Prodigal glass houses and Kim DavisSeptember 8, 2015
I resisted making comments or posting commentary about the whole Kim Davis issue while she was in jail. There was little question that incarceration was not the right way forward for the impasse that had been reached. There should be better ways for us as a culture to accommodate people of diverse religious conviction than to throw them in jail. To be precise, Davis was not jailed for her religious beliefs but because she failed to obey an explicit court order that did not provide an accommodation for her beliefs. She also interfered with the ability of her deputy clerks to perform their jobs which, in my opinion, is an over-reach on her part.
At issue now seems to be the fact that her name appears on the government documents in question. Or, at a minimum, the position to which she was elected and continues to hold: County Clerk. This is where the rights of a private citizen and the rights of that citizen when in a government position gets murky. When Mrs. Davis personally refuses to do something on religious ground, ok, but when she, functioning as an agent of the state in her role as County Clerk, denies the right to marry to people on anything other than legal grounds she is using the office to impose a religious view. That’s problematic. That’s the parallel to Sharia law interfering at the Department of Moter Vehicles question.
But now that she’s out of jail, can we talk about some of the really thorny issues in this case?
#1. As a prodigal who has come home, Kim Davis could witness better
Four marriages and two children out of wedlock bear testimony to the years Kim Davis spent living as a prodigal apart from God. As a Christian who has repented of her former life she fully understands just what a mess life can be. So, as a prodigal who has now come home, isn’t she in a particularly unique position to live as a demonstration of grace?
Prodigals know better than the elder brothers among us that there’s no stopping them. Once they’ve made up their minds to go off to the far land and squander the blessings of the Father, there is little that anyone can do to stop them. Like unbroken horses, they are going to have their head. The question for the Christian in a position of influence, like Kim Davis, is will we force them to live by the house rules of a Father they reject?
Instead of telling them that we won’t do for them what others did for us when we were prodigals, might we seek to “live such good lives among the pagans that although they accuse (us) of doing wrong, they may see (our) good works and glorify God” (I Peter 2:12)?
Now, before my friends on the right start slamming me, I recognize the explicit prohibitions in the Bible against all homosexual acts. I also understand that Jesus’ views on divorce and remarriage were predicated on an exclusive male-female foundation for sexual relations. Yes, homosexual practice is a direct violation of that foundation. I also acknowledge that accommodations to one set of offenses (divorce and remarriage) do not justify accommodations to other offenses (homosexual relations).
#2. Where were all the Christians of convictional faith when Kim Davis was applying for and receiving multiple marriage licences and divorce decrees?
Knowing what we know about Kentucky, might it be reasonable to assume that Kim Davis’ own four marriage licences and three divorce decrees were signed by Christians? Does her act of denying same-sex licences not impugn all of them? Each of those clerk’s failed to stand in the way of remarriages and multiple divorces that the Bible condemns. Where same-sex marriage advocates only have to side-step the Bible’s silence, anyone who wants to advocate for divorce and remarriage has a steep theological hill to climb. The proverbial no-throwing-stones-in-glass-houses seems an apt here.
I realize that she was not a Christian until her current re-marriage to Joe Davis, but that only fuels the argument that she is applying to others a standard that was not applied to her when she sought to utilize the state’s courts in affirming her marriage-divorce, marriage-divorce, marriage-divorce, marriage merry-go-round.
The point here is not to heap shame on Kim Davis but to illuminate the failure of the Church on the subject of sanctity when it comes to marriage.
#3. Is this really a religious liberty issue and if so, how far are you willing to go to defend it?
- Would I be as concerned about the sincerely held religious belief of a recent convert to the Mormon faith if part of their government job was to issue liquor licences when the use of alcohol is against their religion?
- Would I be as concerned about the sincerely held religious belief of a recent convert to Islam if part of their government job was to issue driver’s licences when their religion prohibits women from driving?
- Would I be as concerned about the sincerely held religious belief of a recent convert to Judaism if their government job required them to work on Saturday as their religion prohibits labor on the Sabbath?
Would we not expect such individuals to resign their post?
In a nation where religious liberty must by definition be applied equally to every religion, would we be willing to fight for a government accommodation for such religious liberty requests?
It seems to me that the real issue is not religious liberty but what many view as an overreach of the courts in essentially making a law. Adjudicating the law is the role of the courts; making laws is the role of the legislature. What Kim Davis ultimately seeks is either an upholding of the law of the state of Kentucky, wherein marriage is defined as between one man and one woman, or a change at the federal level, through legislative action, to fix what she and many others see as now broken by the ruling of the Supreme Court in Obergefell.
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