It’s everywhere: Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has gone to jail for refusing to sign off on same-sex civil marriages. The usual people are taking the usual positions; it’s time for something a little different.
First: it isn’t a “rule of law” issue. Meaningful rule of law went out the window in this country last summer; bawling about Davis being outside of it isn’t very informative. The real mix of federal and state laws will make for some interesting litigation but people who simply say that “she has to do her job” haven’t been paying attention lately. Neither have those who think she has the “right” to refuse. She simply has to take a stand wherever and she has.
Personally, I think she should have quit, as one of her counterparts in Tennessee did after the SCOTUS decision on same-sex civil marriage. But let’s ask the serious question: was she going against God before same-sex civil marriage got shoved into her portfolio? The answer is yes.
When God instituted marriage in the garden, he did not do so by forcing Adam and Eve to go to the local governmental authorities and get their approval. For centuries people felt no compulsion to run to the state to have their marriages solemnised. God instituted it, people did it, and that was it.
Civil marriage, especially in places like France, was instituted to take away the last say on the subject from the church. The church was fulfilling God’s role for marriage; now that role became the state’s, as J.R.R. Tolkien lamented. Thus, every time any representative of the state officiates a marriage, they are doing so in the place of God. That includes our ministers who officiate civil marriages, which is why they (and their denominations, if they’re a part of one) need to take the Marriage Pledge and get it right.
So should Kim Davis take a stand and go to jail? That’s her decision. More power to her to do so. But while she’s got plenty of time to think about things, hopefully she’ll realise that she was in error in standing in God’s place before same-sex civil marriage and ultimately quit taking God’s place for any pairing–or collection–of people.