Friday, July 12, 2013

Questions about religious exceptions & Christian prejudices

I put a link to an article, “3 things to watch during the ENDA markup,” on Facebook. ENDA is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has to do with not discriminating against LGBT persons in the work place. I linked to it because I was concerned that some, quoted in the article, wanted to narrow or do away with any kind of exceptions for religion.
Someone did want to argue about my concern—he hoped for no exceptions. And he had an interesting understanding of why I and other Christians are against same gender sex. He wrote in one of his comments:

I have read the Bible numerous times cover to cover and I have never walked away from it thinking, "You know what the most important message of this book is? Stopping gay rights." So when I see Christians obsess so much about this issue I have to wonder if it is driven by a true understanding of Christianity or if they are twisting Christianity to fit their already ingrained prejudices. I believe it is the latter.

I think it is fair to point out that this person was not raised in any mainline denomination but in the Church of Latter Day Saints. Wherever he stands in his faith, I don’t think he understands why most orthodox Christians take issue with LGBT leadership in our places of worship or the possibility of same gender weddings in our churches. And that is what I will address in this posting.
First of all, he is right to say that the most important message in the Bible is not stopping gay rights. But it is because of the most important message in the Bible that Christians are concerned about the changing definition of marriage and the push to add LGBT leadership to the Church.

Yes, it is about Jesus. The important message of the Bible is that God reaches down, entering human history as a means of redeeming our fallen humanity. The promises of a Savior began with Adam, Eve and the serpent who is the voice of Satan. To Satan, God promises (And this is to all) “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen 3:15)
In the book of Numbers is a wonderful promise given by God through an unfaithful seer. Speaking of Israel Balaam prophesizes “I see him but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel …” And Moses in the book of Deuteronomy prophesizes the coming Messiah, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”

One can go on through the Old Testament filled with pictures and promises of the coming redeemer. Isaiah is the clearest. Chapter 53 the jewel: “But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our wellbeing fell on him, and by his scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him. (53: 5-6)   
With the New Testament the promise is fulfilled. Jesus Christ lives, dies and is resurrected for our salvation. But here is the rub. While there are many purposes connected to the redemptive act of Christ, our forgiveness and transformation is the ultimate reason. Many sons and daughters have been and are being added to the Kingdom of God because of Jesus. But biblical Christology, the work of the savior, is denied when sinners call their sin acceptable and turn away from the forgiveness and transforming work of Christ.

Paul is very clear when he writes:

"… do not be deceived neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9b-10)"
But thankfully he goes on to write:

"Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (6:11)"
The message of the whole Bible is that God was in Jesus reconciling the sinner to himself. Jesus is the promise of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of the New. But when sin is denied and transformation (a lifetime experience for the Christian) is put aside for the right to live one’s own life, the purposes of God in the church and in the individual’s life are trashed. The meaning of redemption and the very being of Christ, who calls his people to repentance, is put aside.

Christology, the authority of Scripture and soteriology (salvation) are all at stake when the church gives in to the cultural bent of today’s society. The incense offered to Caesar in our post-modern society comes in many flavors—but because they are offerings to a false god-the god of self, they are no less evil than the offerings given by the citizens of ancient Rome. We are rather to offer our whole self to the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
The video below is a bit over done for this posting but there is a great line by Nero-a complaint.


Anonymous said...

When I was in Egypt I was told of Muslim shopkeepers refusing to sell or do business or hire Christians because being forced to do so would "infringe on their Islamic rights".

Nice to see conservative Christians would not treat anyone here that way...oh, wait. Thats what the the right wing of the faith is calling for. Exactly the same thing, just appiled to GLBT people.

Ironic, isn't it?


Viola Larson said...

Gene I do belief you misunderstand. The Christian shop keeper does not wish to participate in a ritual that has to do with what the Bible calls sin. The lady in Oregon who will not make a cake for same sex weddings will nonetheless bake a cake for the same people for other occasions. She has done so. Your analogy does not work.

Anonymous said...

Hello Viola.

I asked an Egyptian muslim friend to read the story and my post. he said it works. As these salafi see it, just SELLING to a Christian makes them in complicit in, as the right would say here "acknowledging and supporting the Christian 'lifestyle'". The analogy works. They are more extreme, but, the same principal applies.

But, to use another one, if someone said "even as a baker making cakes I sell to the public, I just cannot put the star of david on your cake. It would imply I supported the Jewish claim that Jesus was not the messiah." they would be (as I am sure you would agree) charged with discrimination.

Here in the deep south, I personally know people (thankfully all rather old) who believe that inter racial marriage is a sin, and that they should be, because of their Christian beliefs that they are racially superior (before you just call that heresy, remember it was the majority belief here not that long ago!) that they should be able to refuse accommodation to African Americans. They feel their religious rights are infringed. Should they be allowed to discriminate?

I suppose that in each of these cases, the rights of the business owner is limited, but, what of the rights of the minorities in question? GLBT people will continue to be recognized as one of the minorities. (before anyone says "you don't have to be gay" 1) your wrong, that's how God made me 2) ask John Paulk...or the former exodus folk 3) I am not bi, as are the few "ex gay" (sic) individuals out there trying to make a case...again, refer to Paulk. 4) you don't have to be Jewish...should they have to convert to get equal treatment?) If a business owner is not prepared to sell/accommodate/work with the WHOLE public, then they should not be in the business of serving the public at all.

Simple as that.

Finally Viola, this observation. With kindness, please remember that you that you are a member in good standing of the PCUSA, at least as far as I know, and an elder, I think. When you say "what the Bible calls sin", you should rather say "what conservative interpretations of the Bible" or "what we believe as conservatives/fundamentalists believe the Bible to call sin". etc. The Church does not speak with one voice or understanding of scripture on this issue, and has said as much. If it did, you would not have fellow elders and ministers who are GLBT. If we took a "the Bible says it clearly" approach to scripture, we would not have female elders either, for that matter (like most conservative Christians, it should be noted)

God Bless


Viola Larson said...

Gene, as far as I am concerned you are being ridiculous. Why would it be a sin to put the star of David on a cake for a Jewish man.

And I cannot believe that getting a Muslim to agree to your analogy changes my reasoning at all for any reason. I have already pointed out to you that Christians will sell to LGBT persons. They just won't do so for a ritual called marriage which they believe is sin-when it is a same sex marriage, and the wrong definition of marriage.

I am not going to discuss this with you again because we have had the same arguments over and over. Do not comment again.

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Anonymous said...

I can reenter it over and over Viola.

and will

its a public forum. I checked with legal counsel; No vulgarity, threats or crudeness have been, or will be used by me. but its a public forum, no registration required. Indeed, considering you are stating your belief that businesses should have the right to discriminate against me, I am cooing like a dove. I can post. you can erase. I can repost, you can re erase...on an on.

No mention about the racism points I made I noticed. the law is clear. minorities are served, or no one is served.

I look forward to keeping up more regularly with your articles viola. and commenting on them.


Viola Larson said...

Gene, you are threatening-you might think that is a cool Christian thing to do. It isn't at all. All the rest of your comments will be deleted. Not because you are not forgiven but because as you said this is a public forum and I will not allow it to be hampered by threats. In fact it is my blog and I have a right to only allow what I choose. Praise God for that.

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Presbyman said...


What Gene is doing is clearly harassment, and cowardly harassment at that, given that he never leaves his full name for being identified. It is extraordinary to me that someone would troll a blog to pick fights. There are plenty of blogs I don't like and, by this stage of my life, I generally ignore them. That is the mature thing to do. Gene has not learned that yet.

Viola, I think you are wise never to engage with this person again. Don't give him one moment of exposure. Just delete every single comment he makes, even if it's "good morning." You might consider moderating this blog as well.

Bless you,

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL