Sunday, September 6, 2015

In the U.S., Man's Law Outweighs God's Law

Are we free to choose which man-made laws we will or will not follow?

Yes, as long as we accept the consequences of non compliance (the same may be said for God-given laws, assuming one believes in an Almighty).

As all of you probably do, I have been known to drive faster than the posted speed limit. I do so with the hope I won’t be caught by a policeman; if I am, I further hope he would be kind and lenient and not ticket me. But if he does, I must be prepared to pay a fine even if a judge reduces the violation to a charge less than speeding.

Few people like paying income taxes. But most pay what the government says they owe. Those who choose not to pay do so at the risk of prosecution even if their inaction is based on a conscientious dissent. Quakers, for example, cannot withhold taxes based on their objection to war and the government’s funding of armed conflict around the world, be it a just war or not.

Public servants like Kim Davis, the county clerk of Rowan County, KY, who has chosen jail over issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, are in unique positions. They may have to act in opposition to their personal beliefs. Policemen, for example, must honor the civil rights of protesters even if their first instinct is to bash some heads with a billie club. If they succumb to instinct they run the risk of prosecution and loss of their job.

Federal Judge David Bunning had to subsume personal beliefs on gay marriage to uphold the law as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

No one is permitted to inject their beliefs in deciding which laws may be followed without accepting the consequences of their refusal to accept laws duly upheld by the courts.

It has been argued that Kim Davis was adhering to an authority higher than the Supreme Court. She was following God’s laws. I would, at this juncture, usually cite the relevant biblical text. The Bible lists many prohibited unions in Leviticus, such as a man marrying his sister, but is silent on same-sex marriage other than to say it is an abomination for men to lie together as a man would with a woman. 

But what about a platonic relationship? If we accept that a man and woman could join in marriage without sex being a part of it, as would happen if one were paralyzed or impotent because of age or other medical condition, why could we not accept that two men or two women want to live together in a legal union without the necessity of intercourse. 

Marriage does not require a sexual act. It is a human construct that marriage must be consummated by intercourse. First night blood-on-the-marriage-bed was not decreed by God. 

Marriage, according to Isaac Klein in A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, also is “a contract between two parties of equal legal capacity, creating mutual rights and duties that terminate either with the death of one of the parties, by mutual consent, or at the insistence of one of the parties following the breach by the other of one of the warranties or fundamental conditions of the contract.” 

Gays just want the same rights accorded to straight people.

Elsewhere in Leviticus, God commanded his adherents not to eat pork. Pagans could, but not God’s followers. As a practicing Jew, Jesus would not have eaten pork. 

Seems to me lots of pork is eaten in this country. How is that? Why don’t Christians follow these words of God and other commandments, such as tithing, or leaving fields fallow every seven years, or returning property to its original owner every jubilee year, the original income redistribution plan sanctioned by God? Because men, in their infinite wisdom, chose to amend them. Or ignore them. Or reasoned they no longer applied. Or needed more modern interpretations in keeping with the values and mores of the times.

The West decries fundamentalist Islam and its Sharia law as outdated. Cut off a man’s hand for stealing? How repulsive! Stone an adulterer? How barbaric! Blow up a pagan antiquity because it blasphemes one’s idea of religion? God forbid the intolerance!!!

Which brings us to the Founding Fathers and the brilliance of their work. They devised a system wherein freedom of religion was paramount to an individual’s rights but the practice of one’s religion was never intended to infringe on the rights of others. There would be no state-sanctioned religion, no bias for or against one’s beliefs. 

Elected officials swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. They aren’t given the choice of which laws they may enforce or circumvent. They aren’t given the choice of selective adherence to the decisions of the Supreme Court. 

They can disagree. They can dissent. But they cannot reject by their actions the consequences of those decisions. So Kim Davis and all who agree with her can only bite their lips and follow the law, unless they can mount a successful constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. 

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