Religious Freedom Part 2: The Case of Same-Sex Marriage

Recently there was in independent Apostolic
woman, Kim Davis, who is a county clerk in Kentucky. As part of her job description,
she is supposed to issue marriage licenses. After the US Supreme Court decided that same-sex
marriage must be promoted throughout the United States, she refused to issue marriage licenses
for anybody. So she was sued by same-sex couples who wanted to force her to give them marriage
licenses. She said she would not because her name was on the license and she could not,
in good conscience, endorse same-sex marriage, and she did not feel like the Supreme Court
decision was correct, and therefore, it was not the law of the land. The judge threw her
in jail for contempt of court. Now, eventually she was released on the ground that her deputies
were issuing these marriage licenses. Now here’s a good case where someone has conscientious
conviction. I’m not going to get into all the details of the law here, because I want
to use this as an illustration, because there could be many other similar situations. People
in governmental offices, they have to deal, say, with zoning or licenses for certain businesses,
night clubs or bars or things that would be contrary to the practice of our faith. How
does a government official who is Apostolic Pentecostal relate to these types of situations?
Or what about someone who is working for a private employer who provides services to
businesses or to events that we would not approve of? Perhaps, a same-sex marriage ceremony
or perhaps the delivery of alcoholic beverages, or we could think of many other examples.
Or what about a Christian business that is asked to provide these services? And I would
say that in these situations we have to support religious freedom; we have to support the
conscience of the individual; and we have to grant Christian liberty for fellow Christians
to make various choices and responses. There may not be just one right response. One Christian
might say, “Well, I can’t participate at all.” Another Christian might say, “I cannot endorse
a certain practice or event or business, but I will do my legal duty to decide whether
this meets the requirements of the law or whether this is legal versus illegal, and
I will simply fulfill my responsibility, but I will not endorse this particular practice
or this particular event.” A Christian might say, “Well, I can participate to some extent,
but not to another extent,” or “I’m asking a coworker or a deputy to do something because
I cannot do it.” A business might say, “Well, we’ll provide some type of services as long
as we’re not seen as endorsing the practice.” Another business might say, “We don’t feel
that we can endorse, we can participate at all.” Now, one thing that’s important to note
is, under US law, everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally. So we should not
discriminate on the basis of someone’s identity or even their lifestyle. We live in a secular
pluralistic society, so we can’t pick and choose and say, “Well, because this person
is living in this type of sin, you know, we can’t provide service to them.” So it would
be very important that we’re not discriminating on whether somebody is homosexual or heterosexual,
whether they’re living in fornication or whether they have a valid marriage. Or maybe they’re
divorced and remarried, but it was contrary to God’s plan, so even though they’re married,
in a religious sense, we would say they’re living in adultery. So we can’t discriminate
based on people’s lifestyle, or their self-proclaimed identity. However, I do believe that we can
say, “I don’t want to endorse a certain event or a certain practice.” Again, I’m speaking
of governmental employees, private business owners, private business employees. As a church,
we always know what we should and should not do. But as individuals sometimes we have to
decide how to fulfill our job responsibilities, and what our response should be in individual
situations. So, for instance, someone who is self-identified as homosexual, they come
to purchase something or to receive some service, I think we’re obligated to treat them just
like everyone else, because they do have human rights, they do have civil rights, they deserve
to be treated fairly, just as we would wish to be treated. We would not wish to be discriminated
against because of our religious beliefs or our religious practices or our lifestyle.
And I do believe the Golden Rule applies, Matthew 7:12, that we should treat other people
as we ourselves wish to be treated. And the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution
does say that everyone has the right to equal protection under the law. However, when it
comes to sponsoring or promoting or endorsing a particular event, then I do believe we could
say, “I’m not discriminating against the individual, but I do not choose to be part of this event.”
So to summarize, I’ve tried to give some general principles rather than address a specific
issue. But we must support our fellow Christians when they make these choices, and we must
challenge the government that if there is a legitimate government interest in treating
people fairly, which there is, still, the government needs to choose the least restrictive
alternative. So in the case of Kim Davis, I think it was absolutely wrong for the judge
to throw her in jail for contempt of court. There should have been a discussion about,
how can we accommodate the sincerely held religious belief and conviction. And, it seems
that they have, in fact, done so by allowing deputies to issue the marriage licenses instead
of the county clerk. Now, she further insisted that her name be removed from the license.
I’m not sure if that has been done but I would see that also would be a reasonable accommodation.
But there may be another situation. You could take an example about, well, should we provide
a marriage license to someone who’s been divorced and remarried when that divorce was not according
to God’s Word? So therefore, we would not regard the marriage as legitimate in God’s
eyes, or at least, it may be legitimate in a secular sense, but it’s a sinful marriage.
It’s an adulterous marriage. Should we withhold a license in that case? So at some point most
of us would probably say, “Well, we just follow the requirements of the law. We don’t judge
the individual’s relationship with God.” So there could be a range of responses in these
kind of situations. We shouldn’t, as a church, just insist on one response, and consider
everyone else to be compromising if they don’t choose the same response. Obviously, and this
is what Romans 14 says, obviously we must stand against sin and for righteousness. We
must always stand for the teaching of the Word of God. But in these morally neutral
areas, I’m not talking about sin, but I’m talking about, as a Christian, how we should
respond, if we’re not promoting sin, or we’re not choosing sin, then we have Christian liberty
as to how we’re going to respond in these situations. We’ve got to respect one another,
and we have to respect the advice of local pastors. So as General Superintendent of the
UPCI, my goal is not to issue a directive of, in this situation, an individual believer
must respond in such and such a way. Because that could override that individual’s Christian
liberty. It could also interfere with their pastor’s advice to them in their circumstances,
in their community. And I can’t presume to know what it best in each situation. However,
when the government seems to be violating religious freedom, even when there is a governmental
interest or law at stake, if the government seems to be choosing a harsh response, as
opposed to the least restrictive response, then we as a church should stand up and say,
“Wait a minute. We’re going to protect religious freedom.” Because, if we allow a compromise
of religious freedom in one situation, then the next situation will come. And sooner or
later all of us will be in jeopardy. So in summary, we must support religious freedom.
We must avail ourselves of all the means that we have in our society, politically and socially,
to exert our influence. But I would also say, in the end, we trust the Lord. Our ultimate
hope is not in the political process or the judicial process. But our hope is in the Lord.
Prayer is always important. And proclaiming God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit
is what’s going to transform our lives and our communities.

Michael Martin

27 Responses

  1. Many years ago, Thomas Jefferson was asked if parents should have the final say if they do not wish to send their kids to public school for an education (to the detriment of their child, no less), he replied… "Yes, because it is a lesser evil." Or something along this line. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

  2. Kim Davis gave the judge no other option but to send her to jail…she admitted to the court she broke the law and would continue to do so, if released….if you want others to follow the tenants of your particular God or religion, you need to fill up your empty pews..

  3. what muslims have to say is the devils work crew keeping our minds out of focus of the one true God Jesus Christ

  4. While you're wrong in regards to the Trinity (as a Pentecostal from an orthodox Jewish background, who is a Trinitarian Pentecostal pastor), you make great points and I am in agreement with you.

  5. If Kim Davis can't do her job, then she should resign, period. , Kim gave the judge no other option but to send her to jail… she admitted to the court she broke the law and would continue to do so, if released… Kim should resign from her position if she is unwilling to perform the major part of her job.

  6. Galatians 3&28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither ((((male nor female))): for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. The United Pentecostal Church International is a PICK AND CHOOSE CHURCH

  7. anything that contradicts the Word of God is wrong regardless what everybody that's not a Christian is saying

  8. I believe that private businesses should be allowed to decide who they wish to conduct business with based on what ever reason they choose.

  9. Thank you, Brother Bernard!! As usual, you are fair, gentle, understanding, compassionate, and level-headed.  We are so blessed to have you as our leader!!

  10. Secular Law has far exceeded the faux morality of the Bronze Age biblical nonsense. We are already better human beings. Sin is an imaginary disease, invented to sell you an imaginary cure. If you cannot/will not do your job in a PUBLIC POSITION, you cannot hold said position. Serving the Public, is ALL of the public..or you're NOT serving the public.

  11. There is such a thing as reasonable discrimination. A blind person cannot become a pilot, eg. If you are, due to your religion, unwilling to carry out a normal function of the job you hold you should resign and find an occupation that do not violate your preferences.

    The government did not pressgang Kim Davis into her job. They did not grab her from the street and forced her to issue marriage licenses. She sought the position and swore an oath to uphold the constitution. The Supreme Court is the final authority on the meaning and intent of the constitution. By refusing to carry out the legal order of the court Ms Davis violated her oath. The only honourable course of action open to her was to resign. She chose to put her principles above the law which sounds heroic until you think about it. If everybody did this there would be chaos and bloodshed. If you're a Christian stay out of the professions and businesses where you might have to do something that might contradict the parts of the the Bible you choose to abide by.

  12. wake up if they want to create laws to freely do their own things. .. we Christians should also have the right to not agree with them just like they don't agree with us. …. why we don't sue them for not believe like we Christians do?????

  13. Hello, would any apostolic be prepared to discuss the proposition: "There was a time when the Son of God was not?" Or "Is the Son of God eternal or created?" We don't need to meet or skype (I don't have the internet at home I use libraries), we just agree a title and then post alternate 12 or 10 maximum length videos, posted sequentially into our channels and also into a common playlist. At the end of the discussion, all videos are edited into a single video, which will closely resemble a real face to face debate. My name is Robert, I'm in my late 50s, I have good degree in divinity, and I am a former Apostolic, now a Trinitarian myself.

  14. Kim Davis has been married 4 times and divorced 3 times. She clearly does not have a very high regard for marriage it seems to me.

  15. The better question perhaps is this, when Christ returns, will there still be such "civil rights"? Or more interesting still, will there be a return to the death penalty prescribed in Scripture for the crime of sodomy… just things to think about when dealing with non believers from one scenario to the next. If a homosexual walks in to your restaurant and orders a BLT, sell him a BLT. But if a homosexual walks into the church, he needs to hear about the fires of hell that await him.

  16. Kim Davis, the 3 times divorced, 4 times married person, has had her marriage license issued 4 TIMES! Apostolic/Pentecostal beliefe is that she is not married in a "biblical standard", but yer, there she is, having been married 4 times, but then refuses to issue a marriage license even when the law says it's legal. It's all a bunch of HYPOCRICY.

  17. mar·riage

    the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman).

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