To Serve Man

If you don’t know what Lent is, it is a time of fasting and prayer preceding and preparing for Passion Week, traditionally the week of Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. It’s also a time to come to grips about what you believe. It seems our faith is under fire here lately, as this issue of Christianity in the workplace has become a thing. there was a bill in the Arizona legislature about Religious people refusing service for people they don’t agree with. Let me clarify what this is about, and why we should care about it.

The proposed law, Senate Bill 1062, represents the right of individuals with “sincerely-held religious beliefs” who own businesses to refuse service to one or more individuals whose behavior is sinful. Now this is a fairly broad brush, but it does reinforce the individual’s right to do with their things (like their business) whatever they want to (privacy rights) with whomever they want to (such as a customer) if their religion says they ought to do so.

The Supreme Court of New Mexico decided in favor of a gay couple against a Christian photographer who didn’t want to photograph their wedding because they were homosexuals. In this case, the government of New Mexico told Christians to keep their religious feelings out of the marketplace, and serve whomever comes through their door. Apparently, several states are trying to reverse this trend with similar new laws defending an individual’s rights from lawsuit over this kind of discrimination. Some are calling it bigotry, akin to segregation in the 50’s and 60’s. Others are calling it unfair, and homophobic.

I asked this question of the Bible Study group the other night. They were all old enough to remember segregation. One mentioned segregation was about being angry with the North for winning the Civil War. This anger was taken out on the blacks, who directly benefited. If true, segregation was about bitterness and resentment toward a situation that could not be won through force of arms. Very different then from discrimination against homosexuals.

Discrimination against homosexuals has up to this point been very specific. Christians who happen to be photographers, bakers, florists, and other associated with the marriage ceremony and tradition, have resisted serving specifically that one aspect of a some homosexuals’ life, the marriage. In other other aspects, these businessmen and women have been more than willing to make birthday cakes, take senior pictures, and prepare flowers for funerals and other things. Only in this one aspect, the wedding tradition, have these Christians declined to offer their services. Segregation against blacks was for all services and interaction. Discrimination against homosexuals has only been in regards to weddings.

All of this basically comes down to is this: do you have the right to be a Christian? Being a Christian isn’t just about going to church on Sunday. It’s about a lifestyle. I know that’s a dirty word these days, but Jesus makes demands on our lives. He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Our Christian walk is defined by our ability to follow His Word. You cannot be a Christian in your head and not one in your work or your play. “Faith without works is dead.”

So if you were that Christian photographer, and a gay couple asked you to take pictures of their wedding, do you take the pictures, or refuse to serve them? Honestly, this is a decision that you have to make yourself. But consider how working with them might be an evangelistic tool vs. avoiding their business. All of our decisions have consequences. You just get to choose which ones.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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