Karen L. Willoughby reports for the Christian Examiner, Oct. 29, 2014, that six North Carolina district court judges have resigned rather than violate their Christian convictions by performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. They are:
- Gayle Myrick of Union County
- Gilbert Breedlove of Swain County
- Bill Stevenson of Gaston County
- Tommy Holland of Graham County
- Jeff Powell of Jackson County
- John Kallam Jr. of Rockingham County
About 670 magistrates serve in North Carolina, and by resigning the six give up a comfortable income, as well as standing in the community. Regarding next steps, all six say they are waiting on God to provide direction.
Same-sex marriages became legal in North Carolina on Oct. 10. That’s when the state’s ban on gay marriages was declared unconstitutional. North Carolina voters in 2012 had passed a state constitutional ban on gay marriages. But two federal judges overturned the ban and an existing state law restricting marriage to the joining of one man with one woman on the grounds that both were illegal under an earlier gay marriage ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.
The Fourth Court of Appeals is one of 9 of 13 U.S. Courts of Appeal that is empaneled with a majority of Democrat appointees. Six of the 15 judges are appointees of President Obama, and another four were named by President Clinton.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said all state agencies would comply with the federal decision. State Senator Phil Berger asked the Courts to grant protections to officials who refused for religious reasons to perform same-sex ceremonies, but the request was denied. Instead, magistrates received a letter from Judge John Smith, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts reiterating the need to uphold the law, under penalty of law.
The six magistrates include four Southern Baptists, one Missionary Baptist and one Wesleyan. The decision to resign came quickly to them, not that it was easy. Each gave up much — the means for providing for their families, social status, the satisfaction of knowing they were doing something good for society, and the personal and professional relationships they’d built over time.
Gilbert Breedlove told the Christian Examiner, “None of that matters when it goes against the Word of God specifically. The Lord did so much for us and He requires His people to stand on His Word, and live in faith, and that’s what we’re doing. I’m just standing in faith to declare this is what the Lord has said. It’s my way of honoring God.”
Gayle Myrick said,”I believe marriage was ordained by God to be between a man and a woman. For me to do what the state said I had to do, under penalty of law, I would have to go against my convictions, and I was not willing to do that. I want to honor what the Word says.”
Bill Stevenson said God defines marriage in the Bible’s second chapter of Genesis as between a man and a woman: “I prayed about it; I asked for wisdom. I think our hearts have been led away by the cares of the world, our desires, and ultimately, our intense arrogance – our hubris – against the Lord. We’ve rejected the prime authority of the scriptures, something our Nation’s Founding Fathers, such as John Adams, knew better than to do. … In both the Old and New Testaments, homosexuality is something the Lord does not approve of, and since He doesn’t, I could not put the sanction of the state on a relationship that runs afoul of scripture.”
Tommy Holland said he resigned because he realized he could no longer do the job he was hired 24 years previously to do: “When the federal judges ruled that gay marriage was legal and North Carolina honors that, and part of a magistrate’s job is to perform marriage ceremonies, I knew I couldn’t honor that law. It’s against my belief. It’s against what the Bible says.” Holland doesn’t know what his future holds, but “I was raised Southern Baptist. God has always taken care of me.”
The six judges want it known they have no animosity, no ill will, toward people who live in a homosexual lifestyle.
Stevenson said, referencing Matthew 5:17-20, John chapter 14, 1 John 5:3, and Hosea 4:6, “I think one of the things we’ve lost as Christians is an understanding of the correct view of the moral commandments of the Lord, and how keeping them – by His grace – is required to demonstrate our love for Him. The concern I have is that America just needs to repent of many sins, not just this sin. ‘My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.’ If we don’t know what the scriptures define as sin, how can we turn away from it?”
Breedlove said, “I’m just standing in faith to declare this is what the Lord has said. If they object, that’s fine; it’s between them and God.” But Christians need to know what God’s word says, and to do what God says. “I encourage Christians to stand on their faith and stand for what God’s word says. They will be standing on the truth, which will be displayed in their lives to the world.”
About people in a homosexual lifestyle, Breedlove said, “I can pray that God burden their hearts to change their lives. I think God can change any sinner. God has the power. He’s God!”
Meanwhile, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Christian ministers Donald and Evelyn Knapp may face up to $1,000 in fines and six months in prison for refusing to perform same-sex weddings at their for-profit wedding chapel, The Hitching Post.
The Knapps have filed a preemptive lawsuit against the city. Their attorney Jeremy Tedesco explains, “Each day the Knapps decline to perform a requested same-sex wedding ceremony, they commit a separate and distinct misdemeanor, subject to the same penalties. Thus, if the Knapps decline a same-sex wedding ceremony for just one week, they risk going to jail for over 3 years and being fined $7,000. Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted. The threat of enforcement is more than just credible. The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected, just as the First Amendment intended.”
Pro-traditional marriage lobbyist Tony Perkins explains, “This is the brave new world of government-sanctioned same-sex unions — where Americans are forced to celebrate these unions regardless of their religious beliefs. Government officials are making clear they will use their government power to punish those who oppose the advances of homosexual activists.”
H/t Kelleigh and MomofIV