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.


6 Responses

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  1. jh said, on February 3, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Huckabee is taking about Natural Law principles in some specific cases. THe main thing he was talking about was as to the Human Right amendmnet. This is truly nothing radical and politicians as well as others endorse it all the time

    I susupect Huckabee and other compromise on the gay civil Unions things if there was a sure way for these not to be applied through all the other sister states throught the full faith and credit clause

  2. jh said, on February 3, 2008 at 12:36 am

    I also should note as to God’s law. If one wishes to say no tot hat then the entire body of Catholic SOcial thought is out the window. As a person that wants sane and humane immigration reform I dread ifwhat the hardliners would do if this was taken out of the discussion.

  3. carriedthecross said, on February 3, 2008 at 2:13 am

    What I find interesting is that the Constitution is set up in such a way that it sets restrictions on government rather on its people. When I read through the Constitution, I find one piece that overtly restricts the actions of American citizens, the 18th Amendment. Interestingly, the 18th Amendment is the only one to have been repealed.

    I think it would set a dangerous precedent to begin reshaping the Constitution in such a way that it restricts rights rather than protects them.

  4. mlabossi said, on February 3, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Excellent point. The main function of the Constitution is to defend liberties and enumerate rights, rather than list what cannot be done. That sort of regulation seems, as history shows, to be best left to “lesser” legislation.

  5. JohnnyG said, on February 5, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    While I tend to agree with you that same-sex marriage is not crucial enough of an issue to warrant a Constitutional Amendment, I disagree with your interpretation of the Bible.

    With all due respect, you obviously do not understand the Bible in context. However, I would love to hear your explanation as to why things such as rape and murder of disobedient children would be made legal according to the Bible. Please email me if you would like. Thanks

  6. mlabossi said, on February 8, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Context is a tricky thing. I’ve noticed that many who wish to accept or impose certain rules from the bible conveniently ignore rules that they do not agree with and do so by making an appeal to context. Such an appeal, it would seem, could be applied to all such matters. I suspect that Huckabee would not endorse the stoning of children. Yet, the bible is quite clear about the stoning of children. On what grounds can one pick and choose from the text and be justified?

    Here is the relevant text:

    21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:If you have a “stubborn and rebellious son,” then you and the other men in your neighborhood “shall stone him with stones that he die.”

    21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

    21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

    21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

    This seems quite clear and easily understood.

    Now, if we decide to reject that rule because it seems unjust, then the same could be said of what the bible says about same sex marriage. The problem is that when a person bases his ethics on the bible, then he does not seem to have the right to select what he wants from it and ignore what is inconvenient.

    So, if Huckabee honestly believes that the law of God should be the law of America, then all these rules would seem to be things that he must endorse-on the pain of being inconsistent.

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