does the law have power over love?

does the law have power over love? March 26, 2013
does the law have power over love cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
(click on the image for nakedpastor’s store or contact David for this cartoon)

I’m continuing my marriage equality and LGBTQ themed cartoons this week because today and tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases regarding same-sex marriage… one concerning California’s Proposition 8 and the other the Defense of Marriage Act.

Of course the law has no control over who we love. But it can make it inconvenient. Or convenient.

William Stringfellow, who was in my opinion one of the most important American theologians (Karl Barth agreed), had a lot to say about the principalities and the powers. These find their expression in bureaucracy. We’ve all been players in it as well as victims. You know… the time you were trying to get help and the person behind the desk or on the other end of the phone said, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s policy!”

One of the clearest times this happened to me was when we were going through a hard time financially and we got a notice that they were going to disconnect our power because we were behind in payments. I spoke to people on the phone all the way up the line, and every one of them said something to the effect, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do. It’s in the system!” I’d ask, “But can you please tell the person who flips the switch to wait a week. I can make a payment next week. It’s winter and cold and we need electricity!” “Sorry, it’s in the system. Nobody can do anything.” Everyone apparently were servants of the system and I was its victim.

Institutions such as government, health, education, military, social services, law, etc., which are creations meant to serve humanity, become our masters… when these created bodies dominate us… then they have become what the bible calls demonic powers. When these subdue us or we surrender our lives to an institution or law… and often this is irresistible… then we’ve become victims of a dehumanizing power that would restrict our freedoms and in the end administer our death.

My hope is that we would make the law serve us as it was created to do. Even in matters of love and marriage.

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  • It is interesting to think that the same institutions that are created to “serve humanity” can actually become “demonic,” as you say. I’ve often wondered why, myself. Perhaps it’s just too overwhelming to connect with each individual on a personal and emotional level? Perhaps these institutions need to put up a facade, and hide behind the “I’m sorry, there’s nothing ‘I’ can do,” just to maintain their ability to function in a way that serves the greater good? It’s a very interesting question with an all-too-often disappointing answer, in my opinion.

  • Georgina

    The point at which civil servant becomes synonymous with civil master. R.A.H.