I have thought long and hard about Kim Davis. I have mixed emotions about her situation and about the entire issue that surrounds her. I feel like this is an important issue for any citizen—and especially any Christian citizen—to think about.
Kim Davis is a professing Christian. I don’t know what church she attends and that doesn’t really matter. She took a stand against the United States Supreme Court’s decision to remove the ban against same-sex marriages in this country. Mrs. Davis, in her role as County Court Clerk, and her office are responsible for issuing marriage licenses. She decided to exercise what she believed to be her right to refuse to issue these licenses to same sex couples because of her religious beliefs. Mrs. Davis believes that she has a higher calling than her role as a county official and decided that she could not, in good conscience, violate the tenets of her faith.
I admire anyone whose passion for their faith brings them to such a momentous crossroads and decision-point, and I whole-heartedly respect her decision to disagree with the Supreme Court decision. I am aware that a large number of thoughtful Christians also disagree with that decision.
One of the issues that presents itself in this case is whether or not Mrs. Davis has the right to use her elected position as a platform for disobedience. I am struck by the fact that her title says County Court “CLERK”—as I understand it, clerks are not policy makers, they are policy enforcers. Mrs. Davis has every right to disagree with the Supreme Court. What I don’t believe she has the right to do is to use her elected position—a position that has a clear mandate to observe the law of the land—to simply refuse to adhere to those laws. Christians in this country agree to live by these laws like everyone else. And we have opportunity to change laws like everyone else.
Should we consider the number of wacky turns Mrs. Davis’ idea could launch? How about the person who believes that the speed limit shouldn’t apply to Christians because we are such wonderful drivers? Or maybe Christians should be allowed to skip paying their taxes because we don’t think the government is a good steward? Maybe Christians shouldn’t have to attend school because everything we need to know is in the Bible? Perhaps Christian business owners could refuse to pay a minimum wage because God told them they didn’t have to. This game could go on and on.
I am most troubled by the “hoopla” surrounding Mrs. Davis because she has become the public face of Christianity. Because this is what Kim Davis believes, this must also be what all Christians believe. What if Kim Davis just happens to be a bigot who holds public office (not the first one, I imagine). Does this mean that all Christians are bigots?
The Supreme Court decision was a “5 to 4” decision and the fact of the matter is, you and I live largely in a 5 to 4 world. There is not one, monolithic understanding of Christianity. There is all manner of grey between the black and white and Christians inhabit the whole scale.
I personally believe Mrs. Davis should either allow others in her office to issue licenses to these same-sex couples—others who do not hold to her views of this issue—or else she should simply resign her post and continue her crusade as a private citizen, which is her right. I applaud her passion—I simply believe her platform is misguided. And I worry that, once again, the media has chosen the wrong “champion” to represent the Christian faith.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.