Pluralism is the accepted relationship between church and state in the contemporary West. Such an approach has been manageable while the competing religions have shared ethical norms. But what happens when perceptions of right and wrong sharply diverge.
Howard Chua-Eoan wites on Time.com in qualified praise of the legalization of homosexual “marriages” in New York:
But in one very important way, gay marriage will not quite be marriage even in New York, even 30 days from now when the law goes into effect. . . . Marriage without a church or temple wedding isn’t the real thing. Why can some people have all the bells and whistles in the church of their choice but not me? Of course, there have been and will be congregations and churches that allow gay men and lesbians to be married in their midst and to bless those unions, recognizing that God loves them just as much as Governor Andrew Cuomo does. But some rich and influential religious institutions are not only free to continue to reject gay men and women as equal beneficiaries of all aspects of faith but will now also rally their congregants to reject politicians who are willing to abide with this extension of secular civil rights — no matter how much acceptance there is of same-sex marriage elsewhere, no matter how many wedding announcements appear in the New York Times.
In Chua-Eoan’s system of ethics rejection of homosexuality is a sin. Thus the offenders’ liberty must be curtailed so the righteous can freely enjoy theirs. Is pluralism workable in such a situation?
Michael Goheen, drawing on Newbigin, notes:
“No human societies cohere except on the basis of some kind of common beliefs and customs. No society can permit these beliefs and practices to be threatened beyond a certain point without reacting in self-defense.” . . . When ultimate believes clash, the dominant worldview strives to become the exclusive worldview, exerting tremendous pressure on dissenting communities to abandon their uniqueness and conform to the dominant community. Dissenters must opt either for accommodation or to live out the comprehensive call of the gospel faithfully and pay the price for their dissent with suffering.
Micahel Goheen, A Light to the Nations 95.