The Divorce of Morality and Legality

The Pittsburgh Catholic Examiner on 1 June 2009 posted the article “Gay marriage: the middle ground” by Todd Rooney. Rooney wrote:

As a Catholic, I am troubled by injustice in any form. Not allowing gay marriage smacks of discrimination. Is denying the rights of others because of their sexual orientation really the best way to spread the gospel? To say that gay marriage is immoral is one thing, but to make it illegal is another. Many marriages are “immoral” from a Biblical perspective, yet we don’t seek legislation against them. Nor do we attempt to outlaw divorce, for that matter. Actually, I think divorce is a pretty good model for how the Church should respond to the gay marriage issue. We insist that divorce is immoral, yet we do not try to prevent the courts from allowing it. Our response to gay marriage ought to be the same.

Let’s examine this, shall we? These are rather tired old arguments, but they seem to keep resurfacing like whack-a-moles. Rooney basically is saying that that legislation against gay marriage is: 1. Discriminatory. 2. Legislating morality. 3. Hypocritical because we do not make other “immoral” marriages illegal. 4. Wrong because we do not make divorce illegal.


Does God discriminate? You bet! Is God intolerant? You bet! You can read about just how intolerant God is at Associated Content.

I discriminate all the time. I discriminate against companies that try to cheat me. I report them to the BBB and other places. I discriminate against murderers by staying away from them. I discriminate against people without the proper education and experience when I am the hiring manager. “Discrimination” simply means separating out things into different categories.

What is wrong is discriminating unnecessarily against someone because of something they cannot control such as gender and race. Even then there are exceptions. Hollywood isn’t likely to hire a white woman, for example, to play Martin Luther King, Jr, in a movie. However, to not hire a white woman who is a better qualified accountant with good references simply because she is a white woman is discrimination based upon qualities she cannot control. Not only is it wrong, it just doesn’t make good sense.

We are also guaranteed religious freedom in the US. Hiring practices based upon religion are also wrong, except when it is for a faith-based organization. Focus on the Family, for example, requires you to sign a statement of faith. It is the standard Trinitarian Christian statement that would exclude most members of Jehovah Witnesses and Church of God believers, even though both groups consider themselves Christian. Yet, Focus on the Family, like any other faith-based group, needs to represent that viewpoint in everything they say or do.

What you see is that there are valid exceptions even when talking about discrimination based upon gender, race and religious affiliation/beliefs.

Yet, none of this was intended to create a special class of people. In some cases, it has turned out that way, but that wasn’t the intent. The intent was equality.

There also is nothing speaking of sexual orientation, which is a decision that an individual makes at some point in their life. There is no gay gene. Outside of NABMLA, there aren’t many who would state that discrimination against pedophiles is wrong. Yet, if you open the door to one type of sexual orientation, you can bet it won’t be long before zoophiles, pedophiles and those promoting polygamy will be in the courts asserting their “rights”. The disintegration of the family unit is inevitable once you redefine marriage.

Legislating Morality

The concept you cannot legislate morality is a modern one. Even as late as the 18th century, this attitude would have been unknown. McKitterick and Quinault1 wrote, “History as an exemplary tale was generally accepted because politics and morality were not differentiated, either on the individual or on the communal scale.”

Most of all, though, you cannot escape legislating morality. Who is to say that murder is wrong? After all, if you truly believe in survival of the fittest, then it would be better to kill off all of your competition. Guppies eat their young. This keeps the population down and leaves more scarce resources for those that are left. We have an example in nature of killing to reduce the population, so why don’t we do the same? According to nature and survival of the fittest, it would be the right thing to do.

Humanists will say we need to come up with our own morality. However, government by its very nature means a few imposing their values upon the rest of the society. If all things are truly relative, what Hitler did to the Jews was not wrong. It was simply the will of a few rulers being imposed upon the society at large.

The argument falls even further apart because there is no reason for government to begin with if it truly is up to each of us to decide for ourselves right and wrong. Government ceases to have a function. Laws don’t operate that way. Anarchy is the natural result.

However, the Bible says that God grants power to the government (Ro 13:1-7). It was one of the institutions He devised to suppress evil from spreading too rapidly in an unsaved world.

“Immoral” Marriages

To be honest, I don’t even know what Rooney is referring to. Perhaps he means that it wasn’t blessed by a Catholic priest? I just don’t know, and I don’t know of any that are condemned in the Bible that are legal anyhow.

Divorce Not Illegal

Rooney uses another fallacy here to justify his position. Divorce is wrong but not illegal. Therefore, gay marriage, while wrong, should not be illegal. Basically, he is saying that 2 wrongs make a right.

There once was a time when divorce was very difficult in the US. When divorce became easy in the Roman Empire, it weakened the family and was one cause of it falling (refer back to “Is God Intolerant?”).

When proponents of no fault divorce began to do their spin, they spouted out how it wouldn’t be that often, how children would be better off, etc. Perhaps children can be better off if there is abuse involved. However, in the vast majority of cases, children raised in a broken home are more likely to be insecure, to be below the poverty line and engage in high-risk behaviors.2 Divorce forced them to have to grow up too fast.

The social experiment failed to bring the desired results. Things just didn’t turn out the way wishful thinkers thought it would. More families ended up with more problems growing up in more poverty. Now we want to try another social experiment that may have more far-reaching unseen consequences? The family is the basic building block of society. If it deteriorates, then the whole building will come crashing down. Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink has in an Issue Analysis on their website:

And now we enter this new same-sex family experiment in like manner. We have no idea how it will turn out, so we feebly comfort ourselves by repeating the recycled mantra: love will see us through. We try to convince ourselves that two loving moms can replace a good daddy for a little boy or two caring dads can be a great momma to a little girl.

But can we be so sure? If we are honest, we know it is never loving or compassionate to intentionally deny a child her mother or father in order to fulfill adult desire. This is what divorce does to degrees and every same-sex home does absolutely. Not surprisingly, early research indicates troubling signs of gender confusion and same-sex sexual experimentation in same-sex parented children.

~ Glenn T Stanton3

It seems to me that Rooney draws the wrong conclusions in his comparison to no fault divorce.

What Are We Left With?

Basically, what we are left with is, once again, untested social engineering. Like Adam and Eve, we think our way of doing things is better. We think God is holding out on us. We believe that we are smart and can fix our own problems in our own way. The reality is we are picking the knowledge from the wrong tree once again. The fruit looks good and tastes good, but it is in reality poison. In enough quantities over a sufficient amount of time, it will kill us.


  1. McKitterick, Rosamond & Quinault, Roland. (2002). Edward Gibbon and Empire. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Focus on the Family. (n.d.). Marriage and Family: Divorce. Retrieved 3 June 2009, from
  3. Stanton, Glenn T. (n.d.). What No-Fault Divorce Can Teach Us About Same-Sex Marriage. Retrieved 3 June 2009, from

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