I opened today’s Lansing State Journal to an article about how Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has until midnight Saturday to veto an “anti-gay” bill that allows businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples because of the business’s religious views. Big Republican names such as John McCain and Mitt Romney are on Twitter telling her she should veto the bill. As I read the article, my mind pictured a restaurant owned by Christian business owners with signs reading “No Gays Allowed”, or something horrific and ugly like that. I wondered how a law that horrible got passed in the first place. I’ve been pretty clear in previous blog posts that just because a Christian believes, according to the Bible, that homosexual actions are sinful, it doesn’t mean they should treat gays and lesbians any differently (e.g. on Boy Scouts policy, on gay marriage / civil unions). We Christians should treat them the same as we would heterosexuals who are having sex outside of marriage (which is almost every non-Christian we know), something Christians also consider a sin. We aren’t to hold people who aren’t Christians and don’t believe the Bible to the same standard that we hold Bible-believing Christians, Paul himself tells us this in 1 Corinthians 5:12. Logically it doesn’t even make sense to hold someone to the standards of a holy book they don’t first personally and on their own free will sign on to. It is illogical to attempt to hold me to the standards of the Quran, as I haven’t signed on in agreement to that as God’s Word for my life. But it makes perfect sense to hold a Muslim to the standards of the Quran. So don’t attempt to hold a non-Christian to the standards of the Bible, whether they be Muslim, atheist, gay or lesbian. And don’t judge or stigmatize them when they don’t.
To be consistent (which is the key concept missing in all of these debates), if a law is passed saying I can withhold my business services to gay and lesbians, I also need a law passed saying I can withhold my services from those having sex outside of marriage, those who’ve been divorced, and those who get drunk. These are three sins that Christians who get up in arms about GLBT issues in the public square need to honestly compare their reactions to, because these are extremely similar to the homosexual commands in the Bible. All four of these are premeditated things that you are willingly and consciously doing, without making effort to refrain from, and all four of them are widely accepted by our culture. We treat those who get drunk, divorcees and fornicators (how ’bout that for a KJV word ‘atcha!) without stigma, yet those in the GLBT community with extreme stigma–which is inconsistent and wrong.
As I was reading up on Bill SB1062 today, I discovered this interesting bit of information; information that hasn’t been in most of the articles I had read up to this point: (quoted from thenewcivilrightsmovement.com )
The Elaine Photography case involved a lesbian couple who sued the photographer for refusing to take photos of their commitment ceremony. The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously decided in the couple’s favor, based on a violation of the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Remember, New Mexico didn’t even have same-sex marriage at the time.
This is where this whole ordeal began. What I find ironic is that same-sex marriages weren’t even legal in New Mexico at the time of this case! Consider the implications of that. If you are a photographer, you are now legally forced to go to any and all social gatherings against your will.
I have plenty of friends who run small photography businesses, most of them who are Christians. It’s one thing to deny a gay or lesbian service at a restaurant, as I described above. But isn’t legally forcing a photographer to photograph a lesbian marriage the same as forcing them into a political viewpoint, let alone the argument that can be made that their religious freedom is being taken away by being forced into this? Let alone forcing someone to participate and witness something they hold to be immoral?
If I own a photography business and I have a personal or religious view that polygamous marriages are wrong, should I be legally forced to go to a polygamous wedding and shoot photos of the groom and brides?
It’s actually kind of scary to think about the amount of power our legal system will have over us and the amount of freedoms we as individuals won’t have as this line of thought continues.
If a lesbian couple, or a polygamous family, were to come into my Christian-owned restaurant, I had better serve them good food and treat them extra friendly. I had better show them the love and grace of Jesus, just as I would a non-married couple who is living together, or a couple who has been divorced and remarried.
But this is different than having to bless and agree with their actions as a Christian. Having to attend the act itself and put my name behind it. If a frat party wanted to hire me as a photographer for their drunken, make-out (and more) filled party, would I be forced by law to oblige? Would I be forced by law to photograph a porn shoot? It seems I would! If we are being consistent that is…
Or if that example seems too far-fetched, a swimsuit modeling shoot would also make an appropriate comparison. If I were a public photography business, there’s no way I would accept a job doing a swimsuit modeling shoot. It would in no way discriminate against the person in the swimsuit photo. That person could walk into my restaurant, my church, or my house with no problem whatsoever. What I’d be discriminating against as a photographer is the practice, which is something businesses do every day based on religious, political, moral, financial, and networking values.
The practice, not the person.
The verb, not the noun.
This is the differentiation that separates the GLBT community from Christians (at least from Christians like myself who take an accurate biblical view that homosexual attraction is not a sin, but only the behavior is–there are certainly other Christians out there who take an unbiblical view on this subject, calling the attraction itself a sin.). I don’t expect this blog article to bridge the gap between Christians like myself and the GLBT community, though it’s an essential cog to this conversation. And the growing group of 100% homosexual, 100% celibate, 100% Bible-believing Christians is going to be a very influential voice going forward because they break the old-school-Christian’s and the GLBT’s paradigm of this being a black and white debate with no complexity, no middle ground and no grey area.
Our culture has equated GLBT rights with African-American rights of the Civil Rights Movement, something many blacks are offended by, but something that has gone over very successfully. You are screwed if you do or say anything that tries to get people to see this is a complex issue. We don’t like to pause and look at all angles. We don’t like to pause at all. We just like to yell. We load up our verbal and textual AK-47’s and as soon as we hear any of the hot button trigger words we are hyper-sensitized to, we blast away. The noise of our own gun deafening out any opportunity for constructive, loving, helpful conversation. And this gun certainly fires both ways. Something scary and unconstitutional happens to a Christian photographer in New Mexico and now Arizona reacts by putting in a scary and unconstitutional bill as a response.
See both sides.
Yes, I’m talking to you Christians.
And I’m talking to you in the GLBT community.
Let’s get rid of the pendulum of act and react.
Let’s get rid of all too easy marketing strategies of putting this conversation on the shoulders of the African American Civil Rights Movement, when they are apples and oranges.
Let’s just have a conversation about the oranges, which is important enough to stand on its own and important enough to need as much clarity toward its uniqueness and complexity as possible.
Let’s learn from how we already treat people who aren’t Christians. (With love and non-judgmentalism, not a stigma)
And let’s hopefully (though I know it’s highly unlikely) move forward with gentleness, respect, dignity, and love.
Ok it’s AK-47 time: (brace yourself for light-hearted sarcastic humor here…) Christians you can all go ahead and call me an unbiblical liberal now, maybe threaten hell if you really want to make some noise. And GLBT’s you can all call me a hateful bigot now. But since this article talks a lot about being consistent, all non-Christians who get drunk, are having sex outside of marriage and all those who’ve been divorced, please call me a hateful bigot as well.
Grace and peace.
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