The Obligatory (But Slow) Post on Arizona’s Anti-Gay Laws
I’ve made it clear many times what I think is the best legal approach to same-sex marriage: full rights but churches don’t have to officially sanction it if they don’t want to. That’s how it is in Canada. That’s how we approach any other couple: some pastors won’t marry somebody divorced, some won’t marry if they see the couple in counselling and it is just a bad match, some won’t if it looks like an abusive relationship, and so on. Yes, pastors have that right of gentle loving refusal because they are (at least in theory) representing God when they declare the sanctity of the marriage and if they don’t think God does approve of that marriage, they can’t do that in good conscience. I’ve never heard anything to suggest that this system doesn’t keep everybody pretty happy here in Canada and we’ve been doing it over 10 years.
Bakers are not the same thing. Photographers are not the same thing. Yeah yeah, some would argue that everything is sacred and there is no secular. I get that. But let me put this as simply as I can: you baking a cake for somebody’s wedding that you disagree with, that you are being paid for, is not a violation of your religious freedom. Your religious freedom does not include the freedom to treat some as sub-human. Providing a cake for a wedding, typically that you don’t even have to attend, is not the same thing as issuing a marriage license and declaring it holy before the congregation.
Another comparison I have heard thrown around is that laws like the one proposed in Arizona would be pretty much the same as segregation laws before civil rights. The argument back is that you can choose whether to act on your orientation, of course, while you’re stuck with your skin colour and there is no way to move up the social ladder. But the spirit is still the same: a declaration that the majority who wield power are allowed to subjugate the minority with much less power. It is undoubtedly a statement that LGBTQ persons are subhuman just as pre-civil-rights America was undoubtedly a statement that African-Americans were subhuman. And any time somebody is made less human than others, that is a huge violation of the Gospel.
The worst part to me, as always on this particular question, is how we make it the sin of all sins (I don’t think it’s a sin at all, but that’s beside the point). How many bakers have been taken to court for denying making a cake because the couple was gossiping as they entered the store, even though gossiping is spoken out against more in Scripture? How many refuse to bake a cake when the couple wants something much more extravagant than they need, even though greed is second only to idolatry as most criticized sins in Scripture? I’m pretty sure the answers to both are 0’s because bakers generally have enough business savvy to not throw away paying customers over finding a moral fault. Basically, if you only want to bake a cake for people that you consider perfect, you would never have business again. You’d also never do anything for anyone, including yourself, ever again. That’s the only logical endpoint of this attitude of never doing anything good for those who aren’t perfect and sinless.
The Pharisees took this attitude, which is why they could never do anything for or with a lot of the population. Jesus repeatedly calls them out for the grave sin of this approach. Jesus never denied anybody healing. He didn’t tell people that they better get all their shit together and then maybe he’d consider judging if they were good enough for a miracle or even basic human decency. He just did it, and he did it especially often for those who are outcast by the political and/or religious establishment of his day. Because that’s what love does. So Arizona, go love your neighbours… the black ones, the white ones, the straight ones, the gay ones, the old, the young, the proud Americans, the new immigrants, all of them.