Monday, September 7, 2015

The Intersection of Religion and Politics: The Case of Kim Davis

An appeal has been filed on behalf of Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite June's landmark Supreme Court decision. The appeal is of Davis's contempt of court judgement that landed her in jail until she complies with the order that she must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She refuses. The judge refuses to lift the order. She stays in jail. With this all unfolding in the right ventricle of the bible belt, that is Kentucky, protesters and supporters on both sides of the issue have chanted themselves into a euphoric frenzy motivated by their passions and convictions for either love of a same other, love of God, or love of the law.

Kim Davis's case is not surprising in this country where the chasm between right wing nuts and left wing nuts is barely dotted with middle of the road moderates calling for cooler heads to prevail. Kim Davis's case has ignited in this country once again the role of religion in the guidance of our law.

Our federal laws are loosely based on common law. Some believe common law is prescribed by the 10 commandments which is God's law. In church yesterday my pastor preached on truth and grace. Truth being living God's truth as in following God's law which are the 10 commandments. My pastor preached that while God's law is good, it still stand in judgement. If you break the commands of the law you can't come into the kingdom of heaven (without forgiveness and mercy and that's where the grace part of the sermon came in but we don't have time for church in this post). He went on to say that to be under the law of God means to be under its penalties. The law of God rules and reigns.

If Kim Davis holds as deep of convictions about God's law and authority as she purports to (and we won't go in on her divorces) then it is understandable why she would refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Sodomy is a sin. A man lying with another man or a woman lying with another woman is an abomination.

Leviticus 18:22

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
 Leviticus 20:13
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he liter with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Sodom and Gamorrah burned for these sins. Kim Davis doesn't want to burn for eternity. I get it. I get why the right relegates itself to this line of narrative when they wish to oppose something liberal the left has done. As my pastor said, if you want to find a line in the bible to back up your beliefs it can be done. People have used the bible to justify slavery, war, the spread of AIDS and the conquering of this country from the people who already lived here. With 66 books in the bible between the Old Testament and New Testament, and oodles of verses between each book, proof-texting is not hard for anyone be you on the political left or right. I get why Kim Davis believes what she believes and why her allies on the right back her. What I don't understand is why the left, which also uses the bible to proof-text policies where convenient, is so confused by the right's outrage in the name of Kim Davis.

The right says America is a Christian country. The left says it's not and points to the beauty of the first line of the first amendment,

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
The left swears our country is capitalist, not religious, but our money says in God we trust. Truth is this country was founded on religious freedom, but to those early settlers that freedom was only in the practice of different variations of Christianity. Puritans, Protestants, Catholics, Shakers, and Quakers were all welcome to practice their devotion to God as long as it was devotion to God and not Allah, or Damballah, or Buddha, or a sun god, or any other god the dominant colonists turned Americans did not believe in.

It is this religious freedom that has informed the very founding of this country. It is why we say "under God" when we pledge allegiance to our nation. It is why Presidents take the oath of office with their hand on the bible. (Waiting on a Muslim President to take the oath on the Qu'ran). Yet our founding fathers, in their infinite wisdom, thought it wise to make church and state as separate as possible when writing the laws that will rule the country even if those same laws to an extent are based in the laws of the Lord.

"God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world."
John Adams

It is this paradox that set's the right on fire when atheists challenge the legality of the 10 commandments being placed in front of court houses or state capitol buildings, and win before judges who despite their personal religious beliefs know that they must separate church and state. If you apply these rulings and believe that the separation of church and state is the only way to successfully run this country so concerned with being politically and religiously correct then you may question why doesn't Kim Davis just resign? She's a government employee. If she doesn't agree with the law then she should no longer work for the government that compels her to enforce it.

However, Kim Davis has religious conviction. That conviction could be that she does not believe she has to sacrifice what she believes, and more specifically her belief in God's divine law to hold her government job. Or maybe she believes that by granting same-sex marriage licenses she is not only disobeying God but also denying that His law is the only law that matters, thus denying God himself, which would lead her to spend eternity in hell.

Matthew 10:32 - 33

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven.
"But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." 
If the separation of church and state really is the denial of God then we are in the last days as I've heard pastors say at various churches over the years. If this is true the confirmed Catholic, the saved non-denominational Christian in me applauds Kim Davis for standing up for her beliefs. Her beliefs and convictions are the reason religious exemptions exist within our laws in the first place. If she's willing to stay in jail until she's allowed to deny same-sex marriage licenses, or allowed to issue them without her name appearing on the document thus not co-signing something she does not believe in, then I say more power to her.

It's not often people go to jail and stay in jail for what they believe. Although, there was this one dude that died for what He believed.

What do you believe? 
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