|Whose God is it, Anyway? by Steven Jonas|
September 7, 2015
You know the one (ones, actually) about “two men walk into a bar, and . . . “ Well, here’s a new variant. Two couples walk into a county clerk’s office, each wanting to get a marriage license. The gay couple belongs to the liberal branch of the Lutheran Church, and on most Sundays attends their local parish, whose minister happens to be a married lesbian. The members of the lesbian couple are both atheists.
They approach the counter, where they are greeted by the County Clerk who asks them what they are there for. The gay couple tells him that they want to get a marriage license, and that the ceremony will be held in their church the following Sunday. They are just so happy, they tell the clerk, that the Supreme Court has, under the 14th amendment, recognized the Constitutional right to marriage throughout the nation, regardless of sexuality. The clerk responds that he cannot give them a license because for him, “God” stands above the Constitution and that the deity has told him that it would be a sin for him to issue the license.
One member of the gay couple says, well, no. “God has told us that she is pleased as punch that the Supreme Court of the United States has finally recognized that marriage is about her favorite human value, love. It was not about some ancient prejudice that was written into what was supposed to be ‘God’s book’ by some homophobic men wandering around in the desert 4000 years before. Anyway, God has also told us that she is delighted that the Supreme Court has finally established gay and lesbian marriage to be permissible, as the law of the land under the highest civil law, the Constitution, which of course God fully recognizes and respects as the highest law in the civil realm. And of course, since marriage law is found in the civil statutes of each of the 50 states, it is a civil institution first and foremost, then to be happily celebrated in church or synagogue or mosque or temple, for those of those persuasions. Finally, God told us that while you of course have a right to your personal religious beliefs (which in this case God finds abhorrent), as a civil law official you have neither the right nor the power to place what you say is God’s word (and believe me, it isn’t) over the civil law. That,” said the gay man, “is what God really said.”
Then one of the two atheist lesbian women spoke up. “Well, with all due respect to my friends here who also want to get a marriage license, of course there is no such thing as ‘God.’ This,” addressing the clerk, “is something that of course you can believe in. But I am in agreement with my friends that in our civil society, under Constitutional Law, you have absolutely no right to impose your religious views on me. But beyond the Constitution, I am a Reasonist, not a theist. And in our pluralistic society you certainly have no right to impose your theological views on me, that is, your view of what the imaginary creature you call ‘God’ holds or does not.”
The clerk stood there shaking his head. The news media were delighted that they had something new to throw into the hopper, especially the statement from the atheist, and hoped to do it before the social media were brimming with it. The two couples, in the company of their attorneys, theists for the gay couple, Reasonists for the lesbian couple, immediately left the clerk’s office and marched off to the nearest Federal District Court.