Monday, September 14, 2015

Brad Littlejohn on the Kim Davis situation at Reformation 21--not quite the lesser magistrate

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/09/thinking-thrice-before-support.php

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Although Christians, like their Savior, are never supposed to be quarrelsome or needlessly provocative, and should happily turn the other cheek when their own honor is on the line, they should not shy away from confrontation either, if there is an important opportunity to defend the suffering or draw attention to an injustice. In some of the cases above, one can imagine a Christian strategically inviting controversy in order to highlight a too-neglected moral issue, rather than simply quietly resigning from their job and letting the injustice carry on unimpeded. But I think it is safe to say that none of these conscientious objectors should feel required to provoke a confrontation, and the decision to do so must be a prudential one: is injustice likely to be restrained, is Christ likely to be glorified, is anything likely to be gained by my high-profile protest?

In Kim Davis's case, it is somewhat difficult to see how. After all, it is not as if the issue of gay marriage, and the injustice thereof, was somehow not on anyone's radar before this. Nor is it as if conservative Christians had failed to make their position clear. Nor was it as if the battle was undecided, and one strong stand might shift it in our favor. How many people opposed to the Christian view of marriage, do we think, were persuaded by Kim Davis's stand? How many were instead confirmed in their hostility toward Christians "trying to impose their morality on everyone else"?

Some will say that Davis's case was different because she was no mere employee, but a lesser magistrate tasked with restraining the injustice of a tyrannical state. The so-called lesser magistrate argument has long since descended into a farcical parody of itself among the Christian Right, but invocations such as this are surely enough to make the noble author of the Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos roll in his grave. The lesser magistrate is tasked with protecting the people against murderous predations, not going to war over each and every injustice. Moreover, if he is to go to war (for that is, functionally, what the lesser magistrate's resistance is), the just war criteria of "proportionality" and "probability of success" must apply.  It's hard to see them here.
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- See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/09/thinking-thrice-before-support.php#sthash.kFM9htZL.2c3lQFIQ.dpuf

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3 comments:

Mike said...

Sometimes people just have a conscience and take a stand on it. Why do they have to wring their hands about higher cause, culture as a whole issues? Why does Ms Davis owe anything to Mr. Littlejohn or the community at large? She has an opinion, a conscience, and whether she be right or wrong in God's eyes or the larger secular community (which certainly isn't always right) or Christian community ditto), she has a right to act upon it.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

sometimes people DO just have a conscience and take a stand on it but ...

http://www.salon.com/2015/08/10/i_had_an_abortion_at_planned_parenthood_and_im_not_ashamed/


I trust you saw the earlier piece at Reformation 21.

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/09/four-reasons-christians-should.php

one of the variables is which god.
http://oldlife.org/2015/09/move-over-kim-davis-say-hello-to-charee-stanley/

D.G. Hart has raised the question of whether Davis' case would be championed the same way by Christians if she were Muslim. If Davis were a professing Christian but, say, part of community that is modalist in its approach to the Trinity would Davis still get the backing of Christians for standing on conscience?

One of the questions at stake in sympathizing with or objecting to Davis' decision is whether this has been taken up out of consistent principle or from instrumental pragmatism. If Davis declined on the basis of a Muslim faith would she get Christians sympathizing with her?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

at the risk of pointing out the obvious, as "higher cause" goes for informing a social/ethical decision you can't really invoke a higher cause than God, can you?