Comments on Jailing County Clerks

I do not know enough about the case to comment on whether Kim Davis’ actions were the best possible. Maybe this could have played out differently in a hundred ways. But the nuances of her judgments have now been made irrelevant.

A person in the United States of America has been sent to prison for asserting that her duties as a county employee (duties which federal edict has recently changed on her) run counter to her understanding of her state’s law, the will of her electors, and God’s law.

A person in the U.S. is now in jail for opting not to participate  in new federal law which she reads as illegitimate and immoral. There is nothing new here; many CO’s and civil disobedients have gone before. Unhappy consequences have always accompanied those who have walked that path.  It’s part of the package. But we need to pay attention.

Here is the most important, most obvious and most ignored aspect of this incident. An unknown county clerk from a location of small note has been piled on, vilified, and ruined. It has been done heavy-handedly, ruthlessly, relentlessly, callously…and publicly, for literally all the world to see.

Why are we hearing about her at all, in a news landscape which includes a presidential front-runner who everyone agrees has violated the law and compromised national security but who is still campaigning without consequence; several major cities declaring themselves “sanctuary cities”, where, in violation of federal law, illegal aliens receive protection  from their crimes, no matter how heinous and numerous, and our White House administration applauds?

Where a president defies or applies laws of the land according to his own preference, rather than in obedience to legitimate legal process, and no one orders him to prison. It so happens his preferences are the most popular ones among the cool set.

Why is this unknown private citizen made an object of tar and feather but to be made an example? Do we ask who arranges such a spectacle, or why?

Our society is in a bad place. Lowly county clerks are savaged publicly and sent to prison for small acts of civil disobedience. There is insatiable appetite for the destruction of strangers just like you and me. And we accomplish it all from our easy chairs or our smartphones, secure in our anonymity and our blamelessness.

We Christians like to think we are no respecters of persons, but I think we prefer to support a fellow believer only when he or she presents with a more acceptable public profile. Sorry, the unfortunates who are going to be selected for public shaming in our new society won’t be the pretty ones. That’s how our haters roll.

Even if she was a foolish misguided person, tilting at windmills and dying on the wrong hills, does her crime deserve such utter condemnation?

Some of the most common comments from those celebrating, and also from many who are spiritual kin:

“She coulda just quit her job.”

And maybe Rosa Parks shoulda just stopped riding buses and remembered her place. Maybe Ghandi shoulda just left India and let the British continue their governance. Maybe Martin Luther King shoulda just moved up north and kept his nose out of the southern states’ business. Maybe colored people should have just eaten their lunches at their own restaurants. Maybe Lincoln should have adopted a policy of live and let live toward the slave-holding states.

There are at least two problems with the advice to sidestep the issue and find a new line of work.

Sidestepping the issue is not the way of civil disobedience. Sidestepping leaves the hard work for someone else.  Sidestepping is accommodation. Civil disobedience is carried out by people of conviction because they are confronted with a wrong which they cannot ignore until they do their best to set right in a just manner. At personal cost. Some like Ms. Davis simply refuse to participate. We used to applaud and honor those who allowed suffering into their lives in order to bring about a more just society.

And we should all just find new careers each time we run counter to the state? Get used to job-hopping.

“…what she actually did is defy the Word of God by breaking both the law of the land and the rules of the workplace.” And more declarations which put obeying our employers on equal footing with obeying Scripture. Please explain?  Are workplace rules absolute and eternal?

“I agree with her position but if she couldn’t perform her job, she should have resigned.”

So do we agree then that all government positions, all civil servant jobs should be held by people who have self-declared that they will obey no higher authority than the state? That persons who might find themselves charged with performing any duty which might violate their consciences should stay out of civil employment?

That we prefer people who do not have issues with those pesky consciences to fill all our government and civil positions?

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9 thoughts on “Comments on Jailing County Clerks

  1. Wally Fry

    Thanks for this Madelyn. You really hit it, and it was what your husband was trying to say I think. It just got buried up in all of the words. I agree, I don’t know what to think of all of the nuances of this; frankly I’m just not that smart to sort it all out. I honestly was on the “just resign” camp at one point. But, that’s not really relevant, is it? You said it, many Christians are giving her grief for “making Christians look bad” and a bunch of garbage like that. Even in her flawed state, she is our Sister, and we should do what families do, and that is rally and support.

    Not only is she s Sister, but by reports she is a fairly new Sister. This is how we do a new believer? As soon as they do something that embarrasses us, we turn our backs? Or, in come cases, turn ON her.

    I personally am over joyed and thankful beyond belief that the level of my messed upness(if that is a word LOL) was not a qualifier for becoming a follower of Jesus. It’s not, and why do we sometimes persist in acting like it is? That’s sure going to help a lot of people along the path to faith, us making the world think that if you aren’t good enough, you don’t have a place here with us.

    Hmm..Ok…ranted a bit there, but this has been on my mind since that post and it just seemed to not fit in all the rabbit trails over there. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. madblog Post author

      Thank you for your very kind words Wally. It always made me cringe to hear believers actually ridicule other believers when they were embarrassed by some aspect of their public presentation–like the Duggars exclusively for having a lot of children (before the revelations came out). I don’t know if she was all right but it really doesn’t matter now. If she had been, she would be in the same place, not for declaring some kooky private theory but God’s Truth.

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  2. insanitybytes22

    This was really well said. I also liked the comment, “The issue is tyranny. Americans are supposed to hate tyranny.”

    Just to elaborate on this part a bit, “Sorry, the unfortunates who are going to be selected for public shaming in our new society won’t be the pretty ones,” it’s not that those targeted aren’t pretty, it’s that the politics of personal destruction are designed to render even the most saintly, “not pretty.” Things will always be taken out of context, misinterpreted, and used against you. For Americans to sit back and wait for the perfect person to be targeted before they step forward is a fool’s errand, because the entire purpose of the targeting is to disqualify and discredit them so they won’t have any support.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. madblog Post author

      I agree, no one will look pretty in the popular culture’s eye. I wasn’t trying to say that she wasn’t “pretty” but I was trying to suggest just what you’ve said…that we tend to swallow an awful lot that’s served to us by the media spin and draw back from fellows we should support.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. lang3063

    Our capacity for self-governance depends entirely on our commitment to follow where our God given conscience leads. The Founders were emphatic on this point. Once we convince ourselves that the actual right thing to do is obey the government because they are the government we are finished as a free people. If we must do whatever the government says then the government can make us do ANYTHING! Is that what my conservative/Christian “she has to obey the law” friends really want?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. madblog Post author

      I feel like saying to people: The freedom and responsibility to assert our conscience’s convictions (informed by an objective standard which has been proven) is what our nation is built upon. To declare that she was wrong plain and simple because she defied a court order or disobeyed a law is to forget the important acts of civil disobedience which changed worlds for the better.

      Liked by 1 person

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