Monday, September 7, 2015

Is Kim Davis a Martyr?

While I was away I completely disconnected from news. So, I wasn't aware of of the firestorm story of the Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis. Well, I had heard of her because Facebook was dotted with references to her and I had seen a quote from Mike Huckabee about how this was proof of the "criminalization of Christianity" or some such thing, but for the most part, the specifics of the story had escaped my notice. No longer.

It would seem that Kim Davis is a county clerk in Kentucky who's job it is to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County. In Kentucky, this is an elected position, and Mrs. Davis is a democrat. I mention her party affiliation not because it has anything whatsoever to do with the case, but because if she were a republican it would appear in the first paragraph of every news story, and in the headline at the New York Times. Anyway...Mrs. Davis is a relatively new convert to Christinanity, and as such burns brightly with enthusiasm for her new faith. As such, she made the decision to refuse the issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples after the June ruling by the Supreme Court making gay marriage legal, because to do so would be a violation of her faith and of God's Word. Her view, and the view of her legal team from Liberty Councel is that no one should be required to violate their religious beliefs by the demands of a job...or something like that.

In a democracy, compromise is the oil that lubricates the engine of daily life, which while no doubt true, may very well be the worst metaphor I've ever come up with... but it's all I can manage at the moment.  The point is, we make a million compromises daily to get along with others in this country, even religious compromises. Pam informs me that she has seen Muslim check out girls at Target refuse to touch a bottle of wine purchased by a customer. Then another employee comes over and handles the bottle for her. While this may be awkward, it seems to work. That's the thing about compromises, they aren't always convenient or efficient, but they get the job done. 

My first thought when pouring over the many articles I've read about this case is...is there not some sort of workable compromise that can be forged out of this mess short of a high profile and devicive incarceration? Is there no one else in the Rowan County Clerk's office that could issue the licenses in question? If the problem Mrs. Davis has is signing the document, why not allow someone else in the office to sign? Cannot grown thinking adults fashion some sort of work-around to avoid all of this drama? Apparently not, so she's in jail. My thoughts:

To Mike Huckabee let me just say, you're a dope. This isn't the "crimilization of Christianity". You, Mr. Huckabee are criminalizing the English language by using such a dim-witted phrase. There was a time, Mr. Huckabee, when Christians provided the fuel for street lights in Nero's Rome. Right now ISIS is burning Christians alive simply for being Christian. That's the criminalization of Christianity.

To Kim Davis, let me say, you should resign your position. I don't pretend to judge your intentions or impugn your character by dredging up your past divorces as proof of your hypocracy. I accept the genuineness of your faith and the transformative power it has produced in your life. However, your job is to uphold the law. The New Testament that you read everyday includes admonitions for Christians to submit to the civil authorities, and it is my belief that if you find that to do so violates your religious convictions, and if you are not willing or able to accept a work-around compromise, you need to resign. I would also ask you if you have had equally dramatic dissonance when confronted with the prospect of issuing a marriage license to a couple who had been previously divorced? Rowan County, I suspect is a small town sort of place, the kind of spot where everybody knows everybody else, so I'm sure this has happened. Did you refuse them a license based on your religious convictions? If not, why not? The bible is very clear on that subject as well.

Finally, I would say to my Christian friends, there may come a day when Christianity will be criminalized. I'm not naive. But this isn't that day. As a Christian, there are things I can't in good conscience do, and if my job demands that I do them, I need to find another job. It's not the job of the culture around me to honor and obey God's laws, it's my job to do that. There are thousands of Christians being martyred for their faith in the world right now. Let's not dishonor them by pretending that Kim Davis is one of them.