As most people are aware, Kim Davis is the county clerk in Rowan County Kentucky who is now sitting in jail [update – just released] because she refused to sign marriage certificates that would violate her conscience informed by her religious (Christian) beliefs.
First off, many have ridiculed her for her 4 past marriages and take the position that she is a hypocrite now that she is taking so strong a stance for traditional marriage. In other words, she did not seem to take her own marriages seriously so why worry about someone else?
I don’t know her whole history but it is my understanding that she is a recent convert [4 years] and her previous marriages we not God honoring to begin with [Heb. 11:6]. Upon examination for my deacon ordination, if I were to be held accountable at the present for things done in the past [prior to my conversion] there is no way I would be qualified to hold any office at a local New Testament church.
That does not mean that prior acts have no consequences to our Christian witness, but it does explain how after someone has been transformed into a new creation, hopefully the old things have passed away and the new has come [2 Cor. 5:17]. At least the bible would indicate that is the way it should be. I have to assume ANY Christian would look at marriage different than they did as a lost person.
Another argument seems to be that if she took the job she needs to do the work. If her conscious would not allow her to do the work she needs to quit. But this line of thinking amounts to a religious test. Any person who holds something to be matter of conscious [Muslim, Jew, Christian, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Arian Brotherhood, Klu Klux Klan, Black Panther, etc.] is no longer qualified for public office. The only ones qualified are folks who hold nothing to be sacred at all.
Do we really want a government run by folks with no conscious at all?
Let’s try a thought experiment [from Erik Raymond]:
Let’s imagine that we can go back in time to before the SCOTUS Obergefell decision and you are a Christian living in Rowan County Kentucky. You are aiming to be a faithful believer and so you are praying for government officials (1 Tim. 2). How would you have prayed for your local officials?
You may have prayed for them to honor God in how they serve. You may have acknowledged the trajectory away from biblical morality but nevertheless asked that those who serve would do so in a way that promotes human flourishing while also reflecting what pleases God. You may have prayed specifically for those who are Christians to have wisdom, grace, humility, boldness and faithfulness in their vocations. No doubt you would have acknowledged the difficult spot they are in and even begged God that they would be salt and light in a context that is becoming so increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity. You probably would not have prayed that they quit or commit acts against their conscious.
Now, several months later you have an elected clerk who has stated that she is willing to go to jail rather than violate her conscience. If you were praying this before you would look at this and say, “God has answered my prayer. This sister is saying, ‘I’m not rolling over and dying; there are some things worth contending for. I’ll suffer the consequences.’”
It would seem to me that that we who are Christians would have to rejoice in her sensitivity to her conscience and sobriety about the issue rather than to ridicule her. Her willingness to take her lumps and be pushed out (or locked up) rather than to violate her conscience is exactly how I would pray for my local officials.
Douglas Wilson observes, “Don’t tell believers to stay engaged so that they can make a difference, and then, when they start making a difference, tell them that this is not a hill to die on. Make the bad guys reveal themselves. Make them crack down on evangelical county clerks, while continuing to wink at sanctuary cities and in local defiance of federal pot laws.”
Likewise, I would add, “Don’t pray for believers to make a difference and then when they start making a difference tell them that the issue is not a hill to die on.”
Pray for our elected officials (and all those in the public sphere) who are Christians to be faithful, gracious, and bold. Pray that through this that the “bad guys” would in fact reveal themselves even as Christians are not ashamed to reveal themselves.
If you study history at all you know it will repeat itself. There is nothing new under the sun [Ecc. 1:9].
In 1550, Charles the 5th issued the Augsburg Interim – an order of the Holy Roman Emperor to impose by civil law [the sword] the uniform Catholic doctrines on the people in order to stamp out the Protestant Reformation that had infected the Holy Roman Empire. Those that did not accept this new imperial law peaceably would face military conquest and destruction.
The city of Magdeburg would not. Imperial forces put the city under siege. The Magdeburg leadership stood firm and began to write boldly in defense of their actions. The 1550 Magdeburg Confession was the most important doctrine in defense of their stand. The Confession recited the essential Lutheran doctrines that the ministers held contrary to those new Catholic establishment laws. The Confession then rehearsed the arguments to justify their refusal to obey the new imperial laws and to resist their implementation—with force of arms if necessary.
“If the high authority does not refrain from unjustly and forcibly persecuting not only the lives of their subjects but even more their rights under divine and natural law, and if the high authority does not desist from eradicating true doctrine and true worship of God, then the lower magistracy is required by God’s divine command to attempt, together with their subjects, to stand up to such superiors as far as possible. The current persecution which we are suffering at the hands of our superiors is primarily persecution by which they attempt to suppress the true Christian religion and the true worship of God and to reestablish the Pope’s lies and abominable idolatry. Thus the Council [of Magdeburg] and each and every Christian authority is obliged to protect themselves and their people against this.”
This is the essential doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate in which the lesser authorities [ie. county clerks] have a Christian duty to stand up to the greater authority [ie. SCOUTS] when conscious demands.