Traditionally, discrimination was an offense that the person claiming it had to prove. Which is to say, it was not something abstract, but rather very concrete; either it happened or it didn’t. Therefore, it was something that looked to the past, to what already was, to determine if there was any harm caused or not, and thus to assess the reparations that had to be made in justice.
But our modern legal framework has turned all of this on its head, creating situations of artificial discrimination: if one does X (in the future), then one will be discriminating (against someone or some group). End of story! No longer does anyone have to prove that he or she actually suffered from discrimination; no longer does there have to have been any real harm caused that calls for reparation.
Now of course it is good to want to avoid problems and to write laws in such a way as to accomplish that wish. But the problem with this newer type of legal framework with regard to discrimination is that it enables lawmakers to shape cultural ideology in a coercive manner. And most folks reading this blog are old enough to look back and see in their lifetimes great cultural changes and “paradigm shifts” that, a certain number of years ago, we would have never imagined coming to pass.
Much of this change has been accomplished (if it can be called an accomplishment…) through the use of coercive laws, incrementally enacted, accompanied with the abusive use of language. Think of the difference in speaking of “killing an unwanted baby” and “terminating an unwanted pregnancy”. Both refer to the same reality, but one in terms that are a lot softer (and more misleading).
This same combination of abuse of language and incrementally more coercive laws is what we are witnessing in the same-sex marriage cultural debate – and in the discourse on “gay issues” in general. We are told that homosexuality is biological, not learned (something we don’t know for sure); that same-sex couples just want to solemnize their love (but what definition of “love” is being used here?); that they should be allowed to “marry” like everyone else (what do we mean by “marriage”?); and our pop music – so pervasive and shaping thought more than we might wish to admit – such as that by “Lady Gaga”, insists that if someone is born that way then they should act that way (surely we don’t want to take that to its logical conclusion!).
Therefore, not to allow same-sex couples to “marry” is now being presented in many places as a case of “discrimination”. Not the traditional type of discrimination that has to be proven and apposite restitution made for the actual damages incurred, but the new, artificial type of discrimination that disregards and really goes against certain freedoms that we have always considered fundamental: the freedom of conscience, the freedom of thought, and even the freedom of religion.
No longer does it matter what my conscience tells me about same-sex marriage: I would be discriminating! No longer does it matter what reasoning tells me: I would be discriminating! And certainly, no longer does my religion have anything to say in my life, for if it were to, I would be discriminating!
And “discrimination”, newly-defined, no longer requiring any proof of actual damages caused, is one of the new capital sins. In some cases, it may well be unforgivable.
This article provides an excellent look at what we actually know about homosexuality and the problems with the claim that because someone is “born this way” it means that they should “act this way”. Biology should NOT always dictate behavior – and in this case, we don’t even know for sure that biology is at the root of the issue!
I highly recommend giving it a read, for we, as Christians, cannot be silent on this issue. Often, we simply don’t know how to react; we are unsure how to respond. Or, as the author of this article contends, we would rather not deal with it! But the article provides many fine points of reflection so that we can defend the truths of nature, which are further supported by the doctrine of our faith.
A paper on some American issues recently presented by one of my Spanish professors in Italian at a conference inspired some of the above discourse concerning new anti-discrimination laws.