The Christian and Culture Can Be Nasty Hard at Times
Jonathan Merritt and Kirsten Powers (though only Jonathan’s name is at the bottom of the article) wrote on the 23rd on the subject of Christian businesses who desire to not serve the requests of homosexuals. Nothing like a bit of red meat for the masses. If you haven’t read it you should before continuing simply to have the context. Interestingly it is a short article causing me to wonder how much serious thought went into it since so many see it as something far more complex. Regardless, here are some of my thoughts on the whole thing.
First, the interaction of the Christian with his culture is bound to create nasty, uncomfortable tensions. Just ask those Christians who had to make decisions regarding fleeing Jews during WWII. Or parents who are opposed to the evils of Common Core for their children who are in public schools. Every day Christians are making decisions that are simply are not clean and easy. Consider the server at a restaurant who finds out the new uniform is more risqué than they believe is proper. Or a mid-level manager who is told to give even more of his time to the corporation rather than to his family. The challenges are endless with some being rather small and others quite big but all of them with consequences, at least eventually.
The essence of the article’s argument is that Christians are not being consistent. Here is some of their position stated:
Before agreeing to provide a good or service for a wedding, Christian vendors must verify that both future spouses have had genuine conversion experiences and are “equally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14) or they will be complicit with joining righteousness with unrighteousness. They must confirm that neither spouse has been unbiblically divorced (Matthew 19). If one has been divorced, vendors should ask why. Or perhaps you don’t even have to ask. You may already know that the couple’s previous marriages ended because they just decided it wasn’t working, not because there were biblical grounds for divorce. In which case, you can’t provide them a service if you believe such a service is affirming their union.
I find myself agreeing with them here, to a point. But of course the powers-that-be have already decided on some of these. I won’t even try to answer all of the ways a Christian business may find themselves in a quandary. Instead I will write that in a nation that screams “freedom” we have become instead a nation that restricts freedom. Whatever group is the flavor-of-the-day in the eyes of the courts, legislators, and law enforcers get a free pass and the full power of the state and federal government. If you are not any of those flavors then you are pushed to the side as being small-minded, puritanical, or racist. Why, if you are illegally in this country you are afforded all sorts of protections that legally don’t exist. You can be locked up in a prison and make all sorts of demands and if you are in California you will likely even win! What would be nice is to see businesses truly having the right to refuse service whenever they want to. And, of course, the public having the right to refuse a product or business as they wish, mind you that this won’t happen or the Affordable Care Act would be toast. A bartender is not allowed to serve a drink to an obviously drunk person but Lord help the baker who refuses to give a obese man his doughnut. I would love to see a person with excellent qualifications go into Planned Parenthood to apply for an advertised position but prominently wearing a “Choose Life” pin. Somehow I don’t see that job opening up. For me, this issue is not as much a biblical/Christian issue as a broader issue of freedom. But that is not the aforementioned article’s point so I shall continue.
The hard reality is that to follow one’s conscience is something a Christian must do. But this does not mean that they will be exempted from the consequences doing so. Frankly this applies to all people. Rosa Parks followed her conscience, our Founding Fathers did as well. Agree or disagree I personally respect it when I see a person driven by their conscience and conviction, even when I think that they are utterly wrong. However, they should be prepared to accept the consequences. Relationships shall be broken, jobs will be lost, and even reputations will be sullied. There is no way around it in the age we live.
On an aside, it is interesting how often our Lord is seen with those who were described as “tax collectors and sinners” which meant that they were really bad people who did really bad things (cf. Mark 2:15-17). He would eat with them, drink with them, relax with them, heal them and feed them. They flocked to Him and yet he had no problem calling them to repentance. Ultimately they, along with most of the religious folks of the day, crucified Him. But even upon the Cross He asked His Father to forgive them. I think this must come into our conversation in some way when a person who qualifies as a “sinner” comes into our lives seeking our services or help.
In this age a Christian lives in constant discomfort in one way or another if they are living as a Christian should live. The bible is not just uttering nonsensical musings when it calls the believer an alien and stranger (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). When we are called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-14) should we be shocked when there is a reaction and push-back? Every Christian is clearly warned that they will suffer but are admonished to suffer for doing what is good and right before the Lord (1 Peter 2:16-20). When they are treated harshly and are abused they are to love those who persecute and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). When they believe their rights are trampled on they have the right to appeal to the authorities (Acts 25:11-12; Romans 13:1-3) but they should not be shocked when the final decision goes against them. Every Christian is to live in this age recognizing that it is passing away and to look to the perfect hope of their Redeemer’s return and the final resurrection where all things shall be made right and all things made new (Revelation 20-21).
Ultimately every Christian must entrust themselves to the Father in heaven just as their Lord did when He was infinitely more unjustly treated (1 Peter 2:21-25). This is the example He left us and I suspect that He expects us to follow it.
For other views on this subject to which I can direct you:Russell Moore Douglas Wilson (Warming for those faint of heart, he uses a word you might find offensive)