So what happens when a Homosexual man, an Amish man, and a Presbyterian Pastor all show up at the same gas station in rural Virginia and begin working towards moral consensus? First they have to find a starting point, a foundation, a point on which they all agree in order to begin working towards consensus.
For the Amish and Presbyterians, all morality is based upon the Bible, a Bible which the Homosexual and larger society may completely reject as manmade. Even in cases in which Homosexuals claim to follow the Bible, there is a lack of consensus on how the Bible should be handled in relationship to culture. Evangelicals may view the Bible’s prohibition against homosexuality as an open and shut case, but the growing prevalence of homosexual Christians shows that this is not always the case. While Christians are right to appeal to the Bible, this will prove unfruitful in building consensus within this country.
Natural Law is also often sought as a foundation for consensus, but this too has its weaknesses as natural law is subject to human reason, and humans are lacking in reason. In addition, homosexuality itself is viewed by many as a rejecting of nature, while those in the lifestyle view sexuality as being beyond law. Americans cannot even come to consensus on what is ‘natural’ let alone what is moral, so this too will provide a poor basis.
So what can be the foundation for consensus, that go-to place that serves as the basis of consensus and sets the parameters for the discussion? I would suggest a simple phrase from the US constitution: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Versions of this same idea can be found in the Declaration of Human and Civic Rights from the French Revolution. I would even go so far as to say that for the sake of consensus one might even use the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen of 1793, also from the same time period in France, this second French document having “equality before the Law” as its distinctive. This is not that novel of a suggestion, given that the constitution was based upon moral consensus at its inception. Upon examination, it would appear that these statements might provide an agreed upon basis, not simply for basic human rights, but also for morality.
The issue in revolution-era France and in American culture today is not so much the idea of liberty or freedom but how far that liberty and freedom go. Remember again that the three men in the gas station all chose different paths for their lives but all felt compelled to pay for their purchases. Liberty, according to the DHCR document ends as soon as it infringes upon another’s. In other words, my freedom to swing my fist ends where the other person’s face starts. Thus, my freedom to exercise my personal morality ends when it begins to infringe upon another’s. I can choose to be homosexual or non-homosexual until I infringe upon the opposite view. A person’s homosexuality should be limited by others ‘anti-homosexuality’ and vice versa for the sake of consensus.
So what would this look like? In the case of homosexuality, it would look like people being given the freedom to voice their opinions, but none of those opinions being seen as trumping another. The issue in America right now is that culture has slowly shifted to the position that tolerance means promotion. In order to tolerate homosexuality I must now promote the behavior and to do otherwise is hate speech. However, this is in violation of liberty found in the US constitution and the freedom of speech the DHCR and the idea of equality before the law found in the DRMC 1793. The rights of those disagreeing with homosexuality are being infringed upon by such actions.
On the flip side, if this indeed was the conclusion of the consensus, it would be wrong for Amish and Presbyterians to expect the Law to prohibit homosexuality. It would also be against consensus to give tax credits and discounts to heterosexual couples but not homosexual ones, an idea that many on this very blog have pointed out is outdated. Equality before the law means equality before the law, removing preferential treatment for one’s freely expressed views. The United States government should not be a sex police. Instead, they should be preserving people’s rights. Lady Justice is blind, as well she should be. There is equality, an equality that was lost on one side of the coin over the last decades, and the other side of the coin which is being subjugated now.
The real issue is not that the foundation of moral consensus has been eroded as the Bible was never the foundation of moral consensus in the US anyway. What has actually happened is that this country has strayed from its foundation upon the constitution, to the point now that the liberties of one group are subjected to support another’s. This is not allowed by the constitution as its very goal and purpose was to create consensus. In order for the Amish man, the Homosexual, and the Presbyterian Pastor to build moral consensus, they really have to go no farther than the words of their own constitution. The issue is not that they have no foundation consensus, the issue most of the time is that they don’t want to give anything up in order to build consensus.