Religious Freedom, the LGBT+ Community, Our Faith, and Our Hearts
I read an article Tuesday morning that distressed me.
I thought about just letting it go. I have a few friends who still aren’t talking to me much following previous posts on contemporary issues. It is certainly easier and less heartbreaking to simply be quiet. However I cannot do that. These issues, and their impact on our faith, are too important. And my personal comfort is irrelevant.
The article I read concerned county clerks and officials in North Carolina. They find themselves in a difficult dilemma. Their jobs require them to take an oath to uphold the United States Constitution. However when following that oath would cause them to violate their deeply held faith/religious beliefs, the religious freedom law recently passed in North Carolina [and other states] allows the officials to “opt out” of performing services contrary to their beliefs, without losing their jobs.
These religious freedom laws have become “necessary” since SCOTUS declared same-sex weddings a right protected by the constitution. Since marriage licenses are both given out, and signed, by county clerks those clerks who oppose same-sex weddings based upon sincerely held biblical convictions should not be forced to dispense such documents in violation of Scripture. The same religious freedom laws would also protect bakeries, florists, caterers, and other service agencies from having to provide services for same-sex events, and thus violate their faith. Their reasoning is that no person should be forced to choose between their vocation and their faith. After all this is not 1st century Rome.
I can hear my denomination and my conservative Christian friends asking me what could possibly be wrong with such a law AND why should I possibly be distressed? If I am going to be distressed about anything it should be SCOTUS and our liberal executive branch and our morally bankrupt culture for forcing faithful Christians into these moral dilemmas.
I guess I would say 2 things and I am begging you to hear me:
A] first if our government, or laws enacted by that government, truly force us to deny or compromise our sincerely held faith/beliefs then we have the right—even an obligation—to resist.
B] however IMHO, county clerks and businesses having to provide marriage licenses and/or services for same-sex couples is NOT a violation of our religious liberties. And laws passed to “protect” our religious liberties are not really about religious liberties…rather they are about gay people…they are written to deal with one community of people—the LGBT+ community …and sadly they reflect our thoughts and our hearts regarding LGBT+ individuals.
Now if you disagree with me and you honestly think this is about religious liberty—please consider these examples [gleaned from 35 years in ministry] and then if I am wrong I will be quiet.
-- a heterosexual couple [one man/one woman] enters the office of the county clerk for a marriage license…the man is a non-Christian [unbeliever] and the woman is a Christian [believer].
I know of no county clerk [in my experience] who is a Christian, who would ever deny this couple a marriage license—even though their union would clearly violate a traditional reading of
2 Corinthians 6:14—18 [do not be unequally yoked].
--a man and a woman have an extra-marital affair. They end up divorcing their spouses and decide to get married. I know of no county clerk who is a Christian who would deny the couple a marriage license even though their union would clearly violate several passages of Scripture, as well as the teachings of Jesus.
-- a heterosexual couple [one man/one woman] enters the office of the county clerk for a marriage license…the man and the woman are practicing Wiccans. Their wedding is being held outdoors and the name of Mother Gaia will be invoked during the service, as well as several additional Wiccan/pagan rites. Once again, I know of no county clerk who is a Christian who would deny the couple a marriage license even though their union would clearly be pagan and violate several passages of the Bible.
AND regarding each of the three examples above, I know of no bakery, florist, caterer, photographer, or other business who would deny these heterosexual couples their services based upon religious/faith considerations.
--and finally …before I became a Christian I was a psychic reader. I never charged a fee for my readings. However if I had decided to gain profit from my “gift” I would have had to acquire a business license from a local official or county clerk. Even though being a psychic reader or medium…or practicing sorcery, divination, or witchcraft…is an abomination and sin before God, our secular laws allow me to do psychic readings. And I know of no county clerk who is a Christian who would have denied me a license even though I, and my “gift,” would clearly be pagan and would violate a traditional reading of the Bible [which actually calls for my death for being a practitioner of this ancient art].
In the above examples no other group or community receives censure due to Christian conscience EXCEPT the LGBT+ community. And honestly that distresses and saddens me.
The truth is, we do not pass these laws to protect our religious liberties which are not threatened—and the reason I know that is because the Catholic church and the Christian and Missionary Alliance [my denomination] operate under bylaws that openly discriminate against women and gays and are not threatened with lawsuits. We do not ordain women or gays…we do not allow them to serve in positions of elder authority…we do not allow practicing gays membership or participation in the sacraments/ordinances of eucharist/communion or baptism. And as I said above we have not been sued…why?...because the government and our courts protect our religious freedoms of conscience. We talk about “loving the sinner” and “hating the sin.” However I fear that in our zeal for “purity” we have opted for “hate the sin” and “don’t like the sinner very much.” Gays receive far more of our censure and bylaw changes than any other transgression…and it grieves me.
- MARY JANE MANDAP, Tkulp and JoyceKrohn like this