Kim Davis: Is she acting as a “Lesser Magistrate?”

I’ve read lots of articles about Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Ky and her defiance of the marriage equality law.  Living in Kentucky, it’s particularly interesting to me.   But I haven’t seen anyone in the mainstream talking specifically about the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate and whether that doctrine applies to the stand Kim Davis has taken.

According to Wikipedia, the doctrine of the lesser magistrate dates back to the time of John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation.  Simply put, it states that if the government is wrong, individuals still have to follow the laws, but magistrates – people in public office – have a right and a duty to stand up against the laws.  Which makes sense.  They have a duty to defend their people from tyrants.  But ~

Fast forward to 2013 and Matthew Trewhella, author of The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, available here on Amazon.  {No, I’m not suggesting you buy it, but I’d rather you check it out on Amazon than on his website…}  Trewhella says:

“America has entered troubling times. The rule of law is crumbling. The massive expansion of Federal government power with its destructive laws and policies is of grave concern to many. But what can be done to quell the abuse of power by civil authority? Are unjust or immoral actions by the government simply to be accepted and their lawless commands obeyed? How do we know when the government has acted tyrannically? Which actions constitute proper and legitimate resistance? This book places in your hands a hopeful blueprint for freedom. Appealing to history and the Word of God, Pastor Matthew Trewhella answers these questions and shows how Americans can successfully resist the Federal government’s attempts to trample our Constitution, assault our liberty, and impugn the law of God. The doctrine of the lesser magistrates declares that when the superior or higher civil authority makes an unjust/immoral law or decree, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both the right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.”

Then I found this website, that blogs about the doctrine of the lesser magistrate.  They are thrilled with Kim Davis.  According to them,   “What Kim Davis has done is not about religious liberty – it is about reining in a lawless federal judiciary.”

If she, and others who resist issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, are following the doctrine, then they don’t actually want the state to find ways to accommodate their religious beliefs.  Their goal is to keep the state from issuing licenses – from acting in ways that their religion deems immoral.  As the blogger says:

“The clerks (and others) do not want to have to lay their hand to this great evil (by issuing marriage licenses), but then promote a change in state law so that people can still do the evil – just not through them. This is not true interposition.”

The blog then goes on to complain that the clerks “seem to be taking some bad advice from politicians and lawyers.”  I agree with them, but not the way they mean it.  They’re critical because it looks like they might settle for having a new system that would issue the licenses without them.  “True interposition” doesn’t work like that.  According to the website:

When standing in interposition against wickedness, lesser magistrates – like county clerks, judges, or legislators – should understand that their primary duty is to protect those who reside in their jurisdiction against the aggression of the tyrant – not to protect themselves.

Not only does the interposition of the lesser magistrates protect the people in the jurisdiction of their office against evil – but it also abates the just judgment of God.

Kim Davis (and others) are attempting to stand in the gap. Their fealty to the Lord does not allow them to join the higher authorities in their rebellion against God. But, it is all an utter failure if they proffer actions to see the evil accomplished another way (via a website at the statehouse). It is not true interposition.

So don’t be confused by discussions about religious freedom.  This is not about an individual’s right to act in accordance with her conscience.  It’s not about the need to make accommodations.   The intent is to stop the government from acting in ways that are against her religious beliefs.

No, she can’t win this battle.  In my worst fantasy, her attorney is encouraging her to see herself as the first of the Lesser Magistrates to stand up to the immoral, tyrannical government.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe he’s not helping her envision herself as – oh good grief, yes, seriously, the Rosa Parks of her time.  I think he is.  The website, after a lot of talk about why the Supreme Court can’t “make laws,” says:

What Kim Davis has done is not about religious liberty – it is about interposition, it is about honoring Christ, it is about reining in a lawless federal judiciary.

It is now incumbent upon all other magistrates – sheriffs, district attorneys, judges from all spheres of government, and legislators from all spheres of government – to rally around Kim Davis, interpose on her behalf, and defy a lawless federal judiciary.

It is now incumbent upon the people to rally around Kim Davis and assure her of their support – with their persons, with their finances, with their prayers. They must also prod their state and federal magistrates to interpose on her behalf and defy the lawlessness of the federal judiciary.

So don’t be surprised when Kim Davis goes back to jail.  Don’t shake your head and say, “WHAT does she want?”  She wants to lead the lesser magistrates into battle to defy the Supreme Court.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

About Fausta

Trauma sensitive Consultant and Coach for Compassionate professionals who experience second hand trauma and are at risk of burnout so they can keep doing the work that matters to them and to the world.

Posted on September 8, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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