Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Issue Certain Marriage Licenses

The recalcitrant Ms. Davis, arbiter of who may or may not be married in Rowan County, Kentucky, has this date been jailed, appropriately enough I think, for contempt of court.

As all know, she claims God Himself decrees that she refuse to follow the law.  This is, presumably, the same God who decreed she should be divorced from three previous husbands, leaving one to wonder why God, who apparently takes marriage so seriously that He will suffer it to take place only in certain cases, has no problem with it being entered into and then dissolved so frequently.  Serial marriage is it seems perfectly fine with the Deity, provided it is between a man or a woman.  This particular county clerk evidently has no problem with it either.

Now as far as I am concerned, Ms. Davis may divorce her current husband and his successors, if any, and this won't necessarily mean she is a bad person or even a sinner.  I don't mean to castigate her or others who claim that they may ignore or break the law whenever they think God wants them to as immoral.  But I do mean to say that she and they are seriously misguided and thoughtless, and that such a belief is potentially dangerous.

It's difficult to know where to begin in addressing this kind of belief.  It seems almost self-evident that if people are allowed to refuse to follow the law as it impacts others and the rights of others because of their religious beliefs, the rule of law doesn't exist.  I don't address laws which apply only to the rights of believers.  In that case, there may be some basis for asserting a First Amendment right.  But I don't think the First Amendment contemplates the religious limiting the rights of other persons by virtue of claimed religious beliefs.  Thus, I doubt any court will hold that someone whose religion mandates that, e.g., someone of a certain race, or disabled people, cannot marry need not issue marriage licenses.  Happily, we haven't reached that point (yet?).

I  think a religion the free exercise of which requires that legal rights be denied to others is a curious religion indeed.  I suspect that if this woman was Muslim, and maintained that she could not comply with her legal duties because of some Islamic belief, neither Mr. Huckabee nor Mr. Cruz nor anyone else would be claiming her rights were being violated.

But at this time I wish to focus on what I think is an issue which must be addressed before others when such claims as those made by Ms. Davis are made.  For such as me, an initial question is...why would God care who gets married according to the law?  Assuming it's God's law that certain people shouldn't get married, and God's law is superior to that of the law of humans, why does it matter if the law of the United States or any other nation allows them to marry?  The marriage would be valid only as far as the secular authority is concerned; it wouldn't be truly valid; what's valid is what God decides is valid.  So, the marriage licenses issued by the state would be bogus in the eyes of God, and God's eyes are the only eyes that matter.

Why would God decree that clerks shall not issue licenses which are clearly bogus?  None of those prohibited by God from being married would really be married in any case.  Even if God is the highly officious being contemplated by the Abrahamic religions, God isn't likely to be concerned regarding anything which is not the case.

It would seem that God, or those who believe that they stand in the shoes of God, as it were, should be concerned with marriage licenses only if they result in marriages God has prohibited.  If they don't, there should be no concern.

As there plainly is a concern, however, it would seem that God and those who claim to serve him in this respect believe that the marriage licenses in fact create a forbidden marriage.  That is problematic for the religious though, as that is to impute some kind of validity to secular marriage even if it is contrary to God's will.  In other words, the refusal to issue marriage licenses would arise from the belief that the licenses are valid regardless of the will of God.  I doubt that's a position anyone who would claim that gay marriage is forbidden by God would want to take.

Ms. Davis and others in similar governmental positions don't cause people to be married, they don't bless the marriages of people.  They merely issue licenses.  They process certain paperwork when certain fees are paid and certain requirements set by the law (not by them) are met.

So is it God's directive is we cannot issue marriage licenses to gays, regardless of the fact those licenses are not valid...are in fact invalid?  That would be to claim the processing of certain paperwork is in itself sinful, against one's religion.  God becomes in that case a kind of Divine Bureaucrat.

It's astonishing the extent to which certain of those who claim to believe in God and follow his laws manage to demean God when they do so.

No comments:

Post a Comment