Why is being gay a sin? Because the Bible says, “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). Why is slavery a good thing? Because the Bible says, “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh” (1 Peter 2:18).
People often quote the Bible in order to support their viewpoints. They must be thinking that “the Bible says so” is some sort of an argument. Granted, the Bible says many good things such as, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:2-13), but just because the Bible gets a few things right doesn’t mean you should start believing everything it says. It’s a little tiring when people become unable to think for themselves and have to rely on an ancient sheet of paper to tell them what to believe in. Let me give you another example.
Why is slavery a good thing? Because the Constitution says so. In fact, the Constitution says that “[slaves count as] three fifths of all other Persons” (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution). Why is it a good idea for people to carry around guns? Because the Constitution says that “the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (2nd Amendment).
People often quote the Constitution in order to support their viewpoints. They must be thinking that “the Constitution says so” is some sort of an argument. Granted, the Constitution says many good things such as, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech” (1st Amendment), but just because the Constitution gets a few things right doesn’t mean you should start believing everything it says. It’s a little tiring when people become unable to think for themselves and have to rely on an ancient sheet of paper to tell them what to believe in.
Do you see any similarities between the Bible and of the Constitution?
Let me put it plainly: “it says so in the Constitution” is not an argument. It’s a fact, to be sure, but facts need the addition of logic and reasoning to become arguments. As an atheist, I am annoyed at how far the Bible has intruded into our politics and policies, but I’m even more annoyed that we have placed the Constitution up on a pedestal right next to the Bible. Heaven forbid if anyone disagrees with the Constitution. People quote passages from the Constitution, they quibble over words and commas and tiny minutia, and they furiously debate the differences between the “literal” interpretation and the “spirit” or the “intent” of the law. I wonder if these people don’t read from the Constitution on Sundays and pray to it at night.
The worst thing of all, however, is that these people believe it’s okay to quote the Constitution to support a viewpoint, but that it’s not okay to quote the Bible, even though logically it’s the same argument. “Why?” “Because it says so on this piece of paper.” They make fun of Christians for their unwavering faith, and then they turn around and do exactly the same thing. They are hypocrites.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand where they’re coming from. They look at the Bible and think it’s crazy, and then they look at the Constitution and love what they see. In comparative terms, the Constitution does make more sense. Still, just because the Constitution is right most of the time, that doesn’t mean that every single word of it should be blindly obeyed.
Let me (very) briefly address two of the points above with some real arguments, namely gay marriage and the right to bear arms, so that you can see what a real argument looks like.
If gays are human beings, and if all human beings deserve equal rights, then gays deserve equal rights. It then follows that if the right to get married counts as a “human right,” then gays deserve the right to get married.
Do you see the difference? The issue at hand is not whether the Constitution or the Bible condones gay marriage. Who cares. The issue is about human rights, about equal rights, about gays being human beings. The overarching theme is far more important than a simple marriage certificate. This conflict deals with the very humanity of an entire race of people.
Let’s move on to gun control. The basic stance against guns is that more guns leads to more killings. What if I told you that in 1987 Florida adopted a right-to-carry law that allowed the state to issue handguns to its citizens, and the homicide rate dropped 36% in the next 10 years? (http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp) I have just provided a counterexample to the claim that more guns cause more killings. Rather than simply saying, “The Constitution says we should all carry guns,” I actually gave some hard evidence.
In recent news, I keep hearing about how President Bush has violated the Bill of Rights. So what? The problem with throwing people into Guantánamo Bay for no reason is not that the Geneva Convention has been violated, the problem is that it’s wrong! Who cares what some dusty sheet of paper says? It’s wrong to lock people up for no reason.
Let me ask you a personal question: if the Unabomber blew up your wife, would you think, “Oh drat, he broke the law,” or would you think, “That bastard murdered my wife!” Exactly. Laws don’t make things right and wrong, right and wrong should make the laws. We spend far too much time in this country arguing whether something is legal or not, rather than arguing what really matters: if it’s right, or if it’s wrong.
Just because the Constitution says we have the right to due process doesn’t mean we actually do. Just because the Bible says gays are an abomination doesn’t mean they are. Just because the Constitution says we have the right to bear arms doesn’t mean we should. Just because both the Constitution and God love slavery, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have abolished it. Remember, it never matters what other people say. Always use facts and logic to determine the truth of right and wrong.