen different types of lawlessness cited in a letter written to Christians at Corinth.

"Such were some of you," Paul wrote, "but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God."

Consider the alternative. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God."

Penn Jillette, a well-known magician and atheist, made a YouTube video about a Christian who gave him a sincere compliment and a Gideon pocket Bible. Penn, who remains an atheist, asks, "If you believe that there's a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life ... how much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?"

How much do you have to care about someone to tell them the truth in love? The Cosmic Battle involves spiritual warfare. The adulterers, homosexuals, drunkards, slanderers, and all the rest are slaves of sin, prisoners of war taken captive by the father of lies. Jesus Christ came to set them (and indeed all of us) free.

Male and female

Some people believe that the existence of male and female is an accident, the result of random mutations and natural selection. How can we know the truth? We can know the truth through special revelation (God's words given in Scripture) and general revelation (the structure of the world He made). The evidence of design is all around us. The truth is that God made us male and female.

Jesus alluded to that truth when he said, "Haven't you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will join to his wife; and the two will become one flesh?' So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don't let man tear apart."

Some people, even intelligent and educated people, seem to be blind to this truth. In April 2009 Iowa became the third state in the Union where individuals can receive a legal document purporting to confer on two people of the same gender the legal status of a married couple. The action was ordered by the Iowa Supreme Court and implemented by the governor.

What is marriage?

For more than 160 years the state of Iowa defined marriage as between one man and one woman. This definition originated from God and was affirmed by man's law. Then the Iowa Supreme Court redefined marriage. The law did not change, but the court declared that marriage being only between one man and one woman violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. Regarding equal protection, the Iowa Supreme Court wrote:

The primary constitutional principle at the heart of this case is the doctrine of equal protection. The concept of equal protection is deeply rooted in our national and state history, but that history reveals this concept is often expressed far more easily than it is practiced. For sure, our nation has struggled to achieve a broad national consensus on equal protection of the laws when it has been forced to apply that principle to some of the institutions, traditions, and norms woven into the fabric of our society. This observation is important today because it reveals equal protection can only be defined by the standards of each generation.

One does not need to be a legal scholar to understand the fallacy of the judges' ruling. In usurping the authority of the legislature to change the law, the judges pretend that the meaning of the constitution has changed. In appealing to values "defined by the standards of each generation," the judges set themselves as tyrants able to change the law whenever they think that the current generation has a new set of standards. According to opinion polls, the judges' view of the current standards differs from the view of most Iowans. Government "of the people, by the people, for the people" becomes a thing of the past.

In their same-sex-marriage ruling, the Iowa judges not only replace unchanging values that come from our Creator with changeable values defined by each generation; they use self-contradictory reasoning. Former ambassador Alan Keyes commented on this in an essay titled "The Annihilation of Marriage" (see Part 1 and Part 2). Dr. Keyes wrote his doctoral dissertation on constitutional theory and received his doctorate in government studies from Harvard University in 1979. He wrote this about the 2009 Iowa court decision:

In its opinion contending that homosexuals may have an equal right to marry, the Iowa Supreme court takes the position that the understanding of equal rights evolves. Rights are therefore artificial constructs that reflect changing societal norms. Even if this contention were true, it would not explain how, in a society based on the sovereignty of the people, the task of changing the laws to reflect that evolution falls to the judicial branch of government, which has no lawmaking power. Why is it rational to conclude that a handful of judges catering to the feelings of a small minority of the people reflect changed norms more accurately than the elected representatives of the people?

Keyes goes on to show how the judges' reasoning carried to its logical conclusion would annihilate the institution of marriage. He also explains how the drive for same-sex marriage fits in the larger context of an effort to overthrow the institutions of individual liberty and limited government.

The truth is that under the traditional definition of marriage, homosexuals and heterosexuals have the same privilege of marrying. A lesbian and a male homosexual have just as much right to marry as a heterosexual man and woman. As intended by the Creator, marriage has for thousands of years been a relationship between male and female. Marriage was designed to be the proper context for procreation and child rearing.

Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary described marriage as follows:

The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity,and for securing the maintenance and education of children.

More recently, J. Budziszewski, a professor in the departments of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, defined marriage as "a mutual and binding promise between one man and one woman before God to enter into a procreative and unitive bond with each other alone for life." This definition is consistent with the Creator's revelation in the Holy Bible.

Under the judges' reasoning whereby same-sex marriage is justifiable because "equal protection can only be defined by the standards of each generation," the time might come when the court would redefine marriage further. Perhaps the legal standards for marriage may one day include the following relationships:

  • One man and multiple women (polygamy)
  • One woman and multiple men (polyandry)
  • A brother and a sister (incest)
  • A 40-year old man and a 10-year-old girl (pedophilia)
  • A man or a woman and a dog (bestiality)
  • A man or a woman and an airplane (objectophilia)

If thinking of these relationships as potentially legal forms of "marriage" seems ludicrous, consider that 50 years ago the notion of same-sex marriage was ludicrous. When the Creator God, who is both transcendent and immanent, is removed from the picture, the basis for ethical standards vanishes. When a worldview based on the Holy Bible is replaced by a worldview where human beings determine right and wrong, chaos results.

A nonbiblical case against same-sex marriage?

Is it possible to make a case against same-sex marriage without using biblically based arguments? The Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 6 (2004), contains the article "Protecting America’s Immune System: A Reasonable Argument Against Homosexual Marriage" by Frank Turek. Turek argues that the legalization of same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage, the "national immune system" that protects our civilization from a variety of destructive social ills. A brief summary of his argument, supported by more detailed evidence in the article, is as follows:

  1. Traditional marriage is beneficial to the public welfare.
  2. Homosexual behavior is destructive to the public welfare.
  3. The law is a great teacher; it encourages or discourages behavior and attitudes.
  4. Legalization of homosexual marriage would encourage more homosexual behavior, which is inherently destructive. It also would weaken the perceived importance of traditional marriage and its parenting role, thereby resulting in further destruction of the family and society itself.
  5. The law should endorse behaviors that are beneficial and restrain (or certainly not endorse) behaviors that are destructive.
  6. Therefore, the law should endorse traditional marriage and it should restrain (or certainly not endorse) homosexual marriage.

Whether you examine the issue from a biblical perspective or a practical secular perspective, traditional marriage makes sense. As for the seven judges who decreed same-sex marriage for the state of Iowa, three are up for re-election on Nov. 2. Voters will have a chance to consider truth and lies when they express their opinion on that day.

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