Pres. Obama invokes the Golden Rule in support of “same-sex marriage”

From excerpts taken from Obama’s ABC News interview, on the WSJ site:

I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married. …

This is something that, you know, we’ve [he and his wife, Michelle Obama] talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.

I’m trying to follow the dizzying and complex logic employed here and I arrive at the following: Christians, according to Obama, are supposed to be nice, and it isn’t nice to forbid homosexual couples from marrying. Of course, one problem of many is that it’s not as though Jesus, in uttering the Golden Rule (a descriptive not found in the Gospels, as a note of trivia), was saying: “Everyone should be allowed to have whatever they wish, especially if not allowing so will hurt their feelings!” Yet that seems to be the interpretation given by the President. As always, the larger context is informative; in the Gospel of Matthew, it is within the Sermon on the Mount, which is filled with all sorts of moral injunctions:

Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt 7:9-19)

What, then, do wise people wish others would do to them? Treat them with honesty, goodness, and respect, giving them “bread” rather than stones. There is physical bread, which provides nourishment to the body, and there is spiritual bread, which provides nourishment to the soul. The latter bread consists of truth and holiness; it is a gift of God. And marriage is also a gift from God, a Judeo-Christian belief that goes back to opening chapters of Genesis: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This is, according to Bl. John Paul II, the “primordial sacrament”, and it consists of a man and woman. Honesty requires telling the truth about the human person and how he has been created, what he is meant for, and how marriage and procreation cannot be re-made and revised according to trendy whims without serious consquences.

There is much more to all of this, as most CWR readers know, but I find the attempt to justify support of a “marriage” that is not actually marriage by tossing off a mention of the Golden Rule and “Christ sacrificing himself” to be both intellectually dishonest and an insult to anyone really familiar with the Bible and traditional, orthodox Christian belief. Sure, there are Christians who say homosexual acts are not only okay but even morally good, but they must either ignore Scripture, tradition, natural law, and commonsense or play rhetorical games with words, reality, and morality. Homosexual acts and “same sex marriage” are from a bad tree; they cannot bear good fruit (in more than one way).

Not that the President’s remarks are a surprise. But, once again, the reasoning he uses for certain stands on issues touching directly on moral and religious matters (as in his administration’s HHS mandates) are quite vapid, even shockingly so. My guess is he made his remarks after gauging that his publicly expressed support of “same sex marriage” will help him in the November election. To that end, I say his political savvy and strategy are on far more solid ground then are his philosophical and theological ruminations.

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About Carl E. Olson 1233 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.