A Philosopher's Blog

Huckabee, God and the Constitution

Posted in Epistemology, Ethics, Law, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion by Michael LaBossiere on February 2, 2008

While most politicians tend to be a bit vague when it comes to religion, Huckabee, to his credit, is quite clear on this matter. Recently, when speaking on same sex marriage, he had the following to say: “[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it’s a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards.”

While I believe, like Aquinas and Aristotle, that the laws of humans should reflect the true moral order of the universe, I disagree with Huckabee on this matter.

My first objection to his proposal is that such an amendment cannot be justified in terms of the two primary purposes of the American state. The America state, like other states, exists to protect the citizens from harm. The American state, like some other states, also exists to protect the liberties of the citizens. An amendment against same sex marriage serves neither purpose. While same sex marriage may offend some, it does not appear to do any actual harm to society. In any case, it certainly does not seem to something so devastating as to require a constitutional ban. Such a ban also does nothing to further liberty.

My second objection is a practical one. If we start adding religious based restrictions to the Constitution, this opens the door to allowing additional religious based restrictions. While some people might applaud this general idea, their applause would soon turn to cries of dismay should religious views they disagree with be made into law. History, both recent and distant, provides a multitude of examples in regards to what happens when laws are made and justified on the basis of specific religious views. The results are not generally conducive to justice or liberty.

My third objection is an epistemic one. How, exactly, do we know that the law of God forbids such marriage? While we have certain passages in religious texts, knowing what God truly wants is somewhat problematic. If someone could conclusive show that God exists and wants X, then it would make sense to make X the law. After all, God is supposed to be perfect and hence what He wants would be in accord with His perfection. Sadly, while most people think God wants what they want, they do not know what God truly wants.

One final point, which is not really objection, is that if Huckabee is truly sincere and means to apply God’s law to America, then he must be kept from being President. Given what he said, his operating principle is that he will make what he sees as God’s rules the law of the land. This would be catastrophic, assuming that he plans to follow the Bible as he guide. A quick examination of the Bible reveals that under Huckabee, horrific things would be made legal: rape, slavery, the murder of disobedient children, and so on. Also, as many humorists have pointed out, shellfish would be outlawed (goodbye Red Lobster) since they are abominations. Yes, there is much that is good in the Bible, but there is much that is clearly not good.

Thanks for speaking your mind and making it clear, Mike.