It didn’t take long for Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly to draw the ire of a few ideologues who write for Townhall.com.
In his criticism of Mr. O’Reilly, Townhall columnist Kevin McCullough* states the following:
The original basis for most of our basic laws stem from the ten commandments. The original version of any form of recorded law is the Bible, and the founders of the United States sought the God of the Bible (Nature’s God) in establishing the most moral system of law our world had ever seen. So to assert–as O’Reilly clearly did–that the Bible can not so much as even be a piece of the discussion ultimately dooms, what is largely an issue that is based on moral behavior, to be decided upon entirely secular or non-moral, amoral, or immoral viewpoints. To refuse even citation from the Bible, is to also arrogantly assume that 5000 years of humanity that observes its moral code from the Bible, was unenlightened and unworthy of a voice in a discussion as important as this.
Apparently, Mr. McCullough lacks knowledge of the origins of human law. First of all, the Bible isn’t the original version of any form of recorded law. The oldest surviving recorded law is the Code of Ur-Nammu, with the older Code of Urukagina being referred to in other ancient writings.
Also, it is a fallacy to claim that 5,000 years of humanity observed its moral code from the Bible. Modern humans have been in existence for well over 100,000 years, and they inhabited plenty of places outside of ancient Israel. From a global perspective, only a fraction of humanity has observed any moral code recorded in Hebrew scriptures.
Furthermore, Mr. McCullough repeats an oft-cited claim that our nation’s laws are based on the Decalogue of the TANAK (a.k.a. Old Testament). That claim isn’t supported by the U.S. Constitution, and it would be a violation of the First Amendment for any legislative body within the USA to use religious laws as civil laws.
Although Mr. McCullough disagrees with Mr. O’Reilly, at least the former didn’t throw a fit worthy of Chris Matthews. That task was carried out by Townhall columnist Doug Giles*, who had this to say:
According to Bill O’Reilly, pundits cannot appeal to the Bible any longer for public policy regarding homosexuals that want to get married. At least I think it’s just in regards to homosexual marriages. Hell, I don’t know when and where we can use the Scripture any longer. Can we still use it in church? Does anyone know?
Apparently, Mr. Giles didn’t understand the point that Mr. O’Reilly is making. Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court has the task of determining whether or not bans on same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution. Mr. O’Reilly’s point is that the Bible cannot be cited in legal arguments against same-sex marriage, because the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow purely religious laws to be turned into civil laws. In his controversial discussion with Laura Ingraham**, Mr. O’Reilly explains that a legal case against same-sex marriage has to be based on something other than Bible verses.
Mr. O’Reilly is correct about the inability to use the Bible to make a legal case against same-sex marriage in the USA. Ironically, Mr. O’Reilly’s critics are overlooking the non-biblical case against same-sex marriage that Mr. O’Reilly makes. He states, “Now, there is a strong argument against gay marriage; that it expands marriage opportunity to just one group, gay people. That excludes all others who may want to marry under different circumstances. Also traditional marriage has been a societal stabilizer and in many states it’s favored by the majority of the folks.”
Now, some people (such a McCullough and Ingraham) may object to Mr. O’Reilly’s use of the expression “Bible thumpers” because the expression is not politically correct among certain Christians, but the expression describes how certain opponents of same-sex marriage are perceived by proponents of same-sex marriage. The unpleasant reality is that a person is seen as a “Bible thumper” if that person relies solely on the Bible to make a case against same-sex marriage. You don’t eliminate such an unpleasant reality by denying its existence.
This brouhaha about same-sex marriage in the USA has revealed a difference between the American way, as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, and the Christian way, as spelled out in the New Testament. The former permits people to not govern their sexual behavior according to the New Testament. One simply cannot promote the entire American way while promoting the idea of codifying New Testament teachings into American civil law. The two simply do not mix. Granted, some New Testament teachings may have equivalents in American civil law, but the latter are independent of the former. The latter merit their existence without the Bible.
Thankfully, it isn’t the mission of the universal Church to coerce non-believers in Jesus into conforming to the rules of conduct that believers in Jesus are supposed to follow. Instead, the mission is to share good news about God’s plan of redemption for all humanity, and that good news can be shared even if same-sex marriage were permissible under civil law. The Gospel of Jesus Christ survived Roman persecution and the Spanish Inquisition. It can certainly survive any SCOTUS ruling about same-sex marriage.
* I will say this much in defense of Townhall columnists Kevin McCullough and Doug Giles. Neither is a Christian minister, and neither claims to use his Townhall column to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, I give them some slack whenever they mention religious issues, just as I want some slack to be given to me.
** Bill O’Reilly’s controversial argument with Laura Ingraham can be seen here by clicking here. I don’t particularly agree with the way that Mr. O’Reilly responded to Dr. Ingraham.