Rebuking The Repayment of Evil for Evil

"To do evil that good may come of it is contrary to the doctrine of Christianity; that when times are so cloudy that we cannot go forward in the way of clearness and purity, it behooves us in the depth of humility to wait on the Lord to know his mind concerning us and our children."- John Woolman

Kim Davis....oh Kim Davis...

The now infamous Clerk in Rowan County Kentucky who continues to this day, in defiance of even the Supreme Court, under the claimed authority of refuse to issues marriage licenses.

I will not lie...she makes me angry.  Irrationally angry maybe, considering all the massive indignities and sufferings that LGBTQ people across the globe wake up to every day...why have the actions of this one particularly public official continued to get me so steamed? Maybe its because its an easy situation for me to sympathize with or imagine, which is to say, I can imagine walking through those courthouse doors with the determination to get a marriage license and being met with her cold stare.

I don't have complete answers or understanding around my anger towards Kim Davis...but I have been aware how my own anger has been making me uncomfortable.  I'm having to sit with what I choose to say about her for longer than normal, and when I have spoken quickly, I have regretted it.

For example, I made a pretty glib/generic "dustbin of history" posting in reference to her on Facebook toward the beginning of the whole ordeal.  Shortly after posting that, a friend who I haven't seen in years, but who I knew was from Kentucky, left a comment.  It was brief, and was simply a reminder that this person was from his hometown, and that this situation was what he woke up to confront in his own backyard.

I felt ashamed as I climbed down off my moral high horse.  I was ashamed that, with none of my personal skin on the line really, I made a pronouncement from Oregon about something that was being experienced in a very real way by a friend.  I was ashamed because I had to admit that in posting that, I was indulging some subconscious thoughts which generalized all of Kentucky as backwards.  How did I not know any better than that? I lived in Georgia for a year for God's sake! I remember feeling the hints of frustration after leaving how people would talk about "the South" hearing it with new ears.  Hello Northwest liberals, "the South" isn't a monolith, and there are just as progressive people there as there are in Oregon, and the inverse is true of us.  I should have known better than to think what I had begun to about Kentucky, when my anger was towards one person, but I missed the mark.

The days have continued and I've still posted about and followed the story as it has developed, hopefully a bit more sensitive than I was that particular day.  I am still convinced that what Kim is doing is evil, and that she is morally responsible for the harm she is doing.  I have extremely little patience for the famous progressive Christians who have come out with huge epics about how we need to forgive her and pray for her and yada yada yaaaaddaaaaaa....ok, reeling it in.  I get where they are coming from, I really do.  I get the long-righteous suffering Christian narrative, but I also think there has to be SOME consideration given to the target of the oppression versus the oppressor.

Yes, pray for those who persecute you. Duh.  However, if in your calls to lift up Kim Davis, you haven't paid equal attention to the queer couples who have faced daily humiliation at her hand, or the LGBTQ kids in Kentucky, then I have to be honest and question if it is coming from a place of centered listening, or more from a place of keeping up Christian appearances.  I admit I could very well be wrong on that entire point.

Finally, the reason for the biggest part of my anger at the moment, and one that I want to rebuke, has arisen from amongst LGBTQ folks and allies.

Surprised? Yeah me too to be honest....and if anyone knows me, you know the word rebuke is generally not in my rotation of go-to words, but my feelings about it are that strong.

I've seen people leap to vicious and uncalled for ad hominem attacks about Kim relating to generally three things, her physical appearance, her clothes, and her pervious marriages.

Starting with the last one....which maybe I can kind of understand its origins more....I think people bring up her previous marriages because of the many biblical references to divorce.  In one way I can understand pointing out the hypocrisy of someone claiming to value marriage so much, but only to a point, because I know absolutely nothing about those relationships she had.  Lets play out a hypothetical shall we?

Lets assume that her marriages ended because they were how do you feel bringing those up against her? Like an ass I bet...

That was an extreme, but I think it proves the point that we shouldn't weaponize someone else's relationships when we simply do not know so much about them.  Maybe there is a way to use that point to bring the hypocrisy to light....but I personally cannot see it.  The evil she is perpetrating is not made more evil by bringing up that history, it only invites a dangerous coldness into our hearts.  

The last two...I'll handle together.

How can a community that has been on the receiving end of so many bullies, from the schoolyard to the halls of Congress, seriously mock another human being in this way?  How could a community that suffers immensely, more than any other, from body-image issues and eating disorders, seriously cackle about the way a person looks? Shame on us.

Let me say it plainly, I don't spend a lot of money on fashionable clothes, I don't get expensive haircuts, and I am short and overweight.  I've been made fun of for being unattractive and for how I dress, and it was wrong.  I am a human being god dammit and so is she.  So if you have a single comment to make about her hair, her clothes, or any part of the way God made her body....well, if Kim was in the room with me, I'd stand in front of her and rebuke you before I'd allow her to hear your evil thoughts.

What Kim is doing is evil, but I utterly reject the repayment of evil for evil.

Ok...reeling it in a bit.  Thanks for making it through this post with me dear readers, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what I got right or what I am missing.  Maybe some of what I said resonated with how you've been feeling? I won't write anger blogs like this often, but it just felt very important to do tonight.


  1. Thank you for this. Don't be so hard on yourself. I grew up in Kentucky. 'Kim Davis Christianity' is EVERYWHERE, there. This hateful branch of Christianity is adhered to even by some of my family. I accept it even in some of my friends. If I tried to purge it, I would lose lifelong relationships. So I know it is there. You are right to say it is there.

    I am new to Quakerism, but I already know that I will apply for membership. Thanks for being Queer and Quaker! Love, Christopher Gilbert

    1. Hello Christopher : ) Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! Welcome to the Religious Society of Friends, and cheers to the beginning of a new journey!

      I know it is hard work and requires a lot of graciousness to keep those relationships in your life, but I sincerely admire you for doing that. The only thing that will ever change hearts is through being in relationship.

  2. A.J. I so appreciate this post. To be able to see oneself and one's weaknesses is an aspect of Christianity that has been downplayed in recent years. I applaud that you rethought your immediate reactions to Kim Davis and are not to repaying evil for evil. Thank you. When we carry out campaigns to defile one who has hurt us we are not only repaying evil, but creating a whole passel of badness.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting and for the support Claire : ) I hadn't articulated that about seeing oneself and one's weakness as being downplayed recently, but now that you mention it I can totally see that!

  3. What you are basically saying is two wrongs don't make a right. Amen!! I agree with that one hundred percent! My problem with her has nothing to do with looks. I didn't even notice any particular detail to criticize. She looks just like a lot of middle class American women (myself included; short and overweight).

    Her marital history makes her a hypocrite to me. Not because she was divorced but because she married three or four times. I do not believe every relationship was abusive so that is not an excuse to break the sanctity of marriage. Not a believable one anyway.

    No, my problem is with the way she is using Christianity as her excuse for poor behavior. I am a Christian and my Savior preaches compassion, love and kindness. He did NOT preach breaking the law, judging others. The Bible flat out says "Judge not lest ye be judged." Her actions are judgmental so she should expect others to judge her. In my personal opinion, she took the Lord's name in vain when she claimed she was following God's Will. I find that extremely offensive.

    Will I pray for her? I'll try. But I don't have God's patience and heart so getting past the disgust is hard for me. I know (because I actually do read the Bible!) that God wants us to love each other, so I will try. I just ask Him for a boatload of patience in the process!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Sandy! Oh yeah I definitely don't think that all her marriages ended in abusive situations, only took that to an extreme to make a point that I don't know anything about her marriages. I was really offended/disgusted by the scenes from the rally yesterday after her release....*sigh*...I will be be joining you in praying for boatloads of patience from above X (

  4. If God calls one to civil disobedience, one should be prepared to accept consequences. I feel as clearly about that in this case as for tax resisters, kayaktivists, antiwar protestors, even people needing to be faithful to leadings about whether or not to wear a tie in court. Bless Justice Scalia (Justice Scalia!) for saying if her religious beliefs conflict with the duties of her job she needs a different job.

    At the same time we need more of the stories of transformation that happens for instance when people labor and pray together. Today for instance I uphold someone WAY uncomfortable with same gender relationships came to see Jesus in the eyes of one of the people who made her uncomfortable. It's not all a bed of roses and one of these days more of a blog post will come.

    And God is bigger than this one moment and God calls us to..

    1. So soooo thankful that God is bigger than this moment! Thanks for reading and commenting : )

  5. I guess I fully support her right to put her foot down and do this as an act of civil disobedience, even while being a public servant. Even though my views on probably everything are entirely different from hers, I can respect that she would take a stand for what she feels is right, and do so no matter what the cost.

    I'm not clear what she was doing that was evil (she thought God was on her side and lots of people make that mistake everyday without being Evil, just invested in limiting belief systems or impacted by childhood or whatever). I don't necessarily think that she should be punished for it either, or need to find another job. If there are ways for a person to be given breathing room while following their conscience, I think we should. That said, I tried not to follow that news story, so it's entirely possible that I've missed something vital!

    But I like a world in which we can give one another breathing room without calling the other's behavior evil. I don't want you to feel any worse than you already did about your own feelings -- your feelings are fine! But yeah, I vote for breathing room for all people following their conscience: and for us liberals to stop assuming that when conservatives do it they have some authority over us. They don't! Only the Light does. So we are free to follow it anyway and can give them space....

    I'm so glad things worked out the way they did: that the system can go on making inclusive changes around her....that her coworkers will handle the needed tasks, etc. I guess I think that's the ideal conclusion.



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