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Friday, September 04, 2015

What Hill?

Maybe you've heard of Kim Davis; maybe you haven't. Depending on your news source (or lack thereof), she is the "anti-gay"1 Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue licenses for same-sex mirage in her county. She is, of course, in trouble since she is violating the ruling of the Supreme Court on the subject. But she is in worse trouble if she does submit to the ruling since she would be violating God's commands on the subject. Now she's facing jail time.

Many (most?) are suggesting she just withdraw. Names like Conservative Ed Morrissey ("Accepting office in government means upholding the law. If that conflicts with Davis’ religious beliefs, then she should resign and find other work."), presidential candidate Carly Fiorina ("Given the fact that the government is paying her salary, I think that is not appropriate."), and even strong marriage advocate Ryan T. Anderson (Magistrates or clerks should "recuse themselves from the process behind the scenes should they have sincere objections to same-sex marriage.") are all saying that she may be right in principle, but has no standing to be there if she won't go along with the laws of the land. Davis has made this her "hill to die on" and everyone, it seems, pro-marriage or not, is suggesting this is not that hill.

This is not about Kim Davis, same-sex mirage, or homosexuals. This is about that hill. We know the phrase: your "hill to die on". It was epitomized in the 50's with the anti-communist, "I'd rather be dead than red." It means more than something worth fighting for. It means something worth dying for. A principle or belief or issue worth fighting for at all cost. Because, you see, when it comes down to it, there just aren't that many around. Hills to die on. Things worth dying for. Or even becoming significantly uncomfortable over. So we take a stand and plant the flag and won't budge an inch ... until someone takes a potshot at us and then it's probably not the hill to die on.

What is a hill worth dying on? What issue is worth fighting for regardless of cost? How do we determine which terrain mustn't be lost at all cost?

With Kim Davis still on the page here, let's consider the concept. Just because it's legal doesn't make it right. Just because the courts have ruled doesn't mean it would be the right thing to do. If the courts ruled (as an extreme, nonsensical example) that eating children was acceptable and your job was to place orphans in homes, would you be right to approve sending orphans to people who want to eat them? If not, why not? It's legal. It's your job. Why would that be a "hill to die on"? Or perhaps there is no such thing. Perhaps you believe that anyone in the employ of the government is obligated to do what the government says simply by virtue of that employment. William Calley thought so. He was ordered by his captain to kill all "combatants and suspects" in a particular area, resulting in the massacre of something like 347 men, women, children, and infants. He was following orders. It's what you do. Now, military laws changed because of it and Calley's captain denied ever giving the orders, but you get the idea. Do you do whatever you are told, or do you do what's right?

You see, here's the thing. Any "hill to die on" will not be the last hill. It's the nature of things. They think, "I don't have that little item. Let's see if I can get it." And they get it and think, "Well, that is just a little further, so maybe I can get that, too." In marriage terms, this approach has gone from a 1940's version of marriage where divorce was rare, sex outside of it was frowned on, all children should be products of marriage, and, oh, of course, no one even thought about something the concept of "same-sex" in connection to the term "marriage" to today's version where divorce is normal, sex outside marriage is expected, children are no longer part of marriage (either have them when you want or don't have them at all), and not only is "same-sex" connected with the term, but it is a right. The point is that this is a moving target. We didn't stand on the "contraception" hill or the "divorce" hill or the "sex in marriage" hill or the "children in marriage" hill and this is where we are now. These were not hills to die on ... and now marriage is dead, replaced by something that is not marriage, that is not even defined.

So what is "a hill to die on"? Maybe Kim Davis needs to quit. She certainly won't be able to prevent the courts from hauling her off to prison. The licenses will be issued. Things will go on. Florists and bakers and photographers and innkeepers and pretty much anyone else who tries to stand on this hill will go down. So is marriage a hill to die on? Is the Bible a hill to die on? Is the gospel a hill to die on? Is Christianity a hill to die on? Or should we just give in to a mushy version of "private belief" that, oh, by the way, won't likely remain a belief as we give more ground and won't likely make any difference anyway since it wasn't worth defending in the first place? Is there a hill worth dying on? Modern America -- especially conservatives, even conservative Christians -- seems to think no such place exists anymore. The Apostles disagreed. "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge." (Acts 4:19) Do we stand (and even die) on God's standards, or do we listen to the world and surrender God's standards? Their answer was, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

I haven't actually commented here on whether or not I agree with Kim Davis's actions or position. Here's what I do know. If it is true that "whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23) and Mrs. Davis is simply trying to obey God's commands (you know, like the Apostles did in Acts 4), then I would be hard-pressed to argue that she is wrong. It may or may not be right for everyone, but I can't say that she is in the wrong here.
1 Just to be perfectly clear, an objection to same-sex mirage (and I am spelling that word exactly as I mean to spell it) is not, by definition, "anti-gay" any more than objecting to killing babies is by definition "anti-choice" (or even "anti-abortion"). It is "pro-marriage" and could be "anti-gay" if the position is "Those people shouldn't get married", but if it is "Marriage means something and that isn't it", it is not "anti-gay" and every effort on the part of the media and the public to say otherwise is a lie.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Interesting that everyone seems to be addressing this case this morning. I got so tired of seeing the martyr meme all over Facebook and other places that I just finished writing my own article about the situation before I began my daily blog reading.

My point is that Davis took the wrong defense and applied her faith improperly. Meanwhile, she could have still gone to jail by applying her oath of office properly!

Stan said...

Well, when they put her in jail, that was the catalyst for people to start talking about it.

So, given the point of my post (as opposed to Mrs Davis), you would argue that this is not the hill to die on.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well, not a hill to die on in the way she did it. She should have taken the more dignified and more righteous path and resigned like many others in her position have done, and she still would have made the same point that we will not bow to such criminal judicial tyranny. I think she would have done MORE for the legal aspect if she made the fight about her oath of office to uphold the law which is still in effect because judges decisions are NOT laws and only legislatures have the right to make and change laws. Can you imagine how that would possibly waken people up to realizing that our courts have become an oligarchy?!?!

I think this issue is a hill to die on, but it must be done properly.

Stan said...

I'm not sure I see the distinction. The argument could be made that Americans had no right to revolt from British dominion. Christians are supposed to obey the authority. And, let's face it, they weren't being told to do anything sinful. Just taxation and the like. So by this logic the Christians should have either been Tories or left the country? Seems to be the same question to me and, therefore, the same issue ... the hill to die on.

David said...

If she did simply resign, nobody would know about it. The fact that she refused to resign speaks louder than simply quietly retreating.

Stan said...

I would guess that the "She should have resigned" side is prevalent, even among Christians. I am fascinated that no one thinks that it is the job of Christians (even in government employ) to help keep the people they are serving from sinning. I mean, sure, we hope to see godly laws passed and prevent sinful laws from being passed, but to actually do the work ourselves? I guess not. I think that, in a sense, Kim Davis in standing on this point was helping to prevent Rowan County from sinning while she held her ground.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David, you are wrong, because all sorts of those in her position are resigning and they are all over the new for their stance.

Stan, it's because of the particular job she is holding that she really has no option by following Scripture. It is because she HAS the option of resigning that she can't claim she is being forced into anything. Technical point, which the secular world seems to understand. She didn't prevent anyone from sinning - all she did was delay the action and make Christians as a whole seem pretty stupid.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Oh, and Stan, by Biblical principles Christians should not have rebelled against England. They should have worked diplomatically no matter how long it took. However, that being said, I'm glad that the revolution took place.

It may have come to a just war anyway, and I am a firm believer in the just war theory.

Stan said...

Technical point. As long as she did not issue licenses for non-marriages, the people there were not committing non-marriages.

Stan said...

I need to be clear that I'm conflicted on the issue. I'm not coming down hard on any side. That having been said, how is this different than other civil disobedience?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Non-marriages - exactly!

IT really depends on the particular disobedience. Each event must be examined as a separate issue, not necessarily as "civil disobedience." Let's say civil disobedience leads to violating the law while saving Jews from Nazis. Knowing that it is against God to murder Jews, those who refuse to obey the law would be obeying God and not man. However, they also must be prepared to suffer the consequences of man's law.

Stan said...

To no one in particular, I really do see parallels here between Lt. Calley and Kim Davis. We're supposed to, as Christians, obey the authority God has placed here. However, when the authority issues a command opposed to God's orders, we're not. Calley followed an illegal command and was punished for it.

Here's the thing. The Constitution is clear. Unless the Constitution explicitly states something, all rights are given to the States. More than half the States had laws in place that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Now the Supreme Court issues a ruling that this isn't so. This appears to me to be an illegal ruling. As such, Davis would be as wrong for obeying it as Calley was. As well, by stepping down so someone else could do it, it would be like Calley giving his command to the next in line and saying, "I won't do it; you do it." That bothers me.

Stan said...

Glenn, I have to say that I am seriously in agreement with "They also must be prepared to suffer the consequences of man's law." Too many Christians have piously taken a stand on an issue and then complained that there were consequences when the Bible promises there will be and tells us the proper response (which isn't "Sue the pants off them!!"). And I was impressed with Davis when the judge remanded her to jail. She said, "Thank you."

I haven't fully come to grips with what I think of her actions, but I have been impressed with her quiet spirit in standing without anger or attitude.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The very sad thing about Kim Davis I just learned is that she really isn't a Christian by the definition of the word - she is a modalist, a oneness pentecostal.

Stan said...

Without feeling any need to defend Davis or her Christianity, I think your information might be mistaken. According to the accounts I've read, she is part of the Apostolic Christian Church. They are marked by a literalist approach to Scripture (not in the same sense that you and I do it), but according to their website, they believe "There is one eternal God, the Creator of all things, who exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." That seems to be a straightforward Trinitarian statement.

But, like I said, I am not trying to defend her Christianity. I can't be sure.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Marcia Montenegro posted this link from Davis' church beliefs:

She says the "About God" statement is "classical modalist" but I'm not sure I agree it's all that clear; the statement can be seen either way, I guess.

Stan said...

From the info I got she is not part of the Apostolic Pentecostal (which would be oneness), but the ACC -- Apostolic Christian Church. Not the same thing.

Stan said...

(By the way, the Apostolic Pentecostal Church is without doubt a "oneness" church. Or, rather, organization, since that would disqualify it from being "Christian".)