Kim Davis is, at least as of now, the most famous County Clerk in America. You’ve heard about her on the news, read about her in the paper, and been subject to various “We support Kim!” and “Kim needs to go!” social media posts from your friends across the political spectrum. Truth be told, Kim Davis isn’t the only government official who is in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. Alabama has a few of its own. She just happens to be the one being sued for it. Whether you are for or against marriage equality, however, the one thing we should all be doing is praying for Kim Davis.
Her decision to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples isn’t the result of her own ignorant bigoted opinions, as the left would have us believe. Instead, as Tony Jones rightly pointed out yesterday, she has made the choice to stand her ground based on her being taught some very dangerous theology in her church. I’ll let her tell you, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word.”
It wasn’t that long ago that I was really struggling with the decision of General Convention to allow the ordination of Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, as Bishop of New Hampshire. In my struggle, I was labeled and dismissed just like Kim Davis has been. Over the course of the last 12 years, I have found my opinions on things pertaining to human sexuality to be changing. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work in the lives and ministries of many gay clergy and lay leaders. I’ve come to know the powerful witness of same sex couples eager to make a life long covenant before God. I’ve realized that in a world filled with terrible understandings of the role sex in relationships, the Church should be lifting up monogamy and the two parent family as the ideal, no matter the genders of the two individuals involved. I voted against the canonical changes for marriage equality at this last General Convention, but not because I don’t support marriage equality as a justice issue, but because the changes proposed were sloppy at best. I’ve come a long way on the question of sexual orientation, but I know how long it took, I know how hard that change is. Some continue to look at me as narrow minded for having ever held those opinions or for holding Church canon to a high standard. They would label and dismiss me, but thanks be to God, I’ve come to know that it is OK for us to be at different places on this issue, just like we are on many others.
My favorite Greek word, that I’m pretty sure doesn’t appear in the Bible, is adiaphora, which means “things indifferent.” In the context of theology, it means those things which are not necessary to salvation. To use Kim Davis’ words, things that aren’t “Heaven or Hell decisions.” Despite what you might hear from the extreme right or the extreme left, one’s opinions regarding same sex marriage are not, and never have been, a matter of salvation. We should pray for Kim Davis that she might come to know the freedom that comes from the word adiaphora.
In Sunday’s Gospel lesson, we are faced with the tricky reality that even Jesus, the eternal Word made flesh, God in man made manifest, needed time to come to grips with the fullness of God’s love for all of his creation. In a story that is shocking to our 21st century ears, especially in the heightened racial tensions of the past several months, we hear Jesus using a racial slur in telling the Syrophoencian Woman that he came to show God’s love for the Jews. In the course of Jesus’ encounter with the woman, he is changed. His divine will overcame his human will as he realized what he had known all along: God loves everyone, no exception.
God loves you in your struggles. God loves me in mine. God loves David Moore and David Ermold, one of the couples to whom Davis has refused issue a license, in theirs. And yes, God loves Kim Davis. I pray she knows that even in her struggles, even if she did issue a same sex marriage license, God loves her.