Add adultery to the list of sins Kim Davis can live with ahead of same-sex marriage

When she refused to issue marriage licenses yesterday, Kim Davis sternly, emphatically asserted that she was doing to “under God’s authority,” later telling a gay couple that, “I’m willing to face my consequences as you all will face your consequences when it comes time for judgment.”

In a statement released later in the day, Davis said she couldn’t “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage,” which everyone else following the story found one part laughable and one part insulting given that Davis has been married four times.

But we already knew that.

What we didn’t know, until yesterday, was that not only is Davis thrice-divorced, but that her children were conceived in sin, as it were. From US News:

[Davis] gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second. Davis worked at the clerk’s office at the time of each divorce and has since remarried.

Given the situation as described, it sounds like the law Davis should really be fighting is the one against polygamy, not the one affirming marriage equality.

But for Biblical scholar Kim Davis, adultery should be a pretty big problem, as it doesn’t take too careful a reading of the Bible to know that God hates adulterers much, much more than he hates gays. Never mind the fact that God sets a pretty low bar for the sin — one can commit adultery for so much as reading a graphic novel or getting a divorce (unless someone was getting some on-the-side strange; then divorce is negotiable). But setting that aside, God has a special kind of hatred for conceiving children with men who are not your husband, not only condoning but mandating abortion in such cases.

But no matter. For Davis, these past crimes against God are irrelevant because it was only after her three divorces and adulterous children that she came to Jesus. From a statement Davis released yesterday:

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.

Oh, pardon me. I wasn’t aware that none of your sexual and familial history mattered because one of your four mothers in law apparently found you so sinful that her dying wish was for you to find Jesus and stop being — what’s the Christian word for it? — a harlot. That’s all in the past, so we should just get over it. But as for the current marriages that Christian county clerks are supposed to execute as secular public servants? Judge on. As Dan Savage wrote yesterday:

Kim Davis

Kim Davis

It’s a pretty neat trick: If I bring up Kim Davis’s four marriages, I’m being rude and mean-spirited and her first three marriages are in the past and she’s saved now and fuck you, gaywad. (That’s the reaction you get on Twitter when you mention Davis’s three divorces and four marriages.) But it’s not rude and mean-spirited for Kim Davis to tell same-sex couples that they’re sick and sinful and going to hell (opinions she’s free to hold) and to further prevent these couples from freely exercising their civil and secular right to wed (something Davis, as a public servant, is not free to do)—and somehow it’s not dangerous for the goons at Liberty Counsel cram this new and potentially destabilizing definition of “religious freedom” down all of our throats. (A pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-denominational, multi-faith society where “them’s my religious beliefs!” is legitimate grounds for Americans discriminate against each other? That sounds like fun.)

If Kim Davis were only a private citizen, none of her marital or sexual history would be worth looking into or writing about. Private citizens who are opposed to same-sex marriage are more than welcome to be massive hypocrites, having as many divorces and committing as much adultery as they please without making the front page of the New York Times. But public officials — hypocrites or not — have to perform their secular, public functions.

If Davis won’t, someone soon will.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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