September 03, 2015

Quoting the Bible against Kim Davis (and the Religious Right in general)

Kim Davis, selective bible-quoting hypocrite
(Update, Sept. 3: U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning has — very rightfully, in my opinion, contra Kentucky same-sex marriage plaintiffs — sent Davis to jail, rather than just fine her, for continuing to remain in contempt of court. He said her organized supporters would simply pay her fines.)

It's actually like shooting fish in a barrel, but, like most such cases, it's with a fish that refuses to admit it's been shot.

Nonetheless, let's get started with the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who's going one better than George Wallace on segregation and refusing to issue gay or lesbian marriage licenses.

It's called Romans 13. The first two verses say:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 
The governing authorities above Kim Davis in this case are the variety of federal judges that have told her she's wrong, and unconstitutional; ultimately, this is the Supreme Court.

Oh, while we're at it, for good measure, three verses later, Paul reminds the Religious Right to pay its taxes:
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Again, though, you won't see the Religious Right quoting this.

Let's also, with the four-times married Davis, remember Jesus on divorce in Mark 10:

Later, in the house, his followers asked Jesus again about the question of divorce. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery against her. And the woman who divorces her husband and marries another man is also guilty of adultery.”
Update: Contra one more interesting attempt (Google "David Instone-Brewer" plus "divorce" or similar for much more) to interpret Jesus away, no, he didn't appear to be "softening" this. Rather, he was taking at least as hard a line as Shammai in the Shammai vs. Hillel, conservative vs. liberal schools of Torah at roughly his time. I've seen hints this was about Jesus as proto-feminist protecting the rights of women, but, although that would have been a result, that's not clear. And, contra Q's authorial softening, Jesus doesn't make an allowance for desertion, let alone the "burnt food" idea. Therefore, if he was trying to protect women, it was pretty strange protection.

And, an argument from "space available" or "cost of papyrus" is just a fancier version of the old "argument from silence." Please, Mr. I-B.

A multiple adulteress judging people who want to be married. Per the WaPost link, a pastor at another church says those three divorces were before she got "saved."

First, the Revvvvvv. Smith (to riff on Rush Limbaugh and Jesse Jackson) has no idea if Davis thought she was "saved" during the time of any of her previous marriages, or previous divorces, as far as I know.

Second, of course, that's still trying to impose her (and the Revvvvvvv. Smith's) beliefs on a secular situation. And, given that Smith was active in Promise Keepers more than a decade ago, this isn't new ground for him.

Third, I can quote the Bible on THAT, too! Namely, the first two verses of Romans 6. Here you are, Revvvvvv Smith.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound? By no means! 
After all, if I take the Revvvvv. Smith at his word, Davis ought to fool around with a fifth would-be husband while actually getting impregnated by a sixth. That way, she'd have another chance to be saved and forgiven so that "grace would abound." (That happened in he first marriage, per this site. She got preggers by eventual hubby No. 3, while married to No. 1 and fooling around with eventual No. 2. Speaking of, she had an opportunity to learn about "grace" and "forgiveness" from eventual No. 2, but didn't then, it appears.)

Meanwhile, her legal mouthpieces, per that just-linked site, are trying to make her the Onward Christian Soldiers version of a conscientious objector.

This all said, most religious fundamentalism is selective in its fundamentals and interpretation thereof. Christian fundamentalism is especially so, above all in relation to the Old Testament/Jewish Tanakh.

Plenty of Christian fundamentalists wear mixed cotton/wool suits, or mixed cotton/polyester clothes, in contravention of the "Old Testament." Plenty of others eat pork and shellfish. They usually claim that's part of the "Ceremonial Law," not the "Moral Law," or at least my Lutheran forbearers did.

That ignores, of course, that the Old Testament makes no such separation. And that Jesus, in saying he had come to fulfill the law, made no such separation either. (I never asked any of my professors during my last, "conversion" year of seminary for a proof text about dividing the commandments, the divarim, of the Torah/Pentateuch into "Moral Law," "Ceremonial Law" and "Civic Law," a nice, threefold, "Trinitarian" division. Nor did I cite Jesus' words about "I have come to fulfill the Law" as an indicator that such divisions didn't exist, and didn't matter if they did.)

Speaking of ...

At the same time, liberal Christians, and the atheists who sometimes, quite weirdly, support them on this issue, need to remember that the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament/Jewish Tanakh, is anti-gay. Jesus is silent on the issue, other than to say he came to fulfill Old Testament law, which has some explicitly anti-gay statements, and Paul is explicitly anti-gay, despite liberal Christians and selected atheists trying to explain him away.

See this blog post of mine for much more on that.

Meanwhile, for fundamentalist types who say this is "mocking God"?

Well, no. It's people like you who do that, if anything. If God is really omnipotent, then he's philosophically not limited to written words on paper, first. (In other words, Joe Smith and the Mormon Boys could be right!)

Second, if he/she/it self-limits to written words on paper, you're trying to have your version of god in a personal-sized box/cage/prison if you are selectively fundamentalist about which of those written words you take to be literally true and which you don't.

Third, you're playing god yourself when you try to claim which bits of written text are truly inviolate and which are not. Look in your dogmatics/doctrine textbooks. It's called Montanism and it was a heresy some 1,800 years ago.

Fourth, the fact that various wings and denominations of Christianity don't all agree on which books belong in the Tanakh/Old Testament or even the New Testament should rationally give you pause, too.

Finally, this whole issue, whether it's Kim Davis thinking she's saving gays from hell, or family members thinking they're saving me from hell, shows why the Golden Rule is inferior to the incorrectly named Silver Rule.

Let's quote both.

First, the Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Sounds nice, right?

Well, here's the Silver Rule:
Do NOT do unto others as you do NOT want them to do to you.
Sounds worse, with the negatives, does it not?

But, in the best sense of laissez faire, which is exactly what the Silver Rule is, it's much better. It's more libertarian, more toleration-based rather than meddling-based.

The Golden Rule is built on an assumption that we know what's best for other people, and do so by examining ourselves.


Would you give a diabetic a Coke? Or, per this discussion, an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim a rasher of bacon? No.

Per the Silver Rule, you'd think about how the Hippocratic principle of "first, do no harm" applies to daily life interactions with other people and then go from there.

I've written about this before, about Christians dealing with non-Christians in small towns, regarding the alleged but largely nonexistent "war on Christmas."


Old Gator said...

Anyone happen to see the vicious attack on poor persecuted Kim by...The Westboro Baptist Church!?!?!? Here's a link:

This falls somewhere between appalling and hilarious. The Westboros accuse Kim of being an adulterous slut for - ready? - being divorced and remarried! They demand that she return to the bed of her first husband. Somewhere along the line they missed her illegitimate child, engendered, I think, somewhere between her second and third husbands.

Kim appears to be capable of making a complete mess out of any situation into which she insinuates herself. She chewed through two marriages, conceived a child out of wedlock, and then seized on fundamentalist Christianity as a psychic safety net to hold her calamitously self-dissociated life together.

Now, she's found a way to wield even that source of stability against herself, her career and her family. What's emerging is a portrait of an inveterately self-destructive - and not particularly bright - individual hellbent on pulling the rug out from under herself no matter what she does. At least the courts remain unimpressed, as they damned well should.

Gadfly said...

Hah, that's great! Is this the Gator,the one and only, from the former Hardball Talk?

Old Gator said...

'Tis none other. Eggelent site you have here, SG. I posted some positive comments about it and directed others hither on today's "And That Happened" post before waving a fond farewell - a unique incidence, I think, of the crew deserting the sinking ship while the rats remain stubbornly aboard.

Gadfly said...

Nice! First, thanks for the kind words.

Second, I'll prolly remain "outta there" too. I used to primarily read, and comment, at Yahoo, before their massive redesign a couple of years ago.

Maybe I'll go back. Or, after this year, as I noted on one HBT post, after we know where Grantland folks end up (a lot of them have expired contracts this year), especially if they go to or start a site with comments, I'll follow them.

Old Gator said...

The Federal judge who caged homophobia's Magic Manatee of the Moment has now opened the sluice and released her on condition that she not interfere with her clerks' continued lawful issuance of marriage licenses to all who are legally entitled to them - that's legally as in man's law, not God's. If she interferes, she's back to the slammer.

The big question is, which is she more: dense or chastened? Now, what complicates matters is that the Klown Prince of cracker politics, Mike Huckleberry, is due to pay poor persecuted Kim a reinforcement visit today. Is she actually too stupid to understand that when he encourages her to "stand her ground," he realizes how shunting her thereby back to the pokey benefits only his attempts to consolidate his "base" followers under his banner of recalcitrant ignorance about the US Constitution's separation of church and state provision? We'll know by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a thought: if you remember Robert Bolt's brilliant play about the martyrdom of Sir Thomas More, perhaps you remember this bit of interlocution between More and his future son-in-law Will Roper, a Lutheran zealot:

Roper: Oh, so now you would give the Devil benefit of law, eh?

More: And would you knock down every law in England to get at the Devil?

Roper: Every one!

More: And when the Devil turned round on you, Roper, where would you hide, all the laws being flat? This land is planted thick with laws - man's laws, not God's - and if you overturned them (and you're just the man to do it), do you really think you could stand in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I would give the Devil benefit of law for mine own safety's sake.

Gadfly said...

Just heard about her release.

Given that, over the weekend, she asked the Gov. of the Commonwealth to, well, to unilaterally change state law so that somebody besides clerks would do marriage licenses, and thereby ignoring that her assistants (I think) already could have done so, I vote "dense" first. We'll see on "chastened."

And, absolutely, on "A Man for All Seasons." I've quoted that very paragraph before myself!