By David Tulis
Crowds gathered in Nashville on Tuesday to support marriage and a bill that intends to spark public interest in the biblical doctrine of the lesser magistrate and resistance against tyrants.
Five hundred people attended “Tennessee Interposition Day” that seeks to highlight the stake of citizens in lawful marriage and the state’s defense of marriage and its own government under the Tennessee constitution and its 2006 marriage protection amendment that denies any state official authority to recognize marriage as anything but between one man and one woman.
News coverage Tuesday suggested the bill by Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody would effectively drag the state out of Obamacare, with “projected loss of $8.5 billion in federal funds.” Legislative analysts estimated that if the state refuses services to same-sex couples, Tennessee government stands to lose F$6.5 billion in federal Medicaid money and F$2 billion in food stamp and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, according to an AP report Tuesday.
“We’re only upholding what we’ve already voted on,” Mr. Pody said. The federal supreme court “trampled our constitution.”
Demonstrators with placards stood about. “I’m a United States veteran and a citizen of North Carolina, which is in the United States,” demonstrator Allen Hoyle said. “I swore an oath to defend the Constitution, and the Constitution says nothing about marriage, and a court can’t decide on marriage. No judge can make a law. A judge cannot rule against the people. We’re for natural marriage.”
Mr. Hoyle stood by a poster: “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female *** and to cleave to his wife. Mark 10: 6, 8.”
Ooltewah Rep. Mike Carter, on the subcommittee to first consider the bill, say he objects to federal court opinion Obergefell v. Hodges, but rejects an effort to declare it null and void. “They [majority] overstepped their bounds, that they moved into making laws, not interpreting laws,” Mr. Carter told the Times Free Press of Chattanooga. “That to me is very scary.” But he generally dismisses the bid to get state government to assert its own prerogatives vis a vis the national government.
“If you’ve got God on your side, you don’t need me,” he told a visitor to his office.
A so-called truth truck operated by a supporter of Defytyrants.com depicted the hollow faces of dying people with the claim, “The price of tolerance: AIDS.”
Lesser magistrates defy greater
A prime mover behind the rally is Rev. Matt Trewhella, whose book Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates is an important contribution to a biblical understanding of delegated and divided powers. It envisions godly lower magistrates rejecting actual or pretended claims of authority by higher officials if God’s law or constitutional government warrants such a defense.
According to one report, “Trewhella espouses a theory called ‘interposition of the lesser magistrate,’ which is essentially the idea that elected officials have a godly duty to ‘stand in the gap’ by defying court rulings that go against so-called divine law. In fact, Trewhella has criticized the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel for using ‘religious liberty’ as the basis for its defense of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, calling it ‘nonsense.’”
The backers of the Beavers-Pody bill go further in defense of constitutional government than Mrs. Davis did in her fight surrounding her jailing by a federal judge. Mr. Trewhella and I have asserted that Mrs. Davis’ defense of her office is weak.
She sought to protect her personal religious beliefs from external coercion. Mr. Trewhella argues that she should have openly defied the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling because “when God looks for someone to stand in the gap against the tyranny, against wickedness being promulgated within the culture through the civil authority, if someone stands in the gap and defies them, then God relents in His judgment, but if they don’t defy the higher authority and they just go along with it, God allows His righteous judgment to come upon the land.”
As quoted by a pro-gay reporter, Mr. Trewhella goes on to say: “So, for her to be hiding behind the idea of ‘religious liberty’ is an absurdity. She shouldn’t be just trying to keep little Kim Davis from having to have her hand in the process of this abomination, two men or two women marrying. Her duty is far bigger than that. She actually has the duty to defy the higher authority completely and interpose on behalf of righteousness and therefore abate the just judgment of God upon our nation. That’s what true interposition of the lesser magistrate entails.”
Gay groups upset
The ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign condemned the Christians’ defense of marriage. “The Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally settled the issue once and for all by making clear that loving and committed same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry,” HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said. “This legislation is thoroughly unconstitutional, and it would no doubt cost taxpayers significantly in a vain, injudicious attempt to undermine marriage equality for LGBT Tennesseans.”
A Tennessee backer of state-sanctioned homosexuality scoffs at the Christian theory of divided government and says it will cause gays to be slain. “Rep. Pody’s visions are dangerous because he claims a basis for making public policy available just for him and those like him — his belief that divine voices are calling him to thwart the rights of others,” TEN executive director Chris Sanders said recently. “Hearing divine voices as a basis for lawmaking may have worked for Moses, but Rep. Pody’s bill will not lead us to the Promised Land. It may actually lead to more violence against the LGBT community.”
Sources: Eric Schelzig,“Pody undeterred by cost of fighting gay marriage,” The Associated Press on Knoxblogs.com, Jan. 19, 2016. .http://knoxblogs.com/humphreyhill/2016/01/19/25216/
Jeff Woods, “Far Right Protests Same-Sex Marriage at State Capitol,” Jan. 19, 2016, Nashville Scene