President John Adams famously said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people." In light of Adams' admonition, how should we view the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Texas's sodomy law?
Is the decision (and the cultural conditions it is doubtlessly based on) more evidence that America has degenerated into an immoral nation unworthy of the Constitution? Have we abandoned the moral foundations of our freedoms?
I think a strong case can be made that we are moving headlong in that direction, but perhaps for different reasons than you might suspect. The decision demonstrates that we are losing our moral undergirdings, but not necessarily because it reflects that our society condones (and darn near embraces) behavior historically considered aberrant.
You see, on its face, the decision doesn't particularly turn on whether society sanctions homosexual behavior but on the supposed constitutional right to privacy. So instead of addressing the morality of homosexual behavior, I want to focus on the immorality of judicial activism and what it portends for American freedom.
When Adams (and others) made a correlation between faith and freedom, he wasn't saying that only a sin-free people were suited for the Constitution. If that were the case, the nation would have been doomed from the start. For as a devout Christian, Adams believed that all men are sinners.
Instead, he meant that for the Constitution to serve as a long-term guarantor of our freedoms the American people, by and large, would have to guide themselves by absolute moral standards -- not ones that shift with the sands of political correctness.
This tendency toward judicial activism in the last 50 years is a result of our institutional abandonment of moral absolutes. Judicial activism is grounded in moral relativism and sustained by the notion that there are no moral standards that cannot be bent or broken to conform to society's ever-changing moral condition.
When our constitutional freedoms are planted in the unstable footings of moral relativism, they are but a step away from extinction. This is what Christians mean (and what Adams meant) in saying that no matter how brilliantly crafted our Constitution, it will not survive as a liberty-preserving instrument without moral underpinnings. Indeed our liberties are insured by limitations on government rooted in moral absolutes.
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