Christianity,  Politics

What will be the terms of our surrender?

Ross Douthat has penned what I believe to be the most insightful analysis of what has happened in our country over the last week. He correctly observes that the debate over gay marriage in our country is all but over. Despite some regional holdouts, majority public opinion has moved in favor of recognizing gay marriage. And it’s only a matter of time before a majority of the holdouts—primarily in the South—move that way as well. The Supreme Court’s Windsor decision last summer ensures that legal gay marriage in all fifty states is a fait accompli at this point.

The only thing that remains is for traditional marriage supporters to negotiate the terms of our surrender and to try and carve out as many religious liberty protections as possible as we move decisively into a cultural minority. One outcome might be the one suggested by Andrew Sullivan—that gay marriage supporters would afford us conscience protections and not coerce us into affirming what our conscience condemns. But Douthat says that the debate about the Arizona bill last week reveals that another outcome is more likely. He writes:

But there’s another possibility, in which the oft-invoked analogy between opposition to gay marriage and support for segregation in the 1960s South is pushed to its logical public-policy conclusion. In this scenario, the unwilling photographer or caterer would be treated like the proprietor of a segregated lunch counter, and face fines or lose his business — which is the intent of recent legal actions against a wedding photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington State, and a baker in Colorado.

Meanwhile, pressure would be brought to bear wherever the religious subculture brushed up against state power. Religious-affiliated adoption agencies would be closed if they declined to place children with same-sex couples. (This has happened in Massachusetts and Illinois.) Organizations and businesses that promoted the older definition of marriage would face constant procedural harassment, along the lines suggested by the mayors who battled with Chick-fil-A. And, eventually, religious schools and colleges would receive the same treatment as racist holdouts like Bob Jones University, losing access to public funds and seeing their tax-exempt status revoked.

Douthat is right. What unfolded last week reveals that this latter scenario is the most likely outcome. Gay activists and gay marriage supporters seem to have very little interest in a live-and-let-live diversity of opinion on the issue of marriage. They are making sure that the government imposes coercive sanctions on anyone who fails to affirm the moral goodness of gay unions. As last week revealed, the press has been happily passing along the propaganda of gay marriage supporters without any thoughtful consideration of the other side of the argument. They are backing us into a corner.

Douthat has captured in one column what I have been trying to say over a week of blog posts about this issue. We are watching a moral revolution unfold before our very eyes, and traditional marriage supporters are at the short end of the stick. There is very little that we can do about it but wait to see what terms of surrender will be imposed upon us by the victors.

If this sounds grave, good. I mean it to be. We are not playing games here. There will be real consequences for all of us before this is finished. If you are a Christian and you don’t care about this issue, you should know that very soon you will be made to care. It seems that there will be no middle ground or fence for you to straddle.

There is one item that I would take issue with in Douthat’s analysis, and I don’t believe it to be a small point. He writes:

So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution.

I understand the point that he is trying to make here. We have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood as many Christians have in other parts of the world (Heb. 12:4). We should acknowledge that and be grateful that the wheels haven’t totally come off yet. Nevertheless, I think it is wrong to eschew the label “persecution.” Persecution around the world exists along a continuum. At one end is insult, and at the other end is injury. But make no mistake. Both ends are on the same continuum. The society that sanctions the insult will eventually perpetrate injury as well. It is only a matter of time. It’s a difference in degree, not in kind (Matt. 5:21-26).

For Christians, this is not a time for hand-wringing or for panic. Our God is in the heavens, and He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3; 135:6). But it is a time to gird up your loins and act like a man (1 Kings 2:1; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Pet. 1:13). We are entering a time when there will be some who think that they are offering service to God as they turn us over to the coercive power of the state (John 16:2). We are about to find out who is for real and who is for fake. For my part, I’m praying for perseverance in the face of coming trials. And I will be praying it for you as well.


  • James Bradshaw

    Please help me understand something here

    What should businesses be free to do or not do under the guise of religious liberty? What services should they be free to decline? Any? Just some? What are the parameters? Does the nature of the service they’re providing come into play or not? Further, must there be a faith-based reason for allowing the business to legally decline services, or will simple personal feelings and sentiments suffice?

    • Denny Burk

      James, the Arizona law didn’t grant them the right to deny service to anyone. I would encourage you to go read the law.

      Also, the Christian florist, photographer, and Baker who are being sued right now, didn’t refuse service to gay people. They were happy to serve gay people in their establishments. They just didn’t want to participate in their weddings.

      • Kevin W. Bridges

        But they did deny services if the presented themselves as a “wedding florist”, “wedding photographer” or baker of “wedding cakes.” I think one outcome possibility is a change in language for truth in advertising. In a separate but similar example, some church pastors used to say they provided counseling until they were sued. Now they use a more correct term like “spiritual guidance.” I think language is a factor in these discussions that could solve some of the problems. For instance, if you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage and you present yourself as a “wedding photographer” and refuse to photograph a particular segment of society, then you are discriminating and declining “services” Does that make any sense?

    • Randall Seale

      When a person is forced to render services without compensation that is slavery.
      When a person is forced to render services in violation of one’s conscience that is tyranny. And when 5% of a population can normalize perversion at the expense of the other 95%’s first freedom, that is a tragedy.

      • buddyglass

        I assume you consider residents of the United States to have been living under tyranny for the last 50 years? If that’s the case then I gotta say: tyranny gets a bad rap.

        • buddyglass

          Maybe. In what sense? I said “50 years” there because 2014 – 50 = 1964. Randall claims that “when a person is forced to render services in violation of one’s conscience that is tyranny”. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 enshrined into law exactly such a requirement, ergo we must have been living under tyranny for the last fifty years. If so, then from my point of view living under tyranny isn’t really so terrible.

  • Javier

    I think Douthat’s ending commentary is the most interesting. He says, “Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.)” Perhaps, we as Christians should focus more on this aspect of the culture war, rather than our perceived injury.

    • Virgil T. Morant

      It’s worth noting that “perceived injury” is actually very real injury when, say, an individual or a small business (and many small businesses are in fact little more than individuals) amasses a vast debt of attorney fees in defending against a lawsuit. The injuries in litigation are also not just pecuniary. Defending a civil suit is costly in a good many very real ways besides just money. Far more costly than going down the street to hire a different photographer.

  • Chris Ryan

    From someone who sits in the middle–I think homosexuality is unarguably sinful but think gay marriage should nonetheless be legal–I frankly blame both sides. I get really frustrated at the hate and intransigence from both camps. I’m want to say, ‘A pox on both your houses’. Instead I pray that the other side shows us the tolerance & love we refused to show them when we held power…a scant 8 yrs ago when we shamefully refused to even grant gays civil unions.

    And please let’s eschew this persecution complex, its not Christ-like–Peter’s only complaint abt his persecution was that he had no right to be killed like his Savior. Nor is it accurate historically. If you want to see persecution, go visit an Indian reservation c. 1890. Or a Japanese internment camp c. 1943. Or listen to John Lewis talk abt the growling dogs he faced marching for Civil Rights. Or watch someone denied a marriage license b/cs of their sexual orientation. Having to bake a cake is simply not persecution. Fattening perhaps, though, if you regularly sample the batter as I’ve been known to do 🙂 Less talk abt bad news & more talk abt the Good News, and we may once again fill our pews. Good Christian soldiers cheerfully carry their cross.

    • Randall Seale

      @Chris Ryan

      The writer of Hebrews considers the “confiscation of property” persecution (Heb. 10:33-34). As Denny notes, persecution exists across a spectrum from verbal insult to physical injury. This point can be seen in Jesus’ words in Mt. 5:11 as well.

      And what do well tell those who receive the Good News about Our Lord Jesus’ design for nations in light of His Word?

      • Chris Ryan

        That bar is set so low that you could say that Americans are persecuted every Apl 15th when we pay taxes! 🙂 Given our history of slavery, Indian genocide, sexism, Jim Crow, etc the US has always persecuted people.

        But even if you insist on calling it persecution, as Heb 10:33-34 attests, we should do these things joyfully! “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.” As for what we will tell the world, we will joyfully proclaim the Truth of John 3:16-21. Amen and amen!

    • Paul Reed

      Chris Ryan, +1. Agreed. Baking a cake is hardly persecution. And one can always refuse to bake *any* cakes, for any customer. That way, it wouldn’t be discrimination. That’s hardly a sacrifice worthy of a place in Foxe’s book of Martyrs. 🙂

      If anything, we should be training Christians to expect sacrifice. Because the world is changing.

      • Randall Seale

        It is not just “baking a cake” or “shooting some photos.” It is that they are being fined, etc for their stand for Biblical righteousness. That Jesus (who knows persecution well) would regard it as persecution should be enough. Whether or not it’s worthy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, it’s noteworthy to Him.

        Indeed, they ought respond joyfully as admonished in Hebrews. But that is between them and Jesus. It has nothing to do with whether their unjust treatment is considered persecution or how it should be viewed in society.

    • Esther O'Reilly

      Losing your business and your livelihood in lawsuits because you wouldn’t do something that went against your conscience is indeed persecution. It is the rankest form of bullying. And for your part, it’s ludicrous to refer to being denied a “marriage” license because your union isn’t a marriage as persecution. Marriage is what it is, and it’s a privilege, not a right. It’s no more persecution to inform two men that they can’t be “married” than to inform a color-blind person that the light is red, not green.

  • andrew alladin

    The overwhelming majority of “the American People” are unbelievers – which means that they are lost, captive to sin, in love with the world, and captive to the ruler of this age. They are at last shedding the moral framework that Christianity gave to Western society (Christendom). This isn’t declinism or pessimism but theology – why should we expect mere reason about biological facts to overcome the lusts of the flesh. Every argument that favors forcing bakers, florists, photographers, etc to provide goods and services in situations that are expressly forbidden by scripture (gay marriages, adoptions) will be used to force churches to do the same. After all, when a church is on fire doesn’t the taxpayer funded fire dept. have to put the fire out? And when a church is broken into doesn’t the taxpayer funded police come to investigate the crime? And aren’t church doors open to the public – they’ve put their “shingle” out to the public and therefore they must serve all of the public. Our opponents are not like the vile monsters in other countries who are burning churches down, beheading Christians, or blowing churches up. Our opponents simply want us to shut up in public and keep our truths to ourselves. In some countries a church bombing is all that is needed. In the land of the free and home of the brave all that is needed is a lawsuit, some hefty fines, lost station licenses, and ridicule from the smart and beautiful people. Same outcome, different means.

    • Paul Reed

      I don’t think it will ever be the case that churches are forbidden to teach against homosexuality. There are still churches today that have an explicitly racist philosophy (for example, the “curse of Ham”), and yet they’re still allowed to operate.

      • James Bradshaw

        If we’re going to permit businesses to filter out clientele they don’t want, why must there be a religious reason for doing so? Who’s going to make the judgment that one objection is valid when another is not? Isn’t that going to be left up to a judge anyhow? This is not workable, clearly. We either allow businesses … ALL business … to pick and choose who they serve or we allow none.

        Our nation still remembers the disaster of Jim Crow laws and the impact it had on black Americans. I’m not comparing the Virginia or Arizona laws to Jim Crow. It’s that, generally speaking, we’ve come to the conclusion that when you open the doors to the public, you open them to everyone whether you agree with how your products are going to be used or not … or whether you like the clientele or not. This isn’t persecution. It’s the price of living in a democratic society.

        If I were a provider of internet and web hosting services, I would not be able to deny Westboro Baptist my services if they requested merely because I find their words and protests abhorrent. I may not like it, but I am also free as a business owner to clearly state that the views of my customers are not my own.

        “So are you saying doctors should be forced to provide abortions?”

        Absolutely not. There’s a difference between having to provide something to someone you provide to everyone else and having to do something you’ve *never* done or are not currently in the business of doing.

        • buddyglass

          “If we’re going to permit businesses to filter out clientele they don’t want, why must there be a religious reason for doing so?”

          1st amendment rights, presumably. It would be interesting to know whether there have been any first amendment religious freedom challenges to existing civil rights law in the years since it was passed. And, if so, how the courts responded.

          Here’s a hypo:

          A baker holds sincere religious beliefs that he considers to forbid him making cakes for black people. Should he be subject to fines and/or legal action, or do his 1st amendment religious rights trump civil rights law?

    • buddyglass

      “…situations that are expressly forbidden by scripture (gay marriages, adoptions) …”

      Out of curiosity, where is gay adoption “expressly forbidden” in scripture?

      As to whether churches will be told whom to marry, looking at other countries might be constructive. To my knowledge, not even in the most liberal areas of Western Europe have churches been forced to marry gays. So, there’s that.

      • 51tom

        Not sure if Churches have been forced to marry gays in Europe. But looking back in history a bit, you will see in England alone Churches being forced to go underground because they were not sanctioned by Government.
        One famous pastor, whom you have probably heard of (John Bunyan: author of Pilgrim’s Progress) was jailed because he held Church services that were deemed illegal by the state.
        It would not surprise me to see this kind of persecution coming to biblically faithful pastors in the not too distant future.

        • buddyglass

          Well, sure. I didn’t mean to claim that no persecution can ever happen again ever. The only limited point I was making is that Western European countries which are (arguably) more liberal towards homosexuality than the U.S. and that have had state-recognized same-sex marriage (or unions) for longer than the U.S. have nevertheless stopped short of requiring churches to perform same-sex marriages.

          If they eventually do, I expect it will be limited to the “state churches” and not independent non-state-affiliated religious bodies.

      • Rick Wilson


        Gay adoption is a sin, therefore it is “expressly forbidden” in Scripture just as much as abortion is or any other thing that is clearly sin but the Bible doesn’t address in detail. Please now.

          • Rick Wilson

            Buddy, all orthodox Christians are firmly against gay adoption for so many obvious reasons. I don’t even feel the need to argue this point. If you are confused here, I’m not sure what more of a discussion we can have.

            • buddyglass

              Guess I’m heterodox then. When an unrepentant gay parent dies and, standing before the throne of God, is read an account of his or her sins, somehow I doubt “caring for an orphan” will number among them.

              • Virgil T. Morant

                No, but “voting while not owning land” might be on the score sheet against him. Better to play it safe, I say, and not commit homosexual fornication, adopt any children under any circumstances, or vote unless you have your own fief.

  • Virgil T. Morant

    We do all understand, don’t we, that, even if you don’t place baking a cake on the low end of the proposed persecution spectrum, there is a great deal more at stake here. Elaine Huguenin, the New Mexico photographer sued for refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, and her husband were ordered to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees and lost their case, a loss affirmed upon appeal. They at least had the good fortune, it seems to my memory, of pro bono representation, but will every other defendant sued have that? and are there not other costs to being sued besides whatever money one has to pay? The last I heard about the Colorado baker sued for a civil rights violation is that he was ordered to bake that and all future “same-sex cakes” under pain of contempt. If he does not comply, his contempt citation could carry fines and jail time. And, again, are legal defense teams of this association or that going to represent every defendant for free? and who compensates for the psychological turmoil of being forced through litigation? Is it so difficult to get a different baker or photographer? Is a Christian stand on principle so reviled that punishing these Christians is the meritorious answer?

    And just think about that bitterness. Mr. Douthat’s article was largely about his fear of it. What kind of burning desire for payback do you have to have to file a complaint against a baker or a photographer, while at the same time (litigation doesn’t resolve itself overnight) you go to another baker or photographer and get what you were asking for anyway? This fight has become quite nasty. Have the same view of these relationships as the prevailing culture or else.

  • Steve Potts

    One of the real tragedies about our cultural embrace of homosexuality is that it could dramatically hinder people from hearing the gospel. Here’s why: Bible-believing churches will be dramatically marginalized in ways that haven’t happened before in American history. If your church believes homosexuality is sinful than you are like the Klan or worse. Many people won’t even give Christians from such churches a hearing for the gospel. You won’t have a Billy Graham or a Rick Warren interviewed fairly on any network. Public schools will teach against the haters and bigots. If there are any Christian schools or colleges left they will have capitulated and agree that “gay is okay” or they will be financially ruined. No corporation or “Christian celebrity” will support any truly biblical churches. The churches that are held up as “good” in society will only be those who support gay rights (and those churches will have already surrendered the gospel), thus leading many to reject Christianity altogether or embrace a false gospel that doesn’t save. Of course, God is sovereign and revival may break out. The persecuted church in China and elsewhere has grown despite sustained and severe persecution. But make no mistake, Satan seeks to use homosexuality to hinder many from the gospel. From a human perspective, the situation is dire indeed. But Jesus is building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. We must be prepared to lose our buildings, money, colleges & seminaries and any cultural acceptance whatsoever. How long will it be before we see major evangelical institutions and leaders revise their views on homosexuality? Not long I suspect.

    • buddyglass

      In terms of the gospel having power to reach people and change lives, I’m pretty sure the Church is no worse off in a culture that rejects its moral teachings than in one that is largely in sync with them.

      • Rick Wilson

        Buddy, you need education in church history, man. We are never, never to welcome persecution. Of course we are to faithfully endure it, but your glib attitude dishonors many saints who have shed blood to bring us religious freedom – for the sake of spreading the Gospel, not for the sake of their comfort. We are quite ignorant to think that the retreat of religious freedom will have no consequences for the gospel advancing.

        The Church is always advancing, yes, but NOT the local church. Ask believers in Alexandria, once one of the centers of Christianity. After persecution, all who remain there are a small band of heretical coptic Christians. Or ask our brothers and sisters in Japan. Except that you can’t, because they are essentially no more.

        • buddyglass

          “We are never, never to welcome persecution.”

          I’m not welcoming it. I’m just saying its not cause to fear God’s will w.r.t. the spread of the gospel will be thwarted. Look at China. Look at Rome.

          “We are quite ignorant to think that the retreat of religious freedom will have no consequences for the gospel advancing.”

          If throwing Christians to the lions can’t slow the advance of God’s kingdom; if tarring Christians and burning them alive can’t slow the advance of God’s kingdom, then somehow I don’t think Christians being exiled from the wedding cake business will slow the advance of God’s kingdom.

          • Rick Wilson

            Buddy, look at Alexandria, look at Japan. To fight for the right to spread the Gospel freely is not to be fearful. What you are doing is not a lack of fear, it is arrogance.

            What you said is, “In terms of the gospel having power to reach people and change lives, I’m pretty sure the Church is no worse off in a culture that rejects its moral teachings than in one that is largely in sync with them.”

            This is just simply not historically true. Of course the church bears witness in persecution, of course. But the church flourished after the persecution stopped. The church in China started growing when the very harsh communist persecution let up.

            God is faithful in the midst of persecution, but time and again the flourishing of the church and increased freedom go hand in hand. And my beef is that you believe a different narrative to the detriment of the advance of the Gospel. You and those like you (there are many) cause Christians to not care about religious freedom, and this apathy is going to hurt out witness in the next generation.

            This is not about wedding cakes, and stop being disingenuous because you know that. This is about what the wedding cakes signal is coming.

  • 51tom

    Reading through the comments, it would seem some of the people posting have either missed what Denny has written, or deliberately ignored it. As a reminder, let me quote him.

    “James, the Arizona law didn’t grant them the right to deny service to anyone. I would encourage you to go read the law.

    Also, the Christian florist, photographer, and Baker who are being sued right now, didn’t refuse service to gay people. They were happy to serve gay people in their establishments. They just didn’t want to participate in their weddings.”

    I might add that these people were not being unloving, bigoted, etc and although I don’t know them personally if what I have read is true; they did the biblical loving thing.

    The simple fact is that what these businesses are being forced to do is make a choice between either obeying God or man. As Christians our obedience must be to God, regardless of the consequences.
    Looking through history, Christianity has grown the most when persecution comes.
    Yes I am aware that some do not consider this persecution, but it is persecution none the less. It is just a matter of degrees of persecution.
    God is still on the thrown Christians; live like you believe it!

  • Brett Cody

    Couldn’t Christians simply open businesses that don’t participate in any weddings? Is there some legal loophole in that? Is that an ethical option for Christians?

  • Curt Day

    To me, there is an implied sense of victory here which I find offensive. For victory here isn’t merely understanding that same-sex marriage is sinful, it is also society showing intolerance for it. But why?

    In addition, if you want to push the analogy between today’s debate over same-sex marriage with past segregation, those who deny public services to same-sex couples are not analogous to those who pushed to undo segregated lunch counters; rather, they are analogous to those who fought to keep segregation–to keep Jim Crow and the relegation of Blacks to 2nd class citizenry. The refusal to provide public services to same-sex couples is more based on the belief that same-sex couples have crossed a societal line and thus need to be punished by society. However, the New Testament allows for a great deal of personal sin in society–note that that was where the man who had an affair in I Cor 5 was destined to go and to go without the protection of the Church.

    Why are we insisting that society punish same-sex couples by prohibiting them the right to marry when we can change hearts through the preaching of the Gospel?

    • Esther O'Reilly

      I repeat: Marriage is not a right. It is a privilege. Just as driving is a privilege. Just as voting is a privilege. And merely waving a bit of paper in the air will not make something be a marriage. If my sister grabs a broomstick and rides it like a pony, I’m not trampling on her rights or being offensive to say “That’s not a pony, it’s a broomstick!”

      • buddyglass

        In this case, though, the state confers a number of rights and obligations on pony riders that are denied to broomstick riders. If public opinion shifts such that a majority of Americans consider that these rights and obligations should be accessible by broomstick riders as well, what’s my motivation to set myself up in opposition to them?

        Broomstick riders will never be pony riders, and giving them access to the rights and obligations currently reserved only for pony riders won’t change that fact. Nor must one irrationally believe that broomsticks are ponies in order to support the extension of those rights to broomstick riders.

        • Rick Wilson

          Because you’re a Christian and you care about others, and you know that broomstick riders hurt themselves and others with their sin. It doesn’t mean the state has to listen to us, but we do have an obligation to speak truth and not just say “broomstick riding is no big deal.” It is a big deal, it hurts people.

          I think one of the bottom line things we’ve lost sight of is that gay marriage hurts families. It hurts kids who get adopted by gay couples. That sin being state-sanctioned is hurtful to everyone. This is about defending the innocent.

          • buddyglass

            “you know that broomstick riders hurt themselves and others with their sin.”

            Primarily themselves, but yes.

            “we do have an obligation to speak truth and not just say ‘broomstick riding is no big deal.’ It is a big deal, it hurts people.”

            I agreed that believers have an obligation to speak truth. However, I don’t consider speaking truth w.r.t. the sinfulness (and harmfulness) of same-sex relationships to obligate one to also oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

            “I think one of the bottom line things we’ve lost sight of is that gay marriage hurts families. It hurts kids who get adopted by gay couples.”

            Here I disagree. All else being equal, I’d prefer to have children adopted by couples that aren’t same-sex. But all else is not equal and there’s a shortage of parents willing to adopt. I’d rather see a kid adopted by a caring and committed gay couple than languish in the foster care system or in a Ukranian orphanage.

            The other thing to note here is that gay adoption and gay marriage are two separate issues. Same-sex couples can already adopt and/or conceive children via artificial insemination.

            “That sin being state-sanctioned is hurtful to everyone. This is about defending the innocent.”

            To allow something, or create a legal framework around something, does not amount to moral approval. The state allows (and in many cases expressly protects) all manner of sinful (and/or harmful) activities. Excessive drinking. Blasphemy. Fornication. Adultery. Lust. Idolatry. Heresy. Gluttony. Greed. Vanity.

            • Rick Wilson

              The state does not sanction “Excessive drinking. Blasphemy. Fornication. Adultery. Lust. Idolatry. Heresy. Gluttony. Greed. Vanity.” This is the difference between recognizing gay marriage legally. To do so is to affirm it as valid for human flourishing, and Christians cannot do that.

              Also, for whatever it’s worth I do feel it necessary to tell you that a Christian must not say, “Here I disagree. All else being equal, I’d prefer to have children adopted by couples that aren’t same-sex. But all else is not equal and there’s a shortage of parents willing to adopt. I’d rather see a kid adopted by a caring and committed gay couple than languish in the foster care system or in a Ukranian orphanage.”

              I believe this reveals you are likely not a believer, and should thus seek out your own salvation, Buddy. It’s unlikely that anyone in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit and with the resources available to you would say such a thing. So please, seek Jesus.

              • buddyglass

                “The state does not sanction ‘Excessive drinking. Blasphemy. Fornication. Adultery. Lust. Idolatry. Heresy. Gluttony. Greed. Vanity.'”

                Sure it does. In fact, the state guarantees my right to blaspheme and/or preach heresy if I so choose. At the moment, the state recognizes my right to get plastered in the comfort of my own home. It recognizes my right to sleep with someone who isn’t my spouse. In the name of freedom of religion the state guarantees my right to bow down to a golden calf if I’m into that.

                • Ian Shaw

                  Actually buddy, the state of MIchigan still lists blasphemy in it’s penal code and when enforced, can result in a fine or short jail time believe it or not.

              • Lauren Bertrand

                Rick Wilson: “I believe this reveals you are likely not a believer, and should thus seek out your own salvation, Buddy. It’s unlikely that anyone in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit and with the resources available to you would say such a thing. So please, seek Jesus.”

                The selective meting out of the “no true Scotsman” analogy to people who provide thorough arguments as to why they feel the way they do (like Buddyglass), smacks of the highest (or lowliest) form of Phariseeism out there. It is supremely insulting. The fact that you think keeping kids in orphanages or foster care is “Christian” shows just how floppy Christian principles have become and how willing Christians are to cannibalize their own differences in petty legalism.

                The result? Christianity’s patently visible retreat in recent decades.

      • Virgil T. Morant

        You can repeat it as many times as you wish, but that doesn’t make it so. Marriage, along with starting a family, is comprehensively recognized in jurisprudence, including in several iterations by the U.S. Supreme Court, as a fundamental right. It is foundational to civilized society. (You might be mistaken here on driving, or travel anyway, as well, and on voting too, but those are other issues.) If this holds little sway (earthly courts and whatnot), regarding marriage as a right from a godly perspective is difficult to refute as well. If it is, as Christ says, how God made and intended man and woman, and if it is how we sustain and propagate humanity and society, if it is primordial to our being, a state that existed from the beginning and that even predates civil society (and is foundational to it), how is it a privilege rather than a right? Man and woman in marriage are to become as one. They are to teach the commandments to their children. Their children’s duty to them is enshrined in the commandments, as are their own duties to their children. From a Christian perspective, these are fundamental aspects of humanity: rights.

        The question of whether a same-sex relationship constitutes a marriage is a different one altogether. There you may get into some rights versus privileges argument, although I don’t think it is the most useful. It’s probably more useful simply to critique the nature of the same-sex relationship as being incapable of constituting a marriage at all. Nonetheless, saying repeatedly that marriage overall is not a right is not a very useful argument.

        • Esther O'Reilly

          Really? So 13-year-olds have a right to vote?

          Let’s try to mean “fundamental human rights” when we say “fundamental human rights.” That’s all I’m asking.

        • Rick Wilson

          Oh my goodness, Curt, voting is absolutely not a right! It’s a privilege that we’ve granted to far too many people, in fact. Had we kept the voting privilege to land owners as the founders intended (of course the racism and sexism was wrong) this country would be in far better shape.

          One of my biggest issues with progressives like yourself is you are of course free to desire any kind of country you like, but stop LIEING about what our country is. You just keep telling a lie long enough until eventually it’s true, and that’s such a dishonest way to enact change.

          • James Stanton

            “Had we kept the voting privilege to land owners as the founders intended (of course the racism and sexism was wrong) this country would be in far better shape.”

            Since you brought it up… let’s take the racism and sexism (as the founders intended it) out of it and it’s still “tyranny” to have the rights of the landless majority subjected to the whims of wealthy landowners who will govern for their own interests. I say landless majority because I’m pretty sure this would be a return to serfdom.

    • Rick Wilson

      Curt, your point about why should be prohibit same-sex marriage would be much easier to take if I believed you were a consistent libertarian, which it sure doesn’t seem that you are. Since you are not:

      It’s obvious why gay marriage should be illegal – because it hurts people. It hurts people who engage in it, it hurts children who end up tangled up in it. We’re also foolish if we think societal sins don’t hurt everyone. It is one thing for a gay couple to say they are married and act married. That’s largely a sin of their own, taking place in their own house. But the movement the government recognizes that marriage and calls it good, that takes that sin out of the house and drags it in to the public square for all to see and approve. And that’s quite another thing all together, with all kinds of innocent victims.

      So, yeah.

  • Ian Shaw

    Should we perhaps not think of this as a test or trial, but instead discipline from God?

    Collectively, the church has done a horrible job in maintaining the sacrament of marriage, allowing churches to follow more along the lines of the state when it comes to no-fault divorce, or not really instructing those that marry that it’s not something to take lightly and only under a specific instance and through the church discipline process should you actually seek a divorce.

    The evangelical mindset has been vandalized by the,…. well, unevangelized. Is the church receiving discipline in this form because of how crappy the church has done in teaching their sheep about marriage? Rather than teaching that if you both are Christ followers and both can forgive each other as God forgives us, instead it’s a cheap afterthought? Pastors that marry individuals without premarital counseling? No matter what your spouse has done to you, it is nowhere near what you (we) have done before a righteous and holy God. Just a thought.

    As to everything else, C.S. Lewis has a great piece in one of his books (as he usually does). Heaven, is when we say to God, thy will be done. Hell, is when God says to us, thy will be done.

  • BV

    Another sad aspect here is the aggressive tone Kirsten Powers is taking against those who wish to ensure a measure of freedom for Christian business owners. I think her end goal is primarily political: in my opinion, she is trying to divide the conservative Christian base in an effort to break the conservative Christian/ Republic party link. The more the Republican Party is divided, the greater the chance Democrats retain control of most of the Government.

    Now, there are are good reasons for Christians to be skeptical of the Republican Party, but I don’t think Ms. Powers is being very charitable toward her Christian sisters and brothers in her approach.

    Another point is worth making. Ms. Powers’ analogy of Jim Crow laws is not very convincing. The usual life narrative we’re given here in America is that we grow up, go to school, get married, have kids, live a middle-class life, send our kids to college, and then retire in Florida. If the homosexual identity is to be allowed to flourish, then, the liberal argument goes, they must be given right to marriage so that they can equally participate in this life narrative.

    The usual comparison made in the Jim Crow narrative Ms. Powers promulgates is that it’s morally wrong for a hotel operator (e.g.) to refuse service to an African American (e.g.), and thus it is morally wrong for a Christian business provider to provide services to a homosexual couple. However, the refusal of a hotel operator to service an African American does not touch on the overall life narrative. It in no way touches upon that important chapter in that life narrative: marriage. My point here is NOT to vindicate Jim Crow like segregation, because it is morally wrong (and against Christ’s commands for His people). Rather, it is to say that the analogy Ms. Powers uses to support her case is not as strong as she thinks it is.

  • S Smith

    why not investigate ways of businesses forming privately to serve ‘Christians’ only as some kind of restricted group, so that the public is not affected and the Christians are happy with their ability to deal with their own kind ?

    Seems to me, if such a thing is legal (and I don’t know if it is) that would be the best, most comfortable course for businesses to take who don’t want to serve the general public.

    I know they used to have ‘restricted’ country clubs which did not accept members who were of other races or who were Jews, but I don’t know if that is still going on . . . likely it is in some form . . .
    just adapt Christian businesses to that format and then Christians will be comfortable again not having to serve those they don’t think are worthy.

    No one in the public wants to be treated badly. Christians don’t want to treat people badly. Come to some ‘arrangement’ that prevents both disasters from happening. It’s common sense. People should be able to live at peace with one another as long as it is possible. If there are problems, then there are solutions for those problems. Christian business people who do not wish to serve certain customers for whatever reason need to become private entities, not public entities.

    • BV

      I would say that we should avoid forming such private service communities as you describe. Christ has commanded us to engage the world (John 17). In this passage, Christ also prays: “I do not ask that you htake them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” and “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

      In our confession of Christ, we are forced to recognize that all people bear the image of God, and that, I think, compels us to engage the broader world.

  • S Smith

    I agree with you if the Christians involved are mainstream denominations, or Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox. But for those Christians who run businesses that serve the public as a whole, and who in conscience feel that they cannot serve certain specific groups, wouldn’t it be better all around for them to run an exclusive business catering to their own kind?
    It seems that they are not able in conscience to separate serving the public from only serving those they approve of, and that comes across as discrimination where in truth they are taking a conscientious stand against doing business with those whom they have judged as unworthy of their service. That gives a wrong impression, rather than furthering an understanding of their beliefs.

    It is difficult for such people to behave without the appearance of discrimination in conducting a profit-making business that advertises to the general public, if certain groups are singled out and denied the advertised services.
    These kinds of Christian businesses need to find a better way to satisfy their consciences and still make an honest living.
    The alternative of continuing to serve everyone is not, in good conscience, an option for them; nor is the alternative of singling out only certain groups for denial of services advertised ‘for the public’. Some other way must be found.
    The only way I see going forward is for these businesses to be as exclusively private with whom they do business as they are exclusive with whom they can fellowship with in good conscience. I can’t see them operating as public businesses, no.
    It’s difficult to sort out, but it’s worth working at in order to do what is right for all people involved.

    • Johnny Mason

      S. Smith you are aware that businesses turn people away all the time for various reasons. Some businesses only cater to women (no men allowed). Some businesses refuse people who dont wear shirts. Some businesses will refuse to screen shirts with offensive language on it. Lawyers will refuses clients or cases they deem objectionable.

      Apparently, in your world, the black business owner should cater the Klan rally. The gay business owner should host the Westboro Baptist gay bash-athon. The pro-life lawyer should defend Planned Parenthood, and the Christian photographer should photograph the gay mirage.

      So I want to see you picketing against the gay barber who refused to cut the Governor’s hair over her views on gay marriage, or the restaurant that refused to serve legislators because of their political views, or Disney for banning the boy scouts.

      If not, then apparently your public accommodation is a one-way street and reeks of the very discrimination and bigotry you cry against.

      • S Smith

        well, let’s examine your pro-life lawyer defending Planned Parenthood . . . in such a case, IF Planned Parenthood was accused of a crime, they would be considered innocent until proven guilty,
        according to our legal system . . . any lawyer will tell you that . . . so the implication that a lawyer feels that they don’t deserve a defense in a court of law is strange, regardless of his own deeply held beliefs . . .

        if you have opportunity to view the series ‘Samuel Adams’, it opens with a court scene where the Massachussetts lawyer is asked to defend a group of British soldiers who have fired into a protesting crowd and even some young boys have been killed . . . he takes the case and defends them because he believes in the law and in the principles of the law and fair trial

        perhaps that was not the best example you could give to defend your point of view because recusal from taking a case does occur when a legal representative feels they cannot act without prejudice (pro or con) interferring with the professional service they would provide in a court of law

        • Johnny Mason

          S. Smith wrote “so the implication that a lawyer feels that they don’t deserve a defense in a court of law is strange, regardless of his own deeply held beliefs . . .”

          “because recusal from taking a case does occur when a legal representative feels they cannot act without prejudice (pro or con) interferring with the professional service they would provide in a court of law”

          So which is it? You seem to be contradicting yourself. And the fact that you haven’t actually answered my question is quite telling.

          • Virgil T. Morant

            Those two statements by S Smith aren’t actually contradictory. The Model Rules and the Rules in my own state (Ohio) as well as a good many others dictate that lawyers may turn down or request withdrawal from representation if the representation would be repugnant to them. The comments to the rules further explain that this has a good deal to do with the ability or inability, ease or difficulty, of a lawyer to be the best advocate for a client whom the lawyer finds or whose objectives the lawyer finds repugnant. This does not contradict the ideal that, in criminal matters, lawyers will or should by and large believe that every defendant has rights, including the right to a defense, even if the defendant is an offensive character. Lawyers very often represent clients whom they find objectionable. If it rises to the level of repugnance and most crucially if the repugnance impairs the lawyer’s ability, then withdrawal is permitted.

            Comparing the topic in this post, though, to lawyers has very limited usefulness. The practice of law is very different from the practice of cake-baking or photography, quite regardless of whether similarly deep or strongly held convictions may be at play in any of them. The rules for withdrawal, mandatory as well as optional, in legal representation are specifically tailored to the practice of law, and they do not translate well to other lines of work, most especially other lines of work that, unlike law, are not even professions.

            • Johnny Mason

              1) The lawyer example was but one in a list of examples I gave.
              2) The fact that lawyers can turn down requests that they find repugnant seems to agree with the point I was making. Why deny this same freedom of conscience to the cake baker?
              3) S. Smith’s original comment was that to remedy this situation the cake baker should pursue an exclusively private business. But he only seems to apply this to the cake baker. What about the other business owners I listed. Should a) they be forced to service every request, no matter how repugnant or b) should they also go exclusively private?

              The hypocrisy I see, is that it perfectly fine for the gay business owner to discriminate, or the black business owner, or the lawyer or the plumber, but the cake baker has no such freedom. The cake baker MUST bake the cake.

              • Virgil T. Morant

                Pursuing an “exclusively private” business would be no remedy under current U.S. law, at least certainly not as far as the baker is concerned, because bakers are actually explicitly cited as examples of public accommodations type businesses in the Federal statutes that are relevant, and photographers would most likely fall within that category as well (and perhaps they explicitly do, as far as the case law pertaining to the civil rights statutes are concerned). This is simply no solution, unless the statutes are rewritten or adequately reinterpreted by a court of sufficient authority. This is just a practical answer to both the suggestion and the question that followed. It is not necessarily my opinion of what should be so.

                In fact, although prior comments of mine should indicate where I stand (but I don’t expect every reader to remember every comment—goodness knows I don’t make a project of doing it myself), let me iterate that I find the treatment of the Huguenins and the baker in Colorado to be unjust on the face of the facts I have read. What they were called to do was to participate in or directly support an activity they found offensive. I would not have the same opinion, by the way, if Elaine Huguenin had just, say, refused to photograph any practicing homosexuals for any type of photograph whatsoever (and she said that this was not her position anyway).

                Let me also iterate, though, that the example of the lawyer is just not a good one. The job of a lawyer is highly specialized and sensitive, and, most obviously in criminal work, it pertains much more to the rights of clients. A lawyer has a lot more to worry about in doing his job than a cake baker, and the consequences of bad legal work are far worse than the consequences of bad cake baking. People’s lives can be ruined. Eat a cake that doesn’t taste so good? Well, kiss some small amount of money goodby and go get another cake. Get an incompetent lawyer? Lose a vast portion of your money, spend years in prison, or a host of other horrible things. The ethical rules for mandatory and optional withdrawal or refusal of cases do not just exist for the sake of the lawyer’s conscience: they exist for the protection of the clients or potential clients. The same cannot be said of the ethical concerns of cake baking. That lawyers, who can save lives or devastate them and who can open themselves up to a host of malpractice issues over very serious harm, are afforded some liberty in turning down clients or requesting or being required to withdraw from representation, while cake bakers have less latitude, is no hypocrisy or incongruity. Lawyers don’t, by the way, just have some across-the-board plenary authority to withdraw: I’ve withdrawn from representation myself, and, as I am a litigator, I could only do it with permission from the court in those instances. And, again, I am of the opinion that a Christian cake baker should be permitted to decline to bake a cake for a same-sex “marriage,” but the comparison to the legal profession is not instructive on this issue.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    I sure hope your pronostication here is wrong – but I see it coming as well. Pray for courage and strength to perservere and ultimately not be brought to the point of denying Him who bought & redeemed us.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    One other point needs to be made (so everyone knows just what we’re up against) – while Mr. Douthat may be correct in his predicting the future and the consequences for the faith community, I think something else is also at work here that he misses – and it is that the radical LGBT crowd aren’t interested in “marriage equality.” That’s just a cover for their ultimate goal – destroying marriage as an institution, “eradicating” it not only socially but politically as well. Witness the following…

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.