Klavan On The Culture

Mrs. Davis Goes to the Lions

To me, gay marriage is the global warming of the right. Right wingers, speaking generally, have a visceral suspicion of social innovation and so will mentally connect the dots from any social change to disaster. In the same way, leftists have a visceral dislike of freedom, progress, wealth creation, and humanity, and so they think oil must necessarily bring on the apocalypse. In both cases, people are confusing their perceptions and principles with the indifferent clockwork of reality.

My own view? Sure, it seems obvious that the relationship between men and women is central to the human experience in a way other relationships are not. Male nature and female nature were made to fit together just like male and female bodies. There is no ancient symbol of yin-yin or yang-yang. But just because something is central does not mean everything off-center is bad or even unlovely. Part of the joy and hilarity of human life is its oddball diversity. If two gay people love one another, I’m glad for their joy. As long as they don’t go around forcing private citizens to violate their consciences or participate in their ceremonies, I don’t see how their getting married affects me one way or the other.

My religion is Christian and biblical (though I don’t take every utterance of, say, Paul to have the same universal or eternal quality as every utterance of Jesus), but, in keeping with my religion, I don’t believe the state has any obligation to follow the Word of God. It is I who am obligated to follow it, even if the state throws me (or my designated surrogate Bill Whittle) to the lions. The state, as the mighty Whittle has pointed out, does not have the power to sanctify anything. It can only allow or disallow. To my mind, if something does no immediate and apparent harm, the state should allow it and, indeed, has no right to forbid it.

However — and it’s a great, big, fat however — there is, of course, no constitutional right to gay marriage. When five Supreme Court justices said there was, the five were lying. Thus they were exercising not their authority, but their power. As with Roe v. Wade, the court was not granting us a right, it was stripping us of our constitutional right to make up our own minds in our own states and localities. And while their lies don’t change the truth, they do change the law. That, after all, is the very nature of tyranny. 

And that is why, despite my own views on the subject, I find the spectacle of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis going to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays so inspiring. The federal judge, David Bunning, who condemned her is not himself acting tyrannically; he’s doing his job as it is defined by the Supreme Court’s tyranny. Mrs. Davis is in clear violation of that tyrannical law. Her lawyers’ claims that it is “impossible” for her to violate her conscience are absurd. Following your conscience is a choice — otherwise everyone would do it! No, Mrs. Davis is going to the lions. She is performing an act of Christian civil disobedience, and she is willingly paying the price.

Whether you agree with her or not, this is a courageous, epic and epically human thing to do. The spectacle of a lone county clerk standing up to the state is awesome and deeply moving. To me, yes, gay marriage is a non-issue. But in dishonestly declaring gay marriage a constitutional right, the state has overstepped its legal and just authority and this woman’s conscience has been violated by that tyrannical act.  She has put her body on the line to force the federal government into the position of playing out its tyranny for all to see. 

I don’t agree with her, but I salute her. I hope I have half her courage when the federal government’s ever-expanding tyranny at last reaches me.