Tuesday, September 01, 2015

This. This is a prime reason why I became a theologian--why I think about and study about and write about (and endlessly irritate my friends about) theology. Because theology--how we think about God--has very tangible effects on our lives and the lives of those we interact with. Theology can be life-giving or death-dealing. It can be the engine behind the greatest heights of human goodness (such as Mother Teresa) or the most despicable lows of human depravity (such as the Spanish Inquisition).

This poor woman--Rowan County (KY) Clerk Kim Davis--is acting out of conviction to some very bad theology. It is theology, taught to her, that has made her think in smug and exclusionary and legalistic terms. It is theology rooted in a deep-seated fear of Divine judgment and punishment, making it more important to appease a violent God than to follow a compassionate Christ. It is theology that slavishly follows the dead letter of the text (in a highly selective fashion) instead of walking in the light of the living Spirit.

Jesus, in warning about false prophets (those who claim to speak the will of God), said "You will know them by their fruits." St. Paul further elucidated on what the fruit of the Spirit looks like: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." The author of the letter which we call 1 John wrote, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." Again, St. Paul defined what love looks like: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." It is interesting that Paul's list of what love (and God) looks like begins with patience and kindness and also includes not dishonoring others.

What a contrast that is to the God which Kim Davis has shown the world. Her's is a very different God altogether, I would say.


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