The scene that played out that day on Greenup Avenue was driven by heavy emotion as protesters gathered from many different states. Both sides carried signs, chanted slogans, and there was an ugly undercurrent of incivility characterized by name calling from folks on both sides of the issue.
Ms. Davis has been characterized as a fanatic, looney tune, fundamentalist, and even a hypocrite due to the fact that she, herself, has been married four times. Hardly a poster child for the sanctity of marriage. Others who know her well, state that she committed her life to Christ only four years ago, and (even as a "baby Christian") has diligently sought to follow her Apostolic Church's teachings of the Bible. Allow me to say here that I do not know the woman, and I cannot speak to her motives, spiritual depth, or personal faith.
What I do know is that this is a very complex issue. It involves far more than a "hillbilly eastern Kentucky political hack and religious zealot" who refuses to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. She has, in fact, ceased to issue marriage licenses to ANY couples, gay or straight. I know that there is also at least one other (and possibly a third) County Clerk in Kentucky who have also ceased to issue marriage licenses.
As a Christ Follower, and a Pastor I have wrestled with this issue every day that she has languished in the Carter County Detention Center, about 30 miles down the road in the small town of Grayson, KY.
Like many others, I am appalled and outraged that a Christian has been jailed in America for standing firm on their religious beliefs. Yet it is also understandable that an elected public office holder, who has sworn to fulfill all the duties of her office, and resisted a court order to do so, has been found in contempt of court. The question arises as to whether there is a difference between personal religious beliefs, and those that are held by a public office holder in the line of their duties. Personally I believe that ethically, Ms. Davis' resignation would have been appropriate, stating publicly that she could no longer perform all of her duties of the job due to her religious beliefs. This would have made a powerful statement, however she chose to go in another direction which resulted in the media circus that took place in front of the Federal Courthouse in Ashland last week. The sad thing in that spectacle, was that there was no visible difference in the behavior of the "Christian" supporters of Ms. Davis, and those who were there to protest against her actions. In the midst of the name calling and vitriol, sadly lacking was the spirit of Grace and Love that truly identifies us as followers of Christ.
Some have asked me what I would do, if taken to court over refusing to perform a ceremony for a same sex wedding. The simple answer is I would refuse to do so, based on my biblical beliefs, and our church wedding policy. "Would you be willing to go to jail over that?" I have been asked, and I do not have to hesitate on giving an answer to that question. Of course I would. But my situation as a minister of the Gospel and Ms. Davis refusal as a publicly elected official to perform her government mandated duties are two distinctively different situations.
Back in June, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 vote, basically redefined the millennia old definition of "Marriage". Public officials across the nation whose duty it was to issue marriage licenses were then faced with a decision as to whether they would comply with the SCOTUS ruling, or not. (I understand the concept of the "Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates", and I also understand, and despise the judicial tyranny that we are seeing here, so please spare me any lectures right now about that). Ms. Davis' decision to remain in office and defy the court order based on her "deeply held religious convictions" obviously put her on a collision course with the judiciary. Much can also be made about other elected officials who have chosen which laws they would enforce and which they would ignore. This is a major problem in our government at several levels. Ms. Davis just happens to be one who crossed the politically correct line of demarcation.
I would urge each of my readers to take a moment to read what I think are two excellent blog posts that pretty much sum up my stand on this issue. These articles are written by Dr. Ken Keathley, Dr.Russell Moore, and Andrew Walker - godly men, all, who stand for the inerrancy and truth of scripture. First a very simple article by Dr. Keathly , which can be found by clicking here. Then the Moore/Walker article which can be found by clicking here. I hope my believing and my unbelieving friends will give thought to the content these posts.
Here are the points I would like to make in this writing today.
- We live in a secular nation, and reluctantly I must agree with President Obama, when he said "This is not a Christian nation." We were founded on bliblical principals, but we have fallen far from those standards as a nation.
- The Supreme Court of the United States, has overstepped it's authority in redefining marriage. They most certainly could have ruled to allow "Civil Unions" if they so desired, but to call same sex unions, "marriage" is an affront, not only to Bible believing Christians, but to the institution that has existed for centuries, defined as a lifelong commitment of one man and one woman.
- Under the laws of our nation, unless a future SCOTUS reverses this decision, it is considered "settled law" (just like Roe v. Wade, and the Dred Scott Decision - which was later repealed)
- Persecution of Christians in America is coming. In fact it is already here, and true Christ followers in our generation, and certainly in generations to come will most certainly be called upon to decide if we will "obey God, rather than man".
- This should not really be a surprise to us, as our Christian brethren have been persecuted for centuries all over the world for their faith. We Christians in America have been "spoiled" and softened by taking advantages of the religious liberties we have enjoyed for more than two centuries. Those liberties are eroding quickly, and this writer believes, will soon be gone.
- Judge Bunning, while fulfilling his duty to find Ms. Davis in contempt of court (which she was) had great latitude in the possible sentencing guidelines at his disposal.
- He chose jailing her, because in his own words, a lesser punishment "Wouldn't change her mind".
- This is one of the most chilling parts of of this entire saga. Ladies and gentlemen, the "thought police" are here. This is just the beginning, but make no mistake, the hole has developed in the dam. Be prepared for the deluge.
- How will we deal with this as people who truly seek to follow Jesus?
- Please hear me in what follows.
In the early chapters of the Book of Acts in the New Testament, the Apostles John and Peter were taken into custody by the ruling Jewish Sanhedrin Court, after a miraculous healing of a lame man had taken place in the Temple complex in Jerusalem. When asked by what power and in what name they had done this, they unapologetically said "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth". Their crime was preaching and teaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. When commanded to never preach again in the name of Jesus, their reply was, "We would obey God rather than man."
Having been jailed, beaten, and commanded never to preach again in the name of Jesus, they were released from custody. I think it is incumbent upon us first to note what they DID NOT do under threat from governmental authority:
- they did not publicly call for God to send fire down from Heaven to devour their persecutors
- they did not go out and retain the "Judean Center for Law and Justice" to take their case.
- they did not organize a picket line at the Sanhedrin, bemoaning that their rights had been violated.
- they did not go on social media to plead their case to the "court of public opinion"
- they did not have a petition drive to enlist others to stand with them
- they did not rally the Christians in Jerusalem to come to the Sanhedrin shouting slogans and hateful epithets against their persecutors.
- they did not run for the hills, or go undergrround
What they DID DO, however, was noteworthy. They went back to their fellow believers and reported all that was done and said. The church then joined together in PRAYER. Not a prayer of vengance, nor a prayer of protest, but a prayer for BOLDNESS that they would be empowered to stand for Christ against all odds. The Bible says, "When they had prayed, the place where they assembled was shaken".
There is a lesson for us here today, as the dark clouds of persecution gather in our society.
Let us be men and women of Prayer.
Our nation is likely under the judgment of God for our lack of faithfulness and prayer.
So now, let us pray -
Let us pray for boldness.
Let us pray that Ms. Davis will be released from jail, no matter what other civil penalties she may face.
Let us pray that the Gospel of Christ will be the center of our motivation, not just taking sides in the so called "Culture War".
Let us pray that we will be people of Grace and Ambassadors for Christ in a postmodern culture
Let us pray for unbelievers, that they might come to know the joy and true liberty that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We serve a God who is sovereign over the universe, much less the three branches of the United States government.
Let us pray for "kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:2-4).
And finally let us remember that God is in control. When the government becomes spiritually oppressive, never forget that "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water,; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1)