Lydia McGrew on what’s at stake as Christians (and other natural law believers) are purged from one profession after another:
There is a second way in which the condemnation of Kim Davis, the smirking or pompous insistence that she must “do her job or resign,” is nominalist, and that concerns the nature of jobs. Is there nothing like at least a quasi-essence of being a doctor, a policeman, or even a county clerk? Let’s go back to the [hypothetical] example of the 11-month-old declared by a court to be a non-person. What does it mean to be a policeman? All the more so if you signed up to be a policeman before this court order came down, the nature of the job as both you and society understood it involved protecting babies from being thrown off of bridges by their parents, not facilitating the baby-throwing. So if the police force decides to ignore the court’s evil and insane redefinition of the child as a non-person and stop the baby-thrower, those police are not only doing the right thing but also, to coin a word, the policeman-y thing. Suppose that SCOTUS declares it to be a violation of 14th amendment rights to refuse to let registered sex offenders adopt. (I owe this example to David Bradshaw.) If an adoption officer nonetheless refuses to issue adoption papers to a registered sex offender, he’sdoing his job. It’s utterly backwards to say that he’s not doing his job. His job includes protecting children and seeking their best interests, not turning them over to sex offenders. If a doctor refuses to refer someone for an abortion or refuses to administer a lethal injection, he’s being a real doctor. Will the people who condemn Kim Davis say the same about doctors in Australia who refuse to be complicit in abortion? Because now being complicit in abortion “is their job”? The medical association of Canada appears poised to require all doctors there to administer lethal injections for suicide or refer to those who will. Will that then become “part of their job”? Whence comes this idea that there is nothing that it means to fill a particular role in society? And how far could this be taken? If one fine year the Canadian Medical Association (or the American Medical Association) requires all doctors, as a condition of licensing, to have sex with their patients as therapy, will that also become part of the job? To torture some patients at the behest of others who are deemed to own them? To run about naked in the streets as a symbol of something or other? Can absolutely anything be made “part of the job”–part of any job, anywhere, any time?
One might think that the position of county clerk is not a good candidate for a job with an essence. But, given that it involves certifying civil marriages, which do have an essence, the possibility arises that the job of county clerk itself is more than just a sheer creature of positive law.
Since most of these jobs, when society was functioning better, were not defined in such a horrible way but were understood to be jobs one could take pride in, jobs that a good person could fill with a good conscience, it is therefore an honorable act, an attempt to hold back the collapse of human civilization, to continue to fulfill those roles in their honorable senses rather than either quit or be complicit in grave evil. It remains a prudential question whether that is the best course to take for any particular person in any particular situations. One can imagine situations where one might be able to spend one’s energy better in some other way. But to say that one must always resign when one has conscientious objections to the newly declared “duties” of one’s job is to say that we have togive up all of the important roles in society to people who are willing to do evil. I see no such principle anywhere–not in Scripture, not in tradition, not in reason.
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