Even if Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s bible-verse tweet was pre-scheduled, and wasn’t sent with any particular reference to the slaughter at a gay night club in Orlando, let’s not forget the particular resonance of this verse. These words—“Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows”—were in regular circulation during the AIDS crisis, a pithy encapsulation of sickening moral smugness. They were like the “hang in there” caption on the cat poster, except attached to the gay community as if with a branding iron. The larger context of the words Patrick cited is clear if you read on in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption…” AIDS was deserved punishment, a moral corruption of the body, not a virus (transmitted in multiple ways, between people of all sexual orientations). The bible verse allowed people to look squarely into the tragedy of AIDS, and turn away confident that it fit neatly into a theological plan for the universe. To be fair, it is an intoxicating sentiment, close cousin of schadenfreude and so appealing to our need for certainty, our desire to see our enemies punished. It is a perfect verse for the age of social media.
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