One of Jesus’ most famous lines was, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Unfortunately, in today’s political world, they’re nowhere to be found.
The gay marriage debate has always been one of my least favorites. I often find myself in the center of the spectrum, where few others are found. I can relate to some viewpoints on both sides, but that has made both sides despise me for not fully agreeing with them. There’s a good chance that by the end of this article, you the reader will also disagree with me. But I’ll go ahead with what I have to say, because somebody needs to attempt to inject some peace into this mess.
The past couple weeks have been quite tumultuous with the passage of the Religious Freedom law in Indiana. And bringing the controversy to a head was the closure of Memories Pizza, a Christian-owned business whose owner said in an interview that her business would refuse to cater gay weddings. In an interview with Fox News after the closure, she reaffirmed her belief by saying, “it’s against our belief to condone, to cater, to their wedding. We’re condoning that [the gay wedding] if we do that.” Such statements led some individuals to make threats to the pizzeria owners, while many more phoned in fake orders and others protested outside.
As usual, I think both parties are behaving badly. Here’s the way I think good people should behave: Let’s say a gay couple asks a Christian company (caterer, florist, baker, etc.) to service their wedding. I think the Christian owner should say, “That’s not within my religious belief system. I would prefer if you would ask someone else to do it.” But if the gay couple insists, then the owner should provide service to them. Conservatives will counter that the Christian can’t do this because he or she is violating the Bible. But that’s inconsistent with how most evangelical Christians behave. Evangelicals all but ignore the Sabbath, for example. Many of them perform activities related to their jobs on Sundays, and almost all of them do household chores, even though the Bible prohibited doing such minor chores as kindling a fire on the Sabbath. So Christians push the limits of what the Bible allows, even on a big Ten Commandment sin like breaking the Sabbath. On the business service front, most Evangelical Christian bakers, caterers, florists and photographers provide services to weddings that serve alcohol, even though most evangelicals believe that drinking is a sin, and they all believe that drunkenness (which happens at most wedding receptions) is a sin. If they were to be consistent in their beliefs, they should conclude that to service weddings that serve alcohol is to condone alcohol use and abuse. The truth is that Evangelicals disobey the Bible left and right, but they are intently focused on the sins of others. Since gays are rarely Christians, evangelicals attempt to pull the logs out of the gays’ eyes while ignoring the lumber yards in their own eyes. And when they can’t do that thanks to discrimination laws, they cry that they are being persecuted for their faith. That’s a bit extreme, and it dumps fuel on the fires of the American culture wars that our politicians invented.
On the other hand, I think that if a business owner refuses to service a gay wedding, the homosexuals should simply take their business elsewhere. Why insist on giving your money to someone who doesn’t respect what you’re doing? Wouldn’t it be better to spend your money at a business who is on board with what you’re all about? Unfortunately, as soon as a business owner, such as the owner of Chick-fil-a, expresses their view that they don’t believe in gay marriage, the homosexual activists go ballistic and try to drive people away from their business, and in some cases, they even make threats. That’s way too extreme. I realize that gays will say that they are offended by anyone who doesn’t approve of them and their desires to get married. But guess what else many business owners don’t approve of? Their workers, especially if they’re in a union. If you could give most business executives and major shareholders truth serum and then interview them about their thoughts on labor, you would hear even worse things than have been said about gays. So what would happen if workers boycotted every business run by executives who despise the working class? They wouldn’t have anywhere to shop! To expect that most business leaders are going to share our values is simply unrealistic. And even when it comes to regular folks, most people are slow to change their values. People who grew up racist, especially those who were racists in their adult years, will never stop being totally racist on the inside. Likewise, people who grew up under the mindset that homosexuals are mentally-ill weirdoes will never shake that feeling. Yes, with enough pressure, we can shut these people up, but they’re unlikely to change on the inside. I think the homosexual activists need to be mindful of the fact that people are slow to change. When someone utters the opinion that they haven’t quite accepted homosexual behavior and marriage, they should show some understanding and respect those people, not terrorize them.
When homosexuals terrorize people simply for saying that they don’t believe in gay marriage, Republican Christian leaders, like Mike Huckabee, use these examples to convince Christians that they are under persecution. Huckabee said just last week that the gays “won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel.” Evangelical Christians believe this and then, as a result, eagerly embrace everything Huckabee and Fox News tells them, including the belief that the rich are the righteous heroes in our society and the poor are the lazy moocher class – the very opposite of what the Bible teaches. Again, extremists on both sides are ruining our country and creating division that could someday have serious consequences.
I would like to introduce a forgotten concept – it’s called “being the better person.” As the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:20, “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” It also finds favor with men. Civil rights activists lead by Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully suffered violence, and they didn’t retaliate by trying to run all racists out of business. But by being peaceful resistors, they showed themselves to be the better people, and the nation rallied to their side. In Acts, chapter 5, the Apostles rejoiced that they got to suffer for Christ, and they never retaliated against those who persecuted them. Today, both the gays and the Religious Right take offense at the slightest instance of not getting their way and lash out at the opposition while hosting their own pity parties, even to the point of accumulating riches for the tiny bit of suffering they’ve endured.
I can’t speak for the gays, since I am not gay. But as a Christian, I think that we Christians need to be the better people and be the ones to compromise when it comes to the desires of others. Lord knows that we compromise the Bible’s teachings when it comes to our own sins, as we repeatedly taking chances that God will let our sins slide. In fact, in Acts 15, the Apostles decided to end the Biblical requirement that new believers be circumcised, because they feared that upholding that rigid law would keep Romans away from the faith. If the people who knew Jesus personally could compromise for the sake of others, I think we too can relax some rigid laws for the sake of the public perception of the Gospel. Doing so will not only cease to repel Americans from the church, but it will also prevent war – the very thing that peacemakers are called to do.