Social media and traditional media have been lit up with opinions about the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, resulting in her temporary imprisonment for contempt of court. There are passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. One thing that cannot be denied is the fact that the clerk, who led a very wayward life until a few years ago, has embraced her faith fervently and without apologies. She clearly believes that her conversion was a life changing event, and like many who have been transformed after hitting rock bottom (in her case multiple marriages, children out-of-wedlock and other serious personal crises) she is determined to stand firm in her faith against all critics. She has truly decided to reject this world and embrace the promises of the next.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (NIV)
“If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.” (MSG)
The one clear message that God has for fervent believers, is that those who truly follow the cross will experience the same burdens of carrying the cross (the message of God) as Christ did: you will be rejected of men, ridiculed, scorned, attacked and perhaps even crucified. The disciples knew this, preached their message anyway and nearly all met their deaths for their faith, some even literally sharing the same crucifixion as Christ.
Many reject the actions of this woman with Biblical references to forgiveness and judging. This is common when people know bits and pieces of the Word but have never read the entire Bible cover to cover and considered its entire message to humankind. I have not heard this woman condemn anyone for their lifestyle choices, nor have I heard her attack anyone personally (although ironically she herself has been personally mocked for her appearance, her lifestyle, and her faith by those purporting to promote equality, inclusion and tolerance).
Likewise I have heard the arguments that her stand is hypocritical because she gave “divorced people” licenses, and “adulterers.” While this is undoubtedly true, she clearly sees a difference in supporting same-sex marriage as an affront to her faith and the antithesis of her commitment to live a life that is pleasing to God. Loving everyone, recognizing all have sinned and fall short, is not the same to her as using her position and authority to “bless” a union between same-sex partners that she believes contradicts Biblical teachings.
“She should separate her faith from her job as a public official and do what is right and follow the law.” This is a very strong statement that has truth in it (although many rightly see hypocrisy in the failure to hold immigration laws to the same standard). Can Christians, should Christians hold public offices where their decisions and duties might contradict their faith? The trouble is that we all take our beliefs with us everywhere we go, to work, to school, when we socialize. All of us…this includes Christians, atheists, agnostics, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, climate change supporters, climate change deniers, bigots, world government supporters, militarists, doves, feminists, etc. Is there anyone who makes a decision in a vacuum, without the influence of a personal “belief” in something (atheism is a personal belief in “nothing”).
If I were in her shoes I think I would have resigned my position, after explaining myself publicly. It is too hard today to serve God and man, when man continually seeks to embrace lifestyles that are counter to Biblical principles. In truth Christians are not expected to confirm to this world, and so Christians cannot expect to make the world conform to their faith. Non-believers need to come to God on their own. True Christianity is a personal awakening, followed by a personal relationship with God. It was too personal for the Kentucky clerk to perform her duties and keep her conscience regarding her faith, and it is too personal for her applicants to be forced to accept faith in God by denying earthly government services rightly or wrongly granted in a document with which the government (not God) bestows its own definition of marriage.
I am confident that the Bible, in fact the very existence of humankind, was and is based upon mixed gender relationships (procreation is not possible otherwise and God was clear in the design of our “plumbing” to know what fits where), yet I would not take steps to deny someone who does not share my beliefs government created rights. Instead I would share my testimony about what God has done to change my life in the hope that I would create a spark of curiosity that might lead to a personal revelation and transformation stronger than any condemning act or judgmental preaching.
“Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21 (KJV)
Remember that Jesus did not come to condemn the world….the Jews of the time hoped he would take on the pagan Romans and the corrupt politicians but He did not do that. Instead He came to save the world, by preaching a message of personal salvation obtained through a personal revelation, rebirth and re-focus on God. Jesus asked us to leave the world behind and follow Him. Sometimes we spend too much time trying to create heaven on earth when Jesus Himself never tried to do that…it is a lost cause and should not be the goal of Christianity. The utopia we seek is in heaven and we should be encouraging each other to see that, embrace that, and strive to achieve that…through an intensely personal journey we each must walk alone.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17