[EDIT: I’m trying to confine my thoughts to the narrow question of Christians taking stands on what they believe are matters of conscience, even though they are sinners according to their own value system. I am deliberately setting aside the question of what state officials should do in regards to marriage licenses. My own view on this is fairly nuanced–as opposed to my view on what Christian pastors of Bible churches should do, which is black and white–but I don’t want to distract from the more specific issue I’m discussing below.]
I’m working on zero sleep right now so this post may lack a solid thesis. But something is not sitting right with me regarding the reaction I’ve seen from many quarters to Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis. Let me fire off some observations before I slump over:
==> I don’t understand why they locked her up. Why don’t they just fire her? If a receptionist at Facebook said, “I refuse to make travel reservations for the investors coming here, because I can’t in good conscience aid the sale of our customers’ browsing habits…” they wouldn’t put her in a cage. They’d escort her from the building and have somebody else carry out management’s policies.
==> I totally acknowledge that it is UNBELIEVABLY awkward, ironic, and hilarious that this woman, who has become the Christian Right’s poster child for the protection of Biblical marriage, has followed the adage “practice makes perfect” in this regard.
==> This is total speculation on my part, but I think perhaps what drives some of these ironic cases is that the person feels really guilty about his or her own shortcomings in a particular sin, and so does a full court press to try to make up for it (perhaps without realizing that that is what’s driving it). In other words, I don’t think it would be news to Kim Davis that the Bible takes a stand against heterosexuals divorcing each other, and I don’t think she views herself as having a license (no pun intended) to do what she wants, whereas others are held to a moral standard.
==> No one on planet Earth is perfect. Anytime anybody voices support for moral living, that person is a hypocrite broadly construed. Yes, I could shake my finger at a triple murderer since I’ve never literally done that, but Jesus would say I’m missing the point. And in any event, I have lied before, so should I not teach my son that lying is wrong? Is a convicted murderer (after serving his time) not allowed to teach his kid that murder is wrong?
==> I know their actions often obscure this fact, but Bible-believing Christians are just about the one group on Earth whose official doctrines say they must NOT consider themselves better than anybody else. If she understands the New Testament, Kim Davis doesn’t think, “I’m so glad I’m not a sinner like those homosexuals over there.” No, the New Testament teaches that Kim Davis and Pat Robertson and I all deserve hell because it’s in our very nature to rebel against God and do evil. The reason we are saved is that God bestowed unmerited grace upon us because it suited His fancy. We in no way earned it.
==> I don’t think I’ve seen anyone come out and say it just in this way, but from some people I sense an undertone along the lines of, “It seems the loudest champions of Jesus are the most awful of people. Imagine my shock. *eyes roll*”
But if that type of observation resonates with you, I remind you that the Pharisees considered themselves righteous too, and scorned the common sinners who followed Jesus. But Jesus set them straight (Mark 2: 16-17):
16 And when the scribes and[a] Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”