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POV: Why the Kim Davis Case Matters

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis is shown in this booking photo

A Point Of View (POV) piece from the NC Family staff.

“Mocking-jay for morons.” “Jerk for Jesus.” “Creepy fanatical bigot.”

These are just a few examples of the denigrating labels some left-wing commentators have used to attack Kentucky Clerk of Court Kim Davis over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of her religious beliefs. Davis is at the center of a national debate over whether First Amendment religious liberty protections should apply to public officials and government employees who believe that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. In addition to being vilified by the mainstream media, Davis recently spent six days in jail, and she and her family continue to face death threats—all because of her willingness to stand up for the Biblical definition of marriage.

As we’ve watched this case unfold, many of us have wondered, “What would I do in her shoes? Would I take the same stand, or would I simply resign to avoid a scene?” It’s important that we grapple with these questions as we face a cultural climate that seems to grow more hostile every day to the age-old understanding of marriage. If we want to continue to communicate the Truth about marriage now and in the future, how we answer these questions is of utmost importance.

There are at least two reasons why the Kim Davis case should matter to every Christian:

1. None of us can hide from the same-sex “marriage” issue—at some point every Christian will face the choice to stand, fold, or run. 

Christians who hold fast to the Biblical view of sex, gender, and marriage are swimming against the tide of our current culture, which has elevated sexual liberty to god-like status. Traditional marriage supporters will increasingly appear old-fashioned, extreme, and out of touch. The Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision that declared same sex ‘marriage’ a constitutional right has only emboldened that view. As Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote recently in First Things, “In post-Obergefell America, Evangelicals and other orthodox Christians will be unable to outrun our freakishness.” Those of us who continue to stand for the Truth about marriage, and attempt to live it out in our daily lives should expect and prepare to be attacked as ‘extremists.’

It’s not just happening to Kim Davis in Kentucky but also in Oregon, where a judge is under fire for declining to officiate same-sex unions due to his religious beliefs. And in the private sector, we’ve seen Christian bakers, photographers, and bed and breakfast owners facing persecution, including government fines, for attempting to run their businesses according to their religious beliefs.

Expressing the view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman is not only unpopular these days, but unwelcome. Many of us have faced some type of opposition or persecution for our views on marriage, though perhaps on a smaller scale, such as on social media, at a family gathering, or at school.

The pressure to stay silent can be difficult to resist. I’m ashamed to admit that I have sometimes hesitated before posting something about marriage on Facebook, and I have attempted to change the subject at social gatherings to avoid being called a “hater.” Like many of us, I have LGBT family members and friends, and I want to avoid hurting them. When I am tempted to censor my comments about marriage, I remind myself that five justices cannot change Truth, and that I have a responsibility to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Make no mistake: at some point in the coming days, we will all face the same test as Kim Davis, and we must decide if we will stand and defend the Biblical definition of marriage, or allow that truth to be suppressed.

2. The Kim Davis case underscores the importance of resisting efforts to silence the truth about marriage.

The effort to redefine marriage goes well beyond who can get a marriage license. It affects how our culture defines sex, gender, parenting, and family, and it impacts our ability as Christians to express and teach Biblical truth about these issues. For these reasons and more, we have a responsibility to continue to speak the truth about marriage, and to defend the rights of others to do the same.

Standing up for our religious beliefs about marriage sometimes means not participating in activities that constitute an endorsement of same-sex unions, such as not issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple, or not baking a cake for a same-sex ceremony. While we must always act in love, we should use our decision not to participate (or the decision of others not to do so) as an opportunity to explain to our coworkers, friends, and family why we believe what we do about marriage, and why those beliefs are worth protecting.

Defending the truth about marriage also requires us to fight for religious liberty protections to ensure that public servants, government employees, and private citizens alike are not forced to choose between our jobs and our faith. That is why North Carolina lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 2—Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies that allows certain public servants, including those who issue marriage licenses, to recuse themselves from participating in civil marriages “based upon any sincerely held religious objection.” Since SB 2 was enacted earlier this summer, over 30 magistrates in North Carolina have used the law to recuse themselves from performing any marriages, thus avoiding the difficult choice Kim Davis had to make. And thanks to the actions of Kim Davis and national attention on her case, her supporters are hopeful the Kentucky legislature will take up similar protections for that state next year.

Ultimately, we should be thankful for Kim Davis, the North Carolina magistrates, and the countless others across the country who are willing to take a stand for traditional marriage in their jobs. These courageous individuals need our prayers as they continue to face tremendous pressure to discard their religious convictions about marriage and ‘go with the flow.’ Their example should inspire all of us to continue defending the truth about marriage in our spheres of influence every chance we get—even in the face of mounting opposition.

To learn more about Kim Davis, listen to this Thursday’s “Family Policy Matters” radio program featuring an interview with her attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, who shares further insight into the importance of her case. That show will be posted on our radio show page on Thursday, September 24th


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