Sunday, September 6, 2015
Homosexuality, Obesity, and the Iron Fist of the State
The evangelical cause du jour is a county clerk in Kentucky who has been thrown in jail because she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. The second-biggest irony here is that it is still on the books in Kentucky that it is not legal to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
Of course, the atheists are having a great time with this.
And why not? If no private employer would tolerate an employee who would refuse service to a deserving customer, why should the state?
As usual, it is love for the state as such that clouds the thinking of well-intentioned minds, but your hero is here to disperse those clouds.
Let’s begin with the Bible. What does the Bible say about marriage? (All together now:) “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
One man, one woman. Simple, right? No.
Look at these twenty-one versions versions of Genesis 4:19. Every one of them says that either Lamech “married two women,” “took two wives,” or “married two wives.” The ultraliteral Hebrew says “he took two women,” which leaves open the possibility that he simply took two women but actually married at most one of them, but if every version there understands that these were both marriages – and biblical Hebrew has no other vocabulary to express marriage that I know of – then either the delusion that Lamech had two wives has been universal for the 3500 years since the Torah was written or the Torah means to say that Lamech had two wives.
We see the same thing mutatis mutandis for David in 1 Sam 25:43.
In the New Testament the evidence is not as clear, but it’s pretty strong. When the Apostle Paul gives Titus the qualifications for a church elder, he specifies that he must be “a man of one woman” or “a one-woman man.” While some versions of Titus 1:6 render this “faithful to his wife,” most take it to mean “the husband of one wife.” I infer from that that polygyny was recognized as marriage, but polygynists were disqualified from being church elders.
So the Bible defines marriage as at most one man and at least one woman, and ideally one of each. Man and man, woman and woman, man or woman and beast or robot is not a marriage. Score one for Kim Davis.
Where Mrs. Davis went wrong was by forgetting that nowhere in the Bible does God delegate to “the powers that be … ordained of God” to issue marriage licenses. Adam and Eve didn’t go to anyone for a license. Isaac and Rebekah didn’t either. Nor did David and Abigail. Nor did George and Martha Washington, nor did Betsy Griscom and John Ross.
Marriage licensing laws were introduced in fifteenth-century England (not, as I was previously informed, in the Jim Crow South), two thousand years after the Torah was written. For three hundred years before that, the Catholic Church seems to have been the authority in the matter. Given the Catholic doctrine that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on Earth, I would expect that the church enforced its authority with the sword, and with the secularization of European culture during the Renaissance, the sword passed to the increasingly godless civil authorities.
Enter Mrs. Davis, who took a job that she knew would pay her from tax money extracted from, among others, evangelical Christians and homosexuals. Her reasons for taking that job are her business alone, but one can assume that she took such factors as remuneration and job security into account and decided she would do better as a clerk in a government office than in the private sector. She also agreed at the outset, one would think, to obey the rules of the workplace.
Had she considered the lack of biblical mandate for marriage licenses? Given the spirit of the times that regards the state is a necessary positive good, I doubt it. The deer walked right into the ambush.
Here’s where you can’t make this stuff up. If she had told the gay applicants, “Kentucky law forbids me to issue a license,” she would literally have had Kentucky law on her side. She would have joined those heroes who have defied at state level such evils as the federal Fugitive Slave Law, the marijuana laws, and Common Core, those who have told Leviathan in Washington “Keep your damned money; we’re not going to enforce those laws.”
Instead, by making the issue a matter of her personal religion, she angered Leviathan, and like the man with a hammer to whom every problem is a nail, Leviathan grabbed her with his iron fist and threw her in jail. (Prison, of course, is nowhere described in the Bible as a place anyone should be put for any reason, but that’s the subject of another post.) Not a good idea.
Take a look at the cartoon again. If the fat guy had complaied to the cashier’s boss that he had been refused service, either the boss would have given the cashier the choice of serving the customer or finding another job, or he would have fired him on the spot. (Or he would have said, “That’s my religion too. Sorry, sir, we won’t serve you.” Think of a bar owner not wanting to serve a person who’s already inebriated.) End of problem. No media coverage. No jail term.
If the political right and left agree on anything, it’s the beneficence of the state: Highways! Schools! Hospitals! Just look at that soft velvet glove.
But that glove covers an iron fist: Police! Prisons!
Mrs. Davis found out that the powers that be, ordained of God, are not her friends. The Apostles Peter and Paul both died at the hands of the state they wrote what sound like laudatory passages about.
I say an important part of kingdom work is looking at what’s inside the glove, seeking to build alternatives, and seeking to woo away Leviathan’s lovers.