The Rainbow’s Unfortunate Use last Week

You know, it might seem like a small thing, but the lighting of the White House the evening of the homosexual marriage decision with the colors of the LGBT movement told me something about the people running it—and to a large extent, running our country.  Throughout history when military victories were won, the victor was magnanimous.  Generally (there are exceptions) the victor, especially in modern times, gave grace to the vanquished, praise to their brave soldiers, and in most cases, attempted to set the vanquished back on the path to recovery with dignity.  Take the Civil War’s ending at Appomatox.  General Grant, when he heard his soldiers after the surrender ceremony begin to shout and taunt the defeated Southern army, immediately ordered that they cease.  He was magnanimous.  After World War Two, the United States actually aided Germany and Japan to regain some semblance of normality.  This practice, when it occurs, does have practical benefits (Germany and Japan have been fast allies and made enormous economic contributions).  We see the results also when  it does not occur, for example, after World War One, when the extremely harsh terms against Germany by the vindictive French helped a great deal to create the conditions for the next world war.  But in addition, magnanimity is a value that has moral dimensions.  It reduces hubris, and it indicates a willingness to go forward even in disagreement in a spirit of cooperation wherever possible and with grace.

What about the Obama administration?  It is as if he was saying “I won, and you need to know that and ‘shut up.’”  The rainbow colors seemed to be a kind of slap in the face to people with sincere religious objections.  It certainly was not a unifying act.  Why not rather bathe the White House in red, white and blue, a much better symbol of unity.  My suspicions about the president and his advisors has apparently been verified.  He is a man of extreme pride and a degree of vindictiveness.  And I expect most of his advisors are of the same ilk.  This is sad, and it may well have unintended consequences with respect to the settling of the issue.

This is also a lesson for Christians.  When we “win” our victories in the public sphere, we need to bear in mind the critical importance of humility and magnanimity.  They are not only practical values but they are moral values.  Do we show mercy in victory, even where our cause is patently right and opposes the patently wrong?  Here at the White House, I witnessed (though my readers may  not have) a clear sign of the hubris we ought to avoid.  It was a sad sight for me and for our nation.

20 thoughts on “The Rainbow’s Unfortunate Use last Week”

  1. Well said.

    Marks of the True Christian from Romans 12

    9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

  2. Scholarly discourse should be about reason and evidence, not speculation and mindreading. Your post consists primarily of the latter two, and not the former two.

    Btw, at least 26 million Facebook users have now colored their pages with “The Rainbow.” Are we to assume that they too are being vindictive and proud?

    Perhaps they are just celebrating. Perhaps President Obama was just celebrating. Perhaps he or some members of this staff merely wanted to point out, to the chagrin of many social conservatives and homophobes, that gays are Americans too.

    I don’t know. You see, I am not a mindreader. Have a nice day.

    1. Facebook is one thing. The President of the United States occupying the White House is quite another. He certainly was not naive to believe that all this was doing was “celebrating.” He himself has made recent statements to the effect that people of faith need to “get on board” with the new era and stop talking. Well, well, it also appears you have called out certain people (albeit you used the term “many”) for criticism–“social conservatives and [that always loaded but always useful term] homophobe.” I presume you are not saying that if one thinks homosexual practice is a sin is a homophobe? I thought that they were being true to what Scripture clearly states is sin. Homosexual practitioners are indeed people and Americans too, but they are also in sin. It isn’t a very hopeful sign when the Court not only doesn’t call it sin, but exalts it. And that I continue to assert is what the President did–it is hubris.

      1. You can continue to assert anything you want.

        That is the EASY part. Actually, it is quite easy.

        Actually taking the time and putting in the hard WORK in providing evidence, and not mere speculation, is the tough part. Continue to play the game of Marvin the Mindreader all you want. It is unbecoming for a scholar, quite frankly.

        Your post was baseless and sounded like something you picked up from Bill O’Reilly and not something written by a scholar. Seriously.

      2. To Jeff:
        If you want to engage in a civil discussion, then by all means. But to continue to beat on this opinion piece is of no value to our readers or to me (and it is also a waste of time for you). IF you read the post carefully, you can see clearly that I am expressing an opinion about what the Obama administration did. One doesn’t have to agree with me on that, to be sure. But my opinion (since it is opinion) is as good as yours. In fact, I suggest it may be better since it is based partially on the trends in the administration (past historical actions) and not just an apparent affirmation of the rainbow at the White House.

        The “hard work” actually wasn’t all that hard. Just take a long (6.5 years) look at what the president has said and done over that period and compare that with what has happened at other times and places in the past when someone was on the losing end of an action or decision, and you can see that he wasn’t exactly being gracious to the “losers.” I will reiterate my statement in summary: A statesmen would not have done what he (and staff) did that night. He is the president of the entire United States, and given the divisions and tension caused by this issue, it made no sense whatever to do it. A magnanimous person would have said something like “I know this decision offends many and I understand; let’s see how we can all work within the parameters of it and protect religious freedom also.” And no rainbow colors.

  3. Mark thank you for expressing my feelings. This was a slap in all Americans faces that believe in a United States of America and a red, white and blue would have shown grace not pride and contempt for those of us that believe differently. Just like those waving their rainbow colored flags offend us but if we wave the Confederate flag we get criticized for our remembrance of historical event. This was a display of arrogance and selfish pride to all Americans.

    Thanks again for writing your post.

    1. “but if we wave the Confederate flag we get criticized for our remembrance of historical event.”

      Which historical event?

      The rise of the Southern plantation-based economy, with its reliance on slave labor?
      The Civil War?
      The rise of the Dixiecrat movement, with its hostility to desegregation AND the revival of the Confederate flag?

      Don’t believe me? Ask Dr. Murdoch for his Eyes on the Prize videotapes. Look at the whites committing acts of violence against African-Americans or protesting the Civil Rights movement. They are carrying the red, white, and blue–the OTHER version.

  4. I don’t understand why there is any cause to be upset about the fact that freedom has been expanded and the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom has been upheld in a greater measure than before. For those who don’t believe in gay marriage, this ruling has no bearing on them whatsoever.

    1. In reply to B, have you read the case, or any of the previous line of cases appearing in the opinion? Please take a close look. Most legal scholars, even those on the Left, believe there is at least some threat to religious liberty as practiced (this is more than just believing what you want). The decision doesn’t read very libertarian and radical groups will most certainly try to push beyond it. They have already said so. So you are entirely to optimistic, though I would hardly agree that “religious freedom has been upheld in a greater measure than before” (unless of course one is libertarian, or a practicing homosexual, or just overly sanguine). By the way the case did not uphold religious freedom, since it had nothing to do with that. It was decided on Due Process and Equal Protection grounds and only contained one sentence by Justice Kennedy (writing for the majority) offering perhaps a little consolation on belief and speech only. So, sorry, it does have much bearing.

      1. There are religious groups in the country that believe in same-sex marriage. Their religious freedom matters too. Because of the free exercise and establishment clauses (assuming the incorporation doctrine of the 14th Amendment) in the 1st Amendment, the government cannot pass exclusively religious laws that limit freedom of others purely due to moral/religious motivation. There is absolutely no reason why same-sex marriages should not be legal as long as civil marriage is a thing that exists.

    2. That where you are wrong. If the Federal Courts and the IRS follow historical tradition, Christian Colleges could lose Federal Student Aid (Bob Jones vs. United States). In addition, besides “houses of worship” there seems to be no religious protection for other organizations even those associated with Churches. Since the Supreme Court did not have a religious exemption, the freedom of Religion is directly in conflict with equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.

      Dr. Clauson, am I correct in the understanding of the outcome of the Supreme Court Decision?

      1. Reply to Joseph and to B:
        Though the case was on the issue of whether the right of homosexuals to marry was a constitutionally protected right, the implications go beyond the Fourteenth Amendment because the issue of marriage in general is intertwined with religion. We do not yet know with certainty what the Court might to with the First Amendment Freedom of Religion clause, the case of Bob Jones v. US might be instructive. What I do know is that already activists are pressing for the elimination of the application of First Amendment-related policies for churches and religious organizations. These issues will come back to the Court in time. Kennedy’s sentence of “consolation” in the opinion was not particularly reassuring.

        So though the opinion was somewhat narrow, it was not just giving more freedom to one group. That group’s newly-granted freedom may end up impinging on the very First Amendment intended to protect another large group. Will the Court use a “balancing test”? I hope not. But we will see just how far things go. So B, it is not as simple as you seem to think.

  5. I thank you for your post. The thing that is grievous to me is that so many are blinded to the larger issue and, as you stated, farther reaching issues that will surely ensue. Ours is a country in the throes of rebellion to God and His laws…all of which are good for the health of any nation. God have mercy on America.

  6. ” I presume you are not saying that if one thinks homosexual practice is a sin is a homophobe? I thought that they were being true to what Scripture clearly states is sin.”

    The Bible, in Leviticus 20:13 (NIV version) says the following: “”If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

    In your opinion, should laws be passed today in the US making homosexual behavior a capital crime?

    Please be clear and direct in your answer, confident that fidelity to Scripture is necessary in order to be true to what the Word of God, as you say, clearly states.

    1. No one is not a “homophobe” if one believes homosexual acts/life are sin. Yes, the Old Testament did call for the death penalty for homosexual acts. This is where things get hermeneutically difficult. First one must consider that Leviticus was for the Hebrew people both morally and politically. The moral fact of homosexual acts as sin never disappears and of course is reiterated in the New Testament. The political aspect of that command is more difficult. Most would argue that since the political commonwealth of Israel no longer exists, the political-legal commands are not required to be implemented in any nation. Thus homosexual acts are always morally wrong but need not be prosecuted by government. My position is that a nation-state is not required to make homosexual acts crimes, and therefore punishable by death if convicted. That conclusion is based on the fact that Israel is no longer in existence, so its peculiar legal-political structure no longer binds other nations. The “general equity” of those laws does still exist, and so the nation would not by in the wrong (unjust) if it made homosexual acts crimes (no death penalty), or for that matter, made adultery, etc. a crime. But it is not a requirement. This in no way absolves the person of sin. That can only be forgiven by God.

      1. “First one must consider that Leviticus was for the Hebrew people both morally and politically. The moral fact of homosexual acts as sin never disappears and of course is reiterated in the New Testament. The political aspect of that command is more difficult. Most would argue that since the political commonwealth of Israel no longer exists, the political-legal commands are not required to be implemented in any nation. Thus homosexual acts are always morally wrong but need not be prosecuted by government.”

        I see.
        Quite clearly, YOU are putting YOUR own human reason above the Word of God, picking and choosing what passages are still relevant, and which passages are no longer historically relevant. Just like everyone else.

        Jesus never said anything about the OT being only for Jews at a particular place and time and that the commands from that OT are no longer valid. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5 that he did not come to abolihs the law, but to fulfill it; and that until heaven and earth pass away (disappear), not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.

        Jesus–or for that matter, no other biblical figure-EVER said that the death penalty for homosexuality should no longer be considered applicable. You clearly feel that way—and I would agree—but that is our human reason, conditioned by Enlightenment values—that is talking, NOT the Bible. Just so you know…

        If the OT laws were only for a certain time, then why do so many Christians (currently, in OK and AL) want the Ten Commandments posted in public in courthouses? Come to think of it, one of your colleagues in history just cited a passage in Exodus that (?) condemns abortion. Apparently he forgot about the OTHER OT passage in Deuteronomy that states that preborn infants who were conceived illegitimately should be aborted by the mother taking some form of liquid.

        You may confidently say that homosexual marriage is a sin, but you cannot point out any passage that condemns homosexual marriage. And before you snicker, consider this: if an omniscient God wanted people not to practice homosexual marriage (an omniscient God KNOWS the future and KNOWS what 2015 would bring), that that God could easily have had that command placed in the Bible.

        Remember also that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality at all, even though it was quite common in his time throughout the Roman Empire. He DID say something about divorce. Wonder if that commandment will keep now GOP frontrunner (in NC) Donald Trump–thrice married–from getting the evangelical vote, if he happens to win the nomination. I doubt it. Christians tend to place conservative politics over their faith these days–and that is one reason why young people are increasingly turning away from faith.

        I have no problem with anyone believing personally that homosexual marriage is a sin and choosing not to engage in it for that reason. But the problem comes when some defend their choice to violate the individual freedoms of others as “opposition to sin.” Such hurtful, selfish behavior cannot be justified by such lameness. To me it is hiding behind the Bible , just like how many politicians cowardly hide behind the flag.

        I remember a time when many Christians considered interracial marriage to be a sin, and said they were standing behind the Word of God—until Bob Jones III appeared on Larry King (and then, poof, it wasn’t a sin any longer).

        In thirty years, Christians will be embarrassed that their predecessors acted so cruelly. But I admit that I may be wrong. It may take only twenty. :-)

      2. The moral fact of homosexual acts as sin never disappears and of course is reiterated in the New Testament.”

        Slavery–the owning of another human being as property–is accepted in the Old Testament and that acceptance is reiterated in the New. Slaves were commanded by Paul to obey their masters EVEN IF THE MASTERS WERE CRUEL.

        If one is to follow your own logic, then slavery would also be morally acceptable–but if I recall, you do not believe that it is.

        Obviously, you are OK with the NT prohibition against homosexual acts and not with the NT defense of owning another human being as property. You are halfway there.

        If you are honest, you would acknowledge that you are picking and choosing which biblical passages are binding today, and, I afraid, that you may be using the Bible to justify your inveterate prejudices. On this last point, I HOPE that I am wrong.

        If you want to get the last word in, feel free to do so.

      3. To Jeff:
        No I am not putting my reason above Scripture or God, I am interpreting it as we all must. Reasonable rules of interpretation enable reasonable interpretations, and though people may disagree on certain difficult texts, in general conclusions will converge (of course there are also people who will go far afield, misusing Scripture).

        No I don’t choose passages that are relevant for me and ignore others. I am looking at the evident fact that Israel existed both as a chosen people and a political-legal entity with particular laws. In addition, one has to consider different aspects of the Mosaic Law. The Law had moral elements, which remain binding on all humans, whether Christian or not. Homosexual acts are sin, regardless. Then there are civil-legal aspects of the Law that governed the people in their external actions, preserving order and setting the peculiar people apart.

        Matthew 5 is a relevant text. Jesus did not abolish the Law, but that did not mean that that Law was applicable in exactly the same sense that it was among that OT people. My sense is that you want to push me into a corner on Matthew 5 to get me to admit that because homosexual acts were punishable by death in the OT, they MUST still be so. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. There is both a continuity and a discontinuity between OT and NT. The Law is one aspect of that principle, which all Christian biblical scholars recognize (they differ only in the degree).

        As for the Ten Commandments, of course they are all still morally binding, and they can be useful also in establishing law. In fact, you know that most of the foundation for Western law came from the Old Testament. Are you suggesting we ought to ignore those sources?

        I don’f find the Deuteronomy text you mention. There is an Exodus text, 21: 22-25, that has punishment for causing a premature birth. That is protecting life. The text you mention is Number 5. Here is a comment on it:

        “Sotah: Abortion-Inducing Potion due to Husband’s Jealousy
        In Numbers 5, we have instructions given by God to Moses regarding situations where a husband is fiercely jealous of his wife, and there aren’t witnesses to prove whether she did or did not have an affair. She is to be taken before the priest who will mix up a potion and have her swear an oath of cursing before drinking it. “And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.” Otherwise, in poetic terms, it is described that she will lose the baby, by judgment of God.”

        Now finally, you come to homosexual marriage. You say Jesus or the Bible generally don’t ever condemn it. I am surprised that you would not support an application of a text. Jesus, Paul, the OT clearly state that homosexual acts and consistent homosexual lifestyle are sin. The clear and undeniable application from that is that homosexual marriage is also sin. It is not merely a personal opinion. It is God’s Word. It doesn’t matter what was common in the Roman Empire. Many sins were common–and still are. This sin (homosexual acts/life including marriage) is NOT like interracial marriage. That is not at all a sin, never has been, never will be. It IS never mentioned as sin. It was as you know “made up” to support certain beliefs. Please don’t try to make that analogy. And there are good reasons why interracial marriage is not sin.

        And what is this business about God’s omniscience? Of course God is omniscient. That doesn’t mean he condones sin.

        Now you seem to think people who believe homosexual marriage is a sin will be ashamed. Why? They have consciences don’t they? They have Scripture in support. It came from God.

        Finally slavery is NOT condoned by Paul. It was a fact of Paul’s day. A historical fact doesn’t mean it was condoned by Paul. To condemn slavery was just not part of his main agenda. The unity in Christ was central. Slavery was permitted in the OT, BUT NOT CHATTEL slavery or racial slavery. The kind of slavery condoned in the OT was temporary and not based at all on race. In fact a person could sell himself into slavery to pay debts. That is NOT the same as per-Civil War slavery in America. I do not support either homosexual sin or slavery and I have good reasons–along with many, many Christians ans Christian scholars–for refusing to support either. You are the one in the historical minority, who apparently would like to be in the majority.

        So since you now have my beliefs and support for them, when are you going to tell us your views straightforwardly?

  7. One more exegetical point on Matthew 5: 17-20. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill. Fulfill then is the key. It cannot mean abolish (a tautology). Nor does it mean a slavish reproduction of the OT Law exactly as it was. Neither A nor B. You seem to want to force me into a a false alternative when there is a third or middle way for “fulfill.” No scholar takes fulfill as either completely A or completely B, given the context and the rest of the Bible.

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