Whether or not Kim Davis should or should not have complied with the law is not the most important question facing Christians in this controversy. Nor is gay marriage the central question to this particular debate. The crucial matter the church is facing, as demonstrated by this conflict between one individual believer and the state, concerns the kind of relationship we as a church can demand–or expect–with the government in a post-Christian era. It will not be an easy question to answer, but it’s the one before us today.
Karen Swallow Prior, PhD, is Professor of English and Modern Languages at Liberty University
There are books that you read once and then there are books that you pull off the shelf once a year or so and revel in their timelessness.
Such a text is Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto. This text lives on, becoming more relevant as time goes by.
I’ve always thought this book was the inspiration for the pro-life rescue movement. Non-violent civil disobedience designed to disrupt the abortion industry. An advocate for life, Schaeffer nevertheless took a general approach in his manifesto. He did not connect the notion of civil disobedience to any one issue.
He knew that at some point all of us would face a choice, whether to embrace disobedience or give in to tyranny.
“The state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer, and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has no proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is tyranny.” (Emphasis Schaeffer’s) (91)
Forty-two years have passed since Roe legalized abortion in the United States. That argument has not ended.
Experts disagree about the fallout over same sex marriage. Some believe we will just get used to the idea. Others believe the opposite.
Even the Church is arguing within itself about the correct response to the legalization of same sex marriage. It’s easy to stand in our own shoes and say that bakers, florists, wedding planners, and Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, should just bend to new rules.
We need to ask what we would do if asked to bend our conscience beyond its limits. We may not get to sit long before we find ourselves called to stand and answer.
Will same sex marriage still be an argument in 42 years? Will America survive such a moral downfall for the next 42 years?
If you think that legalized abortion and legalized same sex marriage are the end game, that once we’ve accepted both, society will move toward a time of agreement–if you think that way, you have misjudged.
More questions will rise, and we will have to answer.
Life questions like Planned Parenthood’s sale of children’s body parts that has added fuel to that fire even as assisted suicide (which history shows eventually becomes involuntary) is a question some state legislatures are addressing. These questions will lead to more quality of life decisions on behalf of (or in opposition to) the interests of the ill and handicapped.
Questions about living out our faith in society. Will our faith be public or whispered behind church doors?
Worldviews never stand still. They move constantly in one direction or another. Ours is moving away from freedom of conscience.
The time will come when we will have to answer. The time will come when standing in the shoes of someone facing a moral crisis means we have to tie our own laces and stand up ourselves. Will we bend then?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”