A Kentucky county clerk has decided to live out her dream to be “persecuted”, just like Jesus Christ. Well, maybe not JUST LIKE Jesus Christ. It seems what is often missed is the cause for which you get “persecuted” for. Certainly if I punch a cop in a face because I honestly believed he was an a-hole, I would shortly thereafter be “persecuted” in the most serious fashion. However I do not believe that I can then point to the sky and say “that’s for you God!” and believe I had picked up Christian street cred because now I’m being “persecuted”.
Indeed looking to the Bible, the story goes that Jesus Christ was persecuted because he healed the sick on the Sabbath. He was helping people. The Bible also says something to the effect that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. The key goal here is the doing the right thing, not the “persecution”. Now in my mind, if the thing you are doing hurts others rather than help others, it can’t be the right thing, regardless of what your personal feelings/beliefs about that thing may be, and that goes against the core teachings of the Bible.
Further, even if issuing a marriage license is deemed a sin, God will forgive ALL sin according to the Bible. So surely a loving good God could see that the county clerk is in an untenable situation, and if the county clerk accepts Jesus Christ as savior, she too will be forgiven. I have to think that in a list of ALL sin, issuing marriage licenses would rank pretty low on the list.
But even if you think that ‘no, issuing a marriage license to homosexuals is evil, is sin, and is just simply a violation of the tenets of Christianity’, there are reasons that it’s simply irrelevant in this country:
- The First Amendment prohibits laws that establish religion or prohibits the freedom to exercise any religion. Government can only do that by not being biased toward any particular religion. Once a government official decides that “God’s law” trumps the nation’s laws, a particular religion has been established by government via the government official.
- A county clerk who is issuing marriage licenses is NOT passing judgment over any particular marriage. The license does not mean that the clerk personally approves of the union. The issuance of the license is simply a clerical function that the proper paperwork has been submitted and that the government recognizes that a union of two people has been created. There is no moral judgment here. The clerk is just an agent of the government.
- Even if for some reason the clerk believes that personally issuing licenses still violates her religious beliefs, having her employees do it instead (which they have all, excluding her own son for understandable reasons, have agreed to do and are in fact ALREADY doing) is a reasonable accommodation for a personal religious practice.
- If that is still not good enough, the only reasonable conclusion is that your personal religious beliefs forbid you to do the job and thus you must resign. I just can’t see how you can have a county just not issue marriage licenses at all and think that’s reasonable.
Though cynically I can’t help but wonder if the clerk is not more into cashing in than taking a stand. I don’t doubt that she is sincerely against gay marriage. But is there a small part of her that saw how much a couple pizzeria owners made just by merely suggesting they would not cater a theoretical gay marriage and thought that it could even be more lucrative to actually go to jail over the issue? I guess time will tell.