Donning My Faith Hat
I wear a lot of different hats in life. I’m a husband, a father, and a son. I work full time as Vice President in charge of production at my father’s small business. I am a friend, a family member, and a neighbor. And thanks to LTP, I’m a blogger these days too.
It’s important for me to remember my roles and responsibilities when I wear each of these hats – and to not get confused in the process. When I am playing with my boys as a father, I am not wearing my “Vice President” hat. When I’m at work, I am not wearing my “son” hat. And when my wife and I are out on a date, I am not wearing my “blogger” hat. Clear boundaries in life are good for mental health – both for me and those with whom I interact.
I’ve got one other hat that I never take off, however: my “faith” hat. I am a Lutheran Christian. LTP isn’t an evangelical website, so I won’t expand at length, but I’m happy to say that my faith in Jesus Christ plays an important role in my life. As a husband, father, son, Vice President, friend, family member, neighbor, or blogger, I am always a Christian. “God” isn’t just something I do on Sundays. I try to let my faith shine through me on a daily basis. Sometimes I even succeed.
My roles and responsibilities as a Christian are challenging, numerous, and important – but equally important is my understanding of how I am empowered to freely practice my faith on a daily basis: America embraces a separation of church and state.
We Americans are each empowered to practice (or not practice) faiths of our choosing thanks to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states (in part) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” America’s founders understood this key tenet of religious liberty: My ability to freely practice my faith hinges on everyone else’s right to freely practice theirs. Therefore, government must be neutral territory when it comes to religion – hence the First Amendment.
You’re Doing It Wrong
Unfortunately, some people in America are dangerously confused about the roles and responsibilities which accompany their faith hat. Like me, these people wear their faith hat all the time – but unlike me, they attempt to mix the implementation of their religious beliefs with the institution of government itself.
Kim Davis, the Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk who refuses to issue state marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is one such person. In a statement made on Liberty Council’s website, Davis explains her position:
…I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word…
Davis may be free from prison, but clearly she is captive to confusion about her roles and responsibilities as a Christian county clerk. She fails to understand that in accordance with the First Amendment, state-issued marriage licenses can have nothing to do with religion; they are legal documents only. Really, a state-issued marriage license is no more religious than a charitable donation listed on your tax return.A state-issued marriage license is no more religious than a charitable donation listed on your tax return. Click To Tweet
From a religious standpoint, Davis also fails to understand that God sanctifies believers’ marriages through religious ceremony, not government-issued certificates of approval. Sorry Kim, but God doesn’t require your input as county clerk either way.
Follow the Rules
In order for society to function properly, the rule of law must reign supreme. Therefore, in accordance to the rule of law, any given person wearing a “county clerk” hat is obligated to issue same-sex marriage licenses following the ruling from the United States Supreme Court. Importantly, we all must recognize that Davis has no personal obligation to wear the county clerk hat. For her to cry religious persecution is absurd: If she is unwilling to meet her obligations as county clerk, she maintains every right to resign from her position and protect her religious conscience. Whatever her choice, the First Amendment protects Davis’ right to practice her own religious beliefs, not supersede the rule of law itself.
Practice What You Preach
I’ve seen a number of my fellow Christians post comments online in recent days about how “God’s laws are higher than man’s laws.” I agree. So quit worrying about a secular government’s definition of marriage. Instead, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Thanks to America’s separation of church and state, it’s never been easier to follow this awesome commandment from Christ. Don’t screw it up, friends.
Do you agree that Kim Davis is confused about her roles and responsibilities as a Christian county clerk? Or do you think she being persecuted for her Christian faith? How might government bureaucrats abuse their powers in absurd ways without rule of law?