February 09, 2006

"The People Want It"

That's one of the frequent justifications those who are pushing for laws and constitutional amendments that would prohibit same-sex marriage use. They're not anti-gay, they're merely trying to enfore the "will of the people." Here's a biblical case where the will of the people was carried out despite the better judgement of the political leader, Pontius Pilate.

Luke 23:13-24 (NIV) Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him." With one voice they cried out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him." But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

That's right, our Lord and Savior was crucified because Pilate was afraid of the people of Isreal complaining to his superiors in Rome and hurting his career. How many politicians are making decisions on the important modern-day issue of same-sex marriage based on fear of losing votes and going against their own conscience and thoughts on what is right.

I'm not trying to condemn anyone who votes differently than I would regarding same-sex marriage. I am, however, calling out anyone who is in a position of leadership yet lacks the courage to lead. I don't feel anyone who falls into that category deserves my vote or yours.


  1. What the people wanted in the South in the years of my pious youth was for blacks to drink from seprate water fountains and to go to different schools and to worship God in different spaces and so on. What the people wanted in ancient Rome was to see Christians thrown to lions. What the people of Jerusalem -- Saul included -- wanted was to stone Stephen. What the people in Palestine wanted was a government led by Hamas.

    What we need is not necessarily what we want. Nor is what we want necessarily evil. We have to look beyond those simple categories. Pilate, as you say, caved to political fear. Why not? What was it costing him to send this deluded man off to die? What does it cost politicians to throw gay folk like me to the lions of ignorance and fear today?

    Thanks for pointing out so clearly the weakness in appealing uncritically to the will of the people. We must appeal to truth and justice and other such values that are not dependent on the emotion-swept feelings of the multitude -- or even the emotion-swept feelings of the leadership. The truth, Jesus said, will set us free. The truth.

  2. Oh, you're good! :)

    What a poignant and appropriate comparison.

  3. "The people want it" is just a rhetorical convenience. The religious right would be no less opposed to gay marriage if it were favored by 80% of the population. And they're willing to use any means, biblical or not, to advance their political agenda.