Feminism

Why Kim Davis Doesn’t Think She’s a Hypocrite

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.

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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12 Comments

  1. September 4, 2015 at 10:27 am —

    >I have a better question: why do we have to continue to pay government employees for refusing to do part of their job?

    Here’s another: Why should we have to petition the government for permission to marry someone in the first place?

    The fact is, however, we do have to ask, and it’s Kim Davis’s job to issue governmental permission to marry to people who ask for it. If she truly believes in individual freedom–the basis of her claim to religious freedom– and finds her religion is not compatible with her job she should resign, not interfere the rights of others to choose a lifestyle different from her own.

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:52 am —

      I agree! She should work for a church, not the government. I honestly have no idea why she won’t resign except maybe she wants to be a martyr.

      • September 4, 2015 at 11:41 am —

        Dingdingdingding!

        It’s actually nothing new. Look at any terrorist organization of note: Christian theocrats, Islamic theocrats, white supremacists, animal rights groups, all of them regard anyone captured or killed as a result of that as a martyr, even if they were in the process of murdering someone at the time. While this woman isn’t nearly that bad, she’s still doing it for the martyrdom.

  2. September 4, 2015 at 11:20 am —

    Excellent post. It’s a shame your last two paragraphs even had to be written.

    It’s funny, while the Biblical Jesus is silent on the issue of gay marriage, he addresses at some length the proper relationship between the Christian and the secular state. (Probably because this was a pressing issue for the early church leaders who wrote the gospels.) It’s pretty well encapsulated by the famous line “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.” It seems to me that Jesus wouldn’t have looked too highly on a Christian refusing to do their duty to the secular state. But I’m not a Christian and never have been, so maybe that’s not the way modern Christians interpret that.

  3. September 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm —

    To me, the fact that she’s taking a personal stand, means that her own hypocrisy is infinitely relevant.

    If she were arguing her case in court, or some other environment where parties can be expected to abide the conclusions of the argument, hypocrisy is a meaningless ad hominem

    She’s put herself in a situation where she is the final arbiter of morality, and thus her own failings in the same field are nothing but relevant.

    • September 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm —

      Yeah but she regards herself as saved, and technically, according to a pretty mainstream form of Christianity, she is not currently a hypocrite for being a divorced adultery. However, the fact that she probably still approved marriages for hetero people who may be divorced DOES go against her beliefs–and that is hypocritical when she denies the right of marriage to same sex couples.

  4. September 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm —

    I have been thinking of this issue as an example of why the separation of church and state is SO important! I wonder how many intersexed people she had married without knowing it, that would probably blow her mind ;)

    I do dislike it when the general public jumps on the bandwagon to make fun of her personal characteristics because of her bigoted beliefs. It becomes a distraction from the important issue at hand, which is following the law and ending discrimination!

  5. September 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm —

    Kim Davis took an oath and she broke that oath and will not obey it.
    Her beliefs have nothing to do with this.
    There is a separation of church and state in this country, like it or not.
    She has to do her job according to the law or else.
    Well, or else happened.
    If she does not agree with what her job requires, then Davis should step down.
    This woman was voted by the people to serve and she even said that she would serve all people.
    That does not mean all people except those whose lifestyles differ from her beliefs.
    The sooner she goes away, the better.

    George Vreeland Hill

    • September 7, 2015 at 8:16 pm —

      Her beliefs have everything to do with why she’s refusing to uphold her duties and why she’s willing to go to jail. The separation of church and state in the US is more like a blurry line, unfortunately. There are so many tax loopholes that benefit churches.

      Also, I know she was elected, technically, but I doubt she was running against anyone else. Most people don’t even bother voting in these elections, or they don’t really care who wins. Her mom had the job before her. I doubt that she had a campaign or that many people knew about her stance on same sex marriage.

      I’m more interested now in how long she will stay in jail. Given her beliefs, I don’t think she will ever change her mind, so it’s just a question of how long the judge will keep her in there. We’ll see!

  6. September 9, 2015 at 8:15 am —

    I would also appreciate it, on behalf of the lesbians who Kim Davis is denying equal rights to, if people could just stop making “funny jokes” about how gangs of lesbians are going to rape Kim Davis in prison. I mean, do I really have to explain why that’s an incredibly shitty thing to say?

    • September 9, 2015 at 9:11 am —

      Yeah, prison rape jokes are not funny.

      Not that I don’t believe you, because I know this type of behavior is rampant, but where did you hear or see those jokes? I’ve been trying to follow this story and even read the comments on most stories and I haven’t seen them, not that I would want to, so I’m curious where you saw them.

      Was it Facebook, because I avoid that place because of it’s rigidly ignorant attitudes.

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