Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gouverneur Morris and George Washington on Jesus' Lack of Instruction Towards Political Rulers:

A common line that those who try to downplay the anti-homosexual messages in the Bible use is, "Jesus never once said anything about homosexuality." And they are right in that specific regard. However, other parts of the Bible, not many, but a one handful, quite instructively condemn homosexual acts. Where Jesus was silent, St. Paul, in Romans 1, was not.

A parallel dynamic arguably exists with regards to political rulers. Jesus had little to say (I know he did say "Render unto Caeser," directed more towards believers than "Caesers," and some other tangential things about government -- that's why I said "little" not "nothing"); but St. Paul was fairly explicit in Romans 13.

With that, here is Gouverneur Morris in a letter to Washington, May 21, 1778, lamenting Jesus' lack of direction towards political rulers. Note this as the only recorded place GM referred to Jesus as "Savior."

Had our Saviour addressed a chapter to the rulers of mankind, as he did many to the subjects, I am persuaded his good sense would have dictated this text; Be not wse overmuch. Had the several members, who compose our multifarious body, been only wise enough, our business would long since have been completed. But our superior abilities, or the desire of appearing to possess them, lead us to such exquisite tediousness of debate, that the most precious moments pass unheeded away like vulgar things.

Washington responded (May 29, 1778) with his typical religious aloofness, though he does seem to categorize many passages of Jesus'/the Bible's words as "unavailing" hence, inadequate or incomplete guides:

Had such a chapter as you speak of been written to the rulers of mankind it would I am persuaded, have been as unavailing as many others upon subjects of equal importance. 26 We may lament that things are not consonent with our wishes, but cannot change the nature of Men, and yet those who are distressed by the folly and perverseness of it, cannot help complaining, as I would do on the old score of regulation and arrangement, if I thought any good would come of it.

Don't complain about reality; just grin and bear it. Washington that good Stoic he.

Morris, in his original letter, seems to articulate a Jeffersonian view of the Bible. Jefferson likewise thought of Jesus of Nazareth as a "Savior," (though 100% man, not divine at all, but on a divine mission) and thought Jesus' words (to the extent that they had been accurately recorded in the Bible) as God speaking to man through a divinely inspired human intermediary. Yet, Jefferson disregarded everything St. Paul (and the other Apostles) wrote as "corruption."

If St. Paul's words were as divinely inspired as Jesus', one wouldn't, it seems to me, need Jesus to speak on "rulers" any more than one needs Him to speak on homosexuality. St. Paul, divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, already spoke on those matters and that would suffice. Yet if one believes Jesus', but not Paul's words were divinely inspired, then, yes, one would desire Jesus' thoughts on the matter while disregarding Paul's. (Simply disregarding St. Paul's words as Jefferson did and G. Morris probably did is quite an easy way to get around Romans 13's apparent textual prohibition on revolt.)

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