Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Important Principle Regarding Government in Our Lives

I plan to write more as the week goes on about marriage, proposition 8 and rights.

Tonight, I wanted to say just one thing that I've been thinking about and see what you think about it.

It is this:

If you consider your own freedom dear to you, you must regard the freedom of others as equally dear and work to protect it as you would protect your own.

Let me state that another way.

We are all interconnected. When we allow the government to restrict and define certain parts of life for others, we are opening the door for them to restrict our rights in the same ways and in the same areas.

For instance, the supreme court case of Griswold vs. Connecticut established that a Connecticut law regarding the use of contraceptives was unconstitutional and any enforcement of it would require a violation of a couple's right to privacy.

I have talked with many people who believe that the government should be in the business of regulating sex -- when, how, with whom, whether or not contraception is used.

In circumstances like this we often fail to follow our thoughts through to their natural or possible conclusions.

If I, for instance, believe that no person should ever be allowed to have extramarital sex I might want the government to make a law forbidding it. (Or enforce similar laws already on the books.) But, if I consent to let our government have power in this aspect of other people's lives I open myself up to their involvement in my own life. The door has already been opened. What keeps them, when the winds of belief change, from deciding it is okay to regulate my sex life. What if someone else believes it is wrong for people to have more than two children and decides there should be a law prohibiting couples with two children from having unprotected intercourse?

It is the same principle. I do not want the government in my bedroom. Therefore, it seems prudent for me to work to keep it out of other people's bedrooms.

If you consider your own freedom dear to you, you must regard the freedom of others as equally dear and work to protect it as you would protect your own.

Even if they would not make the same choices with their freedoms that you would make with yours.


Real said...

I just don't think that argument works universally.

I don't think there should be child abuse laws. I personally would never hit my child repeatedly in the head for spilling milk at the table. But since I don't want the government to interfere with my right to discipline my child in my home the way I want to, I won't interefere with anybody else's right to discipline their child the way they want to. I mean, whatever they do in their home is fine and doesn't affect what I do in mine, right? So I think it's wrong to beat a child, but they have a right to do it.

I'm not equating same sex stuff with child abuse, just using an example that you might have a different reaction to using the same argument. We make laws all the time based on our opinions of what's right and wrong. Things like child abuse have a small minority of people who think that it's okay and so we don't think twice about the fact that it's wrong and should be prohibited. Not just to protect that one particular child but because of the terrible cost it would be on society to allow it to go unchecked.

Also, just because we live in a "free" country and have moral agency to make our own decisions doesn't mean that we just back off from placing limits and laws on people. I think we sometimes confuse what exactly our "rights" are. Constitutionally, our rights are wonderful but limited. Right to bear arms, right to free speech, etc...

Just a few of my hurried thoughts since you posted.

Real said...

I was loading my dishwasher I was thinking about what I wrote and wishing that I hadn't used that example which seems like it would be a hot button topic. So I came up with another one that I think is better.

1. I use herbs and OTC medications wisely when my family is sick or in pain.

2. Some people use illegal drugs in their homes.

4. Therefore, I think illegal drugs should be legal. I don't want to infringe on someone else's rights to put substances in their bodies because I don't want anyone interfering with how I use herbs and OTC medications.

Trishelle said...

Real, your point on self-medication is very compelling. I never thought about it that way.

Interesting blog entry, M&M, as always. You have such an articulate, peace-promoting way of sharing your thoughts.

cmnacnud said...

I think a nice way to resolve the whole issue (that will never be adopted) is for government to get out of marriage all together.

They should say that the government provides civil partnership contracts which will provide the same protections as marriage and dependents in the same way that your mother in law living with you can be claimed as a dependent or common law marriage is accepted as a legal relationship. However you must approach the state and request those benefits not your church or anyone else. You enter into a contract with the government to receive the rights of such a partnership in what ever form you would have. Marriages would not be recognized by the state only this contract.

Marriage would be recognized by God and people for what and as it should be. If Gay couples find a church who binds them in a fashion and calls it marriage then they can call it that if they'd like, but I don't have to recognize it as it is their belief system and not mine.

The government would in fact not be allowed to recognize it as anything binding and we would not have it forced on us through the courts or in our schools.

Get government out of the marriage business and leave that right to God.

Heather said...

Thanks, Chris. You just took my next blog post. I was building up to exactly that. :)

I agree wholeheartedly and will write a bit more on the same thing shortly.

Rosie said...

I thought you should know that I, as always, am enjoying your posts. Keep em coming.