Friday, February 28, 2014

Religious Liberty

You may remember my "bake you a cake" post. And while I stand by my original thoughts, I have been learning and exploring new views from the opposing side. First, there was my mother's comment on that thread -- which I found insightful and not at all contrary to my main point. Then yesterday I read "Religious Liberty After Arizona", posted by a conservative friend who voices opinions I (mostly) admire. This article highlighted the fact that the New Mexico photographer didn't refuse service to gay clients, but felt that she couldn't participate in a gay wedding ceremony. After reading these and various other views on the matter, and after spending much time contemplating the whole debate, I have two thoughts.

1) There is a distinct difference between selling a good (wedding cake) and providing a service (wedding catering). I do think businesses that sell services (photography, catering, etc.) should be protected from having to participate in a ceremony or celebration of any kind (gay wedding, Easter supper, nude family shoot, whatever) that makes them uncomfortable and, most importantly, makes them feel as though they are compromising their morals. I mean really, we wouldn't expect any old photographer to agree to take a nude family photo. If a business man or woman has to physically participate in an event that is against their moral code they should be allowed to refuse business.

On the other hand (selling goods) I see absolutely no way any company can try and dictate what an individual does with their product (bouquet, baked goods, picture frame, etc) after that product is sold. Does any florist really think it is a good idea to ask every costumer if they are giving their flower arrangement to a committed heterosexual partner? Do we think all customers would be honest about their intent? Screening the moral code of all potential customers would be horrible for any business!

Which leads me to point number two.

2) Christians have been getting this whole battle against sexuality wrong. I am not a sexual being. Don't get me wrong, my husband and I enjoy our intimacy, and being chaste before marriage isn't a breeze no matter how terrifying sex seems. But I am not a sexual being. I am a teacher, a mother, a wife, a Mormon, a Basketball lover, TV watcher, amateur blogger, sister, daughter, eternal launderer, baker, news junkie, piano playing, 31-year-old, budget failing woman. I am many, many things before I am a sexual being. Being heterosexual is not a defining part of my character. Sure, you could say that my sexuality has determined many of my roles (pregnancy?), and I certainly don't mean to down play gender. Gender and sexuality are real. But they do not have to define us. They don't need to be identification markers that alter all our relationships -- all our human interactions.

As a Christian woman, I am outraged by cheating spouses and the alarming number of so called experts who think it is perfectly healthy to abandon monogamy. Pornography is a drug and one of the world's most evil sins; we are letting it leak into our lives. Divorce is so simple it mocks the sanctity of marriage. And child sex slavery?!?! There are so many other flaws with sexuality that we really don't need to focus all our negative energy on gay marriage and gay relationships.

If a Christian florist doesn't want to sell a bouquet to a gay couple they certainly need to start standing up to cheating spouses and sleazy Johns. I wasn't really into the news scene (or even on the Earth) when no-fault divorces became a thing, so I don't know what kind of fit Christians pitched then. And pornography is so sneaky I'm not really sure any of us know how to pitch a fit straight at it. But I do feel like the world is full of sexual sins and Christians choose to only attack one of them. Which is wrong. It is wrong.

When people committed to a life of sin followed Christ around the streets of Jerusalem He did not refuse to serve them. He did not turn them away from His business. He rarely even taught them about modesty or chastity. He taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven. He taught them of the Hope that is made possible through His atoning sacrifice. He, the most knowledgeable and understanding judge to ever walk the Earth, did not condemn them.

I'll remind you of my earlier point, Christ does not want us to participate in activities that make us feel withdrawn from His loving presence, but He does not identify individuals by their sins. I would like to see people of all faiths continue to stand up for conduct that invites them closer to God. They have a right to run their businesses in a way that uplifts their moral conduct. But their customers also have a right to be treated as children of God. Children who are not condemned by those too eager to throw stones. 


Anonymous said...

Interesting post sis. I can see both sides of the gay wedding photographer issue. But I can't help thinking back 50 years ago when denying the same service was totally acceptable if it would have been a black couple wanting a photograph taken. Today I think most people would find that situation deplorable -- if they don't they certainly should!! Yet the morality of the world has gotten much worse than it was fifty years ago -- so do we blame that on blacks getting closer to equality (I would argue they still aren't on par with whites)? No.
Personally I do not believe gay marriage is going to contribute any more or any less to our decaying moral fabric. I think that many who fight against it "because of their religious beliefs" are doing more to speed up society's moral decay than gay marriage itself.
Take the Utah Legislature for example. Last year the gay anti-discrimination bill almost made it out of committee. It was pretty much guaranteed it would have a vote this year. Which way that vote may have gone is certainly a matter of debate. The LDS and most churches support the measure. BUT then along came gay marriage equality to Utah on my 60th birthday, nonetheless. AND all hell broke loose! The Legislature decided to put legislation on hold for another year, because too much was uncertain in Utah while we are awaiting the decision of the Appeals Court in regard to the legality or illegality of the DOMA Amendment to Utah's Constitution. The bill didn't even make it to committee!
I was not born yesterday. The Do Gooders of Utah simply got a pass on the anti-discrimination bill. Let's say the Utah Constitution is upheld -- well we certainly won't be able to pass anti-discrimination bills if that is the case because the courts will have told us it is perfectly legal to discriminate. On the flip side, if gay marriage is held up to be constitutional (which I certainly hope it will be -- mostly because I think it would be the most ironic ruling ever for a state so steeped in moral righteousness), there will be a fight like none other because the conservative righteous right that rules Utah will fight any possible legislation that would give gay people a fair deal in life. They would be so miffed that the courts didn't rule in their favor that they will strike out in any possible way.
And they'll do it in the name of religion! Dad always said you shouldn't discuss religion or politics -- nothing good ever comes from it. I swear the man was a prophet!

Megan said...

I was talking to my dad about the photographers/bakers/etc. wedding issue and I was surprised at his response. He's usually very conservative, so I expected him to be all for the Arizona bill, but he actually was against it. I never read the bill, so I feel like I can't comment. But what we both didn't understand was why anyone was making a fuss about refusing services based on a same-sex ceremony. Any of those people could choose to refuse service and just say they were too busy or they weren't going to work that weekend or something like that. And then it wouldn't have to be about gay vs. straight. It seems like making a big deal about denying services to gay couples is bigoted because it's being framed that way. But lots of people can't get the photographer they want for lots of reasons, so if someone is really uncomfortable providing those services, why don't they just say "I'm unavailable" instead of giving a judgmental reason? I struggle with the whole debate because I believe in marriage between a man and a woman, and I also believe that ALL of the sexual sins you listed degrade marriage generally, but I really don't hate gay people. I may not bake them a wedding cake, but I'd certainly invite them over for dinner or invite them to my wedding. And yet, I feel like a lot of the people who are pro-"traditional" marriage are actually bigots and it gives people like me a bad rap. I wonder if that makes sense.

Claudia said...

As for your comments on the Savior...Christ did say to the woman taken in adultery, "Go thy way, AND SIN NO MORE."

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