Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Thoughts on Kim Davis

I'm deeply perturbed by the Kim Davis situation. I've been trying not to blog about it. I've been hoping that Rachel Held Evans would blog about it. I've been checking to see if Jen Hatmaker has blogged about it. Tonight, I thought: Sarah Bessey! Maybe she's blogged about it! But none of these thinkers I respect have blogged about it, to date, and given me the easy way out that's called the "facebook share." And to those of you in my very real life who will be deeply embarrassed by the way I think, I'm sorry(ish), but I'm going to have to blog about Kim Davis.

I respect Kim Davis's religious beliefs; I do, and understand them. As I've written before, I grew up Independent Fundamental Missionary Baptist, and I'm a member of a Southern Baptist church, today: not because I agree with everything my fellow members think (or say, or Lord help, post on facebook), but because I'm generally able to focus on the beliefs we hold in common. We have more in common than not.

I respect and understand Kim Davis's not wanting her name on the marriage certificates of same-sex couples. And given both her religious beliefs and her job responsibilities, I think she should resign. In fact, I will go so far as to say I think the Christian thing for her to do is resign.

Not everyone is this country is a Christian, and since we have freedom of and from religion, (s)he shouldn't be expected to conduct himself or herself as one. Furthermore, not all Christians hold the same religious beliefs; differing belief systems are permissible within the confines of the law. Honestly? I think God prefers freedom of and from religion...else He would've withheld free will and made us automatic followers. Jesus spoke in parables not so that everyone would understand, but so that some people wouldn't. This concept makes us uncomfortable, but it can't be denied, as it's written out in Jesus's own words.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given (Matthew 13:10-11, KJV).

What would Jesus say to Kim Davis? Well, I think He would express His love to her; I do. I think He would tell her to trust Him: to give up her 80K/year position in order to follow her conscience. I think He would remind her that God feeds the birds, arrays the lilies, and clothes the grass of the field (Matthew 6). I think He would promise to provide for her. Perhaps He would point to these words of Paul the Apostle:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation (Romans 13:1-2, KJV).

The law is the law. If one works as an officer of the law she should be willing to fulfill her responsibilities under the law. If she cannot in good conscience do that, she should resign.

Kim Davis is concerned about her name and how it's being used. I'm concerned, in this situation, about God's name and how it's being used. Because truthfully, every time Kim Davis infringes upon the legal rights of unsaved people in the name of God, they are sure to become less interested in ever coming to know Him. And it just seems kinder to befuddle someone with the parabolic words of Jesus than the praise and worship of a defiant Kentuckian. 


  1. are a thinker, and a writer of the first rate. with the best heart ever.

  2. Hi Brandee,

    I agree, Ms. Davis should resign.

    I believe wholeheartedly in the separation of church and state.

    What I find truly frightening is the degree of pseudo-Christian self-righteousness Ms. Davis has been able to foment, even among some of the Republican presidential candidates (who are trying to capitalize on it!)

    I guess they forgot about, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’



    1. There's an argument out there that goes something like this: true love is in making the "sinner" uncomfortable so as to drive him to the arms of Christ. I'll admit: I had to think on that one for awhile. In the end, I decided it was a crock of crap.

  3. So good, Brandee. I do admire the way you think, sister.

  4. This is a tough one for me to process.

    You've written an excellent post and I don't disagree with anything you've fact my views fall closer to yours than most.

    At the same time, I find it truly troubling that someone would be jailed for following their personally held religious convictions...religious convictions that have been held by many for thousands of years...and which created no conflict of interest with her elected position up until a few weeks ago.

    And on "The law is the law. If one works as an officer of the law she should be willing to fulfill her responsibilities under the law. If she cannot in good conscience do that, she should resign."...again I don't disagree with you. Yet, I find myself wondering where that fits with the prophet Daniel...or with Shadrak, Meshack and Abednego...should they have resigned their positions rather than refusing to obey? I know it's not exactly the same thing. But when should one resign and when should one take a stand for their convictions? I find the whole situation troubling.

    I've heard some compare the Kim Davis situation to racist behavior during the Civil Rights movement. And I understand the comparison...those racists also defended their position based on religious convictions. Yet, it's not really the same...similar in some ways, but certainly not the same...

    I don't seem Kim Davis as the hero some make her out to be...but neither do I see her as the villain others make her out to be.

    Not disputing anything you've written...just still prayerfully processing...

    1. Joe, thank you for being here. I love what you bring to the table and trust your heart 100%. Give me a day or so to reply more fully. I will but don't want to do so off the cuff.

    2. You ask good questions, Joe. :)

      I'm remembering that Daniel, as well as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were young Jewish men who, at the time of their defiance of King Nebuchadnezzar, had been taken (I've always understood involuntarily) from their homeland to serve in Babylon. So, a big difference between them and Mrs. Davis is that they really couldn't simply resign their position. She has options I'm thinking they didn't have.

      While I disagree with her choices on several levels, I don't see her as a villain either, Joe. I do see her to some degree as a pawn who is being used by and being misguided as to the law and good sense by some folks who are considerably more powerful than she. And I think this is sad and unfortunate.

      My biggest issue with this case is that because Kim Davis is a governmental official, she is in effect the government, and her actions are taken on the government's behalf. To that end, no matter what I think about her position on the question (I do not agree with her position, but I'd feel the same if I did), I don't believe that she can be permitted to act 1) contrary to law and 2) in violation of the rights of others on the basis of her personal beliefs. If we substitute other issues and other religious beliefs in place of right to marry and (certain brands of) Christian faith, it becomes more clear where this is problematic.

    3. LW, I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you for replying to Joe. Yes. I think it's important to put a fine point on the fact that Kim Davis wasn't jailed for following her religious convictions. She was jailed for refusing to follow the law, as an agent of the law. It's important to make that distinction! If she had resigned...if she had said: "I cannot in good conscience do this thing as a government official," would she not be following her religious convictions? So inside the scope of following religious convictions or making a stand, she had choices. She chose the more dramatic. Why? This is an important question to ask. To what extent does it come down to salary? That's a decent salary. I've never had a job in which I was able to agree to fulfill THESE tasks but not THIS one, and, yes, sometimes my responsibilities shifted over time. Does it have to do with fifteen minutes of fame? Does it have to do with making a stand in the way that's more painful or problematic for those whom she opposes and has judged? Because had she resigned quietly, the martyr title, I think, would fit better. What has she lost in going about things the way she has? She still has her position and paycheck. She's become famous: a hero to everyone who opposes same-sex marriage, a friend to presidential candidates. "Asked by a reporter whether her stay in jail was worth it, Davis smiled and nodded" ( She was blessed, evidently, by her jail stay. This is not a martyr.

    4. Still thinking about this article, as well as David Rupert's related article...

      As a person of faith, I completely agree that taking a stand for one's faith should not be expected to be without cost. Loss of a job, jail time, public scorn...all these should be expected and rejoiced in.

      As a United States citizen, I am concerned at the notion of someone being jailed for refusing to violate their conscience. Yes, I understand that what she was jailed for was contempt of court...refusing to obey a judge's orders. However, the judge's orders were in conflict with her personal convictions...personal convictions that were not in conflict with her job performance or duties up until a few weeks ago. At the time she took her oath of office, no such conflict existed.

      Yes, in my view there are much better ways Kim Davis could have handled the situation. However, she may have very well handled it in the best way she knew how based on her own convictions and conscience.

      It also seems to me that there are much better ways for our legal system to have handled this situation. Even as I type this I realize what a cop-out it is to blame 'the system'...but I'm not sure any one individual is accountable other than, perhaps, the Supreme Court justices.

      We're talking about a Supreme Court decision which has created new case law that runs contrary to the written laws in most states...laws that until now have always been understood to be under the jurisdiction of the state governments, not the federal government. This is not a minor is major.

      The general intent of the SC decision appears to be the protection of the rights of specific individuals...truly a worthwhile goal. And yet, because of the manner in which the change has come about, there has been absolutely no forthought or planning as to how the change is to be enacted or across what time frame, without infringing the rights of other individuals. Had there been some sort of designated transition period with intermediate steps, perhaps some of these issues could have been dealt with in some manner that did not require anyone to violate their conscience nor be jailed or lose their job for following their conscience.

      I don't have any answers...just a sense of unease at how this has all been dealt with...or, rather, failed to have been adequately dealt with...

    5. Thank you for making me think, Joe. I really appreciate your being here and taking the time to share your concerns with me and those who read in this place. I respect you so much.

      I want to acknowledge that you're absolutely right: we are encouraged, in Scripture, to rejoice when we are persecuted. Had I considered the treatment of Kim Davis to be persecution, I would've received her response to the jail stay in a more positive light. I don't consider her jail stay persecution, however, because she forced the hand of the judge who had her jailed. As an elected official, she can't be fired. She could've been fined, but I'm sure that the judge guessed her supporters would send checks to cover the fines. I suspect he thought imprisonment would be more effective in sending the message that he was serious...or in encouraging Davis to either fulfill her job responsibilities or resign. If he were persecutory, he wouldn't have released her; after all, little changed to inspire her release.

      There was a transition period, of sorts; there was a stay on the federal order until August 31st, at which time it expired. It was only after the expiration that Davis faced any consequences for her choices.

      I'm interested in discussing any further ideas that you might have about this situation. So much love to you, and appreciation for your genuine love for God and His people (including me).

  5. As I have written (at Patheos if interested), I admire her ability to stand up for her saviour. However, in the big picture, this portends of a greater societal trend. We can no longer rely on the Constitution to protect our rights. And according to the Bible, we have none.

    1. You make some good points in that article; thanks for pointing me to it. I had trouble locating it through search on Patheos. Googled your name, Davis's name, and Patheos to find it. If anyone would like to read it, here's the URL: