United Pentecostal Church’s Superintendent’s Thoughts on Kim Davis

On September 8, 2015 Rev. David K. Bernard, the current General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, and who also holds a law degree has released a personal statement regarding Kim Davis on Facebook:

Thoughts on Kim Davis, Kentucky county clerk

After the US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution contains a right to same-sex marriage, she refused to issue any marriage licenses. (I previously posted a Christian response to the Supreme Court’s decision.) A federal judge ordered her to issue marriage licenses, and when she refused, she was jailed for contempt of court.

As Christians, we can agree on the following points:

  1. Same-sex marriage is contrary to God’s plan for the human race as taught by both the Bible and nature.
  2. The Supreme Court erred in finding such a right in the US Constitution, contrary to both history and law.
  3. Freedom of religion is protected under the US Constitution, and therefore she should not be jailed for a conscientious refusal to endorse same-sex marriage. There should be a reasonable accommodation that allows the government to fulfill its purpose without jailing her indefinitely.
  4. The issue is not one of bigotry, hatred, or human rights. We should uphold the civil rights of everyone, including those who choose lifestyles contrary to God’s Word. (However, this does not mean individuals should have a right to redefine basic social institutions such as marriage to mean something they are not.)

There are potentially many situations in which Christians face questions of conscience with regard to their employment. For example:

  1. What should Christians do when asked to assist or endorse another type of unbiblical marriage, such as when a divorced person seeks to remarry without biblical grounds?
  2. What should Christians do when their job involves the distribution of alcoholic beverages, such as truckers, grocery store employees, waiters, and flight attendants?
  3. What should Christians do when drafted for warfare contrary to their conscience? In these cases, Christians seek to balance respect for governmental authority, employers’ authority, and individual free will with their own conscience.

In Kim Davis’s situation, there could be several possible ways of accomplishing this purpose:

  1. Issue marriage licenses while explaining that she is not endorsing any particular marriage but simply verifying that legal requirements have been met and that when legal requirements have been met she has no discretion.
  2. Allow deputies to issue marriage licenses instead of her. (This is what is currently taking place, contrary to her instructions.)
  3. Allow deputies to issue marriage licenses if her name is removed from the license. (This is what she has asked the court to approve.) (4) Resign from her position.

In trying to balance both authority and conscience, Christians may make different choices in these matters. As long as they are not committing sin themselves, they have liberty to make these decisions and to support the decisions of others. They should not ridicule or condemn those who make different decisions, however. (See Romans 14.) The church as a whole must be careful not to promote one acceptable course of action to the exclusion of others, while at the same time standing for religious liberty and moral values in society.


He goes on to say in the comments


If there is a direct conflict, we should obey God rather than humans (Acts 5:29). But in many cases there may a way to avoid direct conflict. Traditionally, democracies such as the US have provided reasonable accommodations to people of faith, such as conscientious objection to bearing of arms in warfare and allowance to affirm legal statements instead of swearing by oath. I’m surprised that the judge is being so aggressive here, but at the same time it seems there is room for both sides to reach a conscientious accommodation.