Kentucky Clerk vs. Apostle Paul

Page from First Corinthians

Morehead, Kentucky is the scene of a fuss involving a court clerk who is defying a federal judge’s order.

In short, the clerk is refusing to do her job properly because she judging members of the public according to her particular religious beliefs. The clerk’s supporters agree with the way that she is judging others.

From the Washington Post:

A raucous scene unfolded at the county courthouse here Tuesday as a clerk defied a judge’s order to start issuing marriage licenses, citing her religious objections to same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning has set a hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday to determine whether to hold Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt, a charge that could carry with it a fine or jail time.

Davis’s decision came on a day of heated protests here. Dozens of supporters — and critics — of the county’s elected clerk gathered outside the courthouse, and at times inside the lobby, as gay couples tried, unsuccessfully, to get marriage licenses.

After one couple was rebuffed, Davis emerged from a back office to explain that she would not be issuing any licenses.

“Under whose authority?” someone demanded.

“Under God’s authority,” Davis said.

Amid competing chants of “Do your job!” and “Praise the Lord!” Davis then asked the rejected applicants to leave the courthouse.

Apparently, the clerk and her supporters have overlooked one of the teachings of the Apostle Paul.

In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 the Apostle Paul states, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.

In his commentary about Paul’s statement, William Barclay writes, “It is Paul’s principle that we are not to judge those outside the Church. “Those outside” was a Jewish phrase used to describe people outside the Chosen People. We must leave their judgment to God who alone knows the hearts of men.”

The idea that Christians are not to judge non-Christians isn’t an idea that every member of the Christian community accepts. All too often, Christian adults in the USA will get on their soap boxes and lecture non-Christian adults on how to live their lives. The ones doing such lecturing may feel pleased with themselves, but all that the lecturing does is to cause the non-Christian adults to put up their defenses.

Christians who engage in such lecturing fail to grasp one of the realities of life: It is foolish to expect spiritual fruit from one who is spiritually dead. If Christians behave in a way that pleases God, then they do so because the Holy Spirit dwells within them and gives them the ability to behave in a way that pleases God. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians are no more able to live a godly life than non-Christians are able to.

In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Godly living isn’t something that is self-generated. So, one does not make others clean by getting on one’s soap box.

By the way, that court clerk needs to take a cue from 2 Kings 5:15-19.

Then he [Naaman] returned to [Elisha] the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” He [Elisha] said to him, “Go in peace.”

Naaman was a public employee whose job required him to do something that conflicted with his faith in the God of Israel. The prophet Elisha assured Naaman that God would not punish him for doing what his job required.

Quote Sources:

William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, The Daily Study Bible Series (The Westminster Press: 1975), p. 48.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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