Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Bible Aside, Still Not Right

Sometimes controversy brings out the best in talk shows and even a bad show can present an interesting and edifying interview.

And so  it went when Joe Scarborough and almost assistant co-host Mika Brzezinski interviewed Mike Huckabee (video here), Kim Davis' most visible supporter, on "Morning Joe" Wednesday.  Joe Scarborough tried to go toe-to-toe with Huckabee on Scripture. "Obviously," the Joe in "Morning Joe" stated, "we disagree on, uh, constitutional grounds here. I want to ask you, though, biblically, um, what are the biblical grounds of somebody that works for Caesar not rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's?"

After Huckabee responded, Brzezinski tried at least three times to get the former governor to answer "What if Kim Davis wanted to get a third or fourth marriage license from somebody who truly believes that you should only get married once?” Brzezinki asked. “What would you say to that?”

Huckabee avoided answering each time, though he helpfully pointed out that Davis already has been married four times, which would qualify her for a fifth marriage license, were she to divorce her current husband.  As Salon's Scott Eric Kauffman explains

Joe Scarborough jumped in at this point, noting that “Jesus focused a lot more on divorce, focused a lot more on lust, focused a lot more on the poor, focused a lot more on clothing the naked, visiting people in jail, taking care of the hopeless than he did on homosexuality. In fact, he never mentioned homosexuality.”

“You can read the text of the gospel and what Jesus Christ said,” he continued, “and there’s a lot more condemnation for people like myself who have been divorced than there is condemnation for people that participate in the gay lifestyle.”

Huckabee replied, “homosexual marriage was not an issue in the First Century,” to which Scarborough countered that that’s not the point. ” Jesus was much more explicit about divorce and you can much more easily make an argument that a judge would refuse to grant divorces because Jesus was far more explicit about divorce equaling adultery.

Scarborough's argument falls short on two bases. The apostle Paul famously (or infamously, depending upon your viewpoint) slammed homosexuality, in 1 Corinthians maintaining" Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men."   And in Romans:"the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

Skeptics question whether Paul actually made these statements. But it is precisely the same book which includes these words, and by the same authority that they are uttered, which quotes Jesus as saying what he did about divorce, adultery, and a myriad of other things. Question both Paul and Jesus, if you will; but questioning one and not the other is intellectually dubious.

And as it turns out, Scarborough is disingenuous, albeit not dishonest, about Jesus' view of same-sex relations.  Jesus condemned "sexual immorality," which this Christian apologist believes derives from the Greek word "porneia," which refers to "prostitution, unchastity, fornication of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse." That appears to be anything which deviates from accepted social and religious norms.

Jesus, as Scarborough observes, did not speak specifically of homosexuality. But when he condemned divorce, he made quite clear (as in Matthew 19:3-6) that he assumed marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Though Huckabee noted "homosexual marriage was not an issue in the first century," his failure to eviscerate Scarborough and Brzezinski on Scripture demonstrates that he has lost something off his fastball. Moreover, he is wrong when he suggests, contrary to Marbury v. Madison, that the US Supreme Court's determination of the constitutionality of a statute is not always legally binding.  He is not a lawyer (or a doctor), and should not play one on TV (genesis of that, here; video below). Kim Davis has no legal right to violate her oath of office and not carry out her duties, even if consistent with her religious faith.

The books of the Bible were composed nearly 2,000 years ago with instructions practical and moral for individuals of that time and for some time thereafter. Circumstances have changed, though, and we have the benefit of hindsight and dramatically altered conditions.

We have also a Constitution, against which Justices can judge a law, and which provides the basis for the reasoning of eight Justices on same-sex marriage. (Anthony Kennedy is more concerned with social policy and Confucius.)  The same God whom Mike Huckabee believes is appalled at same-sex marriage gave us the ability to think and reason, and to obey legitimately-established authority.

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