Kim Davis said she wasn’t a hero.
She was right and this is why:
First and foremost, you argue that Davis was arrested for practicing her freedom of religion. Frankly, this is false. Davis is perfectly free to practice her religion and she should do just that. However, the issue comes in when she expects the same protection when exercising her duty as an elected official. She has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States (See U.S. Constitution Art. VI § 3) and for not doing this, she was detained.
In addition to her duty to uphold the Constitution, Davis has taken upon herself (and you seem to be in agreement with her in this) the duty of interpreting it as well. Now for the several centuries this American experiment has existed, constitutional though has understood the power of interpreting the Constitution to be invested in the judicial branch—of which Davis is not a part. Knowing this full well, Davis has interpreted the First Amendment to allow her (under the guise of freedom of religion) to forego her Article VI duty to uphold the Constitution as an executive officer.
In June the Supreme Court ruled that under our beautiful Constitution, the right to legal marriage is a right all consenting adults—regardless of the two persons’ sexes—hold (see Obergefell v. Hodges). Let me be clear, this is not a new addition to the Constitution, only Congress has that right. Rather, it is the discovery of something the Constitution has already said. This means the Constitution Davis swore to uphold when she was elected as county clerk was the same Constitution after June 2015. So what changed? Now you have argued that the Constitution has changed to a point that it is no longer congruent with her interpretation of her Christian religion. Clearly that is not the case.
Christ is written to have said “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; give unto God what is God’s.” I agree with this; however, Christ never said we are required to become a part of Caesar’s government. Davis has confused her religious duty with her civil duty as being one in the same. They are not. If she feels her carrying out of her civil duty with interfere with her religious duty, then she should resign from her civil duty. I am not going to discuss your religious claims here; but understand I vehemently disagree with you there also.
Davis’ self-victimization and subsequent cries for the crown of martyrdom are in foolish vain. True martyrs don’t seek the limelight as Davis has. The true victims are the faithful couples who were unduly forced into legal ambiguity by the actions of a woman who waived the Christian flag with one hand a wielded a poisoned blade of hate and condemnation in the other.
The beauty of our government is that it is neither Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Buddhist, nor any other faith. We are America: comprised of the wide array of Americans with each of their various backgrounds. This includes LGBT Americans. America cannot be as great as it desires to be if we choose not to recognize the rights of its minority citizens. Davis is simply on the wrong side of history and the American dream. She has not won her crown of martyrdom, but she has won her place in the Hall of Infamy.
Many Christians have already denied LGBT Americans a place at the table of their faith. Are you really comfortable with arguing that LGBT Americans ought to be denied a place at the table of our legal heritage, as Davis is attempting to do, too? Where is home, editor? Where is home? Please reconsider your position.
Alexander J.W. Ewers
Dear Staff / Editor(s) of The GlimmerGlass,
You published an editorial in the Sept. 17, that does a great disservice to Christians by making the claim that acting out on prejudices is equal to obeying God’s word. We all have prejudices; they are just a part of being human. The problem begins when you publicize your opinions in a way that represents them as something other than bias (in your case, prejudice is framed through what Christians should “stand behind”). You used two arguments to defend your point, neither of which were looked at through an outsider’s lens (“outsiders,” in this instance, is used to mean someone who does not hold the same values or prejudices as you do). Your two arguments were as follows:
- People should stand behind an American’s first amendment right of religious liberty and the right to express their faith.
- Christians should stand behind Kim Davis’ actions because she put God’s word above man’s law.
My goal for writing this letter is to show you why your arguments are flawed and explain why those types of arguments are damaging to the community of Christians. I will address your first argument and then your second argument, and I will finally conclude by explaining how those types of arguments are damaging to the Christian community here at school.
The First Amendment right to religious freedom and free speech absolutely should not be infringed upon. We all get that. In your article the quote you used even addressed that the First Amendment should be held dear to Christians and non-Christians alike. The problem with justifying what Kim Davis did with the First Amendment is that you must also take the stance that Christians should accept being forced to jump through hoops just to access our right (both from the Lord and man’s law) to be married just because a Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, or any non-Christian woman happened to be working at the county clerk’s office that day and felt giving a marriage license to a Christian couple infringed on her religious freedom. If a non-Christian woman had rejected a straight, Christian couple from getting a marriage license, I have reasonable doubt that any of you would defend that woman’s “religious rights.” Religious freedom is not and has never been an excuse for denying services based on belief; it has always been a privilege that has afforded us the right to worship so long as we do not hinder the lives or religious practices of others through that worship. The homosexual couple has the same right as Christians to not be harassed by others with opposing beliefs when seeking a license by an institution that does not represent any particular church. Christians fought long and hard to live in a country free from religious persecution, and it is important that Christians extend that freedom from persecution to groups that do not adhere to our beliefs.
Kim Davis did not reject the license because she put God’s word above man’s law. Kim Davis rejected the marriage license because of a prejudice that she held, and you validated her prejudice by claiming that Christians should stand behind her. Is homosexual sex a sin according to the Bible? Yes, we all know that as the Bible states it fairly clearly in several books. The homosexual couple that Kim Davis rejected definitely knows that because they have heard it time and time again whether they are Christians or not. But does the fact that homosexual sex is a sin mean that refusing to give a couple a legal marriage license is the “right” Christian thing to do? Certainly that is a matter of opinion, as there are absolutely no instructions in the Bible suggesting that Christians should or should not be the judge and jury on which sins should prohibit people from getting married. Marriage is not about having sex. Sex is, and has always been, just one facet of married life. The Bible does comment on how men and women can marry, but never specifically mentions men cannot marry men and women cannot marry women. The rule that homosexual couples cannot get married exists solely because of tradition. Tradition is not always correct just based on the merit that it is a tradition. Another longstanding tradition you might recall around certain sections of the world that was held until well after America was founded was the belief that African Americans are sub-human. So, for the sake of brevity, it is safe to assume not all traditions represent the morally and spiritually correct view. NOTE: the tradition mentioned above is a cultural tradition instead of a spiritual tradition. The argument here is not that the mistreatment of African Americans is equal to or even a fair comparison to the mistreatment of homosexuals, but it does show that traditions made by man – which is what my argument suggests the marriage side of homosexual relations is, despite being derived from spiritual belief – can be flawed.
Therefore, it is important to note that the belief that homosexuals should not get married is a tradition rather than an express commandment in the Bible. If, then, the tradition holds that homosexual sex is a grievous enough sin to prohibit marriage because the homosexuals are not glorifying Jesus in their union simply because they are tempted to and will have homosexual sex, then it is also safe to assume that there may be other sins that could lead to a marriage that does not glorify God. Additionally, consider all the millions of legal marriages in the United States between non-Christian people. Certainly none of those marriages glorify Jesus. Examples of marriages that also do not glorify Jesus include any straight or homosexual Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Taoist, or Satanist couple that decides to get married, among others. If none of the aforementioned marriages are legitimate in God’s eyes, should not they be subject to the same treatment as homosexuals? What is Kim Davis’ process for carrying out God’s word? Does Kim Davis perform a background check on any couple trying to obtain a marriage license to determine whether their marriage will glorify Jesus? I do not believe that she does have a process for carrying out God’s word as I have heard no evidence that she does. It is also notable that none of the aforementioned groups, including many homosexuals, seek a “Christian” marriage license. All of them are just seeking a legal marriage license after they received whatever religious or non-religious ceremony they want- ed. Kim Davis does, however, hold a prejudice against homosexuals that enables her to reject them from obtaining a legal marriage license on sight. If Kim Davis’ prejudice did not dictate her actions and she really wanted to stand up for Jesus, then she would have also declined any couple seeking a marriage license that included a woman wearing a turban. Kim Davis’ prejudice, not her desire to glorify her God, directed her to reject the homosexual couple.
Making the claim that obvious prejudices can be justified through religion, tradition, and the law is damaging to the Christian community because it shows that we are no longer a people who stand up for those who are ostracized. Christians have always defended and reached out to the downtrodden, even if they were sinners. All people have sinned and are therefore sinners. Our role as Christians is to worship and glorify the Lord. Glorifying the Lord does often come in the form of rejecting temptations and taking a stance against the sins that our country is trying to normalize, but being the hands and feet of Jesus has nothing to do with refusing services to marginalized people who are sinners or do not yet know the way of the Lord. I have no study or research proving that those who are close to converting to Christianity are put off by actions of people like Kim Davis, but I am confident that Kim Davis’ actions did not bring more people to follow Jesus. In all likelihood, Kim Davis turned away some of those who were struggling with whether or not to follow Christ because of the prejudice and nonsensical justifications she gave for why she committed her offences. The hope for those soon-to-be Christians is that they do not attribute Kim Davis’ actions to all of Christianity. Unfortunately, Kim Davis’ actions are being represented as those that all “Christians should stand behind” because of publications like The GlimmerGlass that could not even give the issue justice by reversing the roles to consider what our reaction would be if a Christian couple had been refused the license for petty reasons or by considering the possibility that a Christian could be acting out of prejudice instead of God’s word.