Not long ago, Sarah Bailey of Religion News Service wrote a piece that appeared across the web and gained some traction. The story lists a roundup of cases that could be heard in various American courts that pit freedom of conscience against state and local anti-discrimination laws written to protect those of the LGBT community.
They involve religious people who object to gay marriage and own businesses which are open to the general public. The types of issues addressed include a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding; a florist who refused to provide arrangements for a gay wedding; a photographer who refused to photograph a gay wedding; a shirt-printer who refused to print t-shirts for a gay pride parade; and so-on.
I could chime in with analysis, but the last thing anyone needs is another opinion and mine is no better or worse than those of anyone else. However, I would like to make a statement about all of this fuss.
I have seen the damage Pharisaical religion has caused. I not only attribute it to all Phariseeism in general, but to a climate that pushes us all into various corners and forces us to choose. This is what evil does – it forces us to choose between acting as evil does or allowing evil to overcome us. It also triggers our ego and fight-or-flight response. When we choose a camp out of the ego, the choice is over-and-against another camp(s).
Oppositional identity is never enlightened; it will always cause Christians to become Pharisees. Our cultural and religious climate is ripe with these dynamics – over and over again every day – from cable news pundits to fundamentalist preachers playing gatekeeper over the sins of the world. It is so sad that the LGBT community has been singled out by religious people and groups that have been drawn away and enticed by this entire paradigm. It leads to death (James 1:14).
The traditional church defines the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as consisting of one man and one woman. Society must permit it to continue to proclaim this but resist all forces that seek to impose religious law on secular society. However, for those in the traditional church, the culture war is a trap and one’s best possible position may be a neutral one. Jesus did this with the different groups who had various ideas about how to respond to Roman occupation. They each tried to pull him in with them and he remained steadfast in not getting sucked into the mess, while addressing it with a prophetic voice.
If religious people are to be God’s voice in the world, they must not take an oppositional position and fight against. It is fine to advocate for, but if that is over-and-against another, the ego is in control and no transformation will take place.
You can read the RNS story here: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/06/gay-rights-vs-religious-rights-7-issues-to-watch/