While cultural conservatives worry over threats to traditional morality, few of us would favor aggressive governmental action to punish improper private relationships. In Indonesia, a nation of 200 million with the world’s largest Muslim population, a new criminal code on the verge of adoption bans all sexual relations outside of marriage, on pain of imprisonment. Not only would gay sex and extra-marital involvements be punishable by long sentences; even cohabitation by consenting, unmarried, hetero-sexual adults would bring incarceration for five years or more.
The strict new rules, drafted by the nation’s increasingly powerful Islamic parties, also ban any criticism of the nation’s president and expand punishments for the broadly defined crime of “blasphemy.” Americans may differ on standards of intimate behavior, but Indonesia’s frightening example reminds us of values of personal liberty that most citizens still share.
In our country, even the strongest backers of traditional marriage distrust the idea of an all-powerful government attempting to police our most intimate behavior.