"Isn't 'religious freedom' just an excuse for discrimination?"
This sentiment is going to become more and more prevalent in our society. Even as same-sex marriage became the law of the land, it was bound to slam into the biblical view of marriage.
The issue is that in the minds of many people, when Bible-believing Christians express their disagreement with same-sex marriage that in itself is seen as discriminatory. In other words, just our viewpoint is discriminatory in their minds.
Without realizing it, people who take this stance are really engaging in an ad hominem argument, which means they are simply attacking the people who hold a biblical viewpoint by calling us bigots rather than actually engaging in true debate about religious freedom.
There are many places we could begin such a debate, but in this article I'm going to begin with freedom because that is the issue that concerns both sides. The LGBTQ community wants freedom to live out their lifestyles and Bible-believing Christians want the freedom to live out their biblical values. Is it really true that if the religious freedom of Christians is protected that this will violate the freedoms of the LGBTQ community?
The short answer is no and here's why.
Even if a Bible-believing pastor gracefully declines to marry a same-sex couple, they can still get married by someone else. Therefore, their rights as citizens have not been violated. If an LGBTQ couple wants a wedding cake and a Christian baker gracefully declines to make their cake, they can still have a wedding cake made by another baker. Therefore, their rights as citizens have not been violated.
And there you have it. They get to live out their lifestyles and we get to adhere to our biblical values and no one's rights are violated in the process.
But the sad fact is that many in the LGBTQ community view the Christian's right to exercise their conscience based upon the biblical revelation as an act of discrimination.
Just listen to how USA Today framed the argument:
"When Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in March, he claimed that 'freedom of religion is under attack in our country.; He then portrayed himself and his family as among the victims. 'My own family recently came under attack just because my wife Karen went back to teach art to children at a Christian school,' Pence said. He didn't mention that the Virginia private school in question bans LGBTQ students and employees and labels being LGBTQ as 'moral misconduct.' The school’s employment application equates homosexuality and transgender identity with polygamy, extramarital sex, pornography and 'sexual immorality.'"
You can hear the moral outrage in this USA Today article. But what the USA Today columnist failed to mention was that the policy of these schools wasn't arbitrarily decided. It wasn't based upon preferences or inclinations. It was simply based upon the clear biblical revelation:
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Regardless if someone believes in the inspiration of Scripture or not, this passage is painfully clear. As Christians, we believe God defines reality over and above any individual's feelings, preferences or beliefs. When anyone declares something good or true or right or beautiful, the authority of that claim must go beyond mere humanity. Universal meaning must transcend mere human sentiment. If not, then all our values are simply human constructs. And if that's the case, then neither side has a leg to stand on, other than might makes right, which is what the restriction of religious freedom is always about.
Before we came to Christ in faith and repentance, we all lived different kinds of lifestyles that were outside the biblical norm. Alcoholics don't get a pass in this segment of Scripture, neither do the greedy, nor do those engaged in any type of sexual behavior outside of marriage. Christian moral ethics have always been countercultural.
Just because Christians disagree with same-sex marriage doesn't mean the freedoms of the LGBTQ community are impinged upon in any way. They can still work at schools that embrace their agenda, which is likely the majority of public schools in this country. They can still get married. They can still have wedding cakes. They can do everything any other citizen in this country can do. They just can't do it with the approval of the Bible. But why does that even matter to them if they don't believe the Bible?
Just roll your eyes at us for what we believe and go live your life. You're certainly free to do so.
The question is -- will the Christian be free to do so?