Tennessee county drops request to God re: gays, wrath

The Blount County courthouse (pre-destroyed)

The Blount County courthouse (pre-destroyed)

Like any decent person, I was thrilled to learn that Blount County, Tennessee was considering a resolution asking God to pass over them when he punishes America for allowing gay marriage. After citing “natural law” and “reason” as forces superior to the federal government, the resolution concludes:

We adopt this resolution begging His favor in light of the fact that we have been forced to comply and recognize that the State of Tennessee, like so many other God-fearing States, MAY have fallen prey to a lawless judiciary in legalizing what God and the Bible expressly forbids.

What could be more Christian than asking God to spare you when he punishes other people? It’s like Jesus said in Luke 23:34: “Father, fuck them but forgive me, because I had nothing to do with this.” There’s something enormously pleasing about pious Tennesseans following the teachings of Christ by calling down God’s wrath on everyone but them. But then I read that the Blount County Commission declined to hear this resolution last night.

That’s probably appropriate. It’s hard to imagine a reading of the anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment that would condone a government resolution that directly addresses God. It reads an awful lot like a prayer.

But it is not a prayer for forgiveness. Besides asking God to spare Blount County, the resolution has two main points: the legalization of gay marriage is “lawless,” and they didn’t have anything to do with it. “We are forced beyond our wishes to comply with what is clearly against our conscience,” it says, pretty much absolving Blount County for anything the United States might do.

That’s bullshit. I’m glad the Christians of Blount County haven’t done everything they could do to stop gay marriage, but like the rest of us, they are collectively responsible for the actions of the US government.

You know that hospital we bombed in Afghanistan? That’s on me. I’m against that war, and I’m less responsible for it than, say, Stanley McChrystal, but I still haven’t done everything in my power to stop it. I pay taxes. I have yet to volunteer for the Sanders campaign, or Rand Paul, or some other candidate that might be expected to stop such foreign entanglements. If God were punishing people for killing kids in Afghanistan, I would at least deserve some warts.

It’s not perfect, but the United States is still a republic. The “government” is no more responsible for American law than the microwave is responsible for the temperature of a burrito. You can disagree with where we’re going—I do, a lot of the time—but you can’t opt out while you still live here.

Blount County, Tennessee, is a subset of America. The whole point of both Christianity and representative government is that the individual is inextricable from the whole. We’re in this together, and God doesn’t care who disclaims responsibility for events, because he doesn’t exist. But if he did, he wouldn’t let anybody opt out.

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