Many political commentators, sadly even some on the right, have been quick to say jailed Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis should do her job or step aside if her religious beliefs prevent her from doing so. But in reality, all liberty-loving Americans should be standing up right beside her and offering their hallelujahs to heaven that someone had the courage to stand up for their First Amendment rights.
At her hearing this past Thursday, Davis told U.S. District Judge David Bunning that her “conscience will not allow” her to affix her name and title to same-sex marriage licenses, explaining that “God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties.”
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.
What Davis is seeking is a religious accommodation so she does not have to affix her name or title to same-sex marriage licenses. (North Carolina has already passed a law allowing for such an exemption).
As a sidenote, one fact that has been misrepresented in this story is that Kim Davis’ stand is somehow blocking same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses in Kentucky or even in her northeast region of the state. The truth is the commonwealth has 120 counties, nearly twice as many as my home state of Pennsylvania, though it is 5000 square miles smaller. About a half-an-hour in either direction are other county courthouses issuing same-sex marriage licenses. So in a very real sense, this is a ginned up false “constitutional crisis” by the Left.
Davis’ religious liberty accommodation case is currently proceeding in federal court; but in the interim, Judge Bunning has ordered the clerk to issue the licenses from Rowan County, which Davis refused so as to not violate her conscience.
Many commentators on the Left have likened Davis’ stand to former Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s refusal in the early 1960s to comply with court orders desegregating schools. An iconic image from the era is Wallace making his “Stand at the Schoolhouse Door” at the University of Alabama as the Justice Department sought to enforce a ruling to desegregate the institution.
Other commentators on the Right have likened Davis’ actions more to Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks, both of whom were imprisoned for standing against unjust laws made by men that ran contrary to the country’s founding beliefs contained in the Declaration of Independence and the laws of God.
It is clearly the latter. As Martin Luther King argued so eloquently in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, the segregation laws in the South violated not only God’s moral law, but the nation’s founding ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. As I have argued in a previous piece, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in June mandating same-sex marriage lacks the authority of either.
King, after being thrown in prison in 1963 for standing with the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, wrote that those who peacefully protested against unjust segregation laws were in “reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”
“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?” King expounded. “A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”
Interestingly, before ordering Davis to jail, Judge Bunning specifically rejected this argument. “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” he said. I wonder what the Founders would think of that statement, since they launched an entire nation in an act of civil disobedience, appealing to the laws of nature and nature’s God above King George’s and the Parliament’s unjust decrees.
“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him [or her] is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law,” wrote Martin Luther King.
Davis, by her willingness to go to jail for her beliefs, is awakening the conscience of the country. We must ask ourselves: what kind of nation do we want to be? Are we going to force government officials to choose between their deeply-held beliefs, even those that square directly with the nation’s founding principles, or going to jail? Are Bible-believing Christians, who seek to live consistently with their faith, now ineligible for public service under the new secular orthodoxy? Make no mistake: that is the direction we are heading.
Thomas Paine wrote, in his wildly successful political pamphlet Common Sense (1776): “This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from EVERY PART of Europe.”
Surely there is enough liberty left in America for Kim Davis, having sworn an oath to God upon taking office, to continue to serve Him and her state with a clear conscience.
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth