The issue of Kim Davis has sparked quite a debate in the US. I have to say I think outside the US this would not be such a big debate. Mainly because Christians around the world are much more aware of society and their place in it. The problem of the religious right in the US is that there is an expectation that the government can do whatever it wants so long as it doesn't step on their beliefs - whether they be Christian issues of doctrine or not (eg. gun rights). That expectation is an impossibility. The natural outcome of church and state separation is that a state has to treat every one human equally and justly, regardless of belief. But in doing so, inevitably, they will step on our toes.
It's the same issue of free will. We all have free will but inevitably our free "will" will impinge on another person's free will. And the cycle will continue to the point that what we think is free will is actually limited will.
Why the issue of Kim Davis is a problem for the religious right is this simple fact. We would be outraged if another religion imposed their beliefs upon us, so why do we do the same to others? Our "will" can only be limited to ourselves, and the freedom that Americans should be fighting for is this very thing. I have the right to believe whatever I want to believe. I don't have the right to force someone else to believe what I believe. In Kim Davis's case that's exactly what she was doing.
I'm not questioning her beliefs. Kim has every right to believe what she wants to believe. But, in a public position where it is her job to issue marriage licenses, she abused her role as a government official by making the matter a personal one.
It's a tightrope we all walk. When does my job begin to conflict with my belief? I understand this because as a pastor I keep a keen eye on what the government does. The day the government tells me who I can or can't marry is the day I will relinquish my right to marry people. Simply put, my belief comes before my right to marry people. It should be the same for Kim. If work puts her in conflict with her belief, relinquish the right or step down. Unfortunately not only did she refuse to issue marriage licenses, she also stopped others in her office from doing so.
Some things to ponder from this event:
- In protecting the sanctity of marriage why is the religious right not equally forceful against divorce? It is one of the things the Lord hates (Mal 2:16).
- Religious liberty is available to all religions in America. If a Christian in a government position, based on their religious belief, denies someone the right to be married , can a Muslim or Hindu in the same position do the same? How about an atheist?
- What do you do with something like Romans 13:1-7? I understand that needs a lot more unpacking, but as Kim is a government representative/official it seems a little odd to me that she would happily receive a paycheck from said government but not do the work they are asking her to do.
- The argument that "the government is imposing this upon us" is farcical at best. No one is forcing you to do anything. I can understand that gun laws are a little more intrusive, impinging on what you can do by restricting your access to firearms. But this issue has nothing to do with you. If you are against homosexual marriages then don't marry someone of the same sex.
- Some Christians feel the misguided need to defend God and His way, including the sanctity of Christian marriage. I don't think we have ever been given that biblical mandate. God has never asked you to defend Him, He's big enough to do that Himself.
- If you are arguing this from a theological position, I would be very careful about it. When the people wanted to stone the adulteress (John 8:1-11), instead of challenging her, Jesus challenged the crowd. The crowd had every theological right to have her stoned, but Jesus went to the heart of the issue. Their hearts. With something like 400 church leaders in the US alone being exposed through the Ashley Madison scandal, what right do we have to judge the world?
- Theologically some of us really need to take 1 Corinthians 5:12 to heart.
- Also take a look at Proverbs 6:16-19 for a list of things God hates that many Christians seem to ignore. Especially that last one - which is the main culprit for many churches falling apart. Why are we not equally outspoken about these things?
I do not believe Kim deserves jail for what she has done. An impeachment yes, but jail seems incredibly excessive. I also do not believe she has done the right thing, but I understand some of you may disagree with me.