Talking about cramming two hot button topics into a single headline! It was announced this week (with later Vatican confirmation) that Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to sign marriage licenses for same sex applicants and was subsequently jailed for six days, met privately with Pope Francis this past Thursday when he was in Washington. According to the Washington Post: “The pair reportedly chatted about bravery, then hugged and exchanged promises of prayer. The pope thanked Davis for her ‘courage,’ according to the press release, and told her to ‘stay strong.’ The news release also said Francis ‘presented Kim and Joe Davis each with a Rosary that he personally blessed’” (

When asked about the meeting, Vatican spokesman Manuel Dorantes responded, “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comments to add.”

Is anybody surprised with the pope’s private affirmation of her conscientious objection? Apparently some are. “Since his election as to the papacy in 2013, Francis — with his outspoken criticism of global warming and income inequality, as well as his perceived support of the gay community (‘Who am I to judge?’ he said) — has become a favorite of some liberals. His reported meeting with Davis could feel like a slap to progressives who see him — wrongly or rightly — as their ally on the topic of LGBT acceptance” (ibid).

Kim Davis herself seems surprised. The Post reports: “Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has said that her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses was ‘a Heaven or Hell decision’ and that she is refusing to issue the documents ‘under God’s authority.’ ‘I was humbled to meet Pope Francis,’ she said in a statement. ‘Of all people, why me?’ She added: ‘I never thought I would meet the Pope. Who am I to have this rare opportunity? I am just a County Clerk who loves Jesus and desires with all my heart to serve him’” (ibid).

Her attorney was less equivocal: “‘Kim Davis has become a symbol of this worldwide conflict between Christian faith and recent cultural challenges regarding marriage,’ [Mat] Staver said. ‘The challenges we face in America regarding the sanctity of human life, marriage, and religious freedom are the same universal challenges Christians face around the world. Religious freedom is a human right that comes from God. These values are shared in common by people of faith, and the threats to religious freedom are universal’” (ibid).

The pope and same sex marriage in America—two combustible debates in Christian circles. So where do we stand, you and I? With Kim Davis? With Pope Francis? With the Supreme Court? In “The Pugwash Factor: How to Respond to the Supreme Court’s Same Sex Marriage Decision” we grapple for the answer. Because somewhere in the life and teaching of Jesus there is enough precedence to know where He stood. And what (or who) could be more supreme than that?