As someone who believes in the traditional definition of Christian marriage, I would just like to remind Christians how our tradition, or at least our Bible, actually defines marriage. It does not define marriage by means of a triangulation between male, female, and a representative government; it defines marriage by means of a triangulation between male, female, and the living God.
I feel sorry for Kim Davis and her tormented conscience. It’s hard to know how to be an American Christian in a country that has for so long con-fused those two categories. In such a grey world it is hard to discern whether one’s conscience echoes the voice that issues from the throne of a King or the much louder voice of a crowd, a crowd that invariably defines itself as white and its opposition as black–with only shades of pretense. Conscience has a funny way of adapting to tribal affiliations, and American politics–more precisely, political rhetoric in America–has a funny way of speaking of everyone as belonging to one of two tribes. Of course, neither of these tribes are able, either historically or ideologically or constitutionally, to trace their steps back to a cross nor demand allegiance to a throne. And that shouldn’t matter in a country that affirms a separation between church and state. The reason it does matter, however, is because we do not live in such a country.
We live in a country that decided it wise to require a government signature on a religious covenant. And the moment we reduced the union ratified and sustained by the living God to a contract ratified by a disinterested representative and sustained by the consensual whims and wills of two supremely entitled individuals was the very moment we fundamentally changed the definition of marriage. From that foundation, the definition of marriage begins its inevitable (and perfectly self-consistent) evolution to whatever else the people of the republic want to make of it–from ’till death do us part’ to no fault divorce to gay marriage (curiously, the more explicitly antichrist concept of no fault divorce has not evoked the same moral outrage among Christians).
The real problem with this whole debacle is not that marriage has to be licensed by the state to be recognized by the state; it’s that marriage has to be licensed by the state to be recognized by the Church.
If I can make an appeal to that great generation of Boomers who truly worked with remarkable fervor to shape a nation that we Millennials so often take for granted:
As it relates to the Church, the ‘good fight’ we have to fight for the Church is not going to be the same as the ‘good fight’ you fought. You fought for representation in a sociopolitical context in which it made perfect sense to do so. But that fight is becoming a more vacuous and wearying effort. The fight for us is not going to be the accurate representation of an American majority but an accurate reflection of the Christian minority. The fight for us is going to be learning how to fight without reference to power, learning how to be a Christian when being a Christian affords no materially measurable benefits, learning how to be a Christian when being a Christian looks increasingly like a cross. And, truly, we need your wisdom and your help. We lack a clarity of conviction and thus too the resolve to stand for much of anything truly–and distinctly–Christian. We need to be convinced there is something distinctly Christian worth standing for. We need to see a Church willing even to compromise its unnuanced, whitewashed tribal commitments (no matter the tribe) for its allegiance to a higher Government that calls all tribes, tongues, and nations to repentance, to grace, to the fellowship of Christ. We need more than anything for you to show us where to stand on earth as it is in heaven, and to call us to fight our fight with the same grit you fought yours–lest we shrivel up for lack of a backbone under the weight of hurt feelings in the namelessness of cynical indifference.