Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk Kim Davis has received national attention for being tossed into jail. She refused to allow her name to be associated with the marriage license of two people of the same sex due to her Christian moral beliefs. She is neither a revolutionary, nor does she even want any of this attention.
I, too, would prefer to let others respond to this and leave me to my personal opinions. That's because I know I will be misunderstood and accused of hating people because of their sexual orientation, which is certainly not who I am.
I believe that this is an event in our nation that will go down in history as a wake-up call to believers in Christ. I would like to ignore it. But this is staring me in the face. I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, called to represent and clarify the moral principles of God and of scripture as it relates to my culture.
I come from the generation where the supreme court ruled against my conscience twice in ways that I regret not having responded. The first is when prayer was removed from the public schools. I was only eight at the time. But I wish when I was in high school, I had been a modern day Daniel and had prayed openly with boldness! And the second is when abortion was legalized. Since that time, well over 55 million children have died innocently and needlessly.
So I feel compelled to respond. Here goes...
Either what Kim Davis did in the name of Christ should be rejected as the wrong course of action or she has become a crossroads for religious freedom and moral convictions.
But for the sake of clarity, let's take Mrs. Davis out of the picture and approach this on a personal level.
"What if that had been me?"
What if I were the Rowan county clerk, elected by the people? What if my name were printed on every marriage license, signifying my approval? I pledged an oath under God to uphold the laws of the land. Then, while serving in my office, the U.S. Supreme Court decides to change the definition of marriage. The new definition is contrary to the original, set forth by God in scripture, a definition that our nation has long held as true, and one I cannot deny.
I have two choices. I can resign. Or I can disobey the supreme court and be subject to the consequences.
If I resign, then I have removed myself from doing something that is wrong for me personally. And I have washed my hands of it all.
If I don't resign, but continue to license only those who fit the true definition of marriage, I am taking a stand with much deeper implications. I am challenging 1) whether I am required to act against my religious and moral convictions, and 2) whether the supreme court can force a new moral code contrary to moral law originally clarified by God's law.
What would I do?
I hope that I would follow the same thought process as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was taken to a jail cell in 1963 for peacefully protesting unjust segregation laws. I do not know what he would have done if he had been the Rowan county clerk. But I agree with his convictions. Dr. King stated while in jail, “[I am standing up] for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence." He continued, "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."
Dr. King further quoted St. Thomas Aquinas, "An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him/her is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
Though I have studied Kim Davis closely, I cannot speak for her. She seems to be simply asking her state for enough liberty to be allowed to serve God with a clear conscience. North Carolina, Texas, and Alabama have already passed laws to accommodate people like Kim.
Should every county clerk and every justice of the peace in America, who believe in the Bible as ultimate truth, be required to resign from their jobs?
Are we going to force government officials to choose between a deeply-held belief that squares directly with the nation’s founding principles, or going to jail?
Are Christians who seek to live consistently with their faith now ineligible for public service under the new and constantly shifting secular code of morality?
And, since pastors perform most weddings, will we be the next target forced to make a choice?
I agree with Christopher Ciccone - the openly gay brother of popular singer Madonna - that Kim Davis's issue is not really about personal sexual preferences. He said, "Is it so difficult to allow this woman her religion? …Or must we destroy her in order for her to betray her faith? No matter how we judge its truth, the rights we have all fought for mean nothing if we deny her hers.”
It will always be my heart to treat everyone with acceptance and respect as human beings, no matter their choices or sexual lifestyle. God loves the whole world and so do I. This love, however, includes leading people away from sin and standing for righteousness and truth.
God's word, ultimately, is the final word. In Matthew 19:4-5, Jesus quoted His Father, God, from Genesis 2, to affirm His definition of marriage. "And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?"
God created marriage Himself. Jesus affirmed its definition. No one, not even a nation, can change God's definition of His creation. Do as you will with the rule of law. But understand that if we continue to remove the moral foundation of our constitutional law, we run the risk of forcing every Bible-believing Christian in America to choose whether he or she will abide by its new interpretation.
Now, more than ever, it is time to pray and to live as true Christlike witnesses, which may make us look revolutionary when we are simply being who we have always been. Seek the Father that we may be a people of love and graciousness, yet peacefully holding true to who we are and to Whom we belong. It is this that will change the world!