In what will be a surprise to no one, Franklin Graham has come out in strong support of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who is refusing to issue marriage licenses because of her “deeply held beliefs” against same sex marriage. She has fought through every legal avenue, and lost. Now she will likely face contempt of court charges that could lead to some harsh financial penalties or eventually jail time.
Franklin Graham took to Facebook and said the following:
“I’m thankful and proud that Americans are standing up against the evil being forced on us. Our religious rights and freedoms are being trampled on. Clerk of Court Kim Davis in Rowan County, Kentucky, refused to issue marriage licenses for gay couples and defied the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. She said, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience…For me it is a decision of obedience…It’s a matter of religious liberty.” Kim has received death threats from people she doesn’t even know, and she has to appear in court on Thursday over a motion to hold her in contempt. We need more Americans who are willing to take a stand for religious freedoms and biblical values in our communities. If we don’t, we won’t even recognize the America that our children and our grandchildren will be left with. Pray for Kim Davis and for our nation today.”
Of course, this is what Franklin Graham is wrong about today, and I’ll be happy to explain why.
First, evil is not being forced upon Kim Davis. It is her religious belief that same sex marriage is wrong, and she’s entitled to that belief. No one is forcing her to divorce her 4th husband and marry a woman– that would be an obvious violation of her religious liberty. But doing her job as a clerk of the court? This has nothing to do with religious liberty.
Let’s say, for argument sake, that same sex marriage is a sin. Scripture commands us to conform ourselves into the image and likeness of Christ, so Ms. Davis should be focused on conforming herself into her religious convictions. In this particular case, to be true to her religious convictions, she should remain married to her husband and not marry a woman.
That’s religious freedom, and what should be her focus as a Christian.
This particular case however, isn’t about Ms. Davis being free to practice her religion and it isn’t about having the freedom to conform into the image and likeness of Christ. Instead, this is about Ms. Davis’s attempt to force her religious restrictions on the general public and an attempt to conform the secular government into the image and likeness of Christ (or her version thereof).
And this is why she and Franklin are wrong, even if their theology were somehow proven to be right. Nowhere in the New Testament does it tell us we are to take control of government and shape it to look like Jesus. Jesus never advocates taking political power, or using the power of government to build the Kingdom of God. Never.
In fact, we’re actually called to come out from it and be separate– living in and building Jesus’s other-worldly Kingdom as immigrants far away from home.
Ms. Davis has essentially hijacked a portion of the government and is now using that arm of government– not in an attempt to live out her religious convictions– but to force those convictions on other people. If a person from any other religious tradition were to do this, Franklin Graham would be pitching a fit.
What about a Muslim government official who were to deny a building permit for a pig farmer, on the basis of their religious conviction?
What about an Anabaptist who would refuse to issue concealed carry permits since violence is against our beliefs?
What about an Amish city official who would refuse to allow anyone to register a car in his or her county?
Brainstorm a bit, and you can see how crazy this could get. In any other scenario both Franklin and Davis would see such behavior as a violation of rights, not an upholding of them. In each and every circumstance I guarantee these individuals would argue such a person should be removed from their government role.
Every person in America has the freedom to practice their religion. However, we do not have blanket freedom to step into a government role and force that arm of government, no matter how small, to conform to our own religious beliefs.
That’s not what the Bible teaches us to do. We are told to mold ourselves after Jesus– but are never told to hijack the government and force the government to conform to Jesus. Instead, we’re simply to give to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and to be obedient to the authorities as we quietly labor at building the Kingdom of God.
Which means ironically, Ms. Davis is rebelling against the teachings of scripture and example of Jesus, instead of upholding them.
However, Franklin Graham is officially supporting this rebellious, sinful behavior– and that’s what he’s wrong about today.