By: Rev. Dr. Jarrod Cochran
I've chewed on the whole Kim Davis controversy in the media for the last few days and I think I've gathered my thoughts enough to make a greater comment. I'm a radical Christian, so naturally I support disobeying authority when it works against, subjugates, and oppresses others. Following a long line of Jewish prophets and Jesus himself, creative, nonviolent civil disobedience is called for against corruption and injustice.
With that said, I've seen quite a few posts attributing Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in line with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his defiance of an unjust government. However, King and the countless other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement defied a government to obtain equal rights, while Davis adamantly stands opposed to granting equal rights towards those she deems go against "God's will".
Make no mistake, Kim Davis nor the profiteers who are piggy-backing on her 15 minutes of fame for political points (Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz) are anything close to prophets. If we must to attempt to compare Davis and Company to people of eras past, we would find her not on the side of King but amid the throng of racists on the sidewalk supporting segregation during one of King's marches.
The thing that our fellow Christian brothers and sisters who support Davis' actions seem to forget is that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Nothing. We can actually push this further, by revealing that all of Scripture really says nothing on what we now call "homosexuality". But we've gone down this road before of dismantling the flimsy arguments against GLBTQ persons using cherry-picked verses out of scriptural, cultural, and social context. This has done nothing to stop fellow Christians from condemning homosexuality. Rather, all it has done is reveal a desire to follow dogma and personal bias over reality.
What we can point to, however, is the fact that Jesus had quite a bit to say against violence and practicing turning the other cheek. Yet, I've not heard Davis refuse to issue a gun permit because it goes against her Christian values. Would she consider adhering to the actual words attributed to Jesus in the gospels worthy of going to jail for? How many of her supporters would instead offer their ire if she instead refused to issue gun permits?
At what point did Christianity cease to look like Jesus? I realize that this happened millenia ago, but incidents like this allow us a moment to face this question.
But this question is not simply focused on the conservative Christians who know their doctrines but not Christ. This question is for the Christians on the left, as well. Once news of this clerk against equal rights hit social media, many from the Christian left allowed a steady stream of hate to pass through their minds and onto their keyboards. Disagreeing with Davis and calling her scriptural understanding into account were not enough for some as social media sites were inundated with comments, memes, and pictures that poked fun at Davis' past, her looks, and her intelligence. Christ does not look like this, either.
As followers of God, do we have a right to be angry? Of course we do. Whether one calls themself a Christian or any other label, the fact is that a prejudiced relic straight from the Jim Crow Era of bureaucratic business should anger us because she is actively pursuing to create a segregation that children of God know does not exist. Of course she deserves our anger as well as deserving of our voices to call her out for her abuses of scripture to validate her own prejudices. But thing she is most deserving of is our love.
This love would allow us to correct her errors and prejudices against our GLBTQ sisters and brothers, but also allow us to move forward. Our history will relegate Kim Davis to faceless masses of racist majorities that attempted to stand in the way of equality, if they remember her at all.
I speak of history because, at this very moment, history is accounting the 4 million Syrian refugees in need of shelter, comfort, and compassion. So, we have a choice to make: we can either continue to match the vitriol of a woman ignorant of her own religion or we can reveal what following Jesus is all about and work towards caring for the least, the last, and left out in this world. Davis will more than likely defy the court order and refuse to issue licenses again and then will go to jail, along with a media circus. This is all but a given. Don't let her footnote of prejudice be our endnote.
Jarrod Cochran is an ordained priest within the Progressive Episcopal Church and serving as Priest at Church in the Wild in Canton, Georgia. You can find Jarrod online at www.jarrodcochran.com.
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