Unless you live in a cave, you’ve heard of what is going on in Tennessee with Kim Davis being jailed for not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The woman has gone from living in obscurity, like most of us, to living in the light of worldwide news coverage.
As a pastor and being active on social media, I sense a divide growing among Christians over the issue of what to do when our nation’s laws contradict our beliefs.
The three basic opinions I hear from Christians about the Davis case are: 1) she’s doing the right thing, 2) if her duties contradicted with her beliefs she should of quit her job, and 3) Christians should obey the law, and she should issue the marriage licenses.
As a side note, everyone I’ve talked to with opinion number three has also told me a minister should not be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple if it is against his beliefs. It appears lines are being drawn in the sand, and there are differences of opinions on where the lines should be.
The Bible does tell us to obey the laws of the land.
Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
Titus 3:1, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.”
1 Peter 2:13-14, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
However, there are instances in the scripture where God has His people disobey the laws of the land.
Acts chapter four tells the story of John and Peter being locked up for preaching the gospel. There was no violence or protest of any kind, in fact, five thousand people believed their message. Nevertheless, the two men are arrested. The powers that be decide to release Peter and John giving them the order “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18).
Peter and John now have their parole orders – you will not be in trouble as long as you don’t talk about Jesus. Their response is simple enough, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
The book of Daniel contains two instances of God’s people going against the laws of the land. King Nebuchadnezzar builds a statue and declares a law that when the music plays everyone is to bow down and worship the image. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego refuse to do so. Nebuchadnezzar gives them a second opportunity, a time to recant and do what’s right. When the three men refuse; they suffer the punishment of being thrown into a furnace burning with fire. God miraculously saves them out of the fire (Daniel 3).
Daniel himself is thrown into a den of lions after King Darius outlaws prayer and Daniel is caught praying. God also delivers Daniel through his night with the lions (Daniel 6). It is also interesting to note, just like Kim Davis, Daniel and our three men from chapter three are all government officials (Daniel 3:12; 6:1-2).
One last example – Jesus Christ. Christ went into the temple, witnessed the money changers buying and selling, took the time to make a whip and drove them all from the temple. He overturned the tables sending flying all over the place (John 2:13-17). The Bible doesn’t mention specifically any laws that were broken, but it would be hard to imagine the Romans would not have some law about a public display of violence such as this.
Lastly, King Solomon, in all his wisdom, tells us to obey the laws of the land while regarding our promise to obey God. Ecclesiastes 8:2 – “I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.”
So, what is a Christian to do? Where do we draw the line? Do we quit our job? Do we do our duty if it goes against our beliefs? Do we take a stand refusing to take part in what we believe is a sin, as Mrs. Davis did?
These are questions every Christian will need to answer sooner or later. We need to answer them in the light of God’s Word and not by pure emotion.
One last thought, the vast majority of Christians in our nation are patriotic, flag-waving Americans. Our founding fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Adams and all the rest were guilty of the crime of treason against the crown. When, where, how, and under what circumstances do Christians do as Daniel, Washington, John, Peter and Jefferson? The situation with Mrs. Davis may be the opening chapter of a time of difficult decisions for Christians and the nation as a whole.
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.