A prediction: If the Hobby Lobby case decided by the Supreme Court stands, then long-term traditional religious ideas about human sexuality will prevail in America.
Why be so optimistic with such a limited case? After all, not much has changed.
Nobody lost the freedom to buy contraception or have an abortion due to Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling. Some employees, at some companies, will not have some contraceptives paid out of their employer insurance. Those employees can still buy contraception or (sadly) abort their unborn child if they desire to do so. What nobody can do is force religious people who object to contraception or abortion to pay for it.
Everybody still has the right to boycott such companies or refuse to work for such institutions. The most important part of the case is the (7-2?) dismissal of the dangerous idea advanced by the Obama administration that the “free exercise” of religion includes only “worship.” Religious people have the right to start “closely held” companies that reflect their religious point of view. The radical idea that the First Amendment and religion are only about worship is dead at the Court. This is of great importance.
I think of this as the “Amish exemption.” Since the start of the nation, with only a few hiccups, America has allowed an entire sub-culture to reject much of modernity. Taxes they had to pay, as Christ commanded, but regulations were very limited on the Amish. The Amish are allowed to practice their faith in their entire lives, education and business, which is the point of a faith. Christians believe they must proclaim Jesus in every aspect of their lives and when traditional Christians were the vast majority of the nation, we chose to tolerate the “odd” beliefs of a dissident group that rejected (almost completely) the new world we were creating.
That was wise and now we benefit. Why is some (and it is only some) of the Left so upset by the decision? Why are they such absolutists? We have lived with thousands of Amish flouting modern values for centuries. Why not just leave traditional Christians alone? First, it is because there are still so many of us and we are growing globally, even in the United States our “decline” has been exaggerated.
Those part of the Left that support the sexual revolution must impose acceptance of the new morality, because while it has a bare majority of the population, that majority is fragile. They cannot long allow the state to favor a male/female vision of gender and a favoring of monogamy with those types of heterosexual relationships that produce children. Such state “favoring” (we are not talking about punishing) of moral views will prevail in the end, because no alternative works for the majority of the population.
Support for the sexual revolution is strongest in the young whose views are the least formed. It is weakest in the older, those least likely to change their minds. Much of the sexual revolution as it impacts marriage has already had a devastating impact on the poorest Americans. Religious Americans marry more, divorce much less, and tend to prosper. Over time, the failure of the sexual revolution to work . . . or even produce a replacement level of children in those who proclaim it. . . means defeat.
I think the Left fears this counter-revolution. They know their “gains” are fragile, run counter to facts on the ground. Urban legends like “fifty percent of marriages end in divorce” or “Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians” have propped up decline in marriage in many segments of society that does not work. Rich Americans can afford to pay the costs of decadence for a time: the rest of us cannot.
If traditional Christians are merely left alone, then our values will prevail (again!) over the next one hundred years. When this happens, we must have learned from our exile and practice the “Hobby Lobby” exemption to our secular neighbors. We must legislate as little as possible, making as few immoral actions illegal as is compatible with social order. We must open all the closets and not force people to hide their temptations. We must empower women and men to flourish in all aspects of their being.
I will not live to see that time, but I hope my great-grandchildren, in the days when the decadence of the West is history, will govern with tolerance. Of course, there exists the darker possibility that we will not have been left alone to fully exercise religion under the Constitution. We will be forced to educate, work, and act as government wishes, but today that darker possibility seems removed.
My left-of-center friends will find my prediction of moderate traditionalist triumph implausible. The good news is that an “Amish exemption” for my folk will allow us to see.