Holy Words, Public Laws

Copyright © by Len Holman, 8/7/10


  Imagine you are one of the leaders of a small band of people in a foreign country, surrounded by your enemies, people whom you consider impious heathens.  Your fighting spirit is good, bolstered by your faith, and your combat skills are excellent—but you realize you have a big problem:  there are WAY more of them than there are of you, and the way they breed, you’ll probably never catch up.  So what do you do?  You have a strategy session with your top people and you all come up with a plan.  You will make sure not a single drop of semen goes to waste—that is, every drop will go toward producing others of your beliefs and way of life.  More babies will eventually mean more warriors and many more baby-makers for future generations.  But how do you get your people to comply?  How to prevent any wasted seminal fluid from going into politically and militarily incorrect places?  The only sure way is to use the power of faith, and for that you need the priests of your tribe to make the arrangements.

  Thus the “divine command” was born.  No semen goes anywhere but inside a woman’s body, on its way to an egg.  All other non-procreative methods and purposes of ejaculation would be severely punished by your tribe’s jealous and vengeful God.   And just to make sure this edict really carries some weight, you make sure it gets written down as a command from your Universal God.  The decision is political, but the result is social, and the implications are potentially hurtful and illegal.

  So now a federal circuit court judge has struck down the ban against gay marriage in California, and the holy warriors—spiritual and misled descendants of another time and place, whose message has been transmitted to, and carried by, monotheistic preachers, kings, and warriors into our age—are going to appeal and appeal.  The hue and cry is often one of feigned outrage that homosexuals will have special privileges, that marriage is between a man and a woman, that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, the institution of marriage, itself, will wither, that our precious children will be mentally destabilized, that “the will of the voters” has been ignored by “activist” judges, and that this is yet another example of the decadence and depravity of our permissive society.  Fire and brimstone will fall out of the sky and some of us will turn into pillars of salt.  Maybe just the unbelievers.

  It is unclear how “traditional” marriage will be destroyed if the lesbian couple down the block gets married.  Will heterosexual couples decide not to get married because homosexual couples also want to?  Will marriage have been ruined for straights by this?  Will there be no more opposite-sex weddings in Nebraska or even California?  A “union” doesn’t carry the same legal weight as a marriage, but if it did, then “union” and “marriage” would mean the same, and we could all get back to the really important issues, like whether Bret Favre’s ankle will heal in time for the season.  If a same-sex weddings can cancel out  hetero ones, then there must be some powerful mojo there, which—if bottled—could poison the water supply of Iran.

  It is true that homosexual couples will have special privileges—but they are those of the rest of us, so this argument turns on whether ANY of us should have these privileges. I wish I’d had more serious thoughts about this particular line of thought three wives ago.

  The violation of the sacrosanct “will of the voters” is a laughable argument.  The voters could decide—especially in California, where the initiative process is democracy run amok—to do just about anything, including turning people into property.  That wouldn’t make it morally correct or constitutionally acceptable.  Witness ancient Athens, where slavery was the bedrock of the economy, accepted as fair and just by the voting population of that prototypical democracy.  This line of reasoning reminds one of the Socratic dialogue “Euthyphro” in which the eponymous, self-righteous interviewee tells Socrates that he knows what’s pious—it’s what the gods say it is, and Socrates asks one of the greatest questions in the history of the philosophy of religion:

  Is something holy because the gods say it is, or do the gods say it is because it’s holy?  It’s a fine little dilemma, since if the gods say something is holy, thereby MAKING it holy, then any caprice of the gods can make anything holy.  If the gods declare an action holy because it’s pious, then why do we need gods to declare what already is?  So, if the voters say that a certain segment of the population doesn’t have the same rights and privileges as some other part, does this voter whim make it right?  And if they already have that right, having the voters say they don’t is just whistling in the dark of their own psyches.

  The damage to children is a serious issue.  It’s much better for a child to live in a “traditional” household where mom and dad hate each other and cheat on each other and yell and punch and turn the furniture into sawdust, than it is to live in a loving, calm, safe home with perverts for parents.  Right?

  And this society is permissive, but I’m sure that African Americans, women, and Native Americans are OK with this.  It’s depraved also, but it’s what we have and with all the depravity comes experiments in human rights, the stretching of those rights to include everyone, and the attempt to shut out the True Believers—something that makes them livid, which is their favorite color.

  I said all this outrage was feigned because underlying all this wailing and gnashing of teeth is that millennia-old idea of using God to determine public policy for the greater good.  It has worked repeatedly throughout history, and it continues to do what it was intended to do:  stop rational argument and promote bigotry and bumper-sticker thought.  And you thought the Dark Ages were long over?


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