The Church In A Secular Society (A Response to Current Events)

Let me say up front that this post may upset you, though that is certainly not my intent. I love our country. We are a privileged people to live in the good ol’ US of A! But, as believers, our ultimate allegiance is not to this country. Our ultimate allegiance is to our Savior and his kingdom.

We are witnessing a major shift in our society. As a student of history, I know without a doubt that our country was founded on Christian principles. It is impossible to study our founding fathers without encountering within their writings a Judeo-Christian mindset concerning government and morality. Some were not believers (this is well documented – just look at the Thomas Jefferson bible) but even the founding fathers who were non-believers argued that the best form of government and society would follow biblical principles. The shift is towards an increasingly secular society. Believers, who were in the majority for much of our nation’s history, have increasingly become the minority on social issues.

Here is what I believe we will see in the coming years unless something changes dramatically:

1. Same sex marriage will be legalized in all 50 states. This week President Obama (who originally personally opposed same sex marriage and then changed to personally agreeing with same sex marriage) has declared that he believes same sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states. Recently, the Supreme Court decided not to take up this issue thereby upholding a lower court’s ruling that same sex marriage was legal in certain states. Currently 24 states and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriage while 26 states have laws against same sex marriage. At some point the justices will have to rule on this issue and I personally believe they or Congress (through enacting a federal law) will make same sex marriage legal across our nation which is approved of by the majority of Americans.

2. Christian businesses will choose to close their doors or face lawsuits, fines and jail time. This week a couple in Idaho who run a for-profit wedding chapel were told that they must conduct same sex weddings or face fines and possible jail time due to violating non-discrimination laws (this previously happened with a baker, florist, and photographer). In my opinion, the courts will rule that the wedding ceremony must be allowed to happen at the chapel but the Knapps will be able to recuse themselves (because of religious conviction) from performing the ceremony. Another person (licensed to perform marriages and who does not have this religious conviction concerning same sex marriage) will be brought in to conduct the ceremony. Christian businesses (bakery, florist, wedding chapel, etc.) operating in the secular marketplace will be increasingly required to abide by secular laws. They can stand up against these laws because of religious conviction but will likely face lawsuits, fines and jail time.

3. Pastors will be removed as agents of the state in regards to performing weddings. Currently ordained pastors operate as agents of the state when it comes to conducting wedding ceremonies. This is why at the end of a wedding service a pastor will say, “By the authority invested in my by the state of ______________, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” While churches are exempt from non-discrimination laws currently with regards to marriage, I believe this will be the next thing challenged. The argument will be made that ordained pastors, as agents of the state, must abide by state laws regardless of religious conviction. The likely result will be that pastors will not be able to act as representatives of the state. They will be able to do Christian weddings in the church but the couple would then need to go to the court to be officially married in the eyes of the state.

Here is how I think we should respond:

1. Pray. Unfortunately, prayer is often thought of as a last result. We attempt to do things to affect change until we feel like there is nothing else we can do…then we pray. Our temptation in this society will be to busy ourselves doing things and fail to pray. However, prayer should be our first response – we need to hit our knees! We need to ask God to move in a powerful way in our churches and in our culture. We should intercede for those lost in their sin. We need to ask God to search our hearts and our motives. Prayer is not the spare tire in our lives; it must be the steering wheel that drives our lives.

2. We, as believers, should seek to defend our religious liberties both in the ballot box and in the courts. We do not need to bow down and retreat at this point. We need to take a stand through both the courts and the ballot box. I believe religious freedoms need to be preserved. Dietrich Bonhoeffer sums up our responsibility, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” We cannot and must not remain silent as religious liberties are stripped away. Houston has given us a glimpse of what is to come and we must be prepared to stand together.

3. Recognize that God may be allowing persecution to come so that his church would be purified and more effective in reaching people with the gospel. I have been preaching through the book of Habakkuk recently. Interestingly, Habakkuk begins the book asking why God has failed to turn His people’s hearts back to him and bring revival. God responds that he is at work but it will not be what Habakkuk expects (God will bring in the Chaldeans to take Judah captive and lead them into exile). He then tells Habakkuk “the just will live by their faith.”

Have you considered that God might be allowing persecution to come upon the church to purify it (when it costs to follow Christ, you find out who the true believers are)? Could it be that this world needs to grow darker so that the light of the gospel can more effectively shine through the church? Throughout church history, the gospel has exploded when Christians were persecuted. We, as believers, are called to live by faith…trusting God is at work to bring about his glory and our good regardless of what happens around us!

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47 comments

  1. Hmm, I’m not sure what the issue is with what you’re describing. Since marriage is a sacrament, pastors aren’t acting (theologically speaking) as agents of the state anyway, so removing them as state agents isn’t particularly problematic. Surely it doesn’t amount to persecution?

    By the way, what do you mean exactly by your quote about “evil”? As in homosexuality/homosexuals are evil? Or people who are trying to establish a divide between Church and State are evil? What is the “evil” here? Not really getting it…

    I think what you’re kinda missing here is that the same constituencies who support gay marriage and non-discrimination laws for gay people are precisely the same people who will also fight for the right for churches to have the freedom of association to define religious marriage the way they want to. These are entirely consistent positions. In that sense, I really think you’re totally misunderstanding the “liberal” position.

    As a pastor, hopefully you will use your blog in other productive ways too. It’s kinda sad to see a pastor focus on gay marriage and hypothetical strippings of religious liberties (by your admission, yet to occur), instead of encouraging your congregation to support their LGBT sons and daughters in love, or first establishing that you believe in non-discrimination of LGBT people in all other areas apart from marriage (I’m assuming you believe that)

    Not sure what world you’re living in, but if you think that Christians are the ones being persecuted, and not gay people … well, here are some questions. Do Christians grow up feeling like second-class citizens, or do they get worried having to “come out” to their parents for choosing to be Christians? Is there an equivalent word people use to describe Christians like “faggot”? Do Christians need to go to the Supreme Court to get visitation rights for their loved ones? Inheritance rights? Equal tax rights? Do Christians get refused service for being Christians? I think it’s not really convincing.

    Of all the things in the world, of course a blog post about homosexuality (rather than ten thousand other possible sins) becomes the focus.

    1. Tom,

      Thanks for your response. Hopefully, I can more fully answer some of your questions.

      1. I would argue that marriage is an institution recognized by God (he created it) and then recognized by the state. In the U.S. pastors are acting on behalf of both the church and the state (which to me is pretty interesting considering the “separation of church and state”). If the state legalizes gay marriage and a pastor refuses to abide by the law (said pastor refuses to marry a gay couple) I think we will see them removed as agents of the state (their ability to sign a marriage document in an official capacity).

      2. By “evil” I meant stripping people of their religious freedoms.The mayor of Houston provides a great example as she refused to allow a petition against her personal beliefs to be considered and attempted to subpoena the sermons of pastors.

      3. I would certainly hope that “liberals” would fight for the right for churches/Christians to have the freedom to define religious marriage as between a man and woman. However, I don’t think that is a given as this article in Slate magazine and this article in The Atlantic makes pretty clear.

      4. In 121 posts on my blog I discussed gay marriage 2 times. One in this post because of certain current events and another after Barak Obama was reelected in 2012. So that means 98.5% of my blog is directed at other areas of life and ministry. Feel free to peruse around and see if you are helped.

      5. I do believe we should love the LGBT community and their civil rights should not be infringed upon. I recognize that atrocities have been committed against gay persons and this is terrible and should be condemned in every case. I do, however, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman because this is the clear teaching of Scripture as outlined in this blog post.

      6. To say that it is sad for a pastor to discuss this issue is interesting. It is my calling to discuss how the Bible speaks to every aspect of life and culture.

      1. Thank you for acknowledging that the LGBT community has been discriminated against, and for using the word “atrocities.” I want to reiterate that I raised those points in large part because I find the attempt to suggest that Christians are being persecuted a little problematic, even hysterical. When there is a dirty word for Christians that approximates the use of the word faggot (I suggest you ask your congregation in the next session if anyone has ever used that term) I think I’m ready to be convinced.

        A lot of the issues that you are lumping under “religious freedoms” are not quite so straightforward, and I think a different balancing can and should be reached for each of them. My problem with the “religious freedom” exemption is that it’s intellectually lazy and legally dubious. Some examples. The subpoena of sermons is part of a broader discovery process. The courts have always given a wide, if reasonable latitude, to the discovery process, and so the question is a legal one, and not a moral or political one. If the sermons could possibly be material to the questions presented in the original complaint, they should be allowed. If not, then it’s an over-reach. That’s actually a boring procedural question, and it’s highly delimited. Just because some news media outlets were lazy in their analysis doesn’t mean you have to buy in.

        The issue (in your links) about bakers who don’t want to participate in gay weddings relates to the outgrowth of public accommodation laws. And I think you should be consistent here. The public accommodation laws that prevented businesses from arbitrarily refusing to serve black people are the same ones kicking in with respect to LGBT persons. It doesn’t matter that you, as a Christian, are able to draw a distinction with respect to these two groups. What matters is whether you accept that public accommodations laws are relevant in the first place, because if you do, internal consistency suggests that you cannot, as a business in the secular marketplace, distinguish between these two groups.

        And bakers and photographers are not the same either. A cake is just a cake. Service providers don’t approve messages simply by providing their services. Prior to this event, I have never heard someone say that the caterers were approving their straight marriage because they provided food, or that the DJ at their wedding approved remarriage after divorce because he was playing at their wedding. I’m sorry, but that’s just silly. We have billions of transactions in the marketplace every day. If I buy organic spinach it doesn’t mean I support sustainable farming. If I teach Christian students philosophy it doesn’t mean I approve the hatred they are taught in my churches. I’ve volunteered at church services even when I think the pastors are homophobic and closeminded. Doesn’t mean I agree with them. You, as a pastor, constantly provide your spiritual services to people who sin and people who are currently sinning. Refusing to serve cakes at gay weddings when you can serve cake to liars, idolators (who worship money), and so on is not only hypocritical, it’s intellectually dishonest. Do you have a good explanation for why bakers and photographers have never had a problem denying service to any group of people (even though there are ten thousand different types of sins their customers could be engaged in at any moment) apart from gay couples? This is thinly disguised homophobia, and many Christians find it disgusting.

        Now, photography (Elane v. Photography) is a different matter. I think First Amendment issues are plausibly implicated, so many liberals are going to jump in and say … hmm, I might have a problem with forcing Christian photographers to photograph gay weddings because it might amount to coerced speech. The issues here are not the same as cake-baking, and they are not the same the subpoena of sermons.

        Final example. Note that a private Church who doesn’t want to gay-marry its congregants has never been asked to do so. The Supreme Court, which has been rather gay friendly in recent terms, also ruled that the Boy Scouts did NOT have to accept gay scoutmasters because it was a private association. It considered the balancing test, and it weighed in favor of a private association, which was not even a Church. Because a lot of the dissenting opinions came down to factual elements (whether the BSA charter even incorporates anti-homosexuality as a material condition for membership), I think it’s fair to say that Dale v. BSA establishes a wide penumbra of safety for religious organizations.

        So, within the context of a secular democracy, I think the Courts and society at large have done a pretty good job of adjudicating these competing freedoms. It’s a bit hysterical to suggest that people are going to force churches to gay marry their congregants when most of the developed world that has gone this route (with a population even more liberal than the U.S.) has never done this. In fact, gay marriage has made the most headway in countries that are predominantly Catholic – now that’s something to think about.

        I think you should distinguish between arguments that hold water within the Church, and arguments that are consistent with the types of inter-subjective values necessary in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy. Whether the Bible defines marriage one way or another is relevant to the Church. But for it to matter and to be effective as a political argument, you should be able to do better than telling people that Genesis says this, or Leviticus says that. Muslims aren’t going to start citing the Koran in order to tell other people how to live, and neither should you. One way would be to develop ideas, as the Catholic Church has with the concept of “sexual complementarity” that would reach into the civil sphere.

        I’m taking issue with the rhetoric. I mean, the use of words like “evil” to describe a fairly complex set of issues relating to religious freedoms is an over-reach and I’m not sure it’s responsible preaching. Trying to appropriate the mantle of persecution is dangerous. We need less Christians who think in black and white terms, and more Christians who understand that these issues are difficult. Characterizing your opponents or a position as evil unfairly demonizes them. I didn’t say it was sad that you discussed this. I said that it was sad that you discussed this without contextualization. I think every discussion about gay marriage should be prefaced with the acknowledgment that gay people deserve civil rights and equality in every other aspect of their lives (you agree about this anyway). I think, as pastors, we shouldn’t be talking about gay marriage without also talking about the sorry state of straight marriages, which are more relevant to our congregations anyway.

        The empirical fact of the matter is that every developed nation that has already legalized gay rights and gay marriage has never seen religious liberties being infringed upon. No one forced the Southern Baptist Convention to admit they were misguided when it came to conversion therapy and that their pig-headedness caused real pain to many people. No one forced Crescent Hill Baptist Church to embrace gay marriage. The congregants voted for it, not some army of rainbow flag-waving liberals. I suppose what I’m saying in the nicest possible way is … let’s get real. The reform is happening from within. You don’t need to create some phantom enemy made up of LGBT activists or bra-burning liberals. It’s a conversation the Church needs to have, and it needs to have this conversation without a persecution complex, because it’s the right thing to do. Stop dividing the world into Christians vs. the world, because there are plenty of Christians who disagree with you, and don’t want to be lumped into the same category.

      2. I want to share one more story, taking the personal route rather than the intellectual one. It’s a hard story for me to share, but maybe it will do more good.

        My best friend (Adam) and I grew up in a Baptist Church. At the age of 16, Adam told me that he was gay. I was pretty shocked at first, and didn’t quite understand what that meant. But he was still Adam, and I didn’t care. No big deal. Adam was still the same goofy kid who beat me at shooting games. The same kid who bought me a shirt two sizes too big for my prom night, even though he didn’t go himself because he didn’t want to pretend he was straight. Adam was a great friend.

        Until a Christian pastor killed him. Adam made the mistake of telling our pastor Jeff that he was gay. Over the next two years, Pastor Jeff, who never said an unkind word, nevertheless consistently counselled Adam to refrain from the homosexual “lifestyle,” explained that he was to stay chaste and celibate his whole life, and that even maybe he would fall in love with a woman one day and just needed the right one. Pastor Jeff held family meetings about how Adam’s Dad and Mom could “support” him by avoiding the gay “lifestyle.”

        Adam was actually very open to these ideas. He told me how much he respected pastor Jeff, and that he had been reading articles on the internet (written by non-scientists) about how maybe sometimes homosexuality was chosen. When I asked him if he thought he chose to be gay, he said he wasn’t sure, but that if the Bible didn’t approve of homosexuality, surely he wouldn’t have been made gay without the chance to switch. I didn’t ask any more since I didn’t really think too much of these things in those days. But it was clear to me that if Adam could have been straight, he would have chosen that in a heartbeat because it was so difficult for him to acknowledge his own homosexuality.

        He killed himself just two years after he came out to me. He would still be alive if he had never been part of a Church, or met Pastor Jeff, who though well-intentioned, did not realize that he was telling a young man that his very natural desires to love, be loved, to build a family, to connect with someone, were SINFUL and wrong. I don’t think you can understand (I certainly didn’t) how damaging it is for young LGBT people to hear that message from church elders. This isn’t an abstraction – about gay marriage or whatever. This is about a natural desire to love and to connect. It’s not like telling someone to avoid candy or junk food. Pastor Jeff himself was married and had four kids, so it wasn’t like he understood what it meant to be celibate anyway.

        I left the Church three weeks later. Adam left me a long letter that broke my heart. Adam’s death made me realize that even people who are well-meaning can do a great deal of damage. In fact, well-intentioned people often do the most damage, because I think if Adam could have gotten pissed off at homophobes, he might still be alive. He died because he bought into the idea that he was going to live a life of loneliness. He died because he went to a pastor who thought that the biblical message against homosexuality was so important that it was crucial to keep counselling a young man to reject his sexual identity. Pastor Jeff may not have fired a gun, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he killed my best friend, and he may yet kill even more. I no longer think that people choose to be gay, and I think that Christians and churches should own up to the fact that they have done a lot of harm in the past. Not other Christians, but you and me. This is why I always get confused when people like you talk about Christians being persecuted. You’re not about to kill yourself, or lose your job, or be silenced in countless invisible ways.

        You remind me of Pastor Jeff in the sense that you genuinely think that what you are doing is right, and you don’t mean any harm. But if Adam had come to you, you’d be counselling the same things, I bet. Celibacy, chastity, prayer. You’d be applying a double standard (I see you yourself are married with two beautiful kids), and pretending that telling a young gay man that he can’t have a partner is the same as telling a straight man he can’t have extra-marital sex when they are not the same things at all. I think it’s very human to want to love and be loved, and to be partnered. This is not the same thing as saying we should all have the right to sleep around whenever we want to. So, regardless of what you feel about gay marriage, the question is whether you think homosexuality is a sin, because from a pastoral perspective, it is going to be extremely difficult to separate the sin from the sinner. What Adam heard was that he was good as long as he wasn’t doing, feeling or thinking gay things. He was hearing things like what you are saying – “We should intercede for those lost in sin.” He was being told his desire to love and be loved was a temptation implanted in him by the Devil.

        If I could go back in time, I would. I regret not saving my friend’s life, and convincing him that it was OK to go date other young men, fall in love and live his life.

        This has made me think that maybe it is fundamentally impossible for Christian pastors to minister to gay men and women. There is no way to not convey the idea that somehow there’s something wrong about how they are, something wrong about what they want, something wrong about the way they feel. if you think it’s possible, I’d be curious to hear how you would do this.

        So, anyway, I left the Church because I was sick and tired of having pastors tell me that the “Bible says so.” And I left because I didn’t think it was possible for Christians to ever do right by gay people as long as they thought homosexuality was sin.

        So why not pen a few blog posts on the difficulties and challenges of ministering to gay teens or the LGBT community, instead of propping up a persecution narrative that is lacking in empirical facts? Stop focusing so much on gay marriage, and start devoting even just 30% of the time you spend talking about gay issues on pastoral outreach. There are many Adams out there in the world today. I lost my best friend. Others don’t have to.

        Does it matter more that you have to sell cakes to gay people, or that gay members of your church are struggling against discrimination? Your choice as to what to focus on speaks volumes.

        Also, why not take responsibility for the fact that the Baptist churches embraced conversion therapy at one point and caused untold sorrow? Not OTHERS, but Baptists themselves. No third person. First person admission of responsibility. The Bible never said anything about that, and it sure took a long time for church elders to realize they were wrong. I’m sure you know that a Baptist speaker recently suggested that Matthew Shepard’s death was a CONSPIRACY by gay rights activists. Did that disgust you? Did you say anything about it?

        You’re probably just surrounded by Christians all the time, and I’m wondering if you have actually talked to people outside your circle.There is good reason why Christianity is such a dirty word today. A religion with people capable of killing perfectly happy teenagers without taking on any responsibility at all is in grave need of some soul-searching.

      3. Tom,

        I appreciate you sharing this story and it is tragic that your friend took his life. I’m very sorry. It may surprise you to know that I have close family members that are gay (one who is married to his partner) and we have a good relationship. We disagree on this issue but we recognize that we can disagree with one another and remain close. Churches have, historically, not done a great job speaking to this issue. I wholeheartedly agree with you that Christians have been inconsistent in calling sin sin. Homosexuality has been singled out unfairly. The Bible teaches that it is sin just like gluttony (Baptists definitely don’t talk about this), pornography, lust, lying, etc. I agree with you that we need to do a better job emphasizing this and hopefully we will do better moving forward. It is interesting that disagreeing on this issue, because of a religious belief, quickly moves to assumption of motives. Do I believe that many Christians are homophobic and fearful of gays? Sure. Do I believe this is right? Absolutely not. However, just because I believe that the Scripture is clear on this issue does not make me homophobic. I believe you have the right to espouse what you believe and I will defend your right just as I would hope you would defend mine to state what I believe. Once again, this is the very definition of tolerance. Where the concern comes in is when either one of us are told that we must accept what the other says is valid and incorporate it into our personal beliefs.

        You mentioned a “double standard” at play with this issue but I think you have missed the mark. Increasingly, it is believed that humans were not meant to be monogamous because of our biological makeup (Live Science article, Mail Online article). Your argument concerning sexual orientation (I was born this way, which I am not denying is based on scientific evidence) could be extended to monogamy as well. I and all of humanity were born, with a certain biological makeup, namely to have sex with whomever whenever instead of within a monogamous relationship. I do not deny the research or its findings. However, as a Christian I must be willing to submit to the authority of Scripture on this issue. The Bible is clear on two things regarding marriage: (1) it is a lifelong covenant between two people (monogamy) and (2) it is a covenant between a man and woman (Genesis 1-2 bears witness to this as well as Jesus in Matthew 18 and Paul in Ephesians 5). It is clear that we are born as sinners in need of a Savior. Yet, even after we are saved we will continue to struggle with sin even though gradually we will become more like Christ (progressive sanctification) which will be completed when we die and are with Christ (glorification). Even though we struggle and are even wired to go against God’s Word (sin nature) we do not get a free pass to go on in a life of sin. In fact, Paul gives us hope in that salvation in Christ frees us from the bondage of sin in our lives (Rom. 6:22).

        To the couple (man and woman) who are engaging in pre-marital sex, I urge them to abstain until they are married because this is biblical. To the husband who desires to have sex with someone other than his wife (which is the way he is wired according to research) I urge him to abstain because this is what Scripture teaches. To the homosexual who desires a relationship with someone of the same sex, I urge him or her to abstain because this is biblical. Your charge is that this is uncaring and even harmful. Yet, how can I believe what Scripture teaches and allow someone to walk in sin? This, in fact, would be the greatest harm I could do to a person…allow them to walk in sin without pointing them to the truth. Sin is sin regardless of our biological makeup. Ultimately, my calling is not to be acceptable in the eyes of the culture but faithful in the eyes of God and his opinion is the only one that matters. What he calls sin I must call sin. The psychological effects of telling someone they are in sin pale in comparison to the eternal effects of one remaining in sin, separated from God. Jesus, himself, refrained from condemning the woman at the well but he did tell her to go and sin no more (John 8). My responsibility, as a pastor, it to do the same…seek not to condemn but lovingly urge people to go and sin no more through the power of Jesus Christ. This is not easy and it is not comfortable. However, it is the calling to which I am called. Your desire is that I and the church refrain from calling sin what God clearly calls sin. The crux of all of this rests not on my opinion of homosexuality (or any other sin) but on what God says about a particular issue. Sex outside of the bounds of marriage, which the Bible defines as between a man and woman for life, is sin (regardless of the type). Therefore, premarital sex, homosexual sex, adultery and any other sexual sin you can imagine outside of the biblical parameters is off limits.

        My counsel to someone struggling with homosexuality would be the same as someone struggling to remain pure before marriage. The Bible sets the standard – one man and one woman for life. Practically speaking, I would encourage anyone struggling with sexual sin to submit themselves to God’s standard and trust that if He has set the standard, he will equip and empower them to live up to that standard. This is not easy regardless of whether a person is struggling with same sex attraction or thoughts of adultery. The hope for all sin is the saving power of Jesus Christ. I know someone personally who was previously in a homosexual relationship for many years but walked away after he was saved because he believed he needed to submit to God’s standard. He is now married with children. He would readily admit that there remains a struggle but God has strengthened him to walk this journey. This is the hope I would offer to everyone in sin, regardless of the type. Stories like this give me hope that the gospel can change lives, even the lives of those trapped in homosexuality.

        Your ultimate issue is not with the church or with a particular pastor. The questions that must be answered are these:
        1. Do I believe God has authority over my life?
        2. Do I believe that His Word is true in all that it teaches?
        3. Do I believe the Bible is clear on its teaching concerning marriage, that it is reserved for a man and a woman (which is the historical position of the church for the last 2000 years)?
        4. Will I submit to God’s Word and His authority?

        I was greatly encouraged to see my denomination’s policy arm hold a conference on this very issue recently. Sure, I readily admit that we (and I particularly) have made mistakes discussing this issue and reaching out to the LGBT community. Steps are being taken in the right direction and I am encouraged by this progress.

      4. Hey Michael, I’m not too sure I understood your response. I never said you were homophobic, and I’m not sure I questioned your motives, so a lot of your response just sounds a little bit odd. Also, if I may, I’d like to ask why the response of so many people is always to say “I have gay friends and family.” Why the impulse to say this, and what does it actually reveal? You know who says this a lot? Sarah Palin. You know who never says this? Obama or Clinton. Why do you think that’s the case? Anyway, it seems totally irrelevant, is it not? I never said you were homophobic. In fact, my arguments were very substantive, and it’s interesting you think the only reason I’m disagreeing with you is because I think you’re homophobic?! How would you feel if I responded to your points saying, “Hey Michael, actually I have lots of Christian friends and we can agree to disagree.” It’s like an empty calorie and it doesn’t say very much.

        It would have been nice to have a response to the substantive points about religious liberties, which you seem so concerned about. All I was doing was pointing out that the umbrella of “religious exemptions” isn’t going to succeed because the issues, both politically and legally, are completely different. Some issues are about accommodation laws, some are completely procedural and they are making a splash in the media only because of people who aren’t trained in the law. Some issues do involve encroachment on religious liberties and First Amendment issues, etc. I think it’s intellectually very dishonest to talk about being tolerant of one another. Isn’t that what we already are doing through a discussion? Or debating these issues and trying to explore our positions? This shouldn’t be an excuse for not attempting to think a few levels deeper and substantiating one’s positions. I’m not against your right to state your beliefs at all – I’m doing the exact OPPOSITE, right? I’m asking you if you could explain your positions better to me. Or do you mean by the right to state your beliefs the right to state them without discussion, debate or disagreement? If you are going to state your opinions in the public sphere, and especially if you say that it is “evil” for opponents to do some of the things you are describing, you should expect and welcome a healthy amount of pushback, or do you mean to suggest that I am intolerant because I disagree with you? I do think it’s harmful for people with inadequate understanding of discovery processes, public accommodation laws, or First Amendment jurisprudence to launch polemical arguments about religious liberty exemptions based on the characterization of opponents as evil. It’s harmful to get all your information from online news media without reading the legal sources.

        There is one limited sense in which I think you might (although I am not sure) have displayed some homophobia in your most recent post, which really surprised me since that was initially absent. Which is that your discussion about gay people seems to boil down to sex. Where many Christians have now moved on to talking about love and dignity (the Catholic Church and the Irish Catholic Conference specifically), you choose to reduce gay people to their sex acts. Is your marital relationship with your wife defined by what you do in bed? Is the fact that you are heterosexual defined by your sexual proclivities toward women? Why is sex the only thing that comes to mind when homosexuality is raised? I’m also confused because I don’t think I focused on sex at all in my post, and yet your post talked a lot about it. It’s almost like you were responding to an imaginary person that wasn’t me … like someone else who was made up in your mind. Maybe something about gay sex disgusts you, which is why you focus so much on it even when it wasn’t really a point I asked about.

        You might be interested in one more fact. You point out that the majority of Americans now support gay marriage and the trend is likely to continue. What you missed is that a majority of Christians in various denominations also now support gay marriage. A Catholic majority supports gay rights and gay marriage, in spite of what some Catholic leaders say. So, please, don’t portray this issue as one that is about Christians vs. non-Christians, or about a persecuted religious class vs. the rest of the heathen. You have lost the argument among your own people. You think you can win this argument? Try convincing your own flock first. You won’t succeed, and it’s not because these are “dark times” or God is raining down brimstone and hellfire. It’s because the vast majority of Christians are compassionate, educated, thinking individuals who have moved toward an egalitarian position of their own accord, whether or not pastors like you assume moral leadership in this matter.

        So, go ahead. Continue speaking about gay marriage rather than the kindness you should show to LGBT teens or the work the Church should do to reduce the inequalities that gay people face in everyday life. You will end up bringing out the worst in people and you’ll continue to be confused about why so much anger is being directed your way. Do you really think it’s a coincidence that the Catholic church and the Mormon Church has so decisively lost this battle within their own congregations? I would bet the Baptists are next. Give it time. Your gay friends and family may not have changed your mind and they may not have touched your heart. But they will touch others, who will change. And you will find that many Christians will reject – have already rejected – the image of Jesus that you paint.

        One last observation. Most Christian leaders I speak to approach the subject with some degree of humility and pain. They are deeply troubled by the Bible’s injunctions, and even when they hew to a conservative reading of its principles, they struggle with its teachings in this area. You don’t seem to. You’re very confident, you don’t struggle, and all it matters is that well, that’s what the Bible says. Every Christian friend I know of who have gay friends struggle with this a lot. You? You say that’s what the Bible says. No conflict at all. Well, good for you.

      5. Tom,

        I can see you got a bit fired up in your latest response. I do think a conversation like this would be better had over a cup of coffee or lunch rather that in the blogosphere. Let me know if you are interested and we can work to make it happen. It is not my intent to appear cold or indifferent about this issue and I want to grow in my understanding of how the church can best minister to the LGBT community while maintaining a traditional view of marriage.

        I will respond to your post quickly (I hope):

        1. I mentioned that I have relationships with LGBT people because of this assertion in your previous post – “You’re probably just surrounded by Christians all the time, and I’m wondering if you have actually talked to people outside your circle.” The reality is that I’m not just surrounded by people who are in my circle and have the same beliefs about this issue that I hold. That is the reason I shared this information about friends and family – directly in response to your comment.

        2. With regards to religious liberty issues it is easy to seek to dismiss these instances that I previously described. You quickly said that the issue in Houston was simply a procedural issue. Let’s be perfectly honest, that is far from the whole truth of the situation. How do I know this? The ACLU actually spoke up and said the mayor had overstepped her bounds. My question is why? What was the motive behind this overreach? Univ. of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel stated in a Washington Post article: “It’s procedural — it’s common to ask for a wide range of documents — but the mayor is playing real hardball. The fact that she’s subpoenaing pastors seems quite unusual in a case that’s mostly about politics, and the fact that she’s going inside the church is even more radical. It would be easy enough to get sermons, of course, but asking for them is clearly meant to send a signal.”

        The desire to marginalize and even demonize Christians who espouse a traditional view of marriage is prevalent (examples here, here and here). This is clear with regards to the response to Dan Cathy (president of Chick-fil-A) when it was discovered he supported organizations that lobbied for traditional marriage. Hateful things were said about him. His livelihood was threatened. The fire chief for the city of Atlanta was punished for taking a stand on tradition marriage and calling homosexulity sin in a book he published.

        I do believe there will be a day when speaking out against homosexuality (calling it a sin) will be considered hate speech as it is in other countries (examples here and here). You may disagree and I hope you are right. However, I believe we are heading in that direction and time will tell.

        3. In discussing biological makeup, I was responding to your comments: “You’d be applying a double standard (I see you yourself are married with two beautiful kids), and pretending that telling a young gay man that he can’t have a partner is the same as telling a straight man he can’t have extra-marital sex when they are not the same things at all. I think it’s very human to want to love and be loved, and to be partnered.” and “He would still be alive if he had never been part of a Church, or met Pastor Jeff, who though well-intentioned, did not realize that he was telling a young man that his very natural desires to love, be loved, to build a family, to connect with someone, were SINFUL and wrong.” Both homosexuality and any sex outside of biblical marriage (one man and one woman for life), according to Scripture are sin and must be rejected. In fact, homosexuality (whether in a monogamous relationship or not) is discussed among other sexual sins in the Bible. I am not grouping them together for any other reason that the Bible groups them together. I am not telling someone that the feelings they have are wrong any more than I would tell someone that being tempted to sin is wrong. However, I must (according to the Scriptures) tell them that to act on that temptation is sin if it does not follow God’s standard. You hint that I may be homophobic by stating this but I am simply acknowledging what the Bible says on this issue. It does not delineate between homosexual sex and a monogamous homosexual relationship. Kevin DeYoung makes this abundantly clear in his article here.

        What you desire is that I make an exemption on the basis of a loving monogamous homosexual couple. The Scripture does not give me that option. Even advocates of same sex unions like New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson recognize this in an article he published. He wrote: “I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.”

        I am not willing to put my experience above the authority of Scripture. Marriage is defined in the Bible as between a man and a woman for life. Jesus affirmed this. Paul affirmed this. I affirm this. I will happily take the company of Jesus and Paul on this issue even if it is against the culture.

        4. You are incorrect in stating that the majority of Christians support gay marriage. This research from the Pew Center shows that the majority of Evangelical Protestants (which is the largest group of Christians in this country outside of Catholics), in fact, do not support gay marriage and believe homosexuality is a sin. My denomination is included in this group. My church supports our denomination’s stance on the issue of traditional marriage and to be a covenant member of our church you must agree with our statement of confession.

        5. As I stated before, love, compassion and kindness should be extended to the LGBT community. Again, I am encouraged that my denomination is having this conversation. I believe the LGBT community should be treated as those who bear the image of God just like heterosexuals. Like I said previously, the atrocities committed against this community are horrible and should be repudiated. I do not, however, believe marriage can be extended beyond the traditional biblical standard of one man and one woman. In my experience conversing with the LGBT community and those who disagree with me, the position that I hold is not only considered by them as unacceptable but damnable. As you suggested: “A Christian pastor killed him.” I am labeled as homophobic and bigoted. D. A. Carson wrote a great book called The Intolerance of Tolerance that I find very apropos in this discussion.

        Pastorally speaking, I fully recognize that I do not have all the answers in dealing with this issue. I desperately want to be a faithful steward of God’s Word and seek to apply it to every situation in life. I want to come alongside people who are struggling with how the Bible speaks to issues like this. What you have communicated is that the only way I can do this effectively is to accept homosexuality. I do not think this is true. I have no right to filter the Bible through the lens of cultural acceptance or my personal experience. I must do the exact opposite. I must filter the culture and my personal experience through the Scriptures. I can assure you that this is difficult. But the conflict that I experience is submitted to the truth of who God is and what His Word says.

    2. Hi Michael, I don’t know you but your blog has been making the rounds as Tom is a colleague.

      Just one question: Do you believe that a Christian baker should have the right to not serve wedding cakes to same-sex couples?

      Thank you.

      1. Reese,

        Thanks for reading. I will do my best to answer your question quickly though I believe my position is a bit nuanced.

        1. I believe Christians, who operate businesses in the secular marketplace, must recognize that there are certain laws they must abide by (namely Anti-Discrimination laws). I do not believe a Christian baker should refuse to bake a cake for someone who is gay any more than it would be acceptable for a Christian waitress to refuse to serve someone in a restaurant because they are gay.

        2. **Here is the nuance – I do believe that a Christian baker can and in my estimation should, because of matters of conscience, refuse and be allowed to refuse to serve a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The reason I think this is that it is wrong to force the Christian baker to participate in celebrating something they believe is sinful according to religious convictions. In fact, this is what Paul condemned the Romans of in chapter 1 verse 38 – giving approval to those in sin.

        3. I also believe that if the courts (legally speaking) require a baker to violate their conscience in this area then that Christian will have to make some decisions. (1) Fight the legal decision until all options are exhausted, (2) Choose to stay in business and face fines (Hobby Lobby comes to mind), or (3) Shut the business down and move out of the secular marketplace.

        Here are a couple of questions this brings up in my mind:

        1. Why would a same-sex couple desire to force someone to go against their conscience on this issue when they could find another baker to bake a cake for their wedding? Why sue when they could just go down the street?

        2. Why would a Christian baker be harassed and threatened by the LGBT community as was done with Melissa Klein? The very thing this community does not want done to them, they are willing to do to someone who disagrees with them concerning marriage.

        **By the way it would be helpful to know who you and Tom are and where you work. It is interesting that this discussion has been traveling through your workplace.

  2. Hi Michael, Tom works in finance and I work in the law in a related area. That’s as much as I’ll say. We both have non-traditional backgrounds, and we are both straight men and good friends. I’m not a Christian, and my background is actually just in business and law. Tom has an M.Div from one of the best seminaries in the U.S. and a Ph.D.-MBA from two Ivy League institutions, so he’s definitely more qualified than I am to talk about this. We both have many gay friends. (For what it’s worth, I think you’re completely misunderstanding where he’s coming from and he’s not saying you’re bigoted. He’s saying it’s very tough, if not impossible, to minister to gay people in a meaningful manner as long as you hold that the very desires that give their life – most people’s lives really – meaning are sinful. He’s not forcing you to accept anything but he is saying that the pastoral contradiction might in this case be impossible to resolve. You might disagree with him, but that doesn’t mean he’s saying you’re a bigot, right?)

    What about your background? I see you’re a pastor in Georgia now? I’ve never visited and would love to.

    I hope you can see where the anger is coming from as far as LGBT groups are concerned. I agree that some activists can go a little too far in their tone. But most of the time, my personal experience from talking to my gay friends is that they have suffered from a long history of discrimination, personally and professionally, so it doesn’t take very much for all that anger to spill out. I’m sure when you have spoken to any minority, whether it be blacks or gay people, that you come to realize very soon that their life histories make them very sensitive to what they perceive as intolerance. A lifetime of discrimination will do that to someone. You and I have never been gay, so we can’t even begin to understand the struggles they face. I have been surprised to find out, both personally and professionally, that some of my non-white friends have found some of the things I say insensitive. I think the appropriate response is generally to accept the criticism, especially when it’s valid, instead of turning it around and saying, well, I’m being persecuted too so it’s OK.

    It does sound a little self-righteous (I hope this isn’t offensive) to be quoting Bible verses in a conversation about politics to most people. I’m not sure how I would feel if I were in a face-to-face conversation with someone and they told me they disagreed because, well, the Bible said such and such. I do respect your deeply-held convictions on this, but I’m wondering if maybe that’s what my colleague meant when he said you don’t seem to have very many non-Christian friends. I’ve never encountered a conversation where every argument was countered by a variation of “the Bible says so.” I’m not sure how far a conversation of this sort can go. It seems like your responses don’t really require much development. It’s basically “The Bible says so” and “I feel that Christians are or might soon be persecuted.” I hear you, and I respect your sincerely held beliefs, but what kind of discussion can we have then? How do you engage with people like Tom and me who aren’t (or are no longer) Christians? Who don’t have the same beliefs that you do, but surely the same values (equality, dignity, and respect for all people)?

    But if I could, and I know you’re not a lawyer, perhaps I could offer both a legal perspective and a general social one? I hope it’s OK for me to be engaging you even though I don’t know anything about the Bible and can’t use it or relate it to my arguments.

    From a social viewpoint, I suppose the question I’m asking myself is why Catholic bakers didn’t object to baking cakes for those who remarried after divorce with no annulment (if I’m not mistaken, that’s the standard doctrine). Also, the idea that you cite (that Christians should be allowed to exercise a conscience vote with regard to actions in the public sphere) extends far beyond cake-baking. I believe you do understand the ramifications of such a principle. Can Christian teachers choose not to teach young children of gay parents because they are part of a sinful living arrangement? Can Christian doctors refuse to screen gay men for STDs because they are committing or intending to commit sinful acts? The resurrection of strict scrutiny for generally applicable laws that might impinge on religious liberties will lead to questions far beyond cake-baking, and I suspect that it will split moderate religious groups from their more extreme counterparts. Hobby Lobby invited many amicus briefs from moderate religious groups who were AGAINST RFRA for precisely this reason. So there definitely isn’t one Christian or religious position on cake-baking or RFRA in general.

    Also, I think from a “marketing” and business perspective, I think Christians should take responsibility for what they perceive as persecution. I’m fairly confident that if we had more Christians stand up for the rights of LGBT people in employment discrimination, housing rights, inheritance rights, tax rights, and so on, that the general population would get a more balanced view. It’s really hard to find Christians lovable when the only time they make it into the news is when they don’t want to bake cakes for gays, or are engaging in a rant about how homosexuality will soon lead to bestiality and polygamy. I don’t agree with all of Tom’s points, but the one thing I do agree (though I am not a Christian) is that, as an outsider, the only time I see the word “Christian” in connection with gay rights is when people have something to say about gays not getting married, or gays leading to polygamy (if I had a dime everytime a Christian person wanted to talk about polygamy in conjunction with gays, I’d be rich!). I never hear about Christians condemning those Christian parents who kicked out their son for being gay, or send out a strong social message of love in general to the LGBT community.

    Again, I hope it’s OK for me to say this, but your blog posts are a good example of this, are they not? When they talk about gay issues, they always are about gay marriage. You call attention to the Christians who are persecuted but not to the gays who are persecuted. Why not talk about both? None of your language has anything has to do with encouraging your congregation to treat gay people kindly, or speaking in a way that seems open and inclusive to the gay Christians who might be in your midst. Why this choice? It’s not about the 2 of out your 200 posts that talk about gay issues. It’s the 100% of the posts that focus on a very divisive issue when you do speak on gay rights. I’m not speaking for Tom, and I’ve actually not attended church myself, but that’s how it looks like to me as an outsider. If Christians are supposed to be the light (salt?) of the earth, your blog posts about gay people aren’t very balanced nor compassionate, in my humble opinion. It might seem (though I may well be wrong) that you’re more interested in stirring up hatred (since you keep talking about persecution) rather than love and acceptance. Certainly, if I were a gay member of your church, reading your blog posts would not encourage me to come speak to you. I’m not saying you should change your mind about gay marriage. I’m saying you might rethink your tone, your choices as to emphasis, and using divisive words. Does gay marriage always have to be the first thing you talk about as a pastor when you open your mouth on gay issues? What kind of example might you be setting? (I hope you don’t think that this amounts to my attempting to persecute or bully you – I am trying to be as respectful as I can be)

    From a legal perspective, the “nuance” that you speak of is very hard to sustain as a matter of law. Under current Supreme Court rulings, RFRA exceptions that are subject to strict scrutiny can only be defeated through a two-pronged test. The first is something called “compelling state interest.” What this means is that it’s unlikely that Christians, or any religious groups, can deny emergency health care to anyone, LGBT or otherwise. In this sense, I think parts of the liberal news outlets have gotten it wrong. I think that in their eagerness to paint the law as bigoted, they haven’t looked closely at the law’s history or provisions. Christian emergency physicans are not suddenly going to start refusing to treat gay patients who get into accidents; they cannot under the law, even if RFRA is sustained. So that’s quite an unfair argument to make.

    The second test under RFRA is whether the law abridging religious expression is conducted in the most restrictive manner. Hobby Lobby won its case on the second grounds, for instance. So, I don’t have any easy answers, and the case is very difficult. But what I don’t understand is why Christians aren’t willing to separate religious from civil marriage when it seems like you do so with most other matters. Jehovah’s witnesses cannot criminalize blood transfusions simply because it’s a sincere religious conviction. People can’t refuse to pay tax even if it’s a religious objection. And Christians don’t generally seek to criminalize adultery, fornication or in the case of Catholics, remarriage following an unlawful (from the Church’s perspective) divorce. So it seems, to many lawyers, like you would be singling out gay marriage specifically and saying. “In THIS case, I don’t want a separation between Church and state, and between the civil and the religious. In THIS case, I insist that even those who do not share my beliefs that marriage is a man and woman be restrained by this belief.” It’s not good enough to say that you believe that marriage is a biblically-sanctioned institution. If Mormons started insisting tomorrow that polygamy was a divinely-sanctioned institution, I’m sure you, and many other Christians would be the first to rush to defend the wall between Church and State. Right? Why not just cordon off civil marriage from religious marriage?

    As for your final two points. I agree that no one should be harassed, although I don’t know too much of the specifics of that case. No one should destroy their cake shop property, or threaten them in any way, nor should any violence be tolerated. They can, however, boycott the establishment, refuse to support them by buying any cakes from them. And taking them to court certainly does not count as harassment. You won’t always be able to walk down the street to get something people don’t want to sell you, and it may not be fair. In the case of the cake shop, I personally would have just shrugged it off, and went to a different place, but I’m not gay (and neither are you), so to presume to understand the humiliation they might have felt is unjustified. If RFRA is employed in the way you support, what would happen in small towns where there was only one pharmacist for miles, and that pharmacist happened to be Christian? (Or would you say in this case, this fails the two-pronged RFRA test, and they cannot discriminate?)

    Anyway, thanks for a good conversation. It’s made for an interesting day for my entire department, most of whom aren’t Christians, but who have been talking a great deal about this. We are actually writing this partly to support two of our colleagues, whom we love, and who are gay. They don’t wish to be part of this conversation. We got to this blog very randomly through another blog.

    Anyway, this is the first time we’ve seen first hand how a Christian pastor might speak to an LGBT person or LGBT ally, and it’s definitely been an interesting conversation. I hope you found my post respectful and free from any persecutory sentiments, as that was definitely not my intent. And while I do disagree with some of Tom’s points (like his reading of BSA v. Dale), I think what he and I are trying to say is really quite simple at the heart of it: If we were gay members of your congregation, reading your posts (which may be biblically true, but simply not balanced nor loving) would not make us come to you even though you were our pastor.

    Be well, and take care.

    1. Reese,

      Thanks for your response and I found it respectful. A couple of things:

      1. Thanks for some context. It is always difficult responding to “someone” without an idea of who they are and where they are coming from. You can find out more about me on the blog page “About Me.”

      2. Your assertion is that the only way to effectively minister to the LGBT community is to reject what the Scripture teaches on this issue. I cannot do that and I don’t think this is required to effectively minister.

      3. I have said previously that homosexuality has been singled out unfairly in the church as a taboo sin.

      4. I believe the Bible is God’s Word and authoritative. That is the reason I emphasize it so much. Your beliefs are based on certain things as well (experience, education, etc). We are no different in this respect. We can have a discussion and land on different sides of the issue.

      5. Your assertion is that the only time to you hear about Christians in regards to this issue is always negative. This does not surprise me because issues like this are a gold mine for media outlets. Take some time and look through the conference my denomination had concerning this very issue – you may be surprised.

      6. I appreciate your legal expertise on the issues discussed. It helps as I think through this issue.

      7. I think I have stated several times that Christians need to love the LGBT community. But loving our gay friends and neighbors does not mean we must dismiss our deeply held religious beliefs concerning the issue. I think you have this confused. Loving someone does not equal wholesale acceptance of what they do.

      8. I don’t address this issue as someone who is perfect. I am a sinner in need of a Savior just like every other single person, gay or straight.

      1. Hmm. Thought Experiment. let’s say an atheist leader (it’s a religion based on the lack of religion, haha) comes up to you and says they really like you as a person, but that their beliefs state that Christians should not be allowed to marry. If you marry, they continue to state their your marriage is a sham, should not be recognized, and your children do not have rights from this fake marriage. These atheists use the legal process to try to block you and your wife from forming a family.

        Do you have trouble believing they like you? I’m not disagreeing that liking or loving someone doesn’t mean agreeing with everything that they do. But is it so hard to understand why gay people have so much trouble trusting Christians? Put yourself in their shoes using this experiment. DUH. What planet do you live on? lol

      2. I would defend their right to not only state this belief but their right to challenge it through the legal process. I think they could like me and still take these steps. This is no different than the LGBT community telling me that they disagree with my position and will challenge it through the legal process. I believe a gay person (like my cousin) can love me and still disagree with me.

      3. Why would someone need to keep reminding others to love gays and lesbians if they weren’t treating them uncharitably to begin with?

        Awkward …

  3. I think gay Christians have a special cross to bear, and a particularly difficult one. And if you are going to support them, you should be aware that this is quite difficult, instead of making the argument that its similar to all sexual sins. I question the effectiveness of a pastor who thinks he can effectively minister to a gay person when he is incapable of understanding this very simple, very human point.

    Telling someone to refrain from masturbation is not the same thing as telling someone they have to be alone their entire lives. If you are going to be effective as a pastor, you should recognize this.

    Btw, can someone link to the right section? If I get to this blog, I can’t figure out which comment section I’m supposed to be looking at. Don’t like scrolling, lol. Didn’t your responses T, too long, lol.

    1. Sorry for the length of responses. I do agree that this is a sensitive and difficult issue. I fully recognize that it is. I understand what you are saying but I do not agree with your statement as I have noted in other responses.

      1. Michael, yes this is such a difficult issue, aint it?

        As a Christian leader, did you struggle with it at all? christians don’t have a problem with murder or lying being wrong. These prohibitions seem “natural” and even “obvious” because they are hurtful to other people. even adultery is hurtful to one’s spouse, and also usually involves a great deal of lying (where someone has been, hiding text messages).

        but when it comes to homosexuality, i think a lot us christians are basically asking, is there any other reason apart from the fact that the Bible says so? Of course God/the Bible should be the source of authority as we live our lives. But it is a little difficult to equate homosexuality with murder and lying and bestiality, which you seem to be doing when you say all sins are equal. youre saying that we’re all sinners, but it’s funny that’s something church leaders always say only in relation to homosexuality. people dont really seem to use the phrase “we’re all sinners” when talking about other kinds of sins, like murder or lying. only when they talk abotu gay men n women. its like the parent who tells one sibling that she loves all her children equally, but ends up always punishing one child and going easy on the other.

        i agree that being compassionate means you shouldn’t call other people evil to begin with. a lot of my gay friends are pretty awesome people. they are definitely not evil. altho i have to believe they committ sin, i refuse to believe they are evil. they are GOOD.

      2. Anon,

        I answered your question in stating that this is a difficult issue. I have a problem with all sin because the Bible has a problem with all sin (mine included).

        Your question “…when it comes to homosexuality, i think a lot us christians are basically asking, is there any other reason apart from the fact that the Bible says so? Of course God/the Bible should be the source of authority as we live our lives.” My question to you is, If the Bible says that homosexuality is sin, how can you claim that the Bible is your authority and also claim that homosexuality is not a sin? Those do not match up. Either your personal experience is your authority regardless of what the Bible says or you don’t believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Just be honest about which one it is.

        I equate homosexuality with other sexual sins because that is the way the Bible discusses it.

        I never said gay people are evil. I’m not sure how you arrived at that conclusion based on what I have written. The only thing I said was evil is for religious liberty to be stripped away.

  4. My comment disappeared. Is he editing it out?

    I think you should recognize that telling a gay person he is going to be alone his whole life is not the same thing as telling a person not to masturbate. How can you be effective as a pastor if you don’t understand this very basic, simple point? You should go about it the opposite way and recognize in fact that they are subject to a special cross that most straight Christians will never understand.

    Anyway, I don’t think they should even bother, but if they do, that’sh what i think. T. your responses are too long lol. Who is this person anyway and what gives him the right to judge other people?

    1. No – nothing has been edited. It goes through a spam filter before appearing. Again, I think my previous responses answer your questions.

      By the way, I am simply a sinner who has experience the grace of God through salvation in Jesus Christ. It is my desire that others experience this free gift as well.

  5. He didn’t say all Christian groups have majorities that support gay marriage. He said Catholics in the U.S. have a majority that support gay marriage (that is true)

    There should be text limits. Brevity is a virtue.

    1. According to the research the majority of evangelical Protestants believe homosexuality is a sin and gay marriage should not be legal. This is not true of Catholics in the U.S.

  6. Michatl, my comments keep disappearing and I forget what I want to say.

    If a same-sex couple walks into a cake shop and there are two owners and three employees, and the owner doesn’t want to sell the cake to the couple, can the employee who is not a Christian sell the cake? Or does this still violate the religious beliefs of the owners, even though the employees don’t agree? Does this apply only to sole proprietorships, closely held corporations? Or also to public companies?

    Isn’t the wedding the least important objection from a Christian perspective? Michael, can a real-estate agent who is Christian refuse to sell a house to a same-sex couple because they will be living (literally!!!) in sin because of a house she sold? I would think the real-estate agent has even more conscientious objections than a baker, because her decision will literally last for a long time.

    Michael, can a pharmacist refuse to sell condoms to gay couples if she happens to find out they are gay? After all, surely she doesn’t want them to engage in gay sex.

    Gay people don’t switch things on and off. Most things they do as a normal part of their everyday lives can be construed as a part of them living in sin. Choosing a cake for their wedding. Choosing a house for their home.

    Where does it stop? I’d like to hear what’s the principle behind your “nuanced” argument. How would you establish a difference between what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to refusing service to LGBT folks?

    Cheerios!

    1. I think you make some great points. I have wrestled with this for some time and hopefully this will help.

      1. It is impossible to operate in the secular marketplace attempting to be the moral police. Christians are not going to ask questions like “Are you gay?” or “Are you having an affair?” or “Are you beating your children?” before they serve someone. Every person should be served regardless of race, sex, or sexual identity.

      2. I do think a wedding ceremony is a celebration of the covenant of marriage and if one does not want to participate in this celebration because of religious beliefs then that should be their legal right. This is the one instance that I think refusing service is acceptable.

      Maybe this article by Dr. Albert Mohler will be helpful in understanding where I see the distinction.

      1. Hey Michael, am a little confused by the distinction even after reading the Mohler article.

        Why isn’t a Christian photographer who is taking a photo, not a wedding photo, just a normal one, of a gay family, let’s say two moms and two kids, also violating their conscience? The Bible does not allow gay marriage or gay families, so the Christian photographer shouldn’t be helping this gay family to celebrate and affirm their family structure. In which case, is it really true that it’s only about gay marriage? Isn’t it really more about gay families more broadly? cause I can see of a lot of religious objections being raised that’s kind of similar to the OP above.

        Do you think a Christian photographer should take a non-wedding related photo for a gay family? If so, why do you think they are not violating their conscience? If not, are you saying that weddings are not the only instance in which Christians should refuse to serve gay people?

        tu 🙂

      2. I’m not sure how to make it any clearer than to say a wedding ceremony is a celebration and I think a Christian should have the right not to serve in a capacity which would require them to go against their deeply held religious beliefs. They should not be required to celebrate something they do not believe in. I think a Christian photographer could take a non-wedding photo for a gay family and a Christian waiter or waitress could serve a gay family in a restaurant.

        Let me ask you: Should a Christian photographer be able to refuse to photograph someone in the nude or violent images? Why and on what basis? If it was based on a matter of conscience then why would this not extend to a gay wedding?

      3. I don’t know. The whole thing sounds a little odd to me. I dislike the idea that the cake shop owners are facing damages. They don’t seem like bad people to me and were just trying to do what they thought was right. But I don’t see why they are complaining about people who boycott them. That’s not harassment. People are free to stop shopping at places where they disagree with the owner’s position. In fact, I think that’s the beauty of our system.

        But I also cannot help thinking that this whole “participation” or “celebration” of same-sex marriage through baking a cake is also really weird. Like, there are so many situations in which it was possible that the owners would never have realized they were baking a cake for a gay couple. Like if one of the partners calls the shop and requests a totally plain white wedding cake with a red velvet stuffing and no wording and no topping because they had already bought a really cute same-sex cake topper online. Then the Kleins would have just baked the cake, sold it, and had been none the wiser. They would not have violated their conscience, even though the gays would still have got their cake. I think this is just WAYYYYY too far removed from the idea of celebrating or participating in a wedding. It’s going to result in the strange situation where the Kleins are NOT participating in a wedding so long as they don’t realize they are baking a cake for gays, but a situation in which they ARE participating in the wedding if they realize the cake is for gays. That’s just so weird and it seems like a stretch.

        Just sounds a little petty to me. Anyway, I don’t think they are bad ppple, but how come it’s always Christians who have the most problems with gays? Don’t see Jewish or Buddhist or Hindu owners kicking up a fuss. No. it’s always the “peace-loving” Christians who don’t want to sell cake … (rolls eyes) … seems awfully judgmental.

        I bought a birthday cake for my son three weeks ago. It never crossed my mind that the bakery was a part of this celebration. When I got married, it never crossed my mind that the bakers of my cake were part of my wedding. It’s just cake …. guys. But similarly, gays, don’t take yourselves too seriously. Just walk down the street and get another cake!

        so its a really tough issue, but if i were forced to choose, i’d prob side with the gays on this matter.

        peaces.

      4. Again, I believe this is a matter of conscience and not a stretch for the believer who takes the Bible seriously. Paul, in Romans 14 talks about this very issue of matters of conscience. He is discussing the idea of eating meat offered to idols and whether or not it is acceptable for Christians to do so. Some believers thought it was acceptable and others thought it was not. Paul’s encouragement to them was that it was not a sin either way but a person should be “fully convinced in his own mind” concerning the issue and follow his conscience.

        So, for the instance at hand, I believe a Christian could have no objection to serving a wedding cake at a same-sex wedding. Another Christian might have an objection based on conscience. According to Paul, in Romans 14:23, the Christian who has a conscientious objection would be in sin if they served the cake at a same-sex wedding. My argument is that the Christian baker should have the right not to serve the cake. Again, this would only apply the the wedding celebration.

        Also, a Christian could serve a wedding cake unknowingly at a same-sex marriage ceremony and, even though they may have a conscientious objection to that, not be in sin because they did not know.

  7. Thanks, Michael, for responding. I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed by the nature of your response though, given that I took the time to try and articulate my points about the law and the rhetoric you are using. I respect what you’re saying, but I’m wondering if you could engage some of the more difficult arguments (on both sides of the issue) instead of repeating certain lines (without developing the logic).

    In particular, can you offer your thoughts about my previous comments on civil vs. religious marriage, and why you think this isn’t a good route to go?

    What writers, beyond Christian authors, do you read and respect with regard to their views on political philosophy, or do you only read Christian authors? I’m wondering if we could find common ground another way, by exploring Rawls’ or James’ take on religious expression in the political sphere. There must also be many Christian political philosophers who have developed theories about the state or constitutional expression that are informed by their Christianity but not subjected to it (for purposes of civil sphere arguments). I’d be interested to read some of those.

    As for people being able to land on both sides of the issue, that is almost always true!

    Take care, and be well.

    1. I apologize if you did not think I addressed your comments appropriately. I am balancing a family and work responsibilities so it is difficult to comment on every post in a lengthy manner.

      My position on marriage is that it is fundamentally a religious issue first and then a state issue. Again, as a Bible believing Christian, this is not a jump in logic or inconsistent though you may not agree. I believe the institution of marriage is, at its very essence, a biblical issue. Therefore, I seek to defend, in the public square, that reality. God defines what marriage is and is not…not the state. The state can accept that biblical definition (which it has up until 20 years ago) but the one who created it gets to define it and any attempt to redefine it should be rejected.

      As regards civil unions, here is my question? What constitutes a civil union and who gets to draw that line? For instance Carol Saler (a supporter of gay civil unions) wrote an interesting and provocative article about this very question in The Times London. Her logic goes, “A commitment to a civil partnership is a commitment to a person. The ‘sickness and in health’ of conventional marriage is not so much a sexual as a moral tie; where there is a chosen one above all others, a mutually caring unit is established and stability is promoted above caprice. Loneliness is held at bay, isolation is thwarted and devotion is rewarded, some sad day, by the simple security of a roof over a deserving head, be it gay, straight or otherwise.” She believes that person can be her daughter but could also be extended to multiple people.

      Albert Mohler, in response, wrote: “Like it or not, this is where the logic of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage inevitably leads. If marriage rights are divorced from heterosexuality and procreation, a refusal to accept virtually any formalized relationship amounts to just another form of discrimination.” I agree with his assessment and that is why I would reject the idea of civil partnerships. If you are going to be consistent on the idea of civil partnerships then there are no limits to what this can mean. If you do attempt to limit it, you would be participating in discrimination.

      With regards to who I read, as a pastor I spend much of my time reading theology (authors who I agree with and disagree with), commentaries on the Bible (in preparation to preach), and books on leadership and ministry (for my growth as a practitioner in a local church). When I do read Christian philosophers I spend most of my time with William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantiga. Both would probably be helpful in this discussion.

      1. Michael, I haven’t read all your comments, but I think in some places you agreed that LGBT individuals should not be denied their civil liberties. Here, you are saying that you don’t even approve of civil unions. Would you clarify this position?

        Are you saying that you think gay individuals should be extended their rights in a manner that takes place outside of any marriage or civil union? For instance, many rights have historically been tied to marriage. Social Security spousal benefits, estate tax rights, the right to be covered under your spouse’s health insurance. If you are rejecting civil partnerships as well, is it fair to say you do not think gay people deserve the rights I mention?

        And if you think they do, how should the state grant gay individuals these rights?

      2. I do believe gay individuals should not be denied their civil liberties. I do think our current tax code and economic policies can and probably should be adjusted so that no one receives special treatment, gay or straight, married or not. I agree with you that many rights have historically been tied to marriage but I think those rights can be guaranteed without civil partnerships or marriage coming into the discussion. It will be difficult and it will take time to sort out. But I believe it is possible.

    2. Well, if that’s the case, it does seem fairly irresponsible to enter the political sphere against same-sex marriage and in defense of traditional marriage without working for all these other things too. Or is the defense of traditional marriage more important than also making sure your fellow human beings get all the same rights you believe they deserve?

      Where are the initiatives to start decoupling SS benefits or inheritance tax provisions from marriage? Or are you saying you’d be totally fine if traditional marriage became re-recognized as the law of the land tomorrow without any of these rights being detached from traditional marriage? It’s a little hard for people to take these kinds of arguments seriously when proponents of traditional marriage make no efforts to walk the talk.

      1. I made very clear rights should be extended to all people, gay or straight, married or not. I think this can be done without a discussion of marriage at all.

        As a conservative evangelical Christian and a pastor I have a responsibility to stand up for traditional marriage. The idea that I cannot speak out on traditional marriage until I first take certain steps to fight for equal rights is not logical. You would not hold yourself to that same standard concerning things you discuss.

  8. That is a lot of discussion and some of it helps and some of it seems to miss the real issues.
    It helps on the topic of the marketplace. Michael seems to have said that clearly in his 10:04PM reply.

    It does not clearly distinguish whether or not assisting in a marriage ceremony is a display of support for something that they disagree with. By Michael’s own admission, he is citing the authority of the Bible and standing on that as he disagrees with the marriage ceremony and any sexual acts that he sees as outside a biblical definition of marriage. What is not clear is whether or not being a photographer or baking a cake that you have been told will be for something you believe is morally wrong, makes you a willing participant or supporter of that wrong. In some cases, I believe it does. If a teenager goes to a store and buys a set of razors and tells the clerk that they are only buying them so that they can cut themselves because they like that, feel like they can’t help it, and lots of their peers are doing it, is the clerk legally allowed to deny the purchase? No, but would the clerk wish they were allowed to do so? Yes. However should they still be morally obligated to do anything within their power to discourage this? Yes

    Michael and others feel that homosexual marriage and sexual acts are self-harming in a person’s relationship with God and therefore feel morally obligated to do anything within their power to discourage this while wishing that they were also legally allowed to do so.

    Before either side finds all the faults in what I said above, read the rest of this. There are some pretty solid arguments in this discussion, but neither side can win because there are vastly different presuppositions here.

    For Michael, the Bible is the authority on issues and his actions in culture cannot violate the authority of the Bible. Michael seems to be as compassionate and sympathetic as he can be without apologizing for what the Bible says as if he knows better than God and wishes God had not made a mistake when he made homosexuality a sin.

    For Tom and others, experience (person and cultural) and reason (scientific research) are the authority. Tom seems to be compassionately discussing this without apologizing that his source of authority takes a position that Michael disagrees with. Based upon both sources of authority, the reasoning presented is great.

    If this discussion is going to progress any further, it needs to do so based upon compatible sources of authority. Do people and experience get to determine not just the law of the land, but what is morally right and morally wrong? What is the supreme source of authority on moral issues?

    1. Well, let’s assume that tomorrow some nutcase decides to establish a religion, and due to divine revelation and divine revelation ONLY, he decides that all believers in monotheistic religions (Monos) are committing sin but those in polytheistic religions (Polys) are not. You can’t say that’s not a compelling religious belief since you don’t think religious precepts need to be anchored in science or logic. Revelation will do. Although people are skeptical, they agree that if Christians can believe in resurrections and virgin births, then this new religion, NoMono, should have equal rights to expression and religion. NoMono insists that monotheistic believers must be treated with compassion and dignity, but nevertheless believes that God has revealed that Monos should not be further encouraged in sin. One of the sacraments the NoMonos hold to is that houses are sacred dwellings, and must be blessed by the full pantheon of Gods as they are the temple of the Gods on earth. They hold only three sacraments, and this is important to them.

      Most people will say. He is entitled to this belief. He should be free to form a church. He should be free to recruit only members that subscribe to this beliefs. We might think he’s a loony bin, but hey, freedom of religion and expression and all. We will respect his sacraments.

      But then, he is also a plumber in his spare time. One day he goes to a house to fix a problem, but then sees a lot of Christian art on the wall. He doesn’t ask any questions, and he doesn’t serve as a “moral policeman.” He was just a Poly going about his business, just as the Monos were going about theirs. Nevertheless, the cat is out of the bag. Gasp. He knows that these are Monos. He prays to his pantheon of Gods. It takes time, because there’s more than one of them, after all. And after much prayer, he decides that he cannot in good conscience serve them because it violates his sacramental belief. No plumbing, and no fixing of the dwelling as it has not been consecrated. The Monos are upset, and they take him Poly Plumber to court.

      Question: How can Christianity’s prohibitions of gay marriage be distinguished from NoMono’s sacramental beliefs in the sacredness of dwellings? Or does Christian pastor Michael think all other religions don’t deserve to exist in the public space?

      1. I’m guessing you did not read my response to this previously. The only instance I believe a Christian has the right, as a matter of conscience, to refuse service would be in a same-sex wedding celebration.

        All religions have the right to exist in the public square.

      2. Erm. What if a NoMono pastor says that refusing to fix houses that haven’t be consecrated by a divine pantheon is the only instance he believes a NoMono has the right, as a matter of conscience, to behave this way?

      3. Then one of two things will happen:

        1. He will refuse service and if someone chooses to sue then he will have to defend his position in court. He may win or lose.

        2. If he loses, he will have to close down his business because his clientele is too limited (to the point he cannot make money) or because he cannot, in good conscience, work in a secular environment.

        **If you notice, this is the exact same thing I said about Christians in situations like what has been described.

      4. That’s a good thought experiment. Are there real examples we could use to substitute instead when we consider issues about Church and State?

        Does anyone know of other religious owners (not Christians, but of other faiths) who have refused to serve gay people for any reason? That might be a good comparison with the hypothetical NoMonos, which was brilliantly constructed and very funny, btw, lol.

        Or are the bakers, florists and photographers who have refused service to gay couples all Christian?

        (The font of all the texti s very small – a little bigger would be nicer)

  9. May I offer a perspective as a Christian serving in a position of leadership? I have not read every single comment, but the ones that I have convince me that discussion is good.

    Ephesians tell us: Be kind to one another and tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

    Although there is much passionate feeling (and rightly so) by many posters, many of whom do not seem to be gay themselves but are friends and allies of gay people, there was also a great amount of good cheer, honest and direct questioning, and never an insult. Thank you for being so patient. I do not presume to understand the sufferings that you or more rightly your gay friends have gone through. As Michael says, all discrimination is wrong. Too often, we do not speak to the LGBT community in love.

    The Bible says that: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

    I do not agree that we should forever be talking about gay issues only from the perspective of gay marriage. I agree with the poster who said that too often we open our mouths on gay issues only to issue judgments. This is changing. Give us time, please.

    We cannot go against the Word of God, which has established that marriage is a holy union. A union between not only between one man and one woman, but the uniting of husband and wife in Christ, who is our Lord.

    But I agree with the poster who suggested that the Church is asking gay men and women to do something very difficult, and that the cross it is asking them to take on is not the same as some of the other sins we are accustomed to. In that sense, I differ from my other brethren, like Pastor Michael. Although I cannot go against what the Word says, I can personally choose to exercise particular sensitivity, particular compassion, and particular humility when I speak to gay men and lesbian women. I think the suggestion to discuss the defense of traditional marriage only after establishing that we support gay civil rights is a good one.

    I do not wish to enter the debate over whether the government can/should compel Christian bakers to serve at same-sex weddings. Personally, I would have no trouble baking a wedding cake for my same-sex friends. (But I do not think they would want me to bake their wedding cake, because I am not a good baker!)

    The takeaway for me from this whole thread is actually from the poster who said that the language of division is harmful, and we should be careful about the language we choose. I agree. I find there is little point in constantly presenting the Christian community as persecuted, because then we have no choice but to frame others of good faith who do not believe in the same things as we do as the persecutors. Increasingly, the people who disagree with traditional marriage are drawn not only from outside our ranks, but from within our own brothers and sisters. Are they persecuting us when they disagree, too? I cannot believe that. Choosing to paint the disagreement as coming only from LGBT groups is harmful and untrue. We should give up this “us” versus “them” mentality and rhetoric, and I believe that is what some of the posters were responding to.

    Finally, I admit that nothing that Christians are currently suffering (or in the recent past) comes anywhere close to what LGBT persons have suffered. But there are always going to be Christians who believe in traditional marriage. I think a democracy should afford us that space.

    Pastors and Christian leaders are not perfect, and they are only human. Young leaders in particular cannot acquire wisdom through anything but time, experience and the guidance of the Lord. We must encourage young pastors in good faith, not tear them down, even when we believe they have done wrong.

    1. I appreciate your comments Jon. I am seeking to grow in understanding and humility while remaining faithful to my calling.

  10. I’m a young gay man and I think the pastor has the right to his beliefs 🙂 i hope its ok for me to contribute something. i did not read most of it.

    When I get married one day, the cake is going to be the least important part of my wedding. Although I can see how others might get upset, to me, what a wedding is is between two people who want to celebrate their new life. if some people don’t want to bake for us, or sell us certain things, I think I would be OK about it as long as I could get it elsewhere. I think it’s OK to give and take a little. sometimes that means if people don’t want to serve us, don’t want to help us or don’t want to bake cakes for us, where possible, maybe we could just try somewhere else. Sometimes they are being deliberately mean, most of the time they are not. also, although it might be difficult to find wedding cakes in our area, it is definitely quite easy to find a normal cake. seriously, no one will be able to tell the diff lol. what i dont understand is will they be able to refuse me other things? im only going to get married once (hopefully), so if its only just that one time, it doesnt bother me so much.

    my feeling is on the small things we should try to accomordate to each other, the way that brothers learn to share toys. its not always about being right, but also about being kind. so my question is a little different. Even if the right thing to do is for the bakers to bake the cake, if its not too troublesome to go somewhere else, thats also ok. I dont like the idea of some guy getting depressed over being forced to make a cake when its really not that big a deal. it will likely not be a very nice cake anyway in this case! :p What if he purposely messes it up? haha.

    one thing that is hurtful is when my boyfrned and i are called names. i think everyone has the right to be safe. more than cakes or weddings, i think we should focus on making sure everyone has a basic right to safety. ive been beaten a few times (a few punches, nothing serious but def still uncool) by older boys and called a faggot and cocksucker and names like that.

    if i can walk safely down the street and not have pple keep taunting me abt holding hands or hanging out with my bf, that is what matters to me most. ty.

    1. Adam,

      I appreciate your measured response on this issue and would love to have an open dialog with anyone. So you commenting is definitely welcomed. Name calling and physical violence is terrible and I am sorry that you have had to endure that, possibly even at the hands of so-called Christians. That is not something that I have had to endure and I find it reprehensible and indefensible. Hate in any form (verbal or physical) is sinful and I appreciate you recognizing that me disagreeing with you on the issue of homosexuality is not done in hate. Again, the only instance I think a Christian would be justified in refusing service because of a matter of conscience would be for the wedding ceremony. Thanks again for reading.

  11. i think the the wedding cake is prob the last thing on my mind at the mo. if i had to say, the things i wld have liked most was just for pple to treat me like any other person.

    i dont know if the pple who hit me were christians. most of the christians ive met have been very kind. 🙂 the only bad experience i can think of was when i needed to get a vaccine for hpv. supposedly this is something that young gay men up to a certain age shld get. that’s a lot of money, so i tried to get it inside one of grocery stores where they sell medicines because its cheaper. when i told the woman i wanted to get an hpv injection, she said i didnt really need one and it was only recommended for women till some age, i think 25 or something. i said i read the CDC guidelines, which is the govt agency responsible for deciding what kind of injections u need to take, and it said that gay men up to a certain age shld also get it.

    after i said that she was silent for a bit and started asking a lot of questions that made me feel weirded out. she said things like ‘oh, so is this gentlemen here your boyfriend’ and things like that. asked me if either of us had ever gone to church, said she could give me some numbers of local ministers to call. she even asked me how i knew i was gay and if i had ever tried dating girls before. she wasnt mean at all but i felt it was a little inappropriate for her to be asking all those questions and i could def sense she didnt want to give me the injection. everytime i asked if i could just take the injection now she seemed to find a reason to delay and she said it was better if we just stayed “pure” or something along those lines.

    it was embarassing because there were other pple ard, i wasnt sure if i was holding up the line and she was also asking me those questions about being gay in a fairly loud voice. i didnt realize u were allowed to do that. and it didnt seem like the right thing to do because it was the government that said the injections were a good idea and i wasnt sure why it was any of her business. after 15 mins, she said she ran a stock check and actually she didn’t look properly the first time and they had run out and that we should find another place, so that’s what we had to do.

    so thats why when pple were talking abt the cake i was wondering if that meant it would be OK for them to refuse me other things, like injections, and if you would consider that a discriminating action. personally altho it wasnt a big deal for us to find a different place to get the shots, it was a little humiliating. she wasnt unkind, but somehow it felt like a discriminating action. not sure what you think abt that.

    my suggestion is to prevent humilating conversations of this kind maybe christian bakers or nurses should put clear signs out saying that they don’t serve gay people. if kyle and i had known it was a ‘no-gays’ place we wouldn’t have had to go thru all that.

    i dont think most pple are motivated by hate of any sort. it takes too much energy haha 🙂 but we have to find better ways to protect everyone.

    1. Adam, there is no reason you need to make these sacrifices. And yes, I think it was totally inappropriate for her to be talking about anything non-vaccination related. You wanted a vaccination that is recommended by the CDC and you were willing and able to pay. That is the end of the story. She has no right to refuse to give it to you.

      There’s something really weird going on with some folks in the religious right these days, imo. they don’t seem able to understand the real disadvantages imposed on real people by religious exemption laws (which is why so many religious leaders – Christian ministers, Jewish rabbis actually oppose these laws) and instead subscribe to this strange belief that gay rights activists are out to get them. There are going to be loonies in every camp. Of course some gay rights activists are over the top, just as some right-wing folks are pretty extreme. But it shouldn’t be that difficult to look at the actual majority of Christians or gay people who bring very real concerns to the table.

      Can we stop hiding behind the rhetoric of whether someone is motivated by hate and get to the actual subjects in contention?

      If you think the vast majority of gay or gay allies find your positions “damnable” and motivated by hatred, that only tells me one thing. That you simply don’t know enough gay people. The teacher down the street who’s not out at work because she’s worried she’s going to lose her job (pop quiz: Which Christian denomination until a few years back thought that many gays were pedophiles? HINT: You don’t have to look too far). The gay veteran whose spouse doesn’t have any benefits. The janitors and minimum-wage workers who simply have no idea what’s going on as far as legal arguments are concerned but are systematically disadvantaged any way because the default protections that apply to most straight people because of marriage don’t apply to them.

      So, from the perspective of justice, I REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t understand why anyone would be so concerned about traditional marriage instead of trying to first establish equal rights. I can respect arguments for traditional marriage. I really do. But what I definitely do NOT respect are people who are willing to reach that goal without making efforts to guarantee equal rights for all.

      You want respect? Earn it.

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