A reminder to believers

Since the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments regarding gay marriage, I thought it would be a good time to remind believers of a very important moral principle that’s relevant to this particular case. That principle is as follows:

You always have the option of not doing harm to those who have done no harm.

That’s it. That’s all that gay rights advocates are asking for. Just don’t do harm to gays and gay couples, who have done no harm to you or to anyone else. Don’t slander them or discriminate against them or attack them physically or interfere in their personal relationships or do anything to them that you would not want done to yourself. Every major religious or moral system in the world gives you that option. It is allowed, and morally acceptable, to refrain from doing harm to those who have done no harm.

Do you believe that God opposes same-sex unions (even though He is one Himself!)? Ok, fine. I think that’s silly and bigoted and superstitious, but you have the right to hold beliefs that are bigoted and silly and superstitious if you like. Believe in that all you want, but just refrain from doing harm to others, who have done no harm to you or to anyone. You have that option, even in narrow-minded religions.

Do you believe that marriage should be only one man and only one woman? That’s not what “traditional marriage” was in the Old Testament, but ok, fine, if that’s what you want to believe that, go ahead—just refrain from harming other people’s relationships, when they have not meddled in yours. It’s no sin to do what is morally acceptable, and it is always morally acceptable to refrain from doing harm to those who have done no harm.

If you want to defend heterosexual marriage, good for you! I do too, and if anybody ever comes along and says we should outlaw heterosexual marriage, I’ll be right there with you saying men and women have the right to marry each other. You don’t need to harm anyone else, or forbid them from marrying each other, in order to protect opposite-sex marriage from being outlawed. So don’t do it.

It’s really just a variation on the Golden Rule: Do no harm to others, since they have done no harm to you. Don’t meddle in their personal lives, don’t interfere in their love and commitment towards one another, don’t shut them out or exclude them or deny them the same rights as you would recognize in others and demand for yourself. Refrain from doing harm to those who have done no harm.

It’s just the right thing to do.


  1. kagekiri says

    Unfortunately, Christians have the terrible meddler version of the Golden Rule from Jesus: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

    Categorically, this can work: do good things for others that they’d like, because you’d want them to do good things for you, but base the “goodness” on shared standards or their desires over your own.

    Unfortunately, some people treat it as more specific: “I like peanut butter, so I’ll give people peanut butter sandwiches even if they’ve told me they don’t or can’t eat peanuts, because my standards are best for EVERYONE and this is what I’d want done for me!”

    And lots of Christians are damn sure they’d want others to step in when they do “wrong” or “sin” if they were LGBT, and they’d want others to proselytize to them if they were atheists, and they’d want others to gain unchecked Christian religious power to discriminate if they were Muslim.

    It’s basically the Golden Rule twisted to impose your standards and norms and status quos on others.

  2. Chris J says

    Also unfortunately, the anti-ssm folks have convinced themselves that harm IS being done to them, whether because God is surely going to smite the US for this particular sin, or because they believe knowing of the existence of gay people harms children, or because they think that other straight folks (not them, of course) would just up and dissolve their marriage when it stops effectively being an exclusive club.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Yeah, I need a Part Two to this, some kind of reminder that merely being different is not actual harm.

  3. Robert, not Bob says

    But, you see, having their particular version of Christianity having a bit less influence over society is harming them. Isn’t that obvious? The poor dears…

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Looks like my “Share This” buttons were off. I’ve turned them on now, you should see them at the bottom of the post.

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