When it comes to Kim Davis, the lady refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky, there is part of the story that remains unsaid.
Most of the complaints against her are that she is a hypocrite: refusing marriage licenses while having been divorced three times. The most legally compelling argument says she is violating court orders. That would bring us to religious freedom vs. equality for same-sex couples. I kind of wished the Supreme Court would have heard that argument and ruled. They instead ruled by ignoring the complaint and upholding lower court rulings that she must begin issuing licenses.
Left unsaid is that Ms. Davis’ religious objections aren’t actually very Christian. She may have a few lines from Scripture on her side. And she may very well have a whole culture of religious dogma backing her up. But does her stance actually stand up in light of the teachings and example of Christ?
Jesus clearly articulated that his followers were to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus also clearly stated that his followers were to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:37-39). When pressed about what it means to love a neighbor, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, defining love as ‘showing mercy’ (Luke 10:37). In Matthew’s gospel Jesus twice chides religious/legal authorities that God “desires mercy not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13 & Matthew 12:7). How many of Jesus’ parables are about mercy? Mercy seems to be the essence of the Christian witness.
Does Ms. Davis love her gay neighbors? She may claim to. Claiming to isn’t enough. Loving in the Christian sense is showing mercy. Where is the mercy in Ms. Davis’ stance? I don’t see it. Ms. Davis allegedly told a gay couple seeking a marriage license that “you all will face your consequences when it comes time for judgment“. This is a real twisting of what it means to be merciful. Warnings of judgement are by their nature coercive. Coercion is a power move, and stands in stark contrast to the teachings and example of Christ.
Ms. Davis may, in reality, be practicing her religion as she refuses to love her LGBT neighbors as herself. But let us not be fooled: Ms. Davis’ religion ought not be confused with Christianity.