Today’s Christians face a quandary, skillfully designed and implemented, by liberals and anti-Christian supporters. The same individuals who veraciously use the Bible to defend their point of views and choose to adamantly, attempt, to beat Christians into submission with it, are not willing to understand those who pursue a life solely guided by the Bible. These individuals only espouse the teachings of Christ, when it serves their specific plan and purpose.
To advance a liberal, non-biblical agenda in America, Christians are in a time of persecution for their beliefs. Granted, this persecution is not of the same caliber of which our fellow believers face daily in other countries. We are still nowhere near the threat of death for our beliefs. However, in certain horrifying instances in our country’s recent history, some have been asked their religious beliefs as they lay wounded, during school shootings. Still, nothing such as those in foreign lands face daily. Physical death, due to faith and religious beliefs, not being the normal persecution in America, doesn’t minimize the moral death being pursued against Christians, in our country.
It has been said, morality cannot be legislated. This is a truth. There are many who would love to have that opportunity; however it would never serve the greater good, of free choice offered by God. Individuals would still choose their preferred way of life, whether legislation was in place or not. Many, who don’t truly understand the freedom afforded by God, believe this freedom of choice is a civil right, when in fact it is a God given right.
With that right, an understanding must be had, that not all choices are created equal and acceptable to God. Especially, if a person has chosen to live their life based on the teachings of the Bible, or any other religious belief, which trends to what society would label, “conservative”.
When people, who have freely chosen, by their own decisions, to live their life by another standard or guideline other than the complete teachings of Christ, begin to fight against the others beliefs, for their advancement, this freedom has created an ever increasing chasm between people and their beliefs, which may never be sealed.
This chasm is growing larger in a variety of states, most recently in Arizona.
As a Christian, conservative and citizen of Arizona, there is a feeling of angst surrounding the “rights” of those of us who choose to live our life based on the teachings of Christ. As a Christian, you always walk a fine line of wanting to love and respect all individuals, whether each person agrees with the other’s lifestyle choices or not. There is true difference between respecting and loving the person and still not agreeing with some of their beliefs and life choices.
America has approached a crossroad of not being able to understand one person’s beliefs, while maintaining a level of respect. Some in America believe the only way express their beliefs and wants is to use a ramrod to force their way into all parts of society.
The most recent use of force is deriving out of the homosexual community, in relation to business services.
Positioned as the desire for “equality” and “civil rights”, it could be contended, the homosexual community has chosen to punish and persecute the Christian community for “past wrongs”.
Currently the state of Arizona is in a social uproar over a recent bill passed through the state Senate and House. Arizona SB 1062 will allow business owners to refuse service to homosexuals, based upon the business owner’s religious beliefs. The bill passed with a vote of 17-13, supported by the Republican majority. House Bill 2153 (HB 2153) passed the House of Representatives and is on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s desk for signing.
The Arizona Senate Democratic Leader, Anna Tovar , along with many others opposing the bill, believe the bill may put homosexuals in a separate and unequal class, than heterosexuals, because of their sexual orientation. The opposition also believes the bill will open the doors for other discrimination, allowing business owners to claim religious freedom, thus withholding services.
Somewhere in this defense of homosexual “equality”, people have taken the stance, that this portion of our population has always been marginalized. In my personal experiences, with friends who are homosexual, most, if not all, are highly successful in their chosen professions and in their standing in their communities. No one has been “held back” due to their personal choices.
If the majority of the homosexual population has not been disparaged, why then, are the issues of bakers, florists and photographers for weddings, now such a flash point for persecution?
Bills such as Arizona SB 1062 and HB 2153 have been written with the sole intent to protect business owners, based on their First Amendment rights. When cases such as a Colorado baker and Oregon baker who refused to provide cakes for same-sex weddings or the New Mexico photographer who wouldn’t provide services for a same-sex ceremony, as well as the Washington florist who declined a “longtime client”, when she would not do the flowers for his ceremony, begin to reach our courts, it is obvious their isn’t much “love” and “respect” flowing in the business owners direction, as same-sex marriage supports proclaim is what is wanted, towards them.
All these business owners declined the business, due to their religious standings on same-sex marriage. Nothing appeared to be based on the person themselves, as much as their lifestyle choice.
Isn’t this protected under our First Amendment rights?
These small business owners, due to court rulings based on civil rights protection statutes, are now subject to fines and other legal punishments while others have closed their retail businesses, to provide their own “protection” from the legal system, which was designed to protect all citizens.
There is a stigma put upon Christians, by those who try to push their agendas at all cost, that those who proclaim the teachings of Christ and live by His word, are intolerant and unloving, when we stand for our beliefs.
In these instances, where services are being withheld based on religious beliefs, the banner of tolerance is only waved, sometimes rubbed, in the face of the Christian. It is amazing how the banner doesn’t flow in the opposite direction also. Where is the compassion and understanding of the “rejected” party, to be tolerant of the business owner’s beliefs? The lack of compassion and tolerance looks more like anger and revenge.
Instead of extending the hand of tolerance to the other, supporters of same-sex marriages, in this case, twist the Bible, trying to conform it to their ideas, accusing Christians of being “ungodly; zealots; extremists in the community” . Appearing to defend the “honest, hard-working, taxpaying citizens” who may not have business services extended to them, all the while forgetting the business owner is also an “honest, hard-working, taxpaying citizen”.
This “ungodly” (see video) way to view religious freedom” doesn’t account for the biblical standing individuals take regarding their belief on homosexuality. Whether supporters of same-sex marriage believe in God or not, practicing, heterosexual Christians have biblical basis for their belief and should not be bullied for standing on those principles.
Yet supporters of same-sex marriage, those decenters of bills such as Arizona SB 1062 and HB 2153, become blind to the fact, Christians should have the right to refuse service, just as much as they believe they should have the right to provide service.
State and Federal Senators and Representatives honestly, should never have to write and vote on bills such as these, if tolerance were truly the goal of both sides of the issue. Yet, as one who supports the idea of religious protection and the First Amendment, if this is the only way groups and individuals feel this argument can be settled, so be it.
Not being a supporter of same-sex marriages, I do have to agree with Jimmy LaSalvia, the executive director of GOProud, whose organization represents gay conservatives. His belief, in issues such as businesses refusing service based on religious beliefs is that the market place should work in making the decision of these matters, not legislation.
If, in the case of same-sex marriages, businesses are allowed to refuse service and do so with respect for the couple, in turn, the couple should respect the business and find another vendor. Presently, this type of conflict has only been brought to national attention, in cases of same-sex marriage. No one at a local fast food restaurant or dress shop is asking for sexual preference notification, before rendering services.
It is prevalent in these cases because Christians believe in marriage between a man and a woman. They hold to the societal “traditional”, which is the biblical, definition of marriage. In response to their belief, to participate in any part of a same-sex marital ceremony, would be an infringement of their belief, thus publicly condoning the action and union.
Has anyone considered the fact that many Christian believers have friends who are homosexual and potentially in a same-sex union, however both sides of the relationship agree to not support that portion of the relationship. There is a strong possibility individuals won’t attend the same-sex ceremony of a friend, however the friendship remains intact. This happens in some religious marriage ceremonies, where a person might be banned from the service due their religious recognition with the church. The relationship is not voided due to their absence at the celebration. It is also not much different than lifelong friends who hold opposing views of abortion. The relationship is strong and intact, they just disagree.
Disagreement of beliefs doesn’t always mean both sides have to hate one another, bully one another’s beliefs, place disparaging labels on people or sue each other, to press their point publicly. It is the respect, love and yes, tolerance, which everyone screams about, yet surprisingly doesn’t offer, in circumstances of disagreement and principles.
It is sometimes discouraging to be a Christian in today’s America. It may be that homosexuals have been marginalized in the past. It is lamentable that any portion of society has not been accepted for their presence here on earth, whether we all agree or disagree; however the approach of persecuting, bullying and in some cases destroying a person’s livelihood and legal standing in our communities, to forward an agenda is despicable.
Because of this behavior by some, it has brought states to the point of standing for all citizens by bringing legislation to the floor, for votes. Some may not agree with this as such, especially right now in Arizona. Nonetheless, elected officials can’t just defend those with the loudest voices or whatever might be the issue du jour. They must represent the citizenry as a whole.
All citizens must be represented. As societal issues begin to move away from conservative ideals, it does not mean the conservatives and their beliefs are changing or going away. These individuals must be heard and protected also.
Christians and conservatives should not have to choose between their livelihoods and their beliefs, to appease an intolerant portion of the community.