If you don’t like the fact that the government is now issuing marriage licenses to adult humans of the same gender, then don’t work in a government marriage licensing bureau.

God’s Will, Secular Government and Gay Marriage

by | Sep 9, 2015

A federal judge has ordered a defiant Kentucky clerk to jail after she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning told Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis she would be jailed until she complied with his order to issue the licenses. Davis said “thank you” before she was led out of the courtroom by a U.S. marshal. She was not in handcuffs.

Davis stopped issuing licenses to all couples in June after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Despite rulings against her, she’s turned away couples again and again, citing her Christian beliefs and “God’s authority.”

“God’s authority” or secular authority?  Which comes first?

In a free society, there can be no question: secular authority first … and only. It’s called separation of church and state.

If we started replacing the standard of individual rights with “God’s will” or “God’s authority,” it would be the ruin of liberty and freedom.

I realize that we have replaced the standard of rights, increasingly, with subjective standards. Those standards are determined largely by the will of the government, and critics of that subjective approach to government are right to oppose it.

But religious standards will simply replace one form of subjectivity with another. Where you stand on religion, or whether you believe in any religion at all, is of no concern to the government. Nor is the right to contract. Contracts are to be upheld by the government whenever consenting, adult human beings engage in them. It’s not the government’s place to say, “I like that contract, ” or, “I don’t like that contract because it undermines God’s will (as I define it.).”

We all know that secular authorities are not always rational or just. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia come to mind, and those are only two examples. But the only possible way to establish a rational and just government is via reason; and reason can only be exercised in a secular, objective context.

I realize that not everyone supports the concept of gay marriage. I also realize that a lot of the population feels that gay marriage was shoved down their throats by Obama and the Supreme Court.

It doesn’t matter. Rights are rights. The secular right for two consenting adults to form a contract trumps the religious objections of some that “marriage is an institution that must be defined according to God’s law.”

This is why I object to the concept of “religious liberty.” Words refer to concepts, and both words and concepts matter. When you say religions must have liberty, you’re opening the door for what anyone calls “God’s law” to be the law of the land. You’re opening the door to group rights (a religious group, in this case) over and above individual rights. Only individual rights exist. There are no group rights — secular or religious.

The militant Islamic movements should be enough to prove that there can be no such thing as uninhibited “liberty for religion.” If there were, then Islamic Sharia law — since it’s the most violent and forceful — would be the law of the land.

The only kind of liberty that’s valid is for the individual to be free from force. Atheists, agnostics, and people of any and all religions have the equal right to be free from force. As much as I detest Obama’s vision of a socialistic America, if it’s conceivable for me to hate something even more, it would be a government overrun and taken by those who seek to impose their idea of “God’s law.”

If your particular religion tells you that you may blow up people or buildings, the secular law trumps what some call religious law. To most people, even today, this does not seem to be a controversial point.

If your particular religion tells you that you may work for a state or county government and defy the laws of that government, then we might as well throw government away and live in a state of anarchy.

By the way, if you’re that religious person, what are you hoping to count on when someone who doesn’t agree with your religion comes to burn your house down, chop off your head, or do anything less gruesome but still a denial of your rights? What if the governments in charge, or the police, say, “My religious convictions tell me to not defend you, in this case, because you’re an infidel”?

Things have become so insane in our society that it has become necessary to state what should be obvious.

Gay marriage is admittedly a thorny case. Some people, myself included, question the role of government in defining “marriage” at all. But the thorniness of the issue in no way justifies letting government officials and bureaucrats decide which laws they feel like upholding, or not upholding.

I have heard all the arguments here, so please don’t write me and repeat them. “If marriage between two people of the same sex is to be legally valid, then why not marriage between a human and an animal?” Irrelevant. Rights only apply to consenting adult humans, not animals or inanimate objects. “Why not marriage between an adult and a minor.” Ditto. Minors and children are not adults. You cannot argue against the legality of gay marriage with these absurd claims.

I respect the right of people to disagree. Nobody should be forced to call something a marriage that they do not wish to call a marriage. This is one’s prerogative and individual right to their own conscience and judgment. At the same time, if you don’t like the fact that the government is now issuing marriage licenses to adult humans of the same gender, then don’t work in a government marriage licensing bureau.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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