Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Christian Perspective on Jailed Kentucky Clerk, Kim Davis

Consistency is not such an easy thing to maintain unless that thing that informs your thinking sets the standard for consistency as well as rational thought. And even then, my sin nature constantly gets in the way. But I will do my best to share a different perspective than the one most Christians are writing about when it comes to Kim Davis, the county clerk in Ky. that refuses to sign marriage licenses for homosexual and lesbian couples.

First, we must ask the question about the nature of the clerk's signature. Does signing the license equal an endorsement or approval of gay marriage? Some would say yes while others would say not. But there is a deeper problem here that most Christians fail to realize. I will come back to this later. Jesus Christ Himself informs us that all sin originates in the heart. I am not convinced that a Christian Clerk, in the course of doing their job cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they do so under objection to the concept that same-sex couples can have legitimate marriages. I am not talking about Ms. Davis' conscience just yet. I am talking about the simple question regarding a piece of paper. The fact is that she is under compulsion by nature of her position in the civil system to do that very thing which her conscience will not allow her to do. She can either change her conscience, ignore her conscience, resign from the position, or refuse to do her job. It is a very complicated matter. It is far more complicated than most people talking about it realize.

Should Ms. Davis issue the marriage license against her conscience? Romans 14:23 informs the Christian, But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. If we look at the principle given by Scripture, we would have to conclude that if Ms. Davis' conscience will not allow her to issue the license, then she cannot, as a Christian, issue the license. In other words, if she thinks she is sinning and still issues the license, this places her in the position of believing that she is knowingly and willingly sinning. Hence, she must refrain from issuing the license so long as her conscience is where it is on the matter. From this we rule out one of the four options: Ms. Davis cannot ignore her conscience.

Should Ms. Davis refuse to do her job? Ms. Davis is a county clerk. This is not an insignificant position. The clerk is the most important administrative position in the county. Business can be extremely difficult if not impossible to carry one. I question whether or not a Christian clerk is wise to allow their personal objections to something life gay marriage get in the way of doing the business that the people of the county desperately need. I cannot help but wonder if such a scenario as we see being played out before us is a gospel issue or a gospel distraction. Does it promote the gospel, publish the gospel, defend the gospel or does it distract from the gospel? Is this the light that Jesus was talking about? From my point of view, I do not think it is. There are some jobs that some Christians simply cannot perform in good conscience. We all know that this is clearly the case. Could a Christian take a job where the twisting of the truth is a core part of that job? We all know the answer to that question. And I think you know that I have tipped my hat as to the direction of this post. Ms. Davis should not refuse to do her job as county clerk. This are other options.

Ms. Davis could resign from the clerk's position if the legal system in Ky. will not give her the exemption she is looking for. She could take the opportunity to give the gospel and respectfully object to the fact that immorality is being celebrated openly in her community and inform the community that she cannot participate due to her Christian faith. This option would protect her conscience and the county business. It should condemn gay marriage and elevate the gospel, calling the people to repentance. I think this is a perfectly acceptable option and is in keeping with Christian principles.

Finally, Ms. Davis could scrutinize her ground for objecting to the process. In Paul's day, some Christians thought that eating meat from an animal that had been sacrificed to an idol constituted worshipping a false god. As these Christians grew in their faith, they scrutinized their conscience and realized that there was nothing wrong with the practice. Sin proceeds from wickedness conceived in the heart, not the external process of a government policy. I realize that many will disagree with this position. And I admit that I could be wrong in my point of view. I am more than willing to examine my position and adjust it if indeed I become convinced that a better, more faithful point of view exists. So we have a good example I think for an application of Romans 14 principles. Dogmatism at this point seems highly inappropriate. But I have one more important point that I need to raise.

The unavoidable hypocrisy of the situation is my final point. I have said elsewhere that the Church lost her moral authority to oppose gay marriage in the culture long ago when she adopted her lenient views of divorce. Women and men who are active members in supposedly Bible-believing churches divorce and remarry as a matter of routine. And in a large percentage of those cases, the person seeking the divorce had no biblical right to do so. And the reaction of the churches has been lethargic and complacent at best. Does such behavior display a high view for God's view of marriage? It does not in any way whatsoever. The final question for this situation is this: do county clerks investigate every marriage license to ensure that the union is not guilty of adultery according to the commands of Christ because the previous marriage was ended for biblically illegitimate reasons? Christians oppose the remarriage of persons who divorced their spouse for any reason other than adultery or abandonment. Those marriages are just as sinful as homosexual marriage, constructed on a foundation of rebellion.

Why do Christians expect the culture to embrace or even tolerate their moral code? There was no hint of such an expectation in the ancient church. The church called the world to repentance and faith. The church informed the world that she was under the judgment and condemnation of God. The church published the good news that faith in Christ saves and it saves magnificently above all that we are able to comprehend. The ancient church was interested in the gospel and nothing but the gospel. She did not meddle in civil affairs. When she encountered civil authorities, she confronted them, not with the idea that they had bad laws, but with the life-transforming gospel. However, for some reason, Christians in America expect America to stand up and pay attention to them. We seem to expect America to honor our "rights" as Christians. We are very concerned with our "right" NOT to be persecuted. We ought to be free to impose our Christian morality on the unregenerate civil authorities. We don't want to have to go underground, to lose our privileges, to lose our rights. But the New Testament story and teachings both tell us about a far different situation. That text provides more than ample warning about what happens to Christians in God-hating cultures and we would do well to remind ourselves of this daily. As for Kim Davis, I respect her objection to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But I question her wisdom for how that objection is playing out on the world stage. Christians do not have the right to be a county clerk and expect the county to accommodate them because they are a Christian and have certain rights. If holding a certain job means you must violate your conscience, the answer is to resign, not make a public spectacle out of it. I recognize the world will disagree even with my point of view and I expect as much. Christians have to do a better job being wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We have to do a better job understanding when we are being persecuted for Christ or prosecuted for breaking the law. The two are not always synonymous. Why can't the church just focus on preaching the gospel? Why can't we trust God to save those whom He has elected to Himself?

My advice to Kim would be to resign the position or revisit your convictions. You may discover there is another way.

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