“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” – Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In the media and on social networks, there is great controversy surrounding the discussion of proposed legislation in Kansas, Arizona, and my home state of Tennessee that would give business owners legal permission to deny services to an individual based upon the individual’s sexuality. Certainly these laws have been proposed as a reaction to recent lawsuits against Christian business owners, such as florists, photographers, and bakers, who have refused to provide services for homosexual weddings. These proposed laws seem to be attempts to protect religious freedom, yet they are hotly contested and even compared to segregation-era Jim Crow laws.. I’m not going to comment on the merit of these proposed laws, that has been done, but I would like readers to consider the following two questions:
(1) Why should Christians make a big deal about sexuality?
(2) Can those who oppose such legislation imagine being asked to violate their religious convictions?
Why Should Christians Make a Big Deal About Sexuality?
As Dr. Craig makes clear in this clip (from a lesson about the doctrine of Salvation), the marriage relationship is a picture of the church’s relationship with Christ. Craig states, “The Marriage relationship is a living parable, as it were, of this mystical union that is the subject of this lesson, and that’s why, I think, the marriage relationship is so sacred to God and must not be violated. This is why adultery or homosexual activity is so abhorrent to God, because it is a profaning of this symbol of the union of God and his church.” How do you feel about sexuality? Are you casually dismissive or sexual sin, adultery, and divorce? Do you engage in sexual sin unrepentantly? If so, how does this color your political stance on homosexuality? You stance should align with God’s. Christians should make a big deal about sexuality; God does. We’re all desperately wicked sinners in need of God’s grace so don’t be the pot who is afraid to call the kettle black. This is just how, the accuser, Satan wants you to feel. Rather, Christian brothers, realize that you have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.
“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” – Paul, Colossians 3:9-10
Can those who oppose such legislation imagine being asked to violate their religious convictions?
I seriously wonder about the answer to this question. I wonder if people who are sympathetic to or even encouraging of homosexual unions have serious religious convictions at all. If so, such convictions certainly are not grounded in a right understanding of scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote to Roman Christians regarding, (sexual) immorality: “although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” When it comes down to it, one has to have religious convictions to fear that they will be violated.
I Have Religious Convictions
I’m not a florist, baker, or photographer but I could potentially provide a wedding service…as a minister. I couldn’t imagine being asked by any of my gay friends officiate a homosexual wedding, given that they understand my convictions and respect me as a person (as I do them). My friends would likely just ask someone else to officiate their wedding. I think this is what reasonable people do in a free society. Why is it, then, that florists, bakers, and photographers have been sued? There are innumerable service providers in our economy. Couldn’t reasonable homosexuals just have respected the religious beliefs of objectors who didn’t want to service them and find someone else? They could and, I imagine, many do.
Some sued. Some are out to make a point at the expense of the religious convictions of others. How long until a (state-licensed) minister of the gospel is used over his religious convictions. Before you write this off as fantastical speculation and fear-mongering, consider this actual question that I was asked by a pastoral search committee at a church in none other than the state of Arizona.:
“Would you perform either a “same sex” marriage or a ‘civil union’?”
Here is how I answered:
“Appropriately, the phrase ‘same sex’ in quotation marks above. A ‘same sex’ marriage is a logical impossibility on the same level of a ‘square circle’ or a ‘married bachelor.’ There is simply no such thing as a ‘same sex’ marriage. Therefore, it is impossible for a pastor to perform a ‘same sex’ wedding. God ordained marriage to be the union of one man and one woman. It is my understanding that Article 30 of the Arizona Constitution recognizes the institution of marriage as God ordained it. Of course, state recognition is subject to change has no bearing on the authority of scripture. So my answer to the question, ‘Would you perform a ‘same sex’ marriage,’ is an unequivocal, ‘No.’
As I understand it, Arizona State Law does not currently allow for civil unions, though some cities…have legalized them. Although I do not know the specifics of the local laws, I think it is reasonable to conclude that a civil magistrate, not a Christian pastor, would be expected to perform a civil union. Being unfamiliar with the local Arizona ordinances regarding civil unions, I cannot speak to their economic benefits. I could imagine, for example, a situation, where two widowed sisters who owned a family farm could be recognized as an economic unit by the government for the purposes of taxation. However, incentivizing any non-marriage, personal union between two individuals engaged in a sexual relationship should never be condoned, regardless of whether or not that relationship is between homosexuals or heterosexuals. I would not, were I ever to find myself in the capacity of a civil magistrate, perform such a union.”
I leave you with this statement, another from the Apostle Paul:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Paul (Galatians 2:20)