COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 6, 2015 — This week Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis was jailed by federal Judge David L. Bunning until, he said, she changes her mind and agrees to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That seems unlikely. Davis understands her Christian faith and the hierarchy of law better than the judge.
It was bound to come to this ever since five activist judges on the U.S. Supreme Court discovered in June a right to same-sex marriage buried deep between the lines in the Constitution.
Roger Severino, the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, wrote that it did not have to come down to this. He wrote that compromises are available, such as taking her name off the licenses or by enacting some other kind of opt-out system that would allow the license to be issued while respecting the religious beliefs of Davis. He says “people of good will want a solution that leads to better outcomes than the impasse in Rowan County.”
That’s exactly the problem: Those who filed the lawsuit in federal—not state—court and who asked for substantial financial fines are not people of good will. They were looking for a showdown, no less than the homosexual activists who walked into Jack Phillips’ cake shop in Denver or the lesbians who shut down the Oregon bakers or many other similar cases.
Their aim is to put every Christian in America on notice that their newly discovered right to marry trumps religious conviction.
The media have sought to turn this into a personality issue. Davis is invariably shown in her booking photo, and Bunning is depicted as a hero for enforcing “the law of the land” despite, according to the Washington Post, being a “devout Catholic.”
If that’s true, the judge has just revealed that he knows little about his Catholic faith. In his ruling, he said, “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed.”
Issue the judge a red nose and floppy shoes to go along with his black robe. What a ridiculous thing to say!
The idea of the supremacy of natural law goes back at least 800 years to the Catholic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas. It is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: The Congress asserted our right to independence based on “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Government exists to secure our natural rights. The first right in First Amendment in our Bill of Rights is freedom of religion and “the free exercise thereof.”
Since the whole idea of our system of government is built on natural law, there can be no question that it supersedes Bunning’s court’s authority. God rules, not the Supreme Court.
Further, if Bunning appeals to same-sex marriage as the law of the land, what law precisely does he appeal to? To a law passed by the Kentucky legislature legalizing same-sex unions? No. To a law passed by the U.S. Congress? No. In fact, the only law passed by Congress is the Defense of Marriage Act, which specifically states that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Instead, he appeals to the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is no law-making body at all.
The Supreme Court has overstepped its bounds—a fact mentioned in the dissenting opinions. Their ruling is no law at all. No law, no duty to obey. On the contrary, there is a positive Christian duty to disobey unjust law, to engage in civil disobedience.
“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Even if it were law, Davis would have no duty to obey it because, as noted above, natural law does take precedence over man-made law. This is a principle also well established in Catholic theology, as Bunning, being the devout Catholic he is, ought to know.
Kim Davis is a Christian hero and Bunning is going to make her a martyr as well. At a time when Syrian and Iraqi Christians are dying for their faith, too many Christians in America don’t even understand what their faith means or what it requires them to do.
Davis said, “I have weighed the cost … But it is through God and His grace and strength that I stand, that I can have a smile on my face.”
We Christians need to stand with her. Bunning needs to go back to Sunday School.