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Gay Marriage and Civil Disobedience: The Place of Conscience
The Beacon ^ | September 10, 2015 | Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli

Posted on 07/02/2016 9:03:59 PM PDT by Coleus

In the fifth century before Christ, the Greek playwright Sophocles wrote the tragedy entitled Antigone. The protagonist, Antigone, is one of theater’s most powerful women. Antigone faces a conflict that is profound and poignant. The newly crowned King of Thebes has forbidden a proper burial for her brother. Does she obey him or does she show the proper respect for her brother?

Antigone places conscience above human law. She refuses to obey a man-made law. Instead, she insists on obeying the law of the gods. Not even the threat of death deters her. In the figures of Antigone and the king, Sophocles has immortalized the conflict between personal freedom and state control. In the character of Antigone, he has given us one of the oldest depictions of civil disobedience.

In the course of history, many courageous individuals have defied unjust state laws. They have chosen civil disobedience as a way to remain faithful to their conscience. Gandhi in India, the playwright Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution and Nelson Mandela in South Africa’s anti-apartheid, to name a few. Not to mention the early Christians who chose to die rather than to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar. God before the state!

Most recently, a county clerk in Kentucky has made the headlines for her civil disobedience. Kim Davis openly defied the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision redefining marriage. Immediately following the court’s decision this June, as county clerk, she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The response to her civil disobedience has been swift, dramatic and somewhat confusing.

On Sept. 3, District Court Judge David Bunning ordered Ms. Davis to jail. He said that her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense for disobedience to the law. She had to obey. He ordered her to issue the marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In the words of Judge Bunning, “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order.” But, recent events in our country seem to contradict the opinion of this judge.

In Colorado, state officials openly defied federal laws banning illegal drugs. They were never dragged into court. President Obama defied our immigration laws, our welfare reform laws and even his own Obamacare. He has not been dragged into court for his disobedience to the law.

In 2004, gay marriage was banned under California state law. Nonetheless, Gavin Newsom used his power as the mayor of San Francisco against the law. He made government clerks issue gay marriage licenses. Newsom justified his civil disobedience with an appeal to his own beliefs about right and wrong. These came first. This is the very same argument that Kim Davis has made for disobeying the law redefining marriage. Yet, in her case, she must pay the price for following her conscience.

Is there a double standard at work in our secular society? At a time, when gay marriages were not legal, a mayor clearly defied the law with his civil disobedience. He does not go to jail Now, when gay marriages are legal, a clerk who defies the law goes to jail. On what basis can conscience be invoked by those who favor same-sex marriages, but not by those who oppose them?

Kim Davis does not have to stay in jail. She could comply with the law or give up her job. But, in either of these two scenarios, she would be, in effect, giving in to what she judges wrong. Davis is not the only one in America who conscientiously objects to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In fact, four of the court’s judges were against it. Do those citizens whose conscience and religious beliefs do not allow them to redefine marriage lose their freedom to object? Must they be pursued by the courts and jailed?

During the civil rights movement in this country, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., asked this question, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” He said, “The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’

“How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law” (Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963).

There are many who, sincerely and honestly, on the basis of their understanding of natural law and God’s law, judge erroneous the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision. They may well be in favor of giving every citizen equal rights under the law, but opposed to redefining marriage to accomplish this. What price will they be made to pay for being faithful to their conscience?

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bishopserratelli; countyclerk; gaymarriage; homosexualagenda; kentucky; kimdavis

1 posted on 07/02/2016 9:03:59 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: Coleus
Here is the letter I now send annually on the subject.

From: Retain Mike
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 10:13 AM
To: WSJ Letters (
Subject: The First Amendment and Gay Marriage

The 2015 gay marriage ruling completes a rewrite of our Constitution. The First Amendment says and used to mean, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” In contrast the ruling on gay marriage helps illustrates how far the country has departed from first principles.

We are familiar with the term “speech or expression’, which seems an innocuous expansion of the above amendment. However, “expression” enables a nearly unbounded multi-billion dollar pornography industry.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion stated, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to advocate and teach the principles that are so fulfilling and central to their lives and faith”. Such language severely restricts religious freedom by happening to exclude “free exercise thereof”. Therefore believers pursue a hazardous course to exercise religious beliefs in business and personal lives.

Now we have country in which a woman can express herself in the adult film industry, but cannot start a bakery and exercise her religious convictions by refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

The Formal End to Judeo-Christian America


Bar the doors?

6/27/15 Wayne Cordeiro•;

2 posted on 07/02/2016 9:22:28 PM PDT by Retain Mike
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To: Coleus

Every Catholic FReeper should send this to his or her bishop.

I’m sending it today.

4 posted on 07/02/2016 10:22:45 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle... against the wickedness and snares of the devil.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

The Satanic minions, homosexuals, are aiming to overrule Christianity and Judaism, in order to fully worship Satan.

5 posted on 07/02/2016 10:49:39 PM PDT by NetAddicted (Just looking)
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To: freedomwinsout

...”The left knows most people are weak...Nazis knew that in Germany...I’m sure some people wanted to help the Jews,but that meant destroying their families to do that..Democrats want to shut everybody up and go along to get along...Most Catholics and Christians will do just that and tell themselves they are being “tolerant and open minded”.....The ones that fight will be destroyed ,just as the people who helped the Jews were destroyed...”...

Your post is chilling, but accurate. Most people are now very fearful of the government and that is why I do not believe the polls. Political Correctness has achieved it’s goal of transforming our government into a tyrannical body. Pure evil is emerging. Will it be stopped? I believe it will but not in the way we think. Many will dismiss me for my belief that the true God of Creation will put the wanna-be Gods in their place because good people all over the world are suffering because of the Satanic evil going on..People are praying and that power might be unleashed in a very surprising way.

6 posted on 07/03/2016 2:28:38 AM PDT by jazzlite (esat)
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To: freedomwinsout
There's another aspect of this particular issue that makes it untenable from a "civil disobedience" standpoint. Cases like that of Kim Davis involve government employees who are being pushed around by an unjust government.

There's no need to engage in "civil disobedience" when you can simply quit your job and do something else for a living.

For that matter, I'm not sure there's any religious or moral principle at stake that makes it imperative to protect the religious freedom of the municipal employees of Sodom and Gomorrah.

7 posted on 07/03/2016 3:09:38 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Sometimes I feel like I've been tied to the whipping post.")
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To: Coleus

I still see most acts of civil disobedience as being illegal. Instead, I’m engaged in “civil indifference” and I don’t have to go out and into the street to do it.

8 posted on 07/03/2016 3:21:48 AM PDT by equaviator (There's nothing like the universe to bring you down to earth.)
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To: Coleus
I believe it was Ezra Pound who once said "What is just is what an Aryan man says is just", although I haven't been able to find the quote on the internet.

Fast forward to today and the saying could be (and is, if you're honest) "What is just is what a liberal says is just". Funny how they've adopted those ethics.

9 posted on 07/03/2016 5:08:45 AM PDT by Hardastarboard (Better Call Saul (Alinsky). "Make them live by their own rules")
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

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