This post is written with a sincere and humble heart to the Body of Christ. It is my prayer that it stirs us to consider carefully how our actions represent Christ.
Let’s get this out of the way up front. I believe in the Biblical truth that marriage is between one man and one woman. To me this is pretty straight forward as Jesus states in Matthew 19:4-5. This definition of marriage has existed for thousands of years, or as Jesus said “from the beginning.” I see no reason to change it in the 21st century just because some think they are being “left out.” I have no judgment toward the homosexuals who wish to live their lives together, they should be free to do that, but don’t call it a marriage. Call that relationship whatever you like, but don’t redefine a sacred institution like marriage for the expediency of a few. Having clarified my stand, I want to wade into the current controversy surrounding Rowan County Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis.
Last Thursday (September 3, 2015) Ms. Davis was jailed for refusing to follow a U.S. District Judge’s order that she issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. According to news reports she refused to issue the license to homosexual couples because she could not betray her conscience, or God. It’s reported that she also stated that it would be a sin for her to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple because the licenses are issued under her authority. Today (Yesterday, September 8, 2015) she was released from jail by the same judge that ordered her incarcerated. That’s the background. But what’s really going on here? As a follower of Christ I have a few thoughts on this matter and a few questions for Ms. Davis and her husband.
Jailed For Being A Christian?
Many among the “Christian right” have rallied behind Kim Davis stating that the government jailed her simply because she was a Christian. I don’t know if that is an accurate assessment of her situation. Although Ms. Davis is free to make a principled stand for what she believes is a Biblical truth (and it is important that we stand for something), I just think she went about it in the wrong way. She voluntarily ran for an elected office and won. My understanding is that one of her duties is to issue marriage licenses as the state of Kentucky deems appropriate (not as her “personal convictions” deem appropriate). If Kim Davis is allowed to issue marriage licenses based on what she believes is right or wrong, or based on her “conscience,” what would the Christian community do if her conviction was that people who are divorced and remarried are committing adultery and therefore she refused to issue marriage licenses to them? (Read Matthew 19:9 which is in the same context [Matthew 19:3-12] where Jesus said marriage is between one man and one woman.) This is a real scenario. It could happen.
Too often we categorize sin and view one persons sin more vile that of another. We quote Leviticus as proof that homosexuality is an abomination to God. However, according Proverbs so is a “proud look,” “a lying tongue,” “hands that shed innocent blood,” “a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,” “feet that are swift in running to mischief,” “a false witness,” and “he that soweth discord among brethern.” So we can’t say that only homosexuality is an abomination to God. Really all sin is an abomination to God. So there is a lot of abomination going around.
Question: Ms. Davis, is homosexuality the only sin that offends you to the point you will not issue a marriage license or are there other sins too, such as adultery, that would qualify as a “violation of conscience” and require you to take a principled stand and not issue a license? I ask this question sincerely.
Kim Davis Is Not The Apostle Peter
Many will cite Acts 5:29 as their go to text for the stand that Ms. Davis took. In this passage, Peter and the apostles told the high priest and the Sanhedrin “we must obey God, rather than any human authority.” That is a true statement with which I believe, but it was in response to the the high priest and the Sanhedrin’s order to “never again teach in this man’s name (Jesus).” In this case Peter and the Apostles weren’t disobeying a government authority, they were disobeying a religious authority. So unlike Peter and the other apostles, Kim Davis wasn’t jailed for “teaching in the name of Jesus.”
But you may say hold on Keith, “being a Christian, how can she in good conscience put her name on a marriage license for a homosexual couple if she believes it violates God’s law?” That’s a good question. If that’s her belief, then she shouldn’t do it, but at that point she should step down from her $80,000 a year job and find another line of work. If my conviction is that I don’t believe in gambling, then I’m not going to go to work in a casino. If my conviction is that I don’t believe in drinking alcohol because of it’s addictive qualities then I would not go to work for Budweiser. And if I’m currently working for a “food distribution” company that decides they are going to expand and start distributing alcohol then I better start looking for another job and not simply refuse to do my job and expect my boss to continue to pay me.
How do we represent Christ in this world? I believe Paul gives us good instruction in Colossians 4:3-6. Specifically Paul tells the Colossians, and us, to “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” It doesn’t make Jesus attractive to the nonbeliever when a Christian calls the judge who ordered Ms. Davis to jail, “a butt,” which is what Kim Davis’ husband said when asked by a reporter if he had anything to say to Judge Bunning. Really, why would anyone think a Christian is any different than the world when we act like that?
Question: Mr. Davis, is calling a recognized government authority like Judge Bunning a “butt” really the best way to bring others into a relationship with Christ and show them the truth? To me that is offensive. Paul admonished Timothy in this way “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
I believe Kim Davis is sincere in her deeply held conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman. I feel the same way. But in living out that conviction and being a representative of Christ we must be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We should come to expect persecution. But if we are going to be persecuted make sure it is for the same reason the apostles were persecuted and that was for “teaching in the name of Jesus.” That can be done without refusing to obey a judges order to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
What are your thoughts on this matter? I know you have some. Share them in the comments section.