The Pursuit of Happiness

I’ve been annoyed lately (not always a good thing before writing a post). Probably centered around the Fourth of July (the formal U.S.A. Independence Day), there is always a spate of articles about the U.S.A. being founded on Christian principles, which is somewhat true. Then there is the argument over whether Thomas Jefferson was a Christian or Deist, and the new one was John Adams. Since John Adams berated his son John Quincy Adams for being a devout Christian (perhaps it’s an Adams thing, especially when one reads the letters between John and Abigail Adams), one could question how much Christianity was in John Adams’ faith.

The issue that has brought this to the forefront for me is homosexual marriage. Nope this is not a post on homosexual marriage itself, but the conservative/traditional/orthodox (and add fanatical/hateful/hurtful to many of those who have responded) response. Oddly, for me, this is not a theological post. The question that is asked by many, what right of happiness is there? Now, this question can be applied to homosexual marriage, polygamy, marijuana, and so on equally. Including (drumroll, please) religion.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence, Continental Congress, 4 July 1776

Note the “pursuit of happiness”. Wikipedia notes that some call this the best known English language sentence in the world. The school systems, secular institutions, and faith institutions have trumpeted this sentence for years. Thus we have declared that happiness is the most important thing/pursuit. Of course, Americans will pursue that which they think will make them happy. Currently, certain groups believe that having the right to “marriage” will make them happy. In truth, it might make certain things easier to obtain (like health care), but that won’t necessarily make any of them happier. Then there are those that believe that it is their obligation to support those who are pursuing happiness, which, in many ways, should be celebrated as concern for their fellow citizen.

Again, please don’t take any of this post as support for homosexual marriage, or even opposition to it. That is not the point of this post.

Ultimately, the issue comes down to the fruit of the harvest. The seeds that have been sown for generations is the “right” to “the pursuit of happiness”. Why is everyone so surprised at the result?

Author: Ian