Forced Gay: Punishment for Religious Dissent?

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you haven’t heard by now let me tell you. New Mexico is a hot mess. Just recently there was a State Supreme Court decision that a Christian-owned photography studio violated a gay couple’s human rights when the studio declined to do the couple’s wedding pictures.

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog says:

Under the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it’s unlawful for a public accommodation to refuse to offer its services to someone because of the person’s sexual orientation. The same law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry and gender.

The phrase “public accommodation” generally means public and private places (even retail establishments) used by the public.

As a business used by the public, the New Mexico Supreme Court says that the Christian couple needed to accommodate the same-sex couple with their services. I’ve seen a lot of Evangelicals (my own camp of Christendom – and yes, I know Christendom is an historically loaded word, for all of you theologians and church historians) get their noses bent out of shape about this New Mexico case.

But before we jump on the bandwagon of martyrdom and outrage at the persecution of Christians let’s think through the whole thing. Ready? Thinking caps ON!

The whole idea of disallowing businesses to refuse service to people is actually a good thing. It was a critical piece of the civil rights movement. It’s the piece of the puzzle that tells restaurants, ”You cannot refuse service to colored people.” It’s the piece that says landlords cannot refuse housing to someone based on a personal agenda. It’s a good thing…until we feel it is working against our own beliefs.

When we get called on violating someone else, rather than respond with humility and an apology, we get all in a huff. HOW DARE YOU TREAD ON MY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! Slow down, turbo. Think about it. Let’s ponder the case of the photographer.

The business didn’t want to be seen as supporting a cause they disagreed with. I understand that – I really do. But I have a hard time believing that they only serve good Christian folk. Would they take pictures of an atheist wedding? Would they take pictures at a reception where people would be getting hammered? Do you really mean to tell me that this business weeds out all sinners and only serves the perfect elect?

Hi there. Welcome back to earth. I really don’t see that happening.

It doesn’t matter that the couple was able to find another photographer. If my wife and I tried to eat in a restaurant and were denied service because we’re a mixed-race couple IT DOESN’T MATTER IF WE CAN EAT AT THE SUBWAY DOWN THE STREET – IT’S WRONG! Was I clear about that? Unfortunately it still happens. As recently as 2004, Cracker Barrel was discriminating against brown people (segregated seating and giving colored people poorer service). This is not the stuff of theory – this is too true in our “modern” society.

On the flip side, the law also protects Christians. It means that we can’t be denied service from an atheist shop owner/operator simply because we’re Christian. The law is geared to protect ALL people. We don’t get to pick and choose to apply it to some people and then exclude others. Otherwise any shop can turn down anyone for any “belief” the owner has. And there are some crazy beliefs out there. We don’t want personal beliefs dictating service.

So let’s get off our moral high horses and recognize that we goofed this time. If you can’t do it, then I’ll do it for us.

To everyone who has been denied service from an Evangelical Christian, I am saddened that you were treated in such a manner. You did not deserve to bear the brunt of discrimination.

To the rest of us – we can do better. Jesus said that we’re to treat people the way we want to be treated (that thingy called the Golden Rule?). We don’t get to treat people based on whether or not they fit our preferred profile.

So like this post and share this post with the world (shameless plug, yes?) because there are too many of us out there that think we can pick and choose who we will be decent to; who we will serve or cast aside.

And that’s really not Christ-like, you know?

How about you? Have you had to face discrimination for any reason? Anything you are able to talk about?

Related Posts:
~ Forced Gay 2: A Response to Critics
~ Jumping Into the Fray: A Christian Response to Gay Marriage

14 Replies to “Forced Gay: Punishment for Religious Dissent?”

  1. Also, making a cake, arranging flowers etc and delivering them is a lot easier than filming two men of the same sex in intimate poses for several hours. Call me a bigot. It can be pretty uncomfortable.

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  2. Marvin you made some good points. However you fall into the same illogical trap that Pastor Linzey does with all due respect. I don’t know why Evangelicals feel the need to keep throwing the Pedo bomb into the discussion of gay marriage. There is no moral equivalence. Now consenting adult incest or polygamy would follow the same line of moral reasoning if marriage should be affirmed to all consenting adults. That is a fair argument.

    Having argued this with pastorlinzey already in another thread, I’m coming to see things more his way. However I think there needs to be more of an appreciation of the fact that Christian attitudes regarding homosexuals do not come from the same place that racial prejudice does. The fact is, they are learned from the Bible. The vendor who doesnt want to serve a gay wedding is probably doing so under the fear that he would be offending God in doing so. This is different from someone who won’t do any service for anyone who is gay outside of a wedding.

    Someone who loves all but is trying err on the side of pleasing God, due to religious convictions need not be cast in the same light of a racial bigot or sexist bigot. We serve a God who stuck a man dead for trying to catch the ark and then said “relax its the spirit of the law” in NT. Its a confusing Bible that makes very high demands from those trying to interpret it.

    I think it’s more constructive to try to understand both the vendor as someone who fears God, and the couple who does not fear God as understood by the vendor as is his right in a free secular country that has determined that same sex marriage is lawful.

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  3. Dear Chaplain Linzey:

    Your logic suffers from a basic category mistake. You are placing in the same category mixed race couples and a sexual sin. No where in the Bible does God condemn the marriage of one man of any skin pigmentation with a woman of different skin pigmentation. The sexual sins (lesbianism and homosexuality) are condemned by God in both the Old and New Testament. They are called an abomination. For a Christian to deny service based upon a persons skin color or for being mixed race couple is certainly wrong, no question there. For a Christian to refuse to be involved in two people’s sin is another issue, another category. To have your Christian business associated with the farce of a lesbian wedding gives the appearance of approval. If the photographers represent themselves to the public as Christian Photographers, they should be allowed to deny service to anyone they choose and then suffer from their lack of customers. If they represent their business as secular then of course they should service any and all without standards. As secular they are not Christ’s ambassadors, representing Him at that point. The point is this is two different categories: a person’s skin color and a person’s choice of sin. The choice to sin as a homosexual or lesbian as a “civil right” is not the same category or equivalent to the civil right for folks to be born with different skin colors. That is a political idea that is deliberately blurred to confuse people. It has been quite effective is changing this countries attitude toward this type of sin. When you fall for this blurred thinking you get the shape our country is in now: not even understanding that an action is sinful.

    As a minister of the gospel, you are part of a “Christian business”; you have the right to refuse to provide service “participate in two people’s sin by publicly approving or marrying a lesbian or a homosexual couple”. Other businesses, that present themselves as Christian, should have the same option.

    Ad absurd-um: Take your argument to its logical extreme to show that it is flawed. The next “goal” of the homosexual lobby is to “normalize” adult/child sexual relations – pedophilia. When some guy in a black robe declares that this is the new normal, by your argument, a Christian Studio should be required to photograph the rape of children. (Make child pornography) Why should a Christian get to discriminate against a pedophile under this new norm? Just because it is a disgusting concept to the Christian? A Christian should not be required to do something they consider immoral, period.

    Finally Jesus showed us how to lovingly interact with a person in sexual sin in John 8. Although her sin was another sexual sin, Jesus saved her life by pointing out to her accusers that they were not free from sin. He said He did not condemn her. He told her to go and sin no more. To the Christian today we can point out to a sexual sinner or any sinner for that matter that Christ provided “a way to save your life”, salvation. Christ does not condemn you and you are free to sin no more. Note that Jesus did not give any type of approval of her sin, just that He did not condemn her. A big difference. That is how we should treat folks involved in sexual sin today. Not condemning them, but at the same time not giving them our approval to continue sinning. Then pointing them to Jesus. I think on this last part you and I Agree.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. I personally agree that God’s design is for sexual activity to be between one man and one woman who are married to each other. However…I do not think that we can start playing favorites with who we will or will not serve based upon our religious perspective. If that were the case then any non-Christian could refuse service to me because of my faith. Waiters could refuse to serve tables at a gay engagement party held in a restaurant. Wal-Mart could refuse to sell me grape juice and crackers because I’m going to use them for Communion. So our country has declared that all business have to serve all people regardless of their status (race, sexuality, disability).

      Where do we draw the line? How do we decided who to serve?

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      1. We draw the line at where God has already drawn the line. If an action is wrong we do not do it, period. Even if it cost us personally. Historically Christians have suffered in secular societies because they have taken a moral stand for God. In the US we have historically accommodated Christian belief by not forcing a Christian to do an immoral action. We do require equal accommodation in areas in another category (race, national origin, or disability) – categories that are not moral issues. The whole reason people try to add how a person chooses to behave sexually to a list of what must be accommodated is so that their immorality must them be accommodated. Their immorality or sin is a choice they make to act upon or not. Note that categories that are not moral issues, choice and action are not inherently part of the equation. A person does not choose to be one race or another. A person does not choose where they were born. A person does not choose to be born with a specific disability. A person DOES choose whether or not and how to act upon their sexuality.

        We see this same logic in the news when we are told that Christians are not going to be forced to pay for abortions. Instead we are going to be forced to pay insurance companies who then pay for the abortions. It all semantics and deception to accommodate immorality.

        As to your question: Where do we draw the line? Turn the question around. As society descends into more and more moral chaos. At what point do you as a Christian say “here I draw the line”. What other sins will you added to this list that Christians must then accommodate?

        I respect you, or I would have not even bothered to respond to your article. You personally have a grasp on God’s design for human sexuality. But as a leader, how will folks who do not understand come to that realization, if they do not see you supporting a basic standard? Lumping a moral issue in the same category as
        race or disability will just confuse them.

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        1. Of course we don’t do wrong behavior. That is why I will not perform the ceremony for a same-sex couple. But a wedding vendor has no say as to a couple getting married – they just provide flowers, pictures, etc. I don’t see sales as the same thing as actively performing the wedding.

          My point to the moral issues is that other people consider things to be moral that we don’t. There are some who actually consider race issues to be issues of morality. So who will be the morality police and say, “These morals are okay and can be used to discriminate but those morals are not okay, so you cannot discriminate”?

          I don’t see this as an issue of Christians accommodating sin. We conduct business in a broken world. Gay shop owners receive our money and support their lifestyles through our purchases. I don’t know of anyone who vets all of their retail purchases and only buys from Christian retailers. So there is a functional distinction between our behavior as Christian consumers/citizens and what we do that actively promotes sinful behavior.

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    1. When you feed the homeless, do you ask them their sexual orientation? Or do you serve out of love? I choose to love everyone and maybe, just maybe they can see Gods love through me. We can’t touch the lives of those we exclude.

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