Consider this sentence from the Bible:
Be still and know that I am God.
The recent decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States have raised many questions, as well as settling the ones explicitly dealt with in the cases, particularly gay marriage and Obamacare.
These ancillary questions are many, not least in the realm of jurisprudence (were the decisions fundamentally reached by doing what the Constitution instructs and limits the justices to do?) and politics (has the court become simply another aspect of the political activities of the other two branches of the government?)
My concern in this post is to comment on something other than these questions. My concern is the debate that has resulted and will continue for some time about whether “traditional values” are under assault in the United States not just broadly within the culture, which is indisputable, but specifically in an organized way by the organs of the State.
It strikes me that to have this debate is an entirely good thing, but it requires a rigid and demanding kind of clarity. This bring me back to the biblical quotation I opened this post with. Please reread it.
My question is this:
What core value does it embody? There are two possibilities, and this duality points out the puzzle and the challenge in the debate to come.
Is the core value knowing God?
This will be the immediate conclusion, I suspect, of many advocates of “religious traditional and conservative values.” Thus, the debate centers on God and excluded from the biblical injunction are all those for whom belief in God or a god is troubling or impossible.
But, what if the core vale is somewhat different?
Is the core value being still?
It may well be that one has to “be still” to “know God,” but it is not necessary that being still will result in such knowledge. In this event is being still worthless from a biblical perspective? I think not. There is core value to being still in and of itself.
In a debate about protecting traditional values, therefore, I would be prepared to argue and indeed fight for your right to be still (I know, I have not filled out what this might entail; that for another time) whereas I am sure I would not argue and fight for the necessity of you believing in God.
If one simple little biblical sentence can offer this degree of subtle depth of meaning we (those who seek to live by biblicality, if I may put it that way) would be wise to be cautious in our instincts to discern the truth and slow to pontificate, prescribe, and proscribe.