Kim Davis, Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, has been jailed and released by runaway Judge David Bunning. Davis refused Bunning’s repeated orders to issue licenses for same sex couples to marry. Conservatives call her a martyr because she cites religious reservations as motivation. Progressive types call her a hypocrite as she has been married several times and unwittingly issued a license to a transgendered couple. As usual, the progressives have it all wrong–but the conservatives are only half right.
The progressives are out to lunch because Davis’ multiple marriages have no bearing on same sex marriage. They are in accordance with Kentucky law; meanwhile, nothing in the scriptures forbids re-marriage once the divorce is final. (God hates divorce, not marriage.) Her divorces occurred before faith in any case. And she cannot be condemned for what she did not know she did.
Conservatives miss the mark when they make it all about Davis’ religious convictions. She does indeed oppose same sex marriage on faith-based grounds. But this is a question of secular law; Davis was simply upholding the law. The Kentucky legal code states that marriage is between one man and one woman; no alternatives are authorized, and there has been no opportunity to change them. In any case, federal laws and court decisions cannot supersede state laws of this kind under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. Justice Anthony Kennedy admits as much in his majority opinion on same sex marriage issued by the court this past summer.
Kennedy says the Constitution requires a legislative solution to what he calls the injustice of excluding gays from marriage. He then states that this issue is so important that the court changes the laws anyway and unilaterally. His ruling is itself utterly illegal, and state officials have every right to ignore it if they have the courage to do so. Davis has shown that kind of courage.
My question is: why didn’t Kentucky Christians batter down the doors of the jailhouse in order to join Davis behind bars?
Many conservative critics say this is the wrong time and place. Talk show host Michael Medved – whom I greatly admire – is one of the more prominent people wishing Davis would just go away. Perhaps there are people better qualified to be the first martyr sacrificed on the altar of the perversion of marriage. But my understanding has always been that God chooses the unlikely to be heroes so the likely ones will have no reason for boasting.
He chose an uncouth shepherd boy named David – with a proclivity to multiply his wives and eliminate rivals, like their original husbands, by violence. David replaced Saul, who had all the right credentials except the heart after God that God so prizes. He always seems to choose the son (Matthew 21:28-32), who after saying no to his father goes and obeys anyway. He has little use for the son who promises obedience and then finds reasons to delay until it no longer matters. Kim Davis has said yes to the Lord – in the context (perhaps) of limited understanding. But she said yes, and she deserves more support from the rest of us than mere admiration; she certainly deserves more than our clucking tongues and critical words.
There is a lot of crime and a lot of criminals in our land right now. Like so many of the kings of Israel, they care for neither God nor man; they do whatever seems good to them in any given moment. The largest class of criminals in this land right now – posing the most danger to the most people – are in government. Justice Kennedy – and Judge Bunning – are nothing more than criminals. Their distinction is that they break laws under color of authority. They need to be stopped in their tracks by an aroused public.
Yet it is not acceptable to stop them by any means. Their anarchy will only be compounded by citizen anarchy. We do need to recognize and embrace the reality that our mundane responsibilities toward our families and communities are meaningless if those families and communities are crumbling around us. We need to drop the good causes we serve in favor of the cause served by prophets like Nathan, Elijah, and John the Baptist as he announced the arrival of Messiah. We need to join Paul and Silas (Acts 16) in that jail cell and sing the praises of the Lord until He releases all of us. We need to remember He loves judges like Bunning and Kennedy as much as He loves us. We need to rejoice (Matthew 10:32) that when we acknowledge our Christ and King before men, He will surely acknowledge us before His Father.
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