Yes, I’m tired of the endless discussion around Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis too. Nonetheless, it turns out I still have something to say on the topic.
I’ve noted elsewhere that I disagree with the charges of hypocrisy over Davis’s prior marriages and adultery.
Yes, people obsessed with sin are often “sinners”. This isn’t hypocrisy. This is an attempt at redemption, however misguided.
— Stephanie Zvan (@szvan) September 2, 2015
Here I meant misguided in the sense that I don’t believe that the forgiveness of a deity is worth much or that we can look outside the people we’ve wronged (including ourselves) for meaningful forgiveness, but this is also misguided in another very important way.
Before I get to that, I also want to note that I disagree with the people who say the only important thing about this situation is that Davis is unconstitutionally using her governmental power to impose her religious beliefs on other people. This is hugely important. It is also the solid legal basis on which Davis has been barred from obstructing equal access to the law and to the services of the state.
However, it isn’t just the use of state power that makes this act wrong. Here is what Davis had to say about why she would not allow her office to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.
I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.
Even without the legal argument, this fails to justify Davis’s behavior. In fact, it highlights exactly how unethical her behavior is.
Other people are not yours to sacrifice for your own redemption. They are people in their own rights, responsible to their own consciences, religious or not. Their well-being, self-determination, and lives (yes, discrimination has a body count) are not redeemable for your personal benefit. They don’t exist to make up for your mistakes. Your salvation does not and cannot take precedence over their humanity.
Moreover, a deity that would require those sacrifices should be viewed the way we view any deity that requires human sacrifice. It is archaic at best. If its followers commit to practicing in this day and age, their victims must be afforded legal protections. Deities that require self-sacrifice are tragic. Those that require the sacrifice of others are dangerous.
By all means, let us continue to enforce the First Amendment for all our protections. But let’s not lose track of the fact that the very idea behind these attempts is damaging and unethical in itself.