Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The duty of lesser magistrates

1.       Kim Davis is not violating but rather upholding Romans 13:1, which says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities."  The sovereign secular authority in the United States is the Constitution, and in Kentucky it is the state constitution, which is why Davis swore obedience to both when she took her office as county clerk.  It turns out that the Kentucky Constitution defines marriage as exclusively involving a man and a woman.  It also turns out that the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly restricts the federal government from issuing decrees on matters like this.[1]  Davis did not swear an oath to obey the U.S. Supreme Court, who, as pointed out by the four dissenting judges, committed an act of lawlessness in mandating homosexual marriage in the United States.  Davis is right to refuse to obey their usurpation of authority, just as Abraham Lincoln was right to ignore the Dred Scott decision in 1857.   For more details on Kim Davis' upholding of the Constitution, read Harry Reeder's excellent article, with which I wholly agree.

2.       Kim Davis is fulfilling her God-given duty as the lesser magistrate.  It is the calling of lower government officials to protect the people from the tyranny of the higher magistrate, here the federal government.  This biblical principle was used to justify, among other things, the American Revolution against the British sovereign.  It was exemplified when the fugitive David protected the people from the tyranny of wicked King Saul in the book of 1 Samuel.  Lower officials are morally required to oppose evil oppression from above, which is why lower German officials were convicted for not opposing the heinous deeds of the Nazi hierarchy after World War II.  They were rightly held accountable to stand against evil with the power that had been granted to them.  This is precisely what Davis is doing on behalf of the people of Rowan County, who elected her to office and whose views she is upholding.  (For those who object to the use of the Nazi analogy I offer no apology.  Historically speaking, the tactics of the radical Left in America today finds its closest analogy in the intimidation tactics of the Nazi Party as it gathered power in pre-war Germany.  And the intolerance and savagery of the now-empowered Progressives are very much akin to that of the Nazis.) 


  1. As you know, AHA makes much of the duty of lesser magistrates as well, in the context of abortion.

    Given the views expressed in your post above and your understanding of AHA's position on the matter, do you agree with their parallel arguments, or are there germane distinctions?

    1. i) They appeal to the duty of lesser magistrates as an alternative to incremental legislation. I don't.

      ii) They also appeal to moral law as a justification for magistrates to break civil law. In principle, there's nothing wrong with that, but in our system of gov't, that's not where we have to start.

      I don't think a lesser magistrate like Davis was ever breaking the law. She was upholding state law. And the SCOTUS decision isn't statutory law or Constitutional law.

      There are times when SCOTUS has the authority to strike down state laws. But that has to fall under the jurisdiction of SCOTUS. And that ruling must have a basis in the text, logic, intent, and history of the Constitution.

      iii) Their appeal to moral law is confused. They think a magistrate should obey the moral law rather than the civil law. Sometimes that's true. However, a civil magistrate has no greater moral authority than a private citizen. He has no legal authority to issue unlawful orders–orders which exceed his official authority.

      You wouldn't *obey* a magistrate who tells you to break an unjust law. Rather, you would break an unjust law because it's unjust–and not because a civil authority figure tells you to.

      When it comes to the moral law, he has no authority over you. You and he are coequals in that regard. The moral law has authority over both of you.

    2. Very helpful and clear distinctions, thanks!

  2. Given that Kim Davis was doing her job in upholding the Kentucky Constitituion, I wonder if she should press charges for unlawful arrest.

  3. Steve, you bring a brightness to the verse that has bothered me. It is good to be corrected to understand the Word properly.

    Psalm 15:::>

    Psa 15:4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

    What seems to me to be the issue is her outspoken public nature of her faith. Did she swear to her own hurt, swore to uphold the laws of the land, and change not thus suffering the humiliation of getting arrested by the Federal Judge? Giving in and issuing the licenses would not be standing firm on God's Word and suffer His chastisement. And as I learned as well now about Psalm 1 she did not stand with those people requesting a license that the law did not allow for. She did not stand in the way of sinners.

    Seems this now can go several ways. One way is the Kentucky Legislature has been sorely roughed up and now will bend to the will of this minority in their State and pass a law or a series of laws that now make it legal too for same sex people to marry? Another course is for the State Legislature to do nothing and leave the laws of Rowan County and the State of Kentucky intact. And I guess seeing what now seems apparent, the overreach and judicial supremacy of Judge Bunning, the Attorney General of the State of Kentucky or even the local District Attorney of Rowan County could be compelled to sue the Federal Government and particular Judge Bunning for violation of Kim Davis' civil rights?

    1. I think suing them is an interesting idea.