Big Government or Not?

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court
Washington DC: United States Supreme Court (Photo credit: wallyg)

 

It’s confusing sometimes, understanding when government is supposed to step in and when it isn’t.

 

Conservatives argue against “big government,”  but they also vouch for the right of the federal government to step in on some very personal issues. In the current discussion going on about same-sex marriage, the mantra of many Conservatives is that “we don’t need government to step in and redefine marriage.”

 

Yet, they want government to step in and “define” marriage in a way that fits into their ideology. Right?

 

Did the United States Supreme Court overstep its authority when it ruled that women have a constitutional right to have abortions? Are abortions, who has them and who does not, within the purview of the duties and decisions of the governments, via the nation’s highest court? (http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_22857283/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-case-has-echoes)

 

Many people think the SCOTUS did  overstep its authority in the Roe Vs. Wade case, but they are pulling for the high court to settle the current disagreement on same-sex marriage. I am totally confused. When is “big government” all right? Does a court ever have the right to decide what is “right” in such personal issues?

 

It seems like we are straddling a rail. We want government, big government, but only on the things where there is an ideological dispute, right? We want big government when there is a tragedy, or a natural disaster. We don’t want big government when it is too concerned with helping the poor, spending money on people whose lives seem to many out of control. Big government should stay out of those kinds of things. Of course, had it not been for “big government,” many people would have been swallowed in the nation’s most recent economic debacle. but many people are still very critical of the government’s attempt to help people who were drowning.

 

So, “big government” is out of line when it comes to dealing with issues of poverty and economic despair, right?

 

But big government needs to come in and set the records straight when it comes to personal situations involving sexuality and abortion, right? In those cases, the government gives into a responsibility to make moral decisions for the citizens of the United States. Right?

 

The bottom line is that there is no consistency on when big government is necessary and needed and expected. When Hurricane Sandy came, people were expecting government to step in and help those who had been so severely impacted. Had “big government” not done that, it would have been criticized soundly.

 

And now, big government is being called upon to decide who gets to get married and who does not…but this is a moral question, right? Is government really allowed to tell people what they can or cannot do as individuals? Is that the purview of government?

 

The thought of the government having the power to decide who can get married, and thereby be entitled to the legal benefits of marriage, is as distasteful as the idea of the government having the authority to tell women how many children they can have, and whether or not they can get an abortion. I don’t believe that abortion is good, but it doesn’t seem that government has the right to tell a woman if she can or cannot get one. Isn’t that kind of subversive?

 

It seems like there ought to be a new constitutional convention or something, to define big government and to clarify what the federal government can and cannot do, and what it must and must not do.

 

At the very least, though, it seems that those who rail against “big government” ought to tailor their criticisms. The argument against “big government” ought to explain that folks are only against big government when it comes to allocating money, especially for the poor and downtrodden, the oppressed and pretty much forgotten citizens of this country. When it comes to defining morality, though, and what personal decisions Americans are allowed to make, big government needs to step in and do…what a good government does.

 

Do I have it right?

 

A candid observation …

 

 

 

The President and his Evolution

Much has been made of President Obama’s “evolution” as concerns his belief that same-sex marriages ought to be allowed.

What is the big deal? All of us have evolved when it comes to this issue.

We grew up, even same-gender loving people, in a society where homosexuality was nearly universally decried as the most horrible thing in the world. We grew up where in a time where families either kept the reality of a homosexual child a secret, or where families disowned their own children when their homosexuality was revealed.

We grew up during a time where some of our parents were homosexual but didn’t dare mention or admit it.

Ours was a time where homosexual individuals kept their sexuality a secret, many marrying and having children, not daring to “come out.”  People in the highest places were rumored to be gay, but nobody dared admit it publicly.

We grew up in a time where it was not unusual to hear homosexuals referred to as “fags” or worse. Bullying of gay people was accepted and generally ignored. Ours was a time when even the youngest children, who realized they were gay, chose to live lives of quiet desperation rather than lose friends and family.

And we grew up in a time when religion participated in the cover-up.

The quiet and steady persistence of gay individuals, pushing for their right to exist as full-fledged Americans, with all of the liberties and rights accorded to American citizens, has brought us to this day. The LGBT community, in spite of being deeply hurt and discriminated against, pushed against the Goliath called homophobia, and brought an awareness to our society that our society had long run from. And as they have pushed, Americans have “evolved” in their thinking.

There was a time when the killing of gay people was not really a big thing, and the suicides of gays was not much talked about. There was only moderate outrage over the murder of Matthew Shepard. It was OK to discriminate against gays in employment; openly gay children were kept out of camps, out of school activities …and nobody said a thing. Many churches have been unflinching in their hatred of gays (though they will not say it’s hatred), reminding gay individuals that they, according to the Bible, are an “abomination”  to God.

Some people participated fully in the horrific treatment of gays, and others were silent. They were “evolving.” They were considering not only their own beliefs, but how their lives would be impacted if they stepped up and said something to the effect that such treatment of fellow human being was, well, just wrong.

And now, those who have “evolved” – and that would be all of us – are speaking up and speaking out.

President Obama, I believe, did the right thing by stating his support of gay marriage. He did not say he was making if a federal policy; he is leaving the decision of whether or not a state will allow gay marriage up to the states – but he was absolutely right in what he did. He is a public servant, not a pastor. He is bound to live by and follow the U.S. Constitution and our other illustrious documents, which say that “all men are created equal.”  Those words have been at the base of getting rights for African-Americans, women, and other groups who have been discriminated against by government. Government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people,” and the president did exactly as he should have as the highest ranking and most powerful public servant in this country, and the most powerful man in the world.

In our history, too many presidents have been mum on issues of discrimination – racial, sexual and otherwise. They have been politicians par excellence, and have put the desire for votes above and ahead of their duty to make life more equitable and bearable for all Americans.

This president has stepped up. What he did was morally right. What he said does not, will not and should not change one’s theology; theological beliefs come from a different source, as well they should. But what he said has made a group of people who have too long been discriminated against feel their validity and value as Americans is finally being recognized.

This is “change.” Some can believe in it, and some cannot, but that’s the nature of change.

A candid observation.

Wikipedia: LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to the “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” community.

Truth and Hypocrisy

I weary of ignorance and bigotry.

Today, I posted on Twitter that I am angry at Kim Kardashian for making what appears to be a mockery of marriage. Only 72 days ago, she got married in this over the top wedding, spending tons and tons of money ($20 million), only to announce yesterday that she is filing for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

In my post, I shared that I was angry because marriage is sacred.

That prompted a response from someone who said he was confused. You see, I support same-sex marriages. I have seen same-sex marriages with commitment so deep that is seems almost palatable. From my vantage point as a Christian minister, what is most important is the keeping of vows said before God, not the sex of the people saying the vows.

The sacredness comes in keeping a vow made to God.

I have long said that too many people want a “wedding,” but not a marriage. A “wedding” is a 20 minute to perhaps one hour event; a marriage, however, is a lifetime.

People, especially girls, want “weddings,” because we love the fairy tale spirit and aura surrounding them. We want the white dress, the long train, the veil, and, of course, the gifts. I have seen so many people, and I am talking heterosexual people, plan and participate in “weddings,” only to abandon the marriage shortly thereafter.

What bothers me is the lack of commitment and the lack of respect for God. It is not unlike people putting their hands on a Bible in a court of law and swearing to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God,” and then sit down and promptly begin lying.

It makes me sick. That blatant disregard and disrespect for God is the same thing I see when people get married and promise God that they will be with each other, and stay faithful to each other, “til death us do part.”

Please.

It feels like Kim Kardashian only had her elaborate wedding as a publicity stunt. There seems to have been no intention of staying together with her new husband “for better, for worse.” She could have, and perhaps should have, had her wedding performed by a friend with no mention of God at all.

I am not saying that all heterosexual weddings are shams; clearly, that is not the case. But what I am saying is that a vow made before God ought to be sacred. I do not think that God would condemn a same gender-loving couple who married, promised God to stay married no matter what, and actually did it any quicker than God would praise a heterosexual couple who promised to stay together and had no intention of doing it.

I think what God honors is love between people. I think God honors people who take him seriously. Same-gender loving people are condemned by people, not by God.

I refused to engage in a conversation with my social media friend. I am not going to waste valuable energy in an argument which will go nowhere.

But at the end of the day, as I think about a God who demands an obedience which leads to a deep presence of integrity, I don’t think the Kardashian wedding boded well…any more than I think that people who despise gay and lesbian people because they are gay and lesbian sit well in the divine craw. I have no way of really knowing, but I would put my money on my opinion on this one.

That would be a candid…observation.