Thursday, September 03, 2015

Kim Davis

I'm going to venture a few more comments on this post by Arminian theologian Randal Rauser:

i) For starters, Rauser is using divorce as a wedge issue to make space for homosexuality in the church. Although he plays his cards close to his vest, if you've read his posts on this subject, it's clear where his sympathies lie.

ii) Another one of his intellectual confusions is that some people oppose the Supreme Court decision on jurisprudential grounds rather than moral grounds. Some people support homosexual marriage, but criticize the Supreme Court ruling because it has no basis in the text, logic, or history of the Constitution. As such, it represents a judicial usurpation of authority. 

By contrast, even if our divorce laws are too permissive, they were enacted by duly constituted authority. By elected representatives rather than appointed judges. 

iii) Another problem is his false analogy. Homosexual activity is intrinsically wrong; divorce is not. You don't have to question a homosexual "couple" to know that their request is immoral. 

By contrast, sometimes divorce is licit and sometimes not. Moreover, the permissibility of a given divorce can be complicated for an outsider to assess. It may depend on which spouse was the offended party and which was the offending party. Sometimes both were in the wrong. A clerk would have to take the word of the marriage applicant. But, of course, that could be unreliable. The clerk is only getting one side of the story.

The evaluation isn't straightforward, as in the case of homosexuality. 

iv) As I've remarked in the past, even if you think our divorce laws are hypocritical or too permissive, there are limits to what you can do in a democratic republic. If the majority demands something, that may be unstoppable. 

But that doesn't mean that out of consistency, you should not oppose wrongdoing when and where you can. It is fallacious to think that if you can't oppose immorality in every case, you should not oppose immorality in any case–just to be consistent. 

Rauser says:

Oh yeah, and as for that clerk Kim Davis, she’s been married four times. (To be fair, that’s three divorces before she says she became a Christian. But that doesn’t change Jesus’ above-mentioned indictment.)

He fails to explain the significance of that statement. Is he claiming that past misconduct automatically disqualifies a person from rendering a value judgment? But since all of us are guilty of misconduct, of one kind or another, that would be a recipe for moral relativism.

Or does he mean her current marriage is adulterous? Is he suggesting that if a marriage originated in adultery, it remains adulterous? Is he saying Davis should dissolve her current marriage?

He needs to explicate and defend his interpretation of Mt 19. 

He also says: 

This brings me to an issue I’ve raised at several points in the past. So long as Christians apply to others different standards from those which they apply to themselves and their immediate belief community, they will not have a credible moral voice in the public square.

i) That's hopelessly vague. How many contemporary Christians are responsible for our current divorce laws? 

ii) He operates with collective guilt, as if a Christian who was never divorced is somehow culpable for professing Christians who are divorced. 

iii) Many unbelievers take the position that, by definition, Christians have no credible moral voice. Their religion automatically disqualifies them from having a credible moral voice. So the real objection isn't about perceived hypocrisy. 

iv) Unbelievers need to be educated in what Christian standards are. Many ignorant unbelievers impute hypocrisy to Christians because they are biblically illiterate. Not surprisingly, many unbelievers have no knowledge of Christian ethics. 

Unfortunately, Rauser, rather than correcting their ignorance, reinforces their ignorance. 

Finally, I'm afraid Davis's resistance is futile. That's because the entire political establishment is arranged against her. So she's bound to lose.

Mind you, that circular. If she had more support, if she wasn't having to fight this single-handedly, it would not be a losing battle. 

1 comment:

  1. I think she's trying to honor Christ, and stand for her Biblical convictions, which things are honoring and pleasing to God.

    And she's in jail for that. Think about that and let it sink in.