[Note: this is an updated version of something that I wrote a few months back before I had a blog. It is much more political than I tend to be in general; I publish this to communicate spiritual truths and not to alienate those with whom I would disagree on political matters. It also may not be as timely as it used to be, but I think it still holds up.]
The government has issued an order that, while it is not far removed from the social conventions of the day, signals a dramatic change in public policy. The government insists that this new ruling will not intrude on people’s privately-held beliefs; all that is required is compliance. However, there is someone who refuses to comply on religious grounds, and that someone happens to work for the government. The government offers the officer two options: submit to the ruling, or suffer the consequences. The officer instead chooses a third option: stand firm.
Of course, I’m talking about Kim Davis, the controversial county clerk from Kentucky who, because of her conscientious objection to same-sex marriage, refused to issue marriage licenses and consequently was given jail time. (And, in truth, much has already been written regarding whether Ms. Davis’ actions were a violation of the so-called “separation of church and state” or whether the First Amendment was drafted specifically for such occasions.)
To be certain, these cases are not identical. Ms. Davis did halt issuing marriage licenses, but also requested an adjustment be made to the form itself so that her signature would not be required; Daniel and his friends requested no such religious accommodation. Ms. Davis was imprisoned for what turned out to be five days; Daniel and his friends were sentenced to death. As a result of Ms. Davis’ actions, the law of the state of Kentucky has been amended, though the ruling of the Supreme Court still stands; for Daniel and his friends, after seeing God deliver his people from certain death, both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius turned to God (however temporarily) and rescinded their previous orders.
But in all three cases, the act of defiance was borne not out of animosity toward anyone, but out of devotion to a higher authority. For these believers, to obey the government would be tantamount to disobeying the King of Kings.
In his ruling on Ms. Davis’ case, Judge Bunning said, “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed” (cited here). In the case of Shadrach et al, Nebuchadnezzar said something similar (Daniel 3:15 NET): “Now, who is that god who can rescue you from my power?” It is hubris, plain and simple, that would elevate the dictates of the state over the commands of the Creator. Conversely, it is humility in its purest form that allows the believer to look the ruler du jour in the eye and say, “I must not bow.”
Fellow Christians, we have already surrendered to Christ, so it would be improper—rather, impossible—to surrender to anyone or anything else.
Let us with one voice proclaim the name of Jesus as Savior, Lord, King.
Let us understand the case of Kim Davis as prototypical—she is merely the first of many who will suffer similarly due to the Supreme Court’s ruling, barring political action on our part (which is of limited usefulness) and divine intervention on God’s.
Let us pray for our American brothers and sisters in the days ahead, when the faith of many will be tested by the trials of the prevailing culture, primarily in the temptation to capitulate.
Let us pray even more for our brothers and sisters around the world who are currently suffering far worse for remaining faithful to Jesus.
Let us love our unbelieving neighbors enough to oppose that which would ultimately cause harm to themselves, no matter how vocal their support.
Let us remember the cases of Daniel and his friends as exemplary—we must demonstrate allegiance to the one true God, though it cost us our lives.
Let us truly believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ, not just inwardly with all our hearts, but also outwardly in all our vocations, saying with Peter and the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
And let us look forward to the day when the stone of Daniel 2 becomes an immovable mountain that fills the whole earth, and the Son of Man of Daniel 7 takes his rightful place on the throne as King of All.