Kim Davis is the elected Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. She has refused to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County over gay marriage.
My thinking on this is more complicated than a good or bad, yes or no, binary situation.
I think government employment needs to be open to all, not just those who go along with present secular zeitgeist. A government cannot be composed of all people when it excludes certain citizens from office or employment because of those citizens’ religious beliefs. There is, in fact, an orchestrated movement to chase Christians from government work.
Certainly employees of the state and particularly those who are elected take oaths of office that require their faithful duty to administer the law and uphold the constitution. However, it makes sense to do as many states have done and provide an accommodation that the conflicted employee be allowed to pass a duty to someone else if compliance puts the employee in conflict with his faith.
Ms. Davis has come under attack for multiple marriages, but as Mollie Hemingway noted, Ms. Davis converted to Christianity after those divorces. She is now trying to live as a Christian.
I think the common-sensical thing to do is to respect Ms. Davis’s faith and let her opt out of providing licenses for gay marriage. The state should be willing to accommodate her her belief and by refusing to accommodate the religious views of Ms. Davis, the state is essentially saying people who share her faith are not able to work for the government in certain capacities. The government should not do that.
At the same time, Ms. Davis has stopped issuing all marriage licenses to avoid being accused of discrimination. She has also prohibited all other clerks in her office from issuing marriage licenses. The clerk is required under Kentucky law to issue such licenses and Ms. Davis has put herself in conflict with the law and her oath of office.
Christians have a Doctrine of Vocation in their beliefs. Our work is to glorify God and if our work compels us to dishonor God or violate his teachings, we cannot do it. “Christians owe obedience to their magistrates and laws except when commanded to sin. For then they owe greater obedience to God than to human beings” (Augsburg Confession, Article XVI).
Ms. Davis is showing greater obedience to God than to human beings in what she is doing, but she is also denying Christians the ability to marry by refusing licenses to them. She is denying other employees the right to act on their beliefs too by not letting other employees provide licenses.
I think the Commonwealth of Kentucky should accommodate Ms. Davis’s religious objections and delegate her duties to others. But if the state will not, I think Ms. Davis should resign. Her stand for God is commendable, but it also has consequences. One of those consequences should not be that no one can get married in Rowan County.
We are reaching a point where Christians will probably start engaging in more civil disobedience. But I am not sure we serve as good Christians when we take on an elected office and “solemnly swear” to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky” and to “faithfully execute… the office” being held “according to law” so help us God then don’t.
Oaths should mean something.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky should accommodate Ms. Davis, but if it does not and puts Ms. Davis in breach of an oath she swore in God’s name that puts her in the conflict she should resign, not deny everyone marriages and force others to also violate their oaths.