Was Kim Davis Wrong Or Right?

Before you register an answer, take the time to read this blog to fully understand the question.

An inspiring and interesting news story has been sweeping the headlines.  Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, had refused to issue marriage licenses from her county office after the Supreme Court ruled allowing same sex marriages.  She was jailed for that refusal.  However, at the time of this writing she has been released.

I said that her story was inspiring because her heartfelt conviction about an issue caused her to land in jail.  She could have avoided jail by simply issuing the marriage licenses.  However, she chose to become civilly disobedient (she didn’t loot, rob, or commit an act of violence).  She knew that her actions might lead to her imprisonment.  I am generally inspired by those with such deeply-held convictions that they would choose civil disobedience and jail rather than acquiesce to the powers with which they disagree.

But, I also said her story was interesting.  Interesting indeed.  Interesting because I believe it raises a question that very few Christians even consider: as a Christian was Kim Davis right or wrong for taking an oath of office?

Kim Davis is an elected government official who, like all officials, took an oath to fulfill the duties of her office.  When she took that oath she probably had no idea that that vow would one day collide with her oath to God.  In all likelihood, she probably never foresaw the day when she would have to decide if issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples would be a violation of her Christian walk.  But then it happened. Her promise to the public seemed to interfere with her promise to God.

In Matt 5:34-36, Jesus told His disciples, “do not swear at all … because you cannot make one hair white or black.”  Clearly, Jesus was warning His followers about oath-taking, knowing that we might enter into a promise in which we cannot fulfill.  Then, we would have to break that oath.  Christians should never break their vows.  God keeps His promises and so we who follow Him should keep ours as well.  I believe it is very important to God that we be seen as people who keep our promises.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, gave a similar warning. He wrote that because we don’t know what tomorrow holds we should say, “if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:13-16).  Christians should never be in the habit of making promises that we can’t keep.  The words we say should reflect our commitment to follow God first.  All other commitments must conform to that one.

Of course, the marriage vow is a promise that we are permitted to take (1 Cor. 9:5).  Because promising to love, honor, and cherish your spouse fits perfectly into God’s plan for our lives.  But, what about other vows?

Here in the United States Christianity is quickly losing its favored position.  Christianity is no longer respected as it once was.  As a result, those who closely follow Jesus are not only being seen as oddballs, but often as outright enemies of the state.  The blanket of security we once felt in this country is quickly unraveling.

As a result of the changing tide, Christians should think more deeply about entering into a position requiring an oath.  What if the oath you take as a government official forces you to do something that you  believe is disobedient to the Gospel?  What if your oath as a policeman one day forces you to round up Christians because of the changing climate of this country?  What if your oath as a solider causes you to fight against the Kingdom of God?  What would you do if your pledge of allegiance to the flag eventually conflicts with your pledge of allegiance to Christ?  By not taking any of these oaths we might never have to break our word.  How important to you is your word?

Which is better: to hold public office in order to influence the world for Christ, but break our promise if it conflicts with our pledge to God?  Or, to never place ourselves in a position where we must break our word? Which is the greater witness for Jesus?

I would really like to know your thoughts.  Using your Facebook login, you can register your comments below.

Was Kim Davis wrong or right for taking an oath of office?



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us.



Leave a Reply