As the future of Christianity goes, there’s little I fear more than how this homosexuality/gay-marriage debate might ruin Christianity.
No, I’m not afraid that re-defining the word, “marriage,” will somehow keep us Christians from practicing our religion. I’m afraid the behavior of Christians who seek political action against homosexuals will appear to the eyes of the bystanders (those who are neither gay nor devout Christian) as evil and repulsive. As Christianity’s reputation for mercilessness and bigotry grows, Christianity will shrink – at a rapid rate.
The recent trend of several Republican state legislatures proposing and even passing so-called “religious freedom” laws makes the gay marriage debate seem quaint. These laws aren’t about the definition of a word; they’re about letting business owners discriminate against anyone who doesn’t follow their religious beliefs, yet it’s all done in the name of religious freedom!
Libertarian Republicans have said that business owners have a right to serve who they want; they have no responsibility for the well-being of others. This is an anti-biblical argument. God never gave such rights to the property owners of ancient Israel. For example, Deuteronomy 23:24 says, “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in a container.” The property owner was forced to allow trespassers on his land who could eat his grapes for free. He had no right to judge and deny others. In God’s eyes, owning property is a responsibility, not a right to be selfish.
“Religious freedom” to discriminate is not God given. Nor is religious freedom absolute in the Constitution. If it was, laws against polygamy would be un-constitutional, since several religions believe in polygamy. If the concept of religious freedom were taken to the extreme, we would have chaos, as people could excuse just about any behavior as an exercise of religious belief.
The truth is that Republican Christians are using “religious freedom” to play the victim (something they’ve accused others of doing for decades). They’ve cited rare cases in which a baker or photographer has been forced by state law to provide services for a gay wedding. And they act like such Christians suffer greatly. The truth is that it’s no harder to bake a cake for a gay wedding than it is for a straight wedding. It’s no harder to press the button on your camera for a gay wedding than it is for a straight wedding. The only suffering on the part of the Christian bakers and photographers is that they have to witness something they disapprove of. If that makes them victims, then the rest of us are victims for having to witness Republican Christians misrepresenting our religion as one full of whiny, hateful people.
Republican Christians may argue that forcing Christians to serve gays is forcing them to do something that’s against their religious beliefs.
What exactly is it that’s against their beliefs? Not being allowed to pass judgment on others? Not being allowed to pull the speck out of their neighbor’s eye when there’s a log in their own eye?
To judge someone as being more sinful than yourself and then to treat them differently than others as a result of that judgment is the very opposite of the will of God. Christians aren’t suffering here, and our freedom to practice our faith has yet to be denied even where gay marriage is legal and gays are protected from discrimination.
We Christians are not the victims. Not yet. Someday, maybe, when the vast majority of the population turns against us for trying to force non-Christians to follow Christian beliefs (something Jesus and His disciples never attempted), then we will be persecuted.