Render unto Caesar

When I first saw the Kim Davis story, I was rather disturbed by the fact that some Christians were hailing her for her decision. Kim Davis is the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because of her Christian beliefs. She was called a hero by a good number of Nigerian Christians aka my Facebook friends.

Two days ago (or so) I read online that she was facing jail time and I shared the link on my wall with the caption Render to Caesar and forgot about it. This morning, I saw on my friend’s BBM status “People are already being persecuted for being Christians, Kim Davis sent to jail without bail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, what happened to her religious rights?”

On the surface of it, it appears that way. However Kim Davis is the Rowan County’s clerk, it is an elected position and she swore an oath to uphold the law of the United States. When she swore to the oath, she didn’t add the proviso that as long as the laws conform to her religious beliefs, she would uphold them but if not she would do as she liked. She swore to the totality of the law and therefore she has no basis to cry for religious freedom, and if she has a problem with the law, she should have just resigned.

Am I saying that elected officials do not have a right to their own religious beliefs? No! I’m saying that they have no right to impose their religious beliefs on others, which is exactly what Kim has done by withholding marriage licenses to gay couples. I find it hard to believe that Christians can’t see that she is not being persecuted for her belief but she is being punished for suppressing the rights of others.

Let’s look at this scenario, a young Christian woman gets a job with the government and she is qualified in every way but the head of the government agency refuses to allow her resume her job because she does not cover her hair. The head of the agency is a Muslim and he’s insisting that since her dress code does not conform to his own beliefs, she would not get the job. You and I would cry blue murder and ask for his head on a platter, yes?

Let’s look at another scenario, a person is rushed to a government hospital with only Jehovah witness staff on duty. This patient needs blood or he/she will die but the staff of that hospital refused to transfuse blood to the patient because it contravenes their religious belief. If that patient dies because of their actions and the staff of the hospital are jailed for their actions, would we still think they are being persecuted?

When did we turn into people who see nothing wrong with oppression, so long as it doesn’t affect us? Is it because it is “the gays”? Therefore anything goes. After all the bible says in Lev 18:22 that homosexuality is an abomination and in many other places the bible speaks against unnatural lust. I do not believe we are called to punish anyone for not living his/her life according to the laid down rules in the scripture, which would mean we are taking the place of God. We are called to preach the gospel to the lost and to love them. Dasall!

Remember when teachers of the law and the Pharisees came to test Jesus on whether Jews should pay taxes- Matt 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26. Jesus simply asked them whose image was on the coin and they said it was Caesars and he gave the truly epic reply- “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things which are God’s”. If you must live in this world and relate with the world then you must respect the rules and if the rules are not acceptable to you for any reason then there are channels to address your complaints. Also, you and other like-minded individuals can go form your own society. It is most important to note that your religious freedom should not impose on another person’s freedom.

How would the world look like if we were all denied of our rights because the person responsible for issuing the rights has decided not to do that because we do not conform to whatever criteria he chooses? Today it might be gays, yesterday it was coloured people, who will it be tomorrow?

Many years ago, the slave trade was at its zenith. We all know how those ships would cart away thousands of strong and young black people- just like you, just like me. We know how the abolition cause fought hard for the abolition of slavery, even the great American Civil War was mainly because of slavery. Did you know that at the time, Christians were the slave traders and owners and they were even more devout than a lot of us today? They had no problem reconciling that heinous practice of capturing innocent people, selling them and using them like animals with their religion because the Bible justified slavery.

According to Gen 9:25-27- The descendants of Ham were cursed to be slaves of Japheth and Shem, Ham is believed to be the father of the black race while Shem is the father of the Jews and Japheth is the father of Europeans. That meant that using blacks as slaves was actually obeying the word of God. Also the Bible has loads of verse that support slavery and even gives the modalities for owning slaves, searching Google for biblical support for slavery would make you pause and ponder.

You might argue that the curse was lifted by the death of Jesus on the cross but the Jewish people do not believe Jesus was the messiah and therefore according to their religion we should still be under that curse. What if the Jews started slavery afresh, after all it is their religious belief and they should be allowed to practise it to the letter. Why should we live free lives when we are supposed to be slaves?

I’d always wondered how Nazi Germany- a Christian nation killed so many Jews and why the Christians there did nothing. I guess it’s because of the “them” mentality. As long as it’s happening to “them” and not “us” then it’s alright. One of my favourite quotes is by Pastor Martin Niemoller and I think it’s one of the guiding philosophies of my life.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me- and there was no one left to speak for me”

Pastor Martin had initially been in support of Hitler but he changed his stance when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over the church. If Hitler had won the war, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be sitting in my room and writing this post. I probably would not exist because Hitler would have gone after the elimination of Africans to make the whole world to conform to his Aryan vision or I’d have been a slave because they’d want to keep us as slaves to serve the Aryans. God forbid!

When we see something wrong, we should speak up even if it doesn’t affect us. When we see discrimination of any form we shouldn’t justify it just because the person is employing a religious slant. Who knows, it might affect us tomorrow.

About an hour ago, I got a notification on my blog. Today’s my second anniversary on WordPress, I feel so accomplished and happy. I wouldn’t have thought I’d stick to blogging for two years, this is my third blog and my other blogs died early deaths. The reason I stuck to this blog is that I get uplifting feedback from y’all. Thank you for reading my posts and for being there for me, especially those my friends who I pester with my posts. Unu emela.

I’ve met amazing people on this journey, people who I’ve never met who read my scribbling and have encouraged me along the way. I wish I could mention everyone but I’m pretty sure I might omit a name because I’m getting old and my memory isn’t as sharp as it once was. Thank you so much for having my back.

Funny thing is yesterday I was thinking about quiting blogging, I felt depressed about my writing and felt like giving up. Last night, Obianuju was looking for a post on my blog, she went through plenty posts in her search and she left a trail of likes. As I read the posts she’d liked, I realised that quitting was not an option. I can do this, and I will.

So help me God.

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15 Comments

  1. Shortly after my Blog Grandmother (TTT) passes on here on blogville, my Blog Mother is considering a blogsuicide. I bind and cast every… Thank God you have changed your mind… Obianuju, thanks ooo.

    Now I can scroll back up to read the post.
    Meanwhile, happy anniversary Mami.
    Cheers!

    Reply

  2. I don’t think this Ms. Davis issue could have been said or explained any better. I’m afraid many Christians have lost objectivity oh!
    In other news, congratulations on your blogversary. I wish you greater and more meaningful interactions on your blog 🍷

    Reply

  3. Chynanu nice post but I think the real issue concerning Kim is this: she is a county clerk elected under the Kentucky constitution that 75 percent of the people of that state had voted for that said that marriage was between a man and a woman. Besides I’m sure she would not have gone on to uphold be a county clerk and uphold the law if it included gays. If she became a clerk AFTER the ruling knowing its implications and still wanted to voice dissent I would say jail her pls.

    The US Supreme Court in a very, very divided decision decided out of thin air that they were just going to redefine marriage. It’s a decision that the other justices in dissent said they didn’t have and there wasn’t a constitutional shred of capacity for them to do it and that’s what the real issue is: The courts cannot legislate. The courts can’t make a law. They can interpret one. They can review one. They can’t implement it. They can’t force it.

    But here’s what happened: Because the courts just decided that something was going to be and people relinquished it and the other two branches of government sat by silently — we have this once thought unimaginable anomaly now possible and us having to actually discuss this. Lol.

    If the court can just make a decision and people just all surrender to it, it is what Thomas Jefferson said was judicial tyranny or as you put it-oppression!

    Religious rights are contained in the bill of rights. Let the states decide for themselves what they want the definiition of marriage should be. That should be real issue that we need to think about…

    Reply

    1. First of all, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the Constitution of the United States supersedes the constitution of any state. The Supreme court ruling on gay marriage issued this year links gay marriage to the American Constitution”. I’ll quote the Wikipedia article on the subject.

      “In the United States, same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the refusal to recognize those marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling overturned a precedent, Baker v. Nelson.

      Now I’ll quote the clauses.
      The Equal Protection clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws.”
      “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the PRIVILEGES or IMMUNITIES of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

      Kentucky traditionally has a horrible civil rights record, however in 1976 the state of Kentucky ratified the fourteenth amendment (more than a hundred years after it was passed) and so this Supreme court ruling is binding on the state.

      Secondly, the Supreme court has ALREADY redefined marriage in 2012 and so that point is already decided.

      The beautiful thing about this ruling is that it has its roots in the emacipation proclamation of slaves of 1863 which was keenly contested (doesn’t that remind you of gay rights?) and it didn’t guarantee the former slaves citizenship and voting rights. The fourteenth amendment was proposed to address that imbalance and ensure that the rights of every American were enforceable regardless of race (sexual orientation). I’d like you to google the fourteenth amendment and see for thyself.

      Thirdly, the courts did not just decide that something was going to be. Before the judgement of June 2015, 37 states allowed gay marriage, 8 states had pending court cases for the overturning on the ban on gay marriage, Kentucky was one of those states.

      Kentucky’s gay marriage route.(insert smile here)
      KENTUCKY – On July 1, 2014, US District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage violates the equal protection clause in the US Constitution. Judge Heyburn stated that the ban serves “no conceivable legitimate purpose,” but stayed his own decision, pending the state’s appeal. On Nov. 6, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Heyburn’s ruling 2-1, thus upholding the state’s gay marriage ban. An appeal was then filed with the US Supreme Court. On Apr. 16, 2015, Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but put his ruling on hold, pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

      The danger in “letting the states decide” is that states like Kentucky which have terrible civil rights records, will continue to oppress minorities and people who are not in the main stream. Anyone who is conversant with the history of civil rights in America especially as regards African Americans would shudder at your point.

      Why gay marriage? Marriage gives you rights and privileges like pension, the decision of how and where to bury your partner, social security benefits of the partner. Imagine living and loving someone for forty years and you have no legal rights where that person is concerned, not because you don’t want to (after all some people do not believe in marriage) but because you have been disenfranchised.

      I agree with religious rights but your religious rights should not affect my basic rights, deciding that a person’s religious rights supersedes another person’s civil rights is a very dangerous precedent. Do you know how many religions exist in this world? Religions with weird rules and values, what if your own civil rights were targeted? would it be cool?

      Then you mentioned her being a clerk before the ruling, again that is a very sad thing to say. It’s just like saying that a slave owner in 1865 still had rights over his slaves because he bought them before the emacipation proclamation and before the civil war. Or like teachers in the segregated south refusing to teach black kids in the 1960s and 1970s because when they were hired, black kids and white kids couldn’t go to the same schools. As for the 75% of the population who do not support gay marriage, they are not enough to suppress the rights of the gay people of the state. No matter your personal feelings about homosexuality, see these people as humans just like you. How would you feel if someone told you that you couldn’t marry the person you love…

      What if by some fluke, marriage was outlawed in Nigeria and you were told that you could love your babe and live together and raise a family if you like but no marriage for you. Think about it for five minutes.

      Finally you made a point that struck my heart, the point about unimaginable anomalies. Every great push for civil rights began as unimaginable anomalies, it was an unimaginable anomaly when Moses asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, it was an unimaginable anomaly for white Americans to see Black slaves as equals, it was an unimaginable anomaly for interracial dating and marriage to take place (if a white woman said a black man made advances at her in the early part of the twentieth century, she was signing his death warrant), it was also an unimaginable anomaly for black men and women of all colour to vote (black men got the right to vote in the US before even white women, yes that was how bad it was).

      If we weren’t talking about gay marriage but interracial marriage… would you feel exactly the same way? Remember that even the Bible tells us to marry our own kind, would you still be talking about 75% of the people of the state?

      Reply

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