We want a pagan society to respect our sentimental religiosity, and that is not going to happen any time soon.
The point here is not just private conscience. The right to liberty of conscience is at play with florists, bakers, and so on. But Kim Davis is not just keeping herself from sinning, she is preventing Rowan County from sinning. That is part of her job.
Every Christian elected official should be determining, within the scope of their duties, which lines they will not allow the state to cross. When they come to that line, they should refuse to cross it because “this is against the law of God.” They should do this as part of their official responsibilities. This is part of their job. It is one of the things they swear to do when they take office.
This is nothing less than Calvin’s doctrine of the lesser magistrates (Institutes 4.20.22-32), which I would urge upon all and sundry as relevant reading material. And as Calvin points out, after Daniel — a Babylonian official — disobeyed the king’s impious edict, he denied that he had wronged the king in any way (Dan. 6:22-23).
Now this takes me to my citation of Jefferson above. Some might say that it is a shame that I, a staunch Calvinist, have taken to quoting a Deist on the relationship of righteousness to government. And I say that it is a shame that a 18th century Deist has a better grasp of the relationship of righteousness to government than do two and a half busloads of 21st century Reformed seminary professors. The striking inconsistency might have two possible causes, in other words.
If just ten governors treated Obergefell the same way Kim Davis is treating it, that entire unrighteous and despotic imposition would collapse and fall to the ground. And if they did so, they would not be sinning against the United States. Rather, they would be preventing the United States from sinning.
The end game here is not armed revolution. The end game is simply a refusal to cooperate with their revolution. Make them fire or impeach faithful officials. Once removed, such faithful officials should run for office again with a promise to continue to defy all forms of unrighteous despotism. As one friend of mine put it, “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”
Some might ask what the good in that would be. Wouldn’t it just result in no Christians in such positions? Perhaps, but it would be far better to have godless results enforced by the godless than to insist that the godly do it for them. It would be far better to have the “no Christians in power results” when it was actually the case that no Christians were in power. I would rather have non-Christian clerks acting like non-Christian clerks than to have Christian clerks do it for them. I mean, right?
Don’t tell believers to stay engaged so that they can make a difference, and then, when they start making a difference, tell them that this is not a hill to die on. Make the bad guys reveal themselves. Make them crack down on evangelical county clerks, while continuing to wink at sanctuary cities and local defiance of federal pot laws. Why do they apply their “It’s the law! Bow down!” standard so inconsistently? Well, mostly it is because evangelicals are sweet and naive enough to let them get away with it.
So it is ironic that this valiant stand is being taken by a clerk, because those sidling away from her provide a standing example of our real problem — the trahison des clercs.
More background here.