Apologies in advance for a post that probably will rub people the wrong way, but I’m a bit frustrated by the news lately of the county clerk in Kentucky that is refusing to issue marriage licenses because she disagrees with gay marriage. For those that aren’t aware of the situation, this woman has chosen to make a statement about her faith by refusing to grant marriage licenses to anyone who asks for one as a way to stop gay marriages from happening in her county.
This entire ordeal frustrates me because she’s so blatantly in the wrong from a legal perspective. Her job is to issue legal documents according to the law of the United States and of her local jurisdictions. Because of the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, it now means that marriage licenses can be grated to same sex couples, as they meet the legal test for marriage under the law. That’s the black and white facts of the case and to deny that is to break the law.
Marriage licenses are legal documents, and nothing more. They denote that two individuals have entered into a legal covenant with each other, and therefore have certain legal rights and privileges of that covenant. A marriage license has nothing to do with the religious beliefs about the joining of two individuals in a spiritual bond to one another. The joining of two individuals in unity with God is something that happens in the context of our religious life. A piece of paper that bestows legal rights is a wholly different thing.
It also frustrates me because the actions of this mis-informed and prideful woman bring about scorn on those in the faith, who believe in a Christian faith that does not control society but is a force for good within it. This woman is choosing the path of enforcing a Kingdom of God over society, instead of under it. From a theological perspective she has no ground to stand on. But because she is loud and obnoxious about her ill-conceived campaign, she puts all people of faith in a bad light.
Perhaps it’s time for the Church and State to get a divorce when it comes to marriage. The two sides are never going to agree on marriage in the future, so why are we trying to force one to conform to the other. When my wife and I got married we needed to have a legal ceremony first, because we needed a legal contract in place for some medical concerns. We then held a religious ceremony, later on, that was wonderful and amazing and was in no way diminished by the fact that the legal paperwork had been completed beforehand.
I’m hopeful that the court system will take care of this rogue “Christian” soon, and bring some sanity to an ugly situation.