On the Controversy in Kentucky

The entire Kentucky county clerk controversy continues to confound me. I feel like there must be some bigger part of the story that I am missing or clearly not understanding here, because it doesn’t seem that difficult to me. You believe whatever it is you believe, and based on that belief, you either continue to fulfill the duties required of your position, or you find a different job that you feel won’t compromise your beliefs. Is it really more complicated than that?

Just on a philosophical level, I don’t understand how one can seem to pick and choose what parts of the Bible should be upheld and which are OK to disregard, particularly someone that has their own checkered past filled with acts which the Bible also does not condone. If you interpret the Bible as declaring that same-sex relationships are a sin, why do you not also interpret as such the passages that condemn divorce and remarriage, fornication, eating certain foods, and even working the Sabbath? There are many passages that provide other examples of what one should not do, but you’d be hard pressed to find among us one who has not done one (or many) of these. Which is why I would think the more far-reaching passages one would instead decide to live by are “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” or “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged”  or “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” or “In everything, treat others as you want them to treat you.”

Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’ husband is quoted as saying “They want us to accept their beliefs and their ways but they won’t accept our beliefs and our ways”, but that’s not exactly accurate. No one is insisting that they personally support gay marriage. They are free to believe in whatever it is that that they wish. But you can’t continue to not fulfill the duties of a job whose specific requirements demand that you follow the law of the land, a job for which the people elected you to do, and for which you pledged an oath to obey and uphold. There was no clause in this oath that allowed for you to say “I’ll uphold the law so long as I don’t personally disagree with it.”  There is, however, a “clause” of sorts that the Bible actually provides. The basic takeaway of  “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” is that a legal requirement by itself doesn’t have religious significance. This is basically allowing Kim Davis to perform her duties without worry that she is morally compromising her own values.

But if she is not comfortable with that being the correct interpretation and she still truly believes that it is wrong for her to issue these licenses, then clearly she cannot fulfill the duties her role calls for and therefore should not hold that public office. I still don’t understand her argument (has she provided one?) that she should be able to retain her position but not have to actually do the job. Perhaps this is oversimplifying it, but if I worked as a receptionist at a private doctor’s office that was initially strictly for prenatal care, but then said doctor also started performing certain procedures that I did not support, I couldn’t just outright refuse to make appointments for those women simply because I did not personally agree, could I? Or I suppose I could refuse, but then I also couldn’t expect to be able to keep my job, much less insist that I be able to keep it. If it were truly that morally objectionable to me, I would voluntarily resign on my own anyway. In not doing so, it seems I would be the one forcing my belief on others, rather than the other way around.

Again, maybe there’s some other valid point that I’m missing here. I feel like there has to be, because otherwise this whole issue just doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

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5 thoughts on “On the Controversy in Kentucky

  1. I think the difference I this case is that the position of county clerk in Kentucky is an elected postion. So, technically, she was not hired and her “boss” is the electorate.
    My feeling on this is: If the template for your life is a book filled with borrowed folk tales, compiled over 2000 years ago and was to be orally transmitted to a largely agrarian and illiterate culture, a culture steeped in mysogeny and fear of the “other,” than you are likely going to be a horrible person.

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