Kim Davis is the embattled clerk in Kentucky who is refusing to issue any marriage license so she won’t have to issue one to homosexuals. I am passionately committed to religious freedom and sympathetic to Davis’ predicament, but this is the wrong place for Christians to die on principle. If the culture eventually shuts down our schools and parachurch organizations, this case will be one of the reasons why.
Here are two reasons why Kim Davis should either issue marriage licenses to all who are legally allowed to obtain them or step aside for someone who will.
- She is damaging the larger cause. Have you noticed how the same media that scarcely mentions the confessed baby butchering in the Planned Parenthood videos has rediscovered its journalistic chops with the Kim Davis story? They realize they have a winner, a story that only metaphorically bleeds (contra Planned Parenthood) yet supports their narrative that Christians are hypocritical bigots who really, really don’t like nice people who happen to be gay.
Kim Davis comes off as hypocritical. She divorced multiple times yet wants to deny gay people from marrying even once. I realize that she divorced before she put her faith in Jesus, but marriage is a creation ordinance that applies to Christian and pagan alike. Even unregenerate Davis would have known that her divorces disrespected the institution of marriage. I don’t know whether she had biblical grounds for divorce, but the culture doesn’t care. The optics are bad. It’s hard to imagine a more unsympathetic figure for the cause of religious freedom.
Davis also is not a naïve victim. She ran for county clerk a year ago, when she knew the marriage issue was winding through the courts and there was a good chance that whoever won the election would be in this very situation. If she could not in good conscience issue marriage licenses, then she should not have run for office. Why work hard to get a job you know you won’t perform?
- She has an obligation to perform her duties as an agent of the state. Martin Luther taught that Christians belong to two kingdoms, a spiritual, heavenly kingdom ruled by the church and an earthly, physical kingdom ruled by the state. Luther said that Christians who are employed by the state must at times commit acts that would be wrong to do as individuals.
For instance, it is wrong to kill another person, but that is what a Christian executioner must do on behalf of the state. Luther said the Christian executioner will put the condemned person to death in a Christian way, with loving respect rather than from hateful revenge, but he will perform this role on behalf of the state. Luther realized that the only thing worse than a bad government was no government. Imagine the chaos when even government officials don’t obey the government (see Hillary’s emails).
No one should violate his conscience, even in government work. If a sergeant orders a soldier to massacre non-combatants, the right response is to resist. If a governmental role requires one to routinely violate her conscience, the best response is to resign.
I’m saying that a government official is in a different position than a school or business owner. We who want the freedom not to violate our consciences in our professions should make a distinction between private enterprise and government work. Christians who defend Kim Davis’ right not to do her job should not be surprised when such intransigence is used to take away ours. The culture is coming for us. Let’s not make it easy for them.
Picture by David. Sourced via Flickr. Used by permission.