Mohler: US Military May Be Affected by Kentucky Clerk Ruling

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a commentary yesterday entitled “‘In this World You Will Have Trouble’ — Welcome to Rowan County.” He thoughtfully discussed the controversy surrounding Kim Davis, County Clerk of Rowan County, who has now been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses.

The marriage licenses bear her signature as the state authorizing official for the union, and Davis has maintained that places her personal imprimatur on a “marriage” that violates her religious beliefs:

As Mrs. Davis and her attorneys have made clear, she has been willing for her name to be removed from marriage licenses in Rowan County, but she is not willing to put her name on those licenses so long as that would require her approval of same-sex marriages. But Judge Bunning made clear that he would be satisfied only when Mrs. Davis either issues marriage licenses in compliance with the Obergefell decision or resigns her office.

Mohler notes that, like many judicial decisions, they may have impact far greater than some may realize — including the US military: 

How are Christians who hold elective office to fulfill that office when the nation’s highest court or those holding higher office rule and legislate contrary to Christian conviction?

The same question is quickly extended to those serving in the military, holding appointive office, or even merely working for the government.

And later:

What are government officials now to do? This story centers on a County Clerk in Kentucky, but the questions will eventually extend to…anyone wearing the uniform of the United States military, and virtually any government employee.

To be clear, Mohler does not say the choices made by Davis were the only ones possible. In fact, more than once he acknowledges there are no “easy” answers to the questions raised. In fact, noting the range of possibilities from disobedience to surrender, Mohler says

There is no automatically right answer to these questions. Each [choice] can be rooted in Christian moral argument, and any one of these options might be argued as right under the circumstances.

This is similar to the discussion on the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which noted that some people might be compelled to leave the military immediately, while others might continue to serve even under the most morally challenging of circumstances. As Mohler says, there are “Christian moral arguments” to be made for each of these positions.

To his assertion that this conflict will eventually come to the military, some would say it already has. While it hasn’t been an issue of personnelists issuing ID cards to same-sex couples, it has arisen in the chaplaincy already: A chaplain who gave counsel and answers in response to direct questions in confidential sessions is facing discharge for statements that do not affirm homosexuality. Chaplains who arrange for separate marriage seminars for homosexuals — even if they do so at the request of their heterosexual congregants and troops — have been accused of discrimination against same-sex couples.

Though activists claim “it will never happen” (the rote response to any slippery slope arguments), it is not implausible that at some point members of the US military might face sanction for failing to perform duties that affirm homosexuality. Mohler, in fact, sees it as a possibility for any government position.

Given this caution coming from a respected leader in the Christian faith, what’s a military Christian to do?

As with the case of Kim Davis, there is no easy answer:

Anyone who sees this case in simplistic terms simply doesn’t understand the issues. Christians of good conscience may answer these questions in different ways.

The discussion originally posted here is still relevant in many ways. Some of it contains similar analysis to Mohler’s, noting the sincere Christians may honestly have different responses to these challenges of culture, profession, and faith.

In the end,

Pray without ceasing, and walk by faith. When you feel challenged in your attempts to persevere as a servant of Christ, serving in the military, consider: Who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?

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