The Proof That Religious Freedom Laws Are Not About Discriminating Against Gays

GLBTQ wedding cake topperYay! It’s time for another lesson in freedom and pluralism! Everybody get out your COEXISTENCE bumper stickers and let’s all celebrate diversity!

Remember?… Celebrating diversity?… Remember when that was the cool thing?

I know. “Nice try dude, but HATE is not an acceptable example of diversity. No one should be denied their full civil rights.”

I absolutely agree.

But if you followed the recent religious freedom story in Indiana, you know that opponents strenuously argued that Indiana’s bill would give businesses “a license to discriminate against gays.” The law did no such thing.

One would think that with the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby vs. Burwell decision so recently in the news, people, especially the press, would remember what the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 actually does. It’s not a license to unlawfully discriminate. The Indiana bill was a state version of the federal RFRA, agreeing with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.

As a reminder, the RFRA simply requires the government to exercise restraint. Government may substantially burden the free exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that its action 1) furthers a compelling governmental interest, and 2) that it finds the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.

The RFRA does not guarantee a result. It’s an attempt to balance First Amendment freedoms and governmental power. It’s not a license for religious people to pick and choose which laws they feel like obeying.

Since, for the most part, the news and entertainment media don’t understand the motives of people of faith, they are left with guessing at motives. So they assume bigotry and hatred, despite the evidence. They create a cartoonish portrayal of an idiotic, religious class of people, standing in the way of progress and equality. They “expose” religious freedom protections as the latest ploy to allow anti-gay hatred, as if Evangelicals favor hatred. This is a political strategy.

What motivates Evangelicals?
Religions address life’s fundamental questions about God, man, purpose, morality, marriage, family, life, and death. Beliefs dictate behavior. Evangelicals ultimately believe in truth and love, reflective of an objective, ultimate authority – God – who embodies and is the source of truth and love. Whether or not you agree with Evangelicals on this, try viewing the current debate through that lens. I contend that it makes much more sense, and is much less creepy, than believing that half the U.S. population consists of raving homophobes, driven by hatred toward a particular class of people. Do you really believe that Christians are clamoring for the right to refuse service to gay people simply because they are gay? If you do, I suggest you expand your circle of friends.

I grew up in Evangelical subculture. It’s impossible for followers of Jesus to hate gays, because Jesus commanded His followers to love people. At the same time, it’s just as impossible for followers of Jesus to redefine marriage so that it’s not a heterosexual institution, because Jesus affirmed the Torah’s definition of marriage in Genesis (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:5-9.) This is the crux of the issue today – the definition of marriage. It is not about discriminating against gay people, as gays, per se.

Two proofs:
First of all, the supposedly anti-gay business owners who have received national attention all knowingly and willingly served gay customers previous to the hoopla. No one is asking for a freaking “license to discriminate against gay people” as persons. Christians are not clamoring for the right to post a signs on their businesses that say, “THIS ESTABLISHMENT DOES NOT SERVE FAGS.” Once a news reporter knows this, and yet continues to refer to these business owners as “anti-gay,” or “denying service to gay customers,” then it’s fair to say that news reporter is misrepresenting the issue. Which is to say he or she is lying.

It wasn’t until these business owners were asked to provide services for gay wedding events that they declined. Across the board. The current issue is about the freedom for people of faith to refuse to participate in the redefining of a biblically defined concept of marriage.

Here’s the second proof: I will bet you a rainbow-colored gay wedding cake that these same business owners would decline to participate in a wedding event for a brother and sister wanting to unite in marriage. I’m pretty sure they would decline to participate in a marriage of two dudes and a woman. This would not make them or “anti-sibling” or “anti-hetero.” It’s not about the sexual orientation of the customer. These scenarios are not far-fetched, and there are sound, compassionate, and socially responsible reasons to protect the concept of marriage as the uniting of an unrelated man and woman, in a monogamous, lifelong commitment.

If you are a supporter of “marriage equality,” I have a question for you:
Do you support full marriage equality, or do you only support marriage equality for gays? Because if you don’t support full marriage equality, then you can’t say you support marriage equality.

What is the reasoning that expands the definition of marriage to include gays, but excludes siblings from marrying? How can you deny equal treatment to two siblings of any sex who simply want to get married like anyone else? Are you suggesting that gay marriage is somehow better than sibling marriage, or, let’s say, a marriage of a father and his adult daughter? Why? How is imposing a “marriage ban” on such couples not bigotry and discrimination? You can’t favor gays and deny equal treatment to other groups. It takes all the colors to make a rainbow, right?

I would especially like to know how you feel that legalizing incestuous marriages would harm you personally, since no one is forcing you to marry your mom, or dad, or sibling.

This is not a rhetorical question. The world really needs to hear a rational answer. Your reasoning can no longer rely on current law, the “ick factor,” or tradition.

Even now, some closeted incestuous couples are brave enough to speak out, emboldened by gay marriage gains. Here are some actual testimonies from a Full Marriage Equality blog site:

> By (sic) brother and I have been together for 3 years now. we’ve had many problems because of course it is a difficult situation. we want to get married and have a family. we’ve told some people and all of them have been very supportive. Here’s the thing, i always compare ourselves with the gay community, 20 years ago they couldn’t be seen in public, they were discriminated until finaly society stared to accept them (sic) and i think the same thing is going to happen for us. I dont understand why people is against this (sic)… I mean, we’re not hurting anyone, we are in love and love is a good thing. we are happy together and once again WE ARE NOT HURTING ANYONE. i think it’s nasty the way society behaves, most people will not support a couple that loves each other, but they will support war? way to go!! If you’re not dating your brother, you dont have to be nasty and bitchy about it, it’s not your problem and we’re not hurting you… (Anonymous)

> Of course I would marry my brother if I could. We want to spend our lives together, raise children together. And I know it’s not just us that wishes society would accept this kind of relationship. I’ve talked to many other people, and I know there are many incest couples that wish they didn’t have to hide either. True love should never have to be hidden, it should be celebrated. (Liz, living as “married” to her older brother, Ryan.)

 > If it weren’t for the possibilities of persecution for ourselves as well as those that support us, we would challenge anyone to observe our relationship and find one negative thing that is not present in any relationship. In fact, we have a loving home and rarely, very rarely, disagree. We take care of each other and trust each other. (Tony, age 54, secretly living as “married” with his 37 year old genetic daughter.)

 > Q: Would you get legally married if you could?
A: Of course we would. That’d be a dream. We’ve experienced physical and mental abuse due to our relationship, even in the workplace. Also the fact that we cannot have the marital benefits that many couples do have, even unrelated gay couples here in Canada. It’s very difficult. But so far we’d just like the ability to be together and feel safe doing so. (Corneilius, a bi-sexual male living as “married” to his homosexual, full blood brother.)

(All quotes are from Full Marriage Equality. Please be aware that these interviews are sexually explicit.)

In the same way that followers of Jesus don’t hate gays, we don’t hate these people either. However, we do disagree with them. We’re not going to agree to subvert what we see as God’s authority on the matter of what marriage is.

Conclusion
I would love to be wrong about this, but it looks like Full Marriage Equality is now inevitable, thanks to the redefining of marriage through the gay rights movement. As any meaningful definition of marriage goes swirling down the toilet of history, the world will become an ever less safe place for children, especially for girls. If the societal taboo of incestuous sex falls, it will change the relational dynamic for all families, for the worse, by introducing and normalizing possibilities that should not exist in familial relationships.

During the short span of my lifetime, I have watched the political agenda of the Left move from advocating coexistence and tolerance to forced participation of the general population into compliance with its political beliefs. It is accurate to use the term “forced,” since the political Left now favors using the courts of government to impose even things like cake baking, picture taking, and buying contraceptives. The RFRA at least gives people of faith the possibility of legal grounds for opting out of participating in the Left’s political agenda. But even this is too much to ask for “marriage equality” supporters. Apparently we must all be made to actively participate. The orchestrated hysteria around the Indiana religious freedom bill manipulated public opinion through dishonest talking points, and intimidation. Such irrational hysteria demonstrates exactly why America needs the First Amendment and the RFRA protecting religious liberty.

May political, business, and religious leaders find the backbone to support freedom, diversity, and pluralism in America.

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2 comments on “The Proof That Religious Freedom Laws Are Not About Discriminating Against Gays

  1. Time for an education:

    [Excerpt]

    When Same-Sex Marriage Was A Christian Rite.

    By ThosPayne

    A Kiev art museum contains a icon from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel, showing two robed Christian saints, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding. It is Christ.

    They angered Emperor Maximian when exposed as ‘secret Christians’ by refusing to enter a pagan temple, were sent to Syria circa 303 CE where Bacchus is thought to have died while being flogged. Sergius survived torture, later beheaded.

    Their close relationship has led many modern scholars to believe they were lovers, the most compelling evidence, the oldest text of their martyrology, the NT Greek describes them as “erastai,” or “lovers”. Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage hasn’t been set in stone since Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

    For the Church to ignore evidence in its own archives would be cowardly and deceptive. It proves that for the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom, from Ireland to Istanbul,

    in heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a [Christian] god-given love and commitment to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honored and blessed, through the Eucharist in the name of, and in the presence of, Jesus Christ.

    Source: http://www.christianity-revealed.com/cr/files/whensamesexmarriagewasachristianrite.html

    • Interesting. I don’t have the time to independently verify everything the author claims, so I’ll leave it at “interesting.” I do know enough about art history to know that an ancient depiction of two saints with a little floating Jesus-head between them does not necessarily signify a depiction of a gay wedding. I wouldn’t consider the website you sourced as credible. I poked around a bit, and read articles claiming Jesus didn’t exist, Jesus was a woman, Jesus was gay, as well as the discredited skeptics’ argument that the “Jesus myth” was derived from Paganism. The animated, flaming title of the website and the profusion of New Atheist quotations was my first clue that the site might be more about attacking than promoting understanding.

      But for the sake of argument I’ll concede your point that there were times in Roman Church history when homosexual unions we’re celebrated. What does that mean for us today? Personally I have very little regard for church tradition, because the church took some serious wrong turns very early on, notably in becoming theologically anti-Semitic, and in becoming married to the State. I think it’s important for Christians to fully admit these and other errors. In my view, when the church has departed from the teaching of Jesus and His apostles, those errors should be corrected, not held up as examples. I just don’t see any justification for celebrating “marriage equality” in the whole of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. I really wish I could.

      However, I don’t use “religious” arguments with people who don’t claim to be followers of Jesus, because they don’t consider the Bible to be authoritative. Instead I use cultural and natural law arguments, as I did in my post. I think my reasons are sound, but at the same time I don’t think arguments are going to change the mind of anyone who is deeply identified on the GLBTQ side. I don’t know what to do about that. We’re all going to have to figure out a way to peacefully disagree. I think pluralism and freedom is the only solution. My “religious” beliefs give me a reason to value you as an individual, and that’s a start at least.

      Thanks for commenting

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