On Kim Davis and submitting to governmental authorities: An open letter to Southern Baptist pastor Russell Williams

Dear Pastor Williams,

You don’t know me and we’re not Facebook friends, although it would appear we have one mutual Facebook friend. But like you, I am the pastor of a Southern Baptist church and today I came across your post on the Kim Davis situation — as of the time of this writing at 65,324 shares. Since you, in the office of pastor, asked your audience to allow you to weigh in on what is going on, as a fellow pastor I ask you and anyone reading this to consider my response to what you have written.

You write:

First: This is not a case of the government forcing anyone to violate their religious belief. She is free to quit her job. If she quits her job to honor God surely God would take care of her.

I’m not sure how someone in your position can write that with a straight face, given that the judge basically threw her in jail for contempt until she changed her mind. She was released, thankfully, in no small part due to public pressure, but you are naive if you do not think the government, in this case the judicial branch, was trying to force her to violate her religious belief.

Yes, of course she is free to quit her job. And for all who are in Christ God will not only “take care” of them, but reward them with an “inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Pet 1:4).

But why should she quit her job? What law has she broken? The constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky was amended to prohibit marriage except between one man and one woman. That still stands, and those think five black-robed judges can make law — which is what they have attempted to do in Obergsfell v. Hodges — should remind themselves that legislatures make laws, and there is no law here that Kim Davis has broken. As for the argument the Supreme Court’s decision has overridden the Kentucky Constitution, one should read the tenth amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, “The powers not delegated by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it, to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.” When even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court says June’s decision was not at all a legal decision, the several states are more than justified in saying to the federal government, “Uh, no,” when told so-called “same-sex marriage” is now the law of the land. The Supreme Court can no sooner make laws than I can fly. And if you were to take a look at me you know that isn’t happening.

You wrote:

Second: This is not a case of someone trying to uphold the sanctity of marriage. If she wanted to uphold the sanctity of marriage she should not have been married four different times. If she is worried about her name being affixed to a marriage license that goes against a biblical definition of marriage, she should not have her name on the last three marriage licenses given to her.

First, the Kentucky Constitution doesn’t forbid second, third, and fourth marriages but it does prohibit so-called “same-sex marriages,” so legally this argument is invalid.

But more to the point, I’m not about to justify her re-marriages, but this is a personal attack against her rather than an interaction with the reasons for her refusal to submit to an ungodly and unjust court decision.

And this is where your Facebook post really goes off the rails…

You wrote:

Third: This seems to be a case of someone looking to cash in on the religious right. Churches all across the south will throw money at her to come and tell congregations how the evil American government put her in jail because of her faith in Jesus.

This is slander. Plain and simple. I mean, do you know for a fact she’s looking to cash in? I’m not talking about if she will. I mean, as you wrote this, do you know she’s looking to cash in? Do you have a list of churches lining up to green her pocketbook right now? If not, this is slander. You are ascribing evil motives to her and accusing local assemblies of believers of being accomplices, and you should repent of that.

What Kim Davis does from here is anyone’s guess, but it’s just plain sinful to insinuate she is going to use this to enrich herself before the fact.

You wrote:

This is why we are losing.

No. Rather, arguments like yours are, quite frankly, why it seems we’re losing. When Christians turn their knives on those willing to take a stand against ungodliness from the government and the unjust and unlawful actions of the government, that’s why it seems like we’re losing.

Except, we aren’t and we won’t. Praise the Lord His kingdom is not of this world, and when He returns in glory He will bring in everlasting righteousness, and that inheritance I mentioned earlier, which the apostle Peter wrote of, is reserved in heaven for all whom God has caused to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of dead. Though we and Kim Davis have been distressed by various trials now, we aren’t losing and won’t lose, because Jesus will be revealed in glory, and those who are His will still belong to Him (c.f. 1 Pet 1:1-9).

You wrote:

This is why people have such disdain for evangelicals.
Not because we disagree but because we don’t take the bible seriously. If ever there was a case of “he who is without sin cast the first stone”, this is it. If ever there was a “take the log out of your eye” moment, this is it.

Haven’t you cast a stone at Kim Davis here? Calling her wrong for her stand and then accusing her of using it to profit without any proof thereof?

Anyway, this is not why people have such a disdain for evangelicals. The unbelieving world disdains believers because of what Jesus said in John 15:18-21:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but before you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

Finally, you wrote:

We must stop looking to the government to make America a Christian utopia. Our kingdom is not of this world.
We must abandon all thoughts of fixing others and let Jesus fix us.
If we want sanctity of marriage then stop cheating, stop having affairs, stop looking at porn, stop getting divorces. That is the way for the church to stand up for the biblical definition of marriage, not by someone martyring their self-righteous self.

I agree with this up until the last clause, which is shameful for reasons I’ve already explained. Put down the log in your own eye.

This nation has never been a “Christian nation,” per se, and I have no expectations it ever will be, and quite frankly, it’s not my goal that it become one. The Lord’s kingdom is not of this world. We should expect to be hated, expect to be scorned, and to live with obedient faith as it relates to marriages all those things you wrote — stop cheating, stop affairs, stop looking at porn, stop getting divorces — amen and amen! But that doesn’t mean we have to obey unjust, ungodly laws. That doesn’t mean we have to say, “Please, sir, can I have another?” when the government whips us. And it certainly doesn’t mean we, as Christians, need to provide aid and comfort to those who hate God as they persecute someone who, as of two or three years ago from what I’ve read, is a sister in Christ (and yes, I’ve heard she attends a modalist church but not knowing her personally and lacking more information I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt).

I regret your post, and that the majority of the shares you have gotten are likely in agreement with you, judging by a few of the comments I saw. Know that this Southern Baptist pastor could not disagree more vehemently with your take on things, and when the government comes knocking on your door I hope you’ll show more backbone for the gospel of Jesus Christ and being His disciple than you have here.

I wish you well.


Matt Privett
Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church

Author: Matt Privett

Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor.

7 thoughts on “On Kim Davis and submitting to governmental authorities: An open letter to Southern Baptist pastor Russell Williams”

  1. Thanks, Matt. When I saw the original post from alleged pastor Williams, I knew something was amiss. Your comments couldn’t have been more spot on. Much appreciated, brother.

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