Kim Davis is the Kentucky court clerk who will likely lead all national newscasts tonight. She has refused the grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Immediately after SCOTUS’ ruling in favor of marriage equality in June, several clerks in the South refused to issue licenses, but they all eventually relented. All, that is, except for Kim Davis.
Today, once again, she refused to grant licenses to two couples — one gay, one lesbian — who arrived at her office amidst a phalanx of reporters and protesters. Here’s what happened:
Davis came out of office briefly to speak to couple (part 1) pic.twitter.com/lzuHysWi0T
— Hillary Thornton (@HillaryWKYT) September 1, 2015
Shortly thereafter, Davis released a statement, which I found to be both genuine and even touching. For example, she writes about her conversion to Christianity, the result of visiting church after promising her dying mother-in-law that she would:
Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.
However, the church she attends unfortunately taught her this:
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.
And there’s the hangup. Somewhere along the line, Davis came to believe that marriage is a matter of heaven and hell — that is, a matter of salvation.
But it’s not.
RC Sproul, Jr. is not threatened with damnation for visiting AshleyMadison.com, Tullian Tchividjian isn’t for having an affair, and Kim Davis won’t be for issuing a gay or lesbian couple a marriage license. That’s not how salvation works, even in the most conservative of theologies. Salvation comes through the grace extended by God through Jesus Christ. Each of us receives that in spite of our sins and foibles.
If you tend toward the evangelical, you might probably think this grace is extended either to those who choose Christ or those who were predestined to be among the Elect. And if you’re progressive, you probably think this grace to extended to everyone (and Hell is empty). In either case, God’s gift of grace is not contingent upon our behavior. It’s completely, unequivocally, beautifully free.
So here’s hoping that Kim Davis’s pastor preaches a sermon this Sunday, not on politics or religious liberty or the culture wars, but on God’s free gift of grace.Because gay marriage is most decidedly not an issue of Heaven and Hell.