Former NPR and current Fox News political analyst Juan Williamsmade an excellent point recently on "The O'Reilly Factor." Mr. Williams said the major reason President Barack Obama had not endorsed same-sex marriage is because of the strong opposition to it in the black and Hispanic communities.
Who could have doubted, though, that the president favors expanding the definition of marriage to include gays and lesbians?
Vice President Joe Biden brought this divisive social issue to the forefront of the presidential campaign with his comments Sunday on "Meet the Press." Mr. Biden said he is "absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to have it both ways when he claimed the president's position on same-sex marriage is still "evolving." Whole species have come and gone faster than the president's "evolution" on this issue. Mr. Carney said the president "opposes efforts in states to repeal rights or deny rights to LGBT citizens that have already been established." This means the president opposes North Carolina's new constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the legal union of a man and woman and bans same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.
We are supposed to believe the president opposes "discrimination" against same-sex couples who wish to marry but still favors traditional marriage, as he claimed back in 2008 when he said he believed "marriage is between a man and a woman." At least, of course, until Wednesday, when he sat down for a hastily arranged interview with ABC's Robin Roberts and said he thinks "same-sex couples should be able to marry." It appears he's calculated that whatever votes might be lost by coming out for same-sex marriage will be gained by the activism of gay rights advocates and their political contributions.
Traditional marriage is an issue most conservative Christians embrace, but even with the North Carolina result and similar laws in other states, this is a battle they are unlikely to win for a number of reasons. One is the behavior of so many in the traditionalist camp. If you are Christian and are going to argue in favor of traditional marriage, it doesn't help that so many in your camp are poor examples of what marriage is supposed to be -- a lifetime union, steadfast and binding through good times and bad, sickness and health.
A 2004 study by the Barna Group of Ventura, Calif., a polling firm that focuses mainly on Christian beliefs and practices and their cultural influence, found "the likelihood of married adults getting divorced is identical among born-again Christians and those who are not born again." In other words, the country is supposed to act as these people say, but not as large numbers of them do. Barna followed up in 2008 with a similar study that found that the 2004 numbers were not a fluke. Thirty-two percent of born-again Christians were found to be divorced, a percentage "statistically identical to that of non-born again adults."
Another reason the battle for traditional marriage is likely to be lost by traditionalists is the problem moralists have always had -- the difficulty of imposing their beliefs and values on others who do not share their point of view. The fight over same-sex marriage has now become a political power game, and the moral principles set down on stone tablets and given to us in the Bible have been disregarded.
If conservative Christians don't accept the opinions and practices of those who favor same-sex marriage, why should gays accept theirs? The fight centers on who can muster the most votes, not whether something is objectively true and, more importantly, who gets to make the rules.
Vice President Biden's Roman Catholic Church staunchly opposes same-sex marriage. If Mr. Biden is "comfortable" with it, he must be uncomfortable with a central doctrine of his own religion. Doesn't that elevate political pragmatism over the will of God, at least as expressed by the Catholic hierarchy?
In ancient and rebellious Israel, when there was no wide acceptance of the laws and precepts God had laid down for his people, the writer of the Book known as Judges uses a phrase that could easily apply to our day and our loss of moral direction: "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25.)
How do you impose a biblical and traditionalist worldview about marriage when so many people have become their own "god"?
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He may be contaced at firstname.lastname@example.org.