A Thought About the Justice from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the great "I Have A Dream" Speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a great moment -- one that rightly ought to be honored. 

However, we must remember that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's, thoughts were not borne in the atheistic or secular vacuum that today's media would lead you to believe. Rather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian. He was a Reverend; a preacher of God's holy Word. And his beliefs grew out of that great Biblical foundation of thought that has its base in the Bible. 

Of course, with today's rise of the gay rights movement, some think that gay marriage is an extension of the things taught by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. The think that King's ideas about "justice" require that marriage rights be extended to gays and lesbians (and bisexual, and transgender, etc., etc.) And, since King advocated so passionately for equality, one might initially be inclined to think that King would agree with the gay rights movement. In fact, I heard someone speaking in my town of Albuquerque about how fitting it was that gay marriage was becoming legal in some counties of New Mexico on the anniversary of his great address thus suggesting that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. would favor such a thing. I'm not so sure he would. 

You see, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of rights often. And more importantly he spoke of the basis for those rights. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he said something that placed his thought squarely within the historic framework of traditional Christianity when it came to the matter of Justice. King said,

"How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."  

As a Christian pastor -- a pastor who's world view was shaped in the Baptist Church -- such a quote makes it difficult to believe that he would look favorably on the extension of his vision for equality between black and white to extend to those who seek equal rights for homosexuals to marry. Such an equality would not be seen as just in the conservative Baptist idea since it is not rooted in God's eternal, moral law. 

Now, it is possible that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have supported gay rights, but one should not assume that from his general stance for equality. The root of his fight for equality was in the law of God, and unless you can demonstrate that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. specifically wanted it extended to gay rights, I think that it is not likely that he would have extended it that far. 


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