On Which Hill Then, Should We Die On?

Kim Davis

Kim Davis

Our Republic has been beset by many crises of late. No doubt more await. Perhaps the most pressing one is recent case of Kim Davis, the Registrar of Rowan County, Kentucky.

Mrs Davis has run afoul of the law (so to speak) when she refused to authorize licenses for homosexuals who wished to “marry.” Citing her religious convictions, she refused to do so. The judge (a Bush appointee) ordered her arrested and jailed her for contempt of court.

Now, I know many have taken the side that she was “not obeying the Law of the Land” and thus had no right to refuse these couples from getting marriage licenses. What is particularly troubling to me however is how many in the Conservative movement have capitulated to this false narrative.

We’re not talking about Cuckservatives such as David Brooks and Glenn Beck, who are always on the lookout for being patted on the head by liberal elites, but more authentic Conservatives and/or Christians. The former camp (Brooks, Beck, et al) are OK with gay “marriage” and have been for quite some time. People like this tend to fall into the Libertarian and/or secular camp. If they’re Jewish (like Brooks), all they care about at the end of the day is Israel. As far as I’m concerned, these people fall under the rubric of secularist/liberal, even if they self-identify as Christian, Traditionalist, and/or Conservative.

My criticism instead is directed at those who strongly identify as Christian. If they have any historical sense they should know better. I’m sorry, but this comes too close to “pinching incense to Caesar.”

Indeed, the title for this essay comes directly from a well-known Christian writer who recently asked this very question in the context of Mrs Davis. Rather than answer the question, contumely is needlessly poured upon Davis. The more moderate of Davis’ critics tell us that, as sincere as Davis might be, this is not the hill upon which we should fight. The proper fight we are told is that someday soon, with some more appropriate exemplar, we’ll be able to pitch our flag and fight the good fight.

This is a self-defense mechanism in some ways; it softens the blow of the defeat that just happened. Think of it as a rhetorical Dunkirk. With the right leader we are assured, we can marshall our forces for some future fight. Like the Conservatives who are constantly told that victory is always in the future, once the House or the Senate or the Presidency or a sixty-vote super-majority or whatever happens, then angels will sing and the America will magically transform itself back into the 1950’s Mayfield of Leave it to Beaver fame.

This is all patent nonsense. As for the political sphere, Conservatives are no longer fooled by this gibberish, hence the rise of Trump. We know that the ability to overturn the multiple laws that have given birth to the Leviathan state can’t happen. That’s why everybody’s putting their eggs in the anti-illegal alien basket. A win, even a modest win, say the enforcement of some immigration laws, would be a huge success. If nothing else, the conversation has changed for the better. Even milquetoasts like Scott Walker and John Kasich are getting on the immigration bandwagon. In time, even some Left-wingers in the Democrat Party will join in. It’s not inconceivable –Cesar Chavez did.

Likewise, the case of Kim Davis has tapped into a parallel vein. Christians, Conservatives, and others who truly are beholden to the rule of law (but who are otherwise put off by the particulars of Mrs Davis’ life) might want to rethink their all-to-easy capitulation to the Gaystapo. In short, the hill to die on might very well be this one.

Now, let us get the caveats aside. Mrs Davis is a thrice-divorced woman who bore some of her children out of wedlock. She is also a committed Christian who had a life-altering conversion experience. Her life experiences however are tangential to the present crisis. What is germane is the fact that Davis is an elected official who is accountable to the people who elected her (in overwhelming margins for what it’s worth). More, she was elected by those people to uphold the Law, which in Kentucky is marriage as properly understood. And lest it be forgotten, the people of that State voted over seventy-five percent for the concept of traditional marriage when it was put to a vote.

The Liberal, the Secularist, the Libertarian, and the Cuckservative would now chime and say: “but the Supreme Court ruled for gay ‘marriage,’ it’s now the Law of the Land.”

Only that it’s not. This is the first mistake. The Supreme Court can not make law. It’s not possible. Look it up, it’s in the Constitution. That power belongs to the Congress. Only laws they pass are the laws of the land. All the Supreme Court did was invalidate an existing law, leaving open the possibility for States to enact new laws. Not that it’s likely, but one should keep this in mind when when waxing magisterially about Obergefel.

The second mistake that critics of Davis make is insisting that if her conscience prohibits her from abiding by the new legal regime, she should resign. The problem with that should be apparent to those who didn’t fall asleep during their Civics class back in junior high school. For one thing, in an elective Republic, the magistrates serve at the pleasure of the people. Only the people, either through an election, a recall election or an impeachment process can remove an offending officeholder. That’s one major difference between a Republic and a Monarchy. In the latter case, magistrates serve at the pleasure of the monarch. In a Republic, we wait until the next election.

This leads us to the third consideration: from a prudential standpoint, resignation should never be the first resort for a magistrate whose conscience is offended by a court ruling. Why? Because chaos would ensue. Office-holders are necessary to help the State function as smoothly as possible. Mass resignations could precipitate a constitutional crisis. More to the point, if resolute office-holders are constantly threatened with imprisonment because of their refusal to adhere to controversial rulings, then only venial and inept people will be available for office.

Consider the case of the infamous Dred Scot decision. Hundreds, if not thousands of Justices of the Peace, States’ Attorneys, sheriffs, and others were horrified by this ruling. Yet not one resigned. When it came to enforcing this ruling many refused to do so. This may have been hypocritical on their part but it was the prudent thing to do. The refusal to abide by Scot served as a safety-valve allowing many slaves to escape northwards. As Dickens wrote, sometime, “the law is a ass” and thus it behooves social stability to make end-runs around it, especially if it’s an egregious ruling that has no widespread support.

Fourth (and most amusing), is the new-found respect for many Liberals for the rule of law in general. Where is the same such respect for the rule of law when it comes to the sheriffs of so-called Sanctuary Cities? We are talking about men who are actively disobeying our immigration laws and allowing mayhem to overtake our streets. Please note, we are talking about legally-enacted laws by the people’s representatives, not judicial whims that are no more substantive than greeting-card bromides. In the case of Kim Davis, perhaps two or three homosexual couples were discomfited enough to have to go to another county to get a marriage license. In the case of San Francisco on the other hand, a beautiful young woman named Kate Steinle was shot in the back like a rabid dog by an illegal alien. A man whom we should note had been arrested several times for breaking the laws of this land.

Davis went to jail; the sheriff in San Francisco still has his job. One is a bureaucrat who’s done nothing, the other is a law enforcement official who literally has innocent blood on his hands. Who between them should be in jail?

In light of these facts, I would urge all those Conservatives who stand in awe of the rule of this particular “law,” and who assure us that it is the next hill upon which we should fight, an immediate reconsideration.

That hill is here.

Now, let’s be clear: we’ll probably lose this one too. But we are not called to triumph in every instance but to remain steadfast. Our degraded and degenerate civilization is not long for this world. As a Christian, I would rather be ridiculed in the present rather than mocked in the future long after I’m dead. For make no mistake, the day will come when people in the future will look at our present Gommorrha and wonder what the hell we were thinking.

That the broader culture can’t see this fact is troubling. That some Christians can’t is catastrophic.