God, Gays and an Obscure County Clerk in Kentucky

Kim DavisAs of this writing, God has not weighed in in the case of Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who says her Christian faith won’t allow her to issue marriage licenses to gay couples – and was sent to jail for violating a federal judge’s order to do just that.

Ms. Davis, who doesn’t care what the U.S. Supreme Court had to say about gay marriage, believes that God’s law trumps the Constitution, which, by the way, she swore to uphold and protect.

Here’s Ms. Davis’ thinking on the matter: “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”

But there’s a simple way around all of this, if only Ms. Davis were not such a coward. All she had to do was quit her job and find one that doesn’t involve duties that violate her conscience. But that would have been inconvenient.

If she had quit her government job and not had enough money to pay her rent and buy food and pay her other bills, that, dear Jesus, would have shown how seriously she takes her precious conscience. But instead she wanted to both soothe her conscience and collect a check each week from the government. Kim Davis may be many things, but a profile in courage is not one of them.

There was, of course, a much easier way out for Kim Davis. All she had to do was allow her associates to issue the marriage licenses and the federal judge would never have cited her for contempt. But that, too, would have violated Ms. Davis’ conscience so she refused.

And now she sits in jail. Good!

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal makes an interesting point about the case that runs under the headline, “My Old Kentucky Double Standard.” It quotes President Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, as saying, ”The success of our democracy depends on the rule of law, and there is no public official that is above the rule of law.”

He’s right of course. But here’s where the double standard comes in. As the Journal explains it: “We don’t recall President Obama insisting on ‘the rule of law’ when his then Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced in 2011 that he wouldn’t defend challenges to what was then the law – the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Bill Clinton – in the courts. Nor did we hear about upholding the law when mayors such as Gavin Newsom in San Francisco issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of state laws.

“Officials such as Messrs. Holder and Newsom were as guilty as Ms. Davis of elevating personal preferences over the law. Yet they were lionized by those now holding up an obscure Kentucky clerk as a national villain.”

This is a legitimate point which correctly hammers liberal hypocrisy. But in the end it comes down to “Oh yeah, well the other guys do it too,” which is not much of an argument and which is why the Journal acknowledges that the federal judge’s principle – “that Americans, and especially government officials, do not get to pick which laws and orders they will follow – is certainly right.”

I have long thought that there are more than a few conservative Christians in this country who talk a good game about law and order but would toss the whole system out in a heartbeat if they could replace it with a Christian theocracy. I don’t know Ms. Davis but I wouldn’t be surprised if she were one of those people.

And as with almost everything, there are political implications attached to the Kentucky case. Several conservative Christian Republicans who want to be president have stated their support for Kim Davis. This will please some members of the GOP base but I suspect it will turn away a lot more. Most Americans – including most Americans who take their faith seriously – understand how our system works. We are a nation of laws, which is something they point out whenever they believe Barack Obama breaks them.

As I say, so far God has not weighed in.  Best we can figure he has not come to Ms. Davis’ defense. If He does, I’ll write an update.