Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kim Davis & Religious Freedom



I wade into the Kim Davis debate reluctantly, but allow me to offer a hypothetical parallel. Let us suppose that Mrs. Davis developed a religious objection to the heterosexual marriage of a Christian and an agnostic. She could certainly find scriptural precedent for such an opinion penned by the very same authors cited by those who object to homosexual unions:

2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Deuteronomy 7:3-4: “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.”

Now, as with homosexual marriage, there is no legal grounds on which to deny two such people a marriage license and any proposed laws to the contrary would be similarly struck down by the United States Supreme Court as unconstitutional. So when this hypothetical Baptist man and Agnostic woman show up at the courthouse and are refused a license based on the clerk’s religious objections would anyone rally to support her? Would presidential candidates rush to her defense? Would there be calls to implement religious freedom laws?
Davis with presidential candidate Mike Hukabee
Perhaps we should consider the 1976 Supreme Court ruling that forced all states to allow interracial marriage. At the time, there were over a dozen states who had passed laws preventing the issuing of a marriage license to couples of different races. Unsurprisingly, when Alabama residents Sgt. Louis Voyer (white) and Phyllis Bett (black) attempted to get married following the Supreme Court ruling a Probate Judge named C. Clyde Brittain refused. The result was United States v. Brittain which ruled that the judge had no legal grounds to refuse the marriage.

At the time, the Alabama constitution prevented lawmakers from ever legalizing marriage between “any white person and a Negro, or descendant of a Negro” and interracial couples could be charged with a felony just for having sex or living together. The most frightening aspect of the case would be section 361 of title 14 of the 1940 Code of Alabama which made “it a misdemeanor for a Probate Judge to issue a marriage license knowingly to such persons (or for a justice of the peace or priest to solemnize the rites of matrimony between such persons).”

This meant that a Christian minister could be criminally charged for performing an interracial marriage in their own church. For all of the modern hand-wringing concerning religious freedom, I have yet to hear this law mentioned and yet it is a concrete example of the state blatantly encroaching upon the church. Would Mrs. Davis’s supporters uphold a law that allowed a minister to be jailed or fined for performing a homosexual union? In the aforementioned hypothetical, would the aggrieved masses condone a criminal record for a minister who married a Baptist and a Mormon?

Mrs. Davis fancies herself a resident of the moral high-ground, and had she resigned her post upon being asked to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples perhaps she could sustain that argument. However, continuing to draw a salary while blatantly refusing to perform your job merits termination not martyrdom. Would we rally around a restaurant server who refused to deliver alcoholic beverages based on Christian principles but still demanded to remain on payroll? Would we call for public prayer and fasting if a state employee cited Christ’s pacifism as grounds to stop issuing handgun carry permits? Of course not. We would demand they resign their posts immediately so that the position could be filled by someone willing and able to perform the responsibilities asked of them.

If your conscience no longer allows you to uphold the responsibilities asked of you by your employer, then seek employment elsewhere. Giving up a well-salaried position to preserve your integrity is admirable. Keeping the salary while refusing the position isn’t.

1 comment:

  1. It says clearly that marriage is between a man and a woman!!! It doesn't matter about man's law. what matters is God's law and that is what should be followed!! She is doing good because she is following God who is the supreme ruler of this land! In jesus name, I pray!

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