As a fellow Christian, I have to say, I love Kim Davis! Watching her case has taught me so much about standing for God in today's time, and I bless God for using her to demonstrate some important lessons for me. I've been quite fascinated with this case for weeks now. I had plans to publish a full piece covering my specific thoughts on her case for some time, but I find the essence of this matter to be rather open and shut. There is no need to restate the obvious: She handled this all wrong!
As I review my notes, however, I felt it necessary to share a few thoughts for the benefit of fellow Believers. There are those who honestly may not know how to handle their faith-based convictions in the workplace or, moreover, even know when to buck the system. I believe Kim is the perfect poster child for this lesson.
One thing I had to keep in mind as I watched all of this play out is that Kim is fairly new to the Faith and I, personally, believe she handled everything as a babe would. Babes can be hot headed, "all or nothing" and ready to be renegades for Christ but, being immature in their walk with God, they can also be void of the nature of Christ. Jesus upset governments, rulers and faith leaders as He preached God's Truth, performed miracles, and forgave sins. He was (wrongly) considered a lawbreaker and we know of at least one situation wherein He went absolutely H.A.M.! (And it was WONDERFUL!)
Yet, one thing we need to remember is Jesus flipped tables and cracked a whip in the Temple of God - THAT is where He popped off (Matthew 21:12-13; John 2:13-17)! He didn't roll up in Caesar's palace flipping tables and screaming, "THIS PALACE BELONGS TO MY FATHER, SUCKAH! I CLAIM IT UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF GOD! SAY SUM'THIN! WHAT?!!!" (Even though He had all of the power, ability and potential authority to do so!)
God is a gentleman, and Jesus operated under the will and in the nature of His Father - never taking liberties that would ruin His witness. God the Father may compel, but He will never FORCE anyone to love and serve Him and, as such, WE (as Believers) can't force anyone to love and serve Him! We are to glorify God by living a life reflective of God and staying true to the convictions we claim to hold. I repeat: WE ARE TO GLORIFY GOD BY LIVING A LIFE REFLECTIVE OF GOD AND STAYING TRUE TO THE CONVICTIONS WE CLAIM TO HOLD! (Tweet alert! Credit truthandfire.com, please!) Once we have the opportunity to share the Gospel through verbal or written discourse, we can and should most certainly do that. That part is extremely important, don't get me wrong. But how we live our lives and our behavior should be just as important. I believe Kim could have done much more to glorify God by simply resigning, peacefully and respectfully. Who can know whether God explicitly told her to handle her convictions in the way that she did? But, from what I know of God’s Word, I wouldn't say it was likely. At the end of the day, we need to be certain our motive for everything we do is to glorify God and to be excellent witnesses for Him. So, taking a few lessons I gathered from Kim's experience, below I share my thoughts on how We (Believers of Christ) should handle our faith-based convictions professionally and as subjects of our existing government.
1) When Christians Should Resign
If your faith is so strong that you are willing to go to jail and amass thousands of dollars in fines to "stand your ground", one would think it should be strong enough to lead you to gracefully resign from a role that requires you to violate your faith-based convictions. In my opinion, if one of your primary job duties runs counter to your personally held religious convictions and there is no other way to get out of performing that duty, you should resign. Period. In Kim's case, the role of County Clerk requires her to be THE authority for issuing marriage licenses in her county. She is the county’s top administrator and that is the essence of her job, thus, if she were truly led by God to carry out her convictions, I'd think the most peaceful, respectable thing she should have done was resign (assuming she couldn't authorize her deputy to issue licenses in her stead). This case has been in the works since July. Through faith and prayer, I’m certain she would have had a new job by now (assuming the reason she refuses to resign is related to financial concerns).
2) When Christians Shouldn’t Have to Resign:
If one of your job duties runs counter to your personally held religious convictions, but that duty IS NOT a primary function of your position, you should not have to resign. Instead, I believe you should seek religious accommodations – even in a government role. The Anti-Defamation League published an informative guide that walks U.S. workers through this process. But you must remember that your religious accommodations are for your PERSONAL benefit. You cannot use said accommodations to force others to believe what you believe and/or do/not do what you will/won’t do. Said accommodations also cannot cause an undue burden on your workplace – which is implied by that job function not being germane to your role. If it is reasonable to ascertain the accommodation will cause an undue burden on your employer - i.e.: no one else can do the job, see point #1.
3) When to Obey our Government
God is sovereign and everything ultimately belongs to Him and falls under His rule. However, as we operate in the natural, for all intents and purposes, the government falls under the realm of “Caesar” (man). Simply put, we should "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and God that which is God’s" (Mark 12:17). Unless man’s law requires us to operate counter to what God would specifically require of us, we are to obey it for the sake of lawfulness and order, in peace, and offering honor and respect (Romans 13:1-7).
We know from the story of Daniel that he and his three friends, while exiled in Babylon, were servants under a foreign government (whose people happened to be an enemy of the people of God). They were subjected to a Babylonian education - learning their language and literature - and even stripped of their Hebrew names and given Babylonian monikers, yet they still managed to serve the king and win his favor while also honoring God in the areas it was required (Daniel 1:1-15)! Daniel and his friends were subjected to a monarchy. In the U.S., we have the amazing benefit of a democracy that was designed to represent the will of the people - namely the majority. I find Romans 13:1-7 serves as a refreshing reminder that we, as Christians, could actually have a government we could easily obey if more of us were keen on obeying God and seeking His guidance. I don't doubt He could intervene and change the hearts of top leaders and humble local officials if we earnestly asked Him to help us in this area. (Just a thought.) We are blessed to be citizens of a country in which we can challenge laws, but there is no need to break the law unless it requires us to commit an explicit sin.
4) When to Disobey the Government
Yet, knowing that man is likely to disobey the will of God and that some governments could fall under the rule of those who don't know Him, God gives us full rights to disobey the government when it, by and large, tells us to disobey Him. While I can understand and fully respect Kim's personal convictions, I can't say I'd find issuing civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples as disobeying the will of God, as God is not the authority recognizing those civil unions, in that duty I would not be operating as an agent of the Church, and the couple is already together. Their union isn't being approved in the eyes of God, but under the realm of man's law. I'd think Moses found himself in a similar scenario when he permitted divorce for certain reasons under civil law and issued divorce certificates. He didn't issue them because he agreed with divorce, but because the hearts of men had grown hard (lacking Godly love), meaning they weren't willing or able to carry out marriage as God intended (Matthew 19:3-12). This does not change the way God views and defines marriage. Whatever He established does not become void just because man creates a new thing. God recognizes marriage as a covenant. Man-made laws only recognize marriage as a contract. So, following that line of logic, I'd see marriage licenses as mere pieces of paper that fulfill a man-made system. (A system that is ever-changing.)
But that's just my opinion. In other words, God gives each of us the freedom to operate under our personal convictions as we relate with Him. If something TRULY concerns us in our hearts or we've made a vow to honor the Lord in a given area of our lives, He honors that - we should follow that. But those convictions are to be our own, and we have to make the personal choice to act appropriately to maintain a clear conscience (Romans 14:22-23). Again, in Kim's case, her appropriate personal choice might have been to resign or temporarily reassign her authority rather than break the law. However, for example, if there is ever a federal, state, or local law passed that requires all Christians to renounce our faith and/or take on another religion, WE ARE ALLOWED BY GOD TO DISOBEY (Daniel ch. 3; 6:10; Acts 5:29)! Since our Constitution was written with such concerns in mind, such laws should NEVER be passed, but know we are fully supported by God to respectfully rebel if it is ever warranted.
I respect Kim for standing up for her personal convictions. I continue to pray for her and bless God for her life and His using her for such a time as this. While I cannot say that I agree with WHAT she did, I count this entire ordeal to be a blessed lesson on what not to do. I wholeheartedly believe she could have stood her ground another way and I am ashamed to see that some have exploited her actions and celebrate them not for God's honor, but to prove a political point. Yet, God, in His amazing way, gets the glory in everything we do - even in our missteps. I count Kim's experience as a wake-up call for me as well as fellow Christians. We truly need to get our acts together and get serious about being followers of Christ. Christ KNEW God, He KNEW the Word of God, and even HE prayed to do God's will. May we all be an example of Christ in THAT way. May we stay true to our convictions by unapologetically living lives reflective of truly being rooted in Him.