There is a lot you can say about Kim Davis, the Rowena County Clerk in Kentucky who is making a stand against same-sex marriage.
You’ve probably been reading the news, and you know that Kim Davis has gone to court multiple times, even to the Supreme Court, to try to get a religious exemption from having to sign off on marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Even though it’s her job to issue these licenses, she’s an elected official, so she can’t just be fired for refusing to do her job. There is a certain amount of schadenfreude to see this woman stand up for her bigoted beliefs and to keep getting shot down by the court, to the point where she will likely now go to jail. She is in the wrong because same-sex marriage is not just a civil right, it’s the law. And I am in no way defending her, just to make that clear. I’m trying explain what exactly her beliefs are, why she thinks she’s not a hypocrite, and how you can counter people with this mindset (if you choose to engage with the other side–which you don’t have to do).
We all know about her past: the various divorces, children, adultery, and re-marriages. (Although, to be honest, even if she weren’t hypocritical for allowing herself to have the same marital freedoms that she is denying others, she would still be completely wrong.) And this might sound weird, but Kim Davis and her supporters do not think she’s a hypocrite.
Here’s a little explanation about her perspective. According to Ms. Davis, she started going to a (Apostolic Christian) church four years ago, and she considers herself “saved” because she asked for forgiveness and she’s now faithful. In certain types of Christianity, you are considered saved through grace, meaning that you just need to ask for forgiveness and make an honest effort to adhere to the religious dogma, and you’re good! It doesn’t matter if you’re not perfect–Christians acknowledge that nobody is perfect but that they’re saved anyway. I saw someone ask, does this mean that Hitler could be saved if he repented before his death? Yes, that is exactly what that means. I grew up in the Bible Belt, and in high school, there was always an influx of people coming in on Monday saying how they were “saved,” only to “sin” again by Saturday. And probably get saved again on Sunday, who knows. (I, on the other hand, was raised in the Lutheran church, which was comparatively moderate to the other churches in my county.) Anyway, my point is, whatever she’s done in her past, in her eyes and in the view of her church, she’s forgiven. And she feels she has to deny same-sex marriage because if she were to allow it, she would be actively “sinning” by indirectly condoning it.
So, you can try to say that she’s hypocritical for being divorced and committing adultery, but you won’t get through to the Christians on her side, because they have forgiven her and she’s no longer living that lifestyle. She also believes that same-sex marriage goes against the Bible (because her religion takes the Bible literally) and that Jesus was against it.
Here’s something you can say that might get through to the anti-gay Evangelicals: Jesus does not take a clear position on same-sex marriage. A lot of the anti-gay stuff in the Bible is in the Old Testament, whereas Christianity is supposed to be all about Jesus and the New Testament. And the New Testament barely mentions homosexuality, apparently, and even so, it doesn’t explicitly say that homosexuality is any greater a “sin” than any other sin (and even then, we’re talking about an English version of a text that was originally non-English, so the exact wording may be incorrectly translated–which is kind of what makes English-speaking Bible-Literalists so silly). The reason that Christians keep the Old Testament around is because it’s a reminder of how vengeful their god can be, and how amazing it was when Jesus sacrificed himself to their god so that they would all be saved and go to Heaven, as long as they believed in the teachings of Jesus (a.k.a. John 3:16).
In the New Testament, Jesus mentions marriage occasionally, and he mentions how God created men and women. But he never explicitly says that marriage between partners of the same sex/gender should be denied! He just acknowledges marriages that he’s heard of. This is obviously a hotly-debated subject, based on translations and interpretations. Here is a summary of the passages that some Christians use, from the New Testament, to say that homosexuality is a sin, and here are those same passages that are refuted by a pro-gay Christian site.
When Kim Davis says that her authority is the Christian god, she’s right (in her mind). It would go against her religious dogma to allow same-sex couples to get married, and she honestly believes that she would go to Hell for that, so what she’s going through right now is logically-consistent with her beliefs. In fact, I bet she’s glad to be going to jail, because she probably views this whole episode as a test of her faith, and she probably thinks that jail is preferable to Hell. It will be interesting to see how long she stays in contempt of the court.
Disclaimer: I’m just an atheist who was raised Christian in the Bible Belt, so I have a working understanding from observing Southern Baptists, but I’m not a biblical scholar (which is why I suggest you read the sites above if you actually want to debate a legit Evangelical).
I’ve seen people try to say, it’s a good thing that the judges who granted her divorces did so despite their religious views, and I would agree that it’s a good thing that people who work for the government are able to put aside their magical beliefs in order to follow the law of the land. However, even though I can’t speak for her, she would probably counter with the point that if a judge refused to grant her a divorce due to their religious belief, she just would’ve gone to another judge. In fact, one of her fellow bigoted clerks is using the same argument right now: why can’t the same-sex couples just find another county clerk to sign off on their marriage license? (I have a better question: why do we have to continue to pay government employees for refusing to do part of their job?)
And while we’re at it, here are other you can stop saying about her: stop commenting on her looks. It doesn’t matter what her hairstyle is, what clothes she wears, or whether or not she gives you a boner. If she were beautiful, she would still be a horrible bigot. If she had the body of a Fox News anchor, she would still be a civil-right-denying anti-gay zealot. It doesn’t matter what she looks like. It doesn’t matter that she’s a woman.
Also, stop making fun of her for being a Southerner. There are plenty of Southerners who are pro-LGBT rights, like the couples who live in her county who are trying to get married. Kim Davis might have a Southern accent, and she might be representative of a lot of bigoted Southerners, but being Southern does not make her a bigot. Adhering to the religious dogma of her bigoted church, however, does. So let’s divorce (haha) ourselves from the idea that only Southerners are the ones who are anti-LGBT, because unfortunately you can find those attitudes everywhere.