With Kim Davis being jailed and released for contempt of court, my social media feed has been filled with affirmations of support.
#PrayforKimDavis, they say.
#StandWithKim, they urge.
Kim is being persecuted, they say, trampled on by the government, having her First Amendment rights taken away.
Of course, she is the Kentucky court clerk who has been refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Bloggers and presidential hopefuls have chimed in, urging Christians to stand behind Kim. Mike Huckabee has said that “God intervened,” to get Kim released from jail. But I don’t believe I will be standing with Kim.
Kim Davis won’t be in my prayers tonight.
Because Kim Davis is not being persecuted.
The Difference Between a Clerk and a Judge
I honestly don’t know how Christians believe that Kim Davis is being persecuted, except that it has been our cultural narrative for so long, that we believe everything we see is persecution – even when it is really the Christian who is acting out of line.
Our Supreme Court, like it or not, has made a ruling that has changed our cultural landscape. Before this, we decided a long time ago that if you are going to open a business to the public, then you have to serve the public.
Kim Davis is not just a business owner, she is a representative of the government. She collects her paycheck from the government, which is funded by taxpayers (including the gay ones.) Kim is not a judge. She is a clerk, and therefore, she does not get paid to decide which laws are just or unjust. When Kim Davis parks her car in front of the government courthouse, she doesn’t get to decide which laws she is going to participate in…
Well, she can. That’s called “civil disobedience.”
Civil Disobedience is a Right, But It Always Has Consequences
Civil disobedience has a long history in the United States, and I believe that is what Kim Davis has done. As a culture, we recognize that civil disobedience has its place…
…even though, by nature, you are breaking the law.
Kim Davis, as a proud American, can choose to civilly disobey the government. But doing so always has consequences. For Kim, it means being held in contempt of court and going to jail. That is her choice.
I think it’s incredibly tasteless to call the consequences that have befallen Kim “persecution.” Look back on the U.S., when the consequences for civil disobedience were not so civil. People have not only been arrested, they have been beaten. They have had fire hoses and dogs turned on them.
All those people who marched and sat in diners a generation ago knew that there would be consequences too. They knew their consequences would be terrible and they took that risk anyway.
So no, when I see a woman being respectfully escorted, not dragged, away to eat a few taxpayer-funded meals in the confines of a safe, secure jail cell, with no bruises or cuts on her face, I don’t see a woman being persecuted.
Well, maybe this is how a white woman gets persecuted.
I support her right to do so. But she was of sound mind when she did it. So I’m not going to be praying for her.
The Difference Between #FirstWorldPersecution and Real Persecution
I have actually read bloggers and church leaders who have had the audacity to actually put Kim Davis’ name in the same sentence as the Syrian refugees (which I know I just did), but to draw some kind of comparison, as if the two situations are at all alike.
Did you see that sign being held by a protester that read “Supreme Court = ISIS of America”?
What is happening in the Middle East, the destruction that is ISIS, only serves to prove that American Christians can be extremely small-minded at times. The persecution we have is #firstworldpersecution. Our “persecution” means that some people don’t like us very much. It’s nothing but a hashtag or a meme. It’s meaningless.
No one in America is running for their lives. No one is fleeing the homeland from a brutal gang of rapists and murderers. Real persecution doesn’t give you a choice. It destroys you for being who you are.
To compare anything that is happening here to ISIS is so extraordinarily tasteless, selfish, ignorant and wrong, I cannot stand it. For anyone, including Governor Huckabee, who thinks “God intervened,” I ask why God had the time for Kim Davis, but not the little Syrian boy whose body washed up on the beach?
Kim Davis is only a distraction, an interesting bit of reality television that allows us to remain indifferent to the real plight of the world.
Americans, our gospel has been fundamentally shaped by the power structure we have enjoyed for so long here in the West. Our gospel so often is only intended to preserve our own security and power. The events of the world reveal this – that the true gospel is not to preserve our own security and power, but to strip it away in service to people who are truly oppressed.
Jesus said that in the new Kingdom, the last will be first and the first will be last. Have we ever been taught to see ourselves as the ones Jesus is identifying as the first? I look ahead to the time when I will meet Jesus and know that there will be masses of people ahead of me, because they had to run and hide in this life while I enjoyed relative security.
No, I’m not going to pray for Kim Davis, because to do so is really only to pray for myself and my own sense of security.