By David Tulis
Some Christians refuse to take oaths. They prefer to “affirm” a matter in their own name, that they will testify truthfully or obey a constitution on taking office. It is an error to refuse to invoke God’s name as witness in a trial or in taking up as governor or county clerk.
That’s because God does not forbid taking oaths on high occasions, at instances of public or national import or before tribunals where life and property are at stake. Christ’s admonition to avoid oaths is to the sin of swearing vainly and making oaths in a spirit of levity and joshing, a vice prohibited in the third commandment (“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain,” Deuteronomy 6:11). In other words, as Christ says, let your no be no and your yes yes, and swear upon My name for things that are important.
The oath of office today is sharply in view as Chattanoogans and people across Tennessee await a ruling out of Cincinnati on Tennessee pleadings to the federal government to let it maintain its marriage law, or a ruling by mid-2015 out of the U.S. supreme court that everyone believes will settle the question of marriage. Is marriage between one man and one woman, as Tennesseans have declared? Or is marriage to be redefined a priori and declared a right viciously denied to gays?
Gov. Bill Haslam and county clerk Bill Knowles are on the line. Will they defend Tennesseans’ understanding of the truth of marriage? Or will they do what others have before the gay mudslide? Cave under the neutron bomb theory of law.
From law to gibberish
That idea is nearly universally accepted in any field under lawyers’ influence. It is the pious pretense that high court rulings are law. We know that the U.S. congress and the Tennessee legislature are legislative branches, writing laws. But the popular theory of judicial supremacy, a form of civic religion, holds words from high courts to be declarations of a god that sweep away old laws and impose new ones.
In war a neutron bomb destroys all life but leaves buildings standing. Does a federal court have power to destroy life in a constitution but leave the words standing? Tennesseans’ marriage amendment, Article 6, section 18, is full of vigor. It reads in part, “The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state.”
The question judicial vacating of law hits home for Messrs. Haslam and Knowles. Does Cincinnati have power to make these words actually vanish? Or does it neutron bomb them, leaving them on the page but drained of meaning, stripped of any power of significance? Do the “good people” in the U.S. government’s judicial division have the authority to take a state constitution and by a mere sequence of their own words convert our lines of type into so much gibberish? The words remain on the page, in black ink, but there is no life in them. Is that it? Is that what the people of Tennessee have to accept from their public officials, the deconstruction of our law by courts lacking subject matter jurisdiction and our quiet acceptance of that operation?
Interposition as a duty
Tennesseans may have declined morally, culturally and spiritually since the constitution was drafted. But their public officials should always esteem them highly as a free people. For so they are called in the state bill of rights. And their government is called a “free government” in that “the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind” (Article 1, section 2). This provision speaks not only of the people, but government itself as resisting arbitrary power.
For Mr. Knowles, to grant licenses and to record the marriage of a man to another man is slavish. It is beneath his honor. It is outside of his sworn duty. It is, notably, the entering into the record a falsehood. Declaring something as true that an official knows is a lie is a crime: Perjury.
The fear of committing a crime should not drive these men. Neither probably the fear that 10 citizens under the relator provision of the impeachment statute might sue to oust them as miscreants. Rather, they should be impelled by a desire to affirm our commonwealth, to keep commitment to defy despotism for citizens’ benefit and to God’s glory.
The burden of their oaths is heavier today than it has ever been in the political careers of these men. Their promises are not light caviling, but precious commitments before God to stand firm, come what may. The press may shriek, gays may picket their front steps, lawyers may scold and demand Messrs. Haslam and Knowles submit to their counsels of capitulation.
As gay shares peak
Our elected officials should find their center elsewhere. They are obligated to deal with the people on a sure footing, to represent them as one. Federal courts may say what they will about marriage. Mr. Knowles’ and Mr. Haslam’s oath of office contradicts them, keeping before us — in a sort of living and light-filled projection brimming with meaning — their personal guarantees of our constitution’s vitality.
Gay theory is a fad whose shares have peaked. Marriage as a creational ordinance is the foundation of society and the root of capital. Rulings for the homosexualization of law under whatever guise are against the people and their happiness. The upheaval nigh upon us will force Messrs. Haslam and Knowles to face God in their oaths. In light of this promise, they must see that little in either the U.S. and state constitutions supports the legal lubricity of the gay.
We have their word they will defend their people’s marriage laws. They must not skulk about. They must not cowed. We ask them to be courageous, to interpose. We pray for no less.
— David Tulis hosts Nooganomics.com on Hot News Talk Radio 1240 and 910 AM from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.