I’ve never been convinced by the libertarian argument to get government out of the marriage business, and I’m still not sure, but a piece I came across by Robert Bidinotto on Facebook has me thinking. I would love to see what others think, especially those who are conservative, traditionalist, religious, and appreciate the experiment in limited government that our Founding Fathers bequeathed to us. Bidinotto, the author of two wonderful thrillers I’ve read, argues that government by definition is force and coercion, and as such, should not be in the business of defining marriage as a legal concept.
Like so many issues in which government (i.e., politics) is improperly involved — education, agriculture, energy, housing, charity, etc., etc. — the bitter, divisive social conflicts over “gay marriage” arise precisely from the very fact of government involvement in defining “marriage” in the first place. Why?
Because government — that is, law — is force and coercion. Government “solutions” to problems are inherently coercive impositions by some people (the politically dominant) on others (the politically subordinate). Such solutions never result in social harmony, peace, love, etc.; they only exacerbate social hostility, conflict, and division. They allow some people to “win,” but only because they force others to “lose.”
In a reply to a comment I made on Facebook, Mr. Bidinotto said that, he is “a big believer in self-responsibility,” and that “Every time the law tries to remove the ‘burden’ of self-responsibility from people, we find an explosion of irresponsibility.” He gives many examples of why government intervention creates many more problems than it solves. His argument is well worth considering.
Unfortunately, the modern totalitarian progressive elites in politics and culture will only give up government power when their political and cultural influence are too weak to enforce it. We are a very long way from that. As we’ve argued and demonstrated at The American Culture for years, as long as the professions of cultural influence in America, like education, Hollywood and entertainment, and journalism and media, are dominated by liberalism, this is impossible.
One other thing I would like to address is that we religious folk, and libertarians who are agnostics or atheists, have profound common ground in “self-responsibility.” We can all agree that limiting the coercive power of government is fundamental to a true understanding of the meaning of America. Challenging this power is also why progressives believe, accurately, that we are so dangerous to their Utopian visions of what they perceive as the just state. Thus the culture wars continue.
Thanks much for your kind words about my books, and your thoughtful comments about my essay on government involvement in marriage. I don’t expect to change minds about this difficult topic overnight, but I’m glad my piece is provoking some thought about how we can best move toward a tolerant, live-and-let-live society.
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