Monday, October 05, 2015

Matt 24 watch, 273: Kim Davis and the colour of law -- another canary choking in the mines

Ms Davis, mug shot (and yes, she is a three-time divorcee . . . she
contrasts her life before and after she repented and turned to God.)
The recent incident in which elected County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky was gaoled by a judge for refusing to associate her name with US Supreme court rulings that attempt to homosexualise marriage raises concerns on what the rule of law is and at what point actions under colour of law become unjust or even tyrannical.

Again, we are now being forced to contemplate matters that one hopes one never has to address.

Lydia McGrew of Extra Thoughts blog, raised sobering concerns on Saturday just past:
 Even people who said that Obergefell was a disastrously wrong decision, even people who oppose homosexual "marriage" (some of them). Now Kim Davis, Kentucky county clerk, has actually acted on the premise that Obergefell was a lawless, made-up, unconstitutional farce, that marriage literally cannot exist between two men or two women, and these people are shocked, shocked to find a person who stands on principle against a court order. Now she has allegedly placed herself against "the rule of law," as though Obergefell had anything whatsoever to do with the rule of law. As though the postmodern, lawless bloviatings of Justice Kennedy were not as far as possible from the rule of law. And then the smug talk: If she won't "do her job" she should resign. Should, mind you. Not just could resign. Not, "resigning would be an option." No, according to these people, she should resign. It's her duty. She must make way for others who will issue licenses to two men to carry out their ersatz unions and give them the name of marriage. 
What is all of this? Is it not clear that Kim Davis is being consistent--legally, morally, and metaphysically? If Obergefell is a lawless farce, then Kentucky's marriage protection amendment is the law, and Kim Davis, unlike the Supreme Court, is actually upholding the rule of law. If homosexual unions are not only immoral but also metaphysically unable to be marriages--yes, even civil marriages--then to refuse to give them the name of marriage, as an official of the state of Kentucky, is simply to refuse to lie about reality. It is faithfully to carry out the duties of a clerk whose job it is to give out real marriage licenses.
 Obviously, we should all be concerned -- nay, alarmed! -- when serious people of conscience find themselves criminalised, gaoled and publicly denigrated under circumstances as have been playing out in Kentucky in the aftermath of a highly dubious US Supreme Court ruling. Indeed, we can see a very direct link to the ongoing campaigns to create the perception that Bible-believing Christians are disqualified from public office in an age that worships at the altar of evolutionary materialist scientism dressed up in a lab coat.

McGrew's point is deeper, however. 

The issue is, what is justice, what is law, what is underlying moral reality. Closely tied, what is conscience, what is scripture, what is freedom of conscience.

So McGrew remarks:

The point is that some things really do have natures, and marriage is one of them. To say that homosexual marriage ("marriage") is now THE LAW OF THE LAND is to assume without argument that civil marriage is so malleable that SCOTUS can just wave its magic wand, abracadabra, and now two men or two women really can be married to one another, and therefore Kim Davis needs to get with the program or move aside for someone else who will. If one disagrees with that metaphysical assessment, one will have a different assessment of Kim Davis. Kim Davis was being told by a judge to lie about the reality of marriage, which wasn't part of the job description she was elected to fulfill. Therefore, she isn't required either to lie about marriage or resign.
Likewise, "Orders are Orders" and "You must do your job, quit or be fired" etc have very sobering limits:
If a doctor refuses to refer someone for an abortion or refuses to administer a lethal injection, he's being a real doctor. Will the people who condemn Kim Davis say the same about doctors in Australia who refuse to be complicit in abortion? Because now being complicit in abortion "is their job"? The medical association of Canada appears poised to require all doctors there to administer lethal injections for suicide or refer to those who will. Will that then become "part of their job"? Whence comes this idea that there is nothing that it means to fill a particular role in society? . . . .
See, here's the thing: In order for society to function--at all, much less well--we need good people doing a good job at good jobs. If all or even most of the important jobs in society, the jobs that keep things running, are deeply corrupted, literally defined in such a way that to fill them you are required to be complicit in grave evil, and if it is literally a duty to quit all such jobs if you refuse to be complicit in grave evil, then society is going to collapse. Slowly or quickly, though the speed seems to be picking up. Do we really want all our doctors to be murderers, our teachers to be corrupters of the youth, and our minor public officials to be liars about the nature of reality? Keep on telling all the good people, all the people with a noble conception of their jobs, that they have a duty either to do evil or to quit and that's exactly what you'll get.
Onwards, lies the issue, what is to happen when government and associated centres of power become increasingly alienated from people of Christian convictions and impose demands under colour of law that impinge on the right to life (e.g. the ongoing abortion holocaust), the foundational institution of society (marriage and family) and demand obedience to the state in defiance of core heart-stamped, Scripture backed morality. 

Where, in order to simply earn your daily bread, you are confronted with:
Rev 13:16 Also it [the second beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,[e] to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the [first] beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.[f]
666, or its alternate, 616, of course are numerical codes for Nero Caesar, the very type of a man in power demanding what only belongs to God and backing it up with tyrannical brutality and injustice, leading to judicial murder on false accusations. The direct fate of two apostles at Nero's hands.

And, it is no accident that I am writing this just after Christian students in an English class in Umpqua Community College, Oregon, USA were shot through the head one by one on the demand that they tell a crazed, patently demoniacal killer whether they were Christian.  Where, the lack of vigorous response to such an act in very high and influential places speaks loud and telling things to those attuned to the signs of our times.

Yes, I am going to put up that little infographic on warning signs confronting business as usual yet again . . . we need this one burned into our memories as our civilisation continues to insist on going down the broad, crooked road to destruction:

Nor should we forget this little cartoon:

Do we really want to go down that road again in our civilisation?

Frankly, this is looking a lot like Matt 24:
Matt 24:As he [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives [opposite the Temple and Jerusalem], the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 

 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 

For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 

 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [ESV]
Sadly, we seem to be looking at the rise of just this sort of community dynamic.

Going back to McGrew, she has some further thoughts:
At this point, it seems that no reductio [ad absurdum] will do, since homosexual "marriage" is already a reductio. But think: Would it make sense to say that she must resign if she were ordered to call a union between a man and a sheep a marriage and refused? Would it make sense to say that she must resign if she were ordered to call a union between a woman and a tree a marriage and refused? 
What it comes to is that such simple-minded thunderings against Kim Davis are nominalist to their core, and in two ways. First, those who say such things are being nominalists about marriage, and by extension, about everything on which the positive law touches. Apparently, if the Supreme Court (whom they absurdly claim to be capable of making law) or some legislature were to declare that the value of pi is three, then everyone would be obliged, in all legal transactions, to treat the value of pi as three, whatever the consequences . . . . 

society cannot afford radical nominalism in practice. Sure, there are some perfectly legitimate legal fictions. One can even say that in a sense adoption is a legal fiction. Those adopting are declared to be the child's parents when they have no biological connection to him. And there are some rules that are arbitrary matters of prudence and even aesthetics. How far back from the street must buildings be constructed in the downtown area? But we cannot run a society if everything, every matter of fact, every truth and falsehood, every matter of nature, is treated as if it is subject to the whims of positive law or court order. Nature will have her revenge. If you declare pi equal to three and act accordingly, you're going to have some funny-shaped train wheels. 
Once we admit that you cannot create reality in all areas by judicial or legislative fiat, the question arises whether marriage, civil marriage, is one of the things that is just a matter of legal fiat. Is it just like the driving or voting age--last year it was one thing, this year it's another? Or is it more like the value of pi? Or like personhood?
This carries us to the heart of the lurking issue, and to the root of the deception, injustice and oppression of people of decent conscience and sound mind that have now been unleashed in our civilisation.

If human beings are not just cosmic scale accidents, if we have real value and rights, that points to there being a source of reality, truth and right in the root of existence, of reality. 

Namely, the inherently good eternal Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and service by doing the good in accord with our evident nature. Which among other things, brings to bear that marriage is a part of the creation order that is evident in our nature, stamped in the complementarity of man and woman in sexual union, procreation and family nurture.

That is, the increasing chaos we see is the direct result of our willful resistance to evident truth.

The sort of resistance to patent truth that would say (I here follow Lincoln) that the tail of a sheep is a leg, so a sheep has five legs. Then, such proceed to cut off one of the legs and wonder why the poor animal can no longer function well.

 By its inherent nature and functional role, a sheep's tail is not and cannot be a leg, so to try to call and treat a tail as though it were a leg -- as though distinct identity tied to core characteristics constitutive of the nature of an entity -- is to commit a breach of reality.

With destructive consequences.

Romans 1 warns:
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”[f]

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 

 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 

32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. [ESV]
This is where our civilisation has reached, in its march of mad folly driven by rebellion against its Creator and inherently good God, the  one who sent us Messiah and hope for salvation through the gospel.

We will have to develop this issue further. END

 PS: In case you have been led to imagine that homosexual behaviour is genetically stamped and innate, thus morally neutral, I suggest a read here.