Law, morals and irony

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, March 23, 2007

The Juneau Empire's "Vote no for family values" editorial in the March 11 issue followed two lines of argument to support its conclusions:

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1) The vote is about equality under the law, not morals, and 2) the moral argument against it is made by Christians who are selective about their reading of the Bible.

At face value, number one is a self-refuting assertion. Law is itself moral in nature, and "equality under the law" is a moral value. Seemingly oblivious to the irony, the Empire makes a moral appeal, without reference to studies or data. If the Empire truly believes its own assertion, then rationally it should dig into real-world aspects of "equality under law," such as verification of dependency, prevention of fraud and abuse, and possible effects on state employee labor union negotiations.

I also wonder about another law, the "law of unintended consequences." Considering that state and local government constitutes Alaska's largest sector of employment, what are the possible long-term effects on state budget, health, education, family preservation and foster care of a constitutional amendment versus implementing benefits? Where is the cost-benefits comparison of the two options? Doesn't the Empire have a responsibility to investigate and inform citizens about the possible consequences of their vote, instead of resorting to moral posturing?

As for number two, the Empire missed badly in its selection of Old Testament verses to indicate apparent inconsistency with modern Christian practice and morals, revealing profound disrespect for centuries of biblical scholarship and complete ignorance of Christian teaching concerning the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. The Empire is welcome to chide Christians for selectively reading the Bible and ignoring the verses they don't like. But to do it effectively, the Empire needs to show it can read the verses as Christians themselves would traditionally understand them in their original context - with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in full view.

I offer a couple of book recommendations: "Knowing Scripture" by R.C. Sproul, and "Making Sense of the Old Testament" by Tremper Longman III. Investing in a worthy concordance wouldn't hurt, either.

I encourage the Empire to do its homework the next time it attempts to tell Alaskans how to vote. Nevertheless I'm positively impressed to see it consulting the Bible before heading to the polls.

Eric Taylor


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