I’m Getting a Little Preachy

Listening to the news and scrolling through Facebook, I hear this name and see this face everywhere.  Kim Davis…  Lots being said about Kim Davis.

I feel wrong for being glad and for feeling a sense of vindication because she was jailed today for contempt of court.  Why wrong?  Taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune is something that I strive to avoid.

But I have to own those emotions — there should be consequences for her actions, and I am pleased that she is facing some.  I have been disturbed by her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay people, claiming that it goes against her Christian religion.

My reasons for feeling this way are manifold:

  1. A sense of unfairness — the rest of us have to follow the laws.  Why should she be exempted?
  2. Discrimination — homosexuals now have the legal right to get married in all 50 states.  Whether you agree or disagree with homosexuality, homosexuals have the same rights as non-homosexuals.  Discrimination against any group, especially in ensuring the same legal rights as the majority, is just plain prejudicial, unethical, and wrong.
  3. Use of religion — ARGH!  Herein lies my biggest frustration.

I have seen comments and articles that argue that since this is her job, she should just do her job.  I agree, up to a point.  Everyone should have the ability to question their own actions on a job, and to be able to refuse to do something if it is unethical or illegal.  Following orders blindly is questionable behavior, as well, but in this case, issuing marriage licenses IS legal.  She, however, is choosing to do what is illegal and unethical — discriminating.

But the use of religion as her validation for her actions irritates and scares me.  I am a Christian, but I don’t want this to be the example of my faith.  And it has nothing to do with my feelings about homosexuality.  It has everything to do with the judging and unloving attitude that she is exhibiting.

I believe that my God charged me with loving my neighbor.  He didn’t call me to His side by asking that I determine what is right or wrong.  He doesn’t ask me to judge those around me and determine their worthiness.  (And for not doing so, I am forever grateful.  What a huge burden and responsibility to judge others — I would not want to determine someone’s character based on the imperfect knowledge that I have about that person.  I have, at best, a 50/50 chance of getting it right, but in reality, very little hope of knowing that person’s heart and head.  Judging is best left to an all-knowing God.)

God doesn’t ask me to determine what sins are worse than others and rank people based on the “hierarchy” of their sins.  He doesn’t ask me to treat certain groups of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or behavior and actions, with less dignity or respect or love.  He doesn’t ask me to treat anyone as less than any other person.

He asks me to LOVE.  Love my neighbor.  Love my enemy.  Between those two ends of the spectrum, I think the message is clear — love all.

I do not feel like Kim Davis is exhibiting a loving heart.  And there are PLENTY of other examples like this one that are of someone who calls themselves a Christian acting without a loving heart.  She is not alone in her behavior.

But I am scared that people view actions like these as “how a Christian acts.”  I am scared that people will view Christians who judge, persecute, and marginalize those who do not “act like we think they should” as reflections of Christianity and God.  I am scared that people will turn away from God if these are the examples of living in the faith.  And why wouldn’t they?

These are the reasons why I have a problem with Kim Davis’s actions (and yes, I know I am judging…ironic, huh?).  She is not a reflection of me just because we share the same God and Jesus.  This is why I was secretly excited to see her experience some punishment.  (Again, I wish that I didn’t feel that way — you know, All Judgy Judgerson.)

I need to remind myself and pray that her future actions aren’t based on avoiding punishment, but on loving those around her.  In a perfect world, she would go back to work and not discriminate when doing her job, not because she faces punishment, but because she found that love for all those around her.  Wouldn’t that be a great example of what God urges us to do?

Asking and receiving

I was raised in a Christian house. We went to church every Sunday. Whether my sister and I wanted to go or not (and there were lots of Sundays we didn’t want to go).

I grew up in a world of Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools, Bible Stories and such.

I could quote lots of Bible verses and not just “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). That’s the shortest verse in the Bible, for any of you who maybe don’t know the Bible that well.

I knew as a little girl that God wants us to pray. I had heard many times through my young life “…ask, and ye shall receive…” (John 16:24) and “….but in every thing by prayer and supplication in thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6). I had heard tales of people in dire situations who prayed to God for intervention and were rescued, people who had the faith that their prayers would bring about miracles and then the miracles happened. Asking in prayer and receiving was a common occurrence.

I was also a child of the 1970s. The era of either really good or really bad TV, depending on your point of view. I was a big fan of Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter. I watched her show every week and dreamed of being a super hero, fighting bad guys and keeping peace. I wanted a pair of gold cuffs like Wonder Woman in order to save people, too.

And with my unshakeable faith, I determined that I would ask God to give me some. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed for a pair of Wonder Woman’s cuffs.

In Action

Fabulous Cuffs

I remember spending at least one hour before bed time one night praying as hard as I could that God would send me a set of my very own gold cuffs. And I knew that when I woke up the next morning they would be waiting for me. I was asking, so I would be receiving.

The next morning, much like a Christmas morning, I ran downstairs into our den, quickly scanning the sofa, the floor, the chair, the side tables. No gold cuffs.

I ran through the house, searching other rooms. No gold cuffs.

And in retrospect, I have to admit, my faith in God’s willingness to answer prayers died a little that day.

Earlier this week, I told this story to two of my co-workers, really making fun of myself. As in, “Ha, ha, wasn’t I silly and naive, praying for a pair of Wonder Woman gold cuffs? And, of course, I never got them.”

And one of the women said to me, “You have cuffs somewhere. They just don’t look like Wonder Woman cuffs.”

I. Was. Floored.

Could that be it? Did I fall trap to the fallacy that God answers prayers exactly the way one asks Him to? Even my childhood prayer for gold cuffs that would save people? Have I allowed my faith to have this tiny crack in it for all these years because I expected cuffs with red stars when maybe my people-helping cuffs are really my sense of humor or my willingness to lend a hand? I think that I did.

I have many examples in my life, especially in my adult life, that it turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” when the goal or the “thing” that I thought that I most wanted in the whole wide world, I didn’t get. Everyone probably has a similar story. The promotion that they didn’t get, or job that they didn’t take. The person that they didn’t marry, or the house that they didn’t buy. You don’t get what you think you wanted, but instead end up with something better. Some people call those “unanswered prayers” because they prayed so hard for the thing that they didn’t get. “Oh,” they say, “I’m so glad that God didn’t answer my prayers and give me X, because I’m so much happier with Y.”

I don’t call those unanswered prayers. God answered the prayers, just not in the way that was expected. (He’s good like that.)

I’ve had so many answered-in-a-different-way prayers. And this week, I learned that my gold cuffs were answered in a different way, as well. I’m finally comfortable calling myself Wonder Woman.