Legislating Discrimination: Why I Am Glad That No One Cares About My Sins

February 26, 2014

This week, Arizona finds itself at the center of American political discussion.

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Rep. Steve Yarborough is concerned about religious people being discriminated against.

The reason? The bill that now sits on the governor’s desk, waiting for a signature or a veto, which protects businesses and their “religious convictions.”

The religious convictions in question are specifically those convictions which pertain to whom the business owner should deny service.

Last year, an Arizona couple were denied service by a bakery when they requested a wedding cake. A New Mexico couple were turned down by a photographer because taking pictures would violate his convictions as a “born again Christian.” Both couples were denied service because they are same-sex couples.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steve Yarborough says, “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

I’ll let you parse the irony of that statement as you see fit. I don’t have a thing to say about it.

But as the cost of doing business in America rises, financially and for some people, morally, there is a lot that I am thankful for as bills like these are debated all over the country. I am thankful that when I go to my local baker and ask for a cake, the baker doesn’t have me stand on a scale first or measure my BMI. I would hate to make a baker violate his conscious and make him think he’s selling products made of highly processes sugar and fat to a rampantly obese society. But thankfully, the baker doesn’t seem to care about how selling me a cake might violate his conscience.

Yes, thankfully, when I go to the grocery store and fill my cart with absolute crap which I plan to eat in completely unhealthy quantites, the cashier doesn’t say, “I think you’ve had enough.”

And when I purchase some beer to share with my friends, the clerk does not put me through the embarrassment of making me take a breathalyzer test.  That would certainly be humiliating.

I am glad that if my wife and I hired a photographer, he wouldn’t ask us if we are having marital problems, infidelity, or otherwise violating the biblical definition of marriage.  He would just do his job, which is to make us look like a happy couple.

It is so good to know that when I go to the Apple story and pick up an expensive new laptop, the “Geniuses” don’t ask me if I’m just buying the laptop because I’m jealous of my friend who has one.

And when I purchase a new car, I’m pretty sure the salesman is not going to ask if I have honored my parents and made sure their needs are met before I drop this kind of money.

He will probably just take my money because I am a member of the American public who doesn’t answer to a car salesman. Yes, it is a good thing that when we go to church, the ushers aren’t asking people at the door how many times they looked at porn in the last week. The comment cards don’t ask how many lies we told or how much gossip we spread. It’s a good thing for a lot of us that no one checks to see if we used God’s name in vain or judged someone unfairly while cutting ourselves slack for the same faults. No one will know if we are being generous with our money, or hoarding it selfishly. It is a good thing they do not send people away who are greedy, gluttonous or porn addicts, because church membership would plummet immediately.

Yes, I feel lucky that the vast majority of my sins are private. No one asks me about them. No one tries to dig up my secrets. And the sins that are seen, people make excuses for those. I may not be sinless, but at least I’m socially acceptable among Christians.

Yes, all of my sins are pretty darn popular here in the good old Christian U.S.A. No one has ever stood on a street corner with a sign that said am a sinner. No one has ever thrown me out of their store because my life doesn’t meet their moral standards.

And for that, I am thankful.

I am thankful that whatever lifestyle I live, however sinful it might be, I am still socially acceptable to all the morally upright, Bible believing Christians of America.

Because if were made to feel that Christians hated me, I am not sure what I would think of their “Jesus.”

10 responses to Legislating Discrimination: Why I Am Glad That No One Cares About My Sins

  1. Good post. I also think more Christians ought to be thankful that homosexuality is around as the easiest “sin” in existence to condemn.

    I’m willing to bet that most nice straight Christian folks have never been effected by homosexual urges. That’s what makes it so easy to condemn those awful filthy gay people–you don’t have to dwell on all the crap you’ve done yourself, and you get the bonus of getting the warm fuzzy feeling that goes along with “standing up for your convictions” and get the expectation that God is probably adding a minibar to your mansion in heaven just for being such a good little Do-Bee.

    Oh, and don’t forget that going after the gays is such a nice distraction when the rest
    of your society is falling apart–just ask the Russians or the Ugandans.

  2. Hoo Ha Ha!

    (Translation : Amen)
    Shark Bait recently posted..Is it OK to lie to nuns?

  3. Yes. We are very hypocritical and miss grace when we point out the sins in others and conveniently ignore our own.

    But… [entering Luke’s rambling thoughts]

    I think you’ve created a false comparison. A car salesman has zero connection to my relationship with my parents. But a wedding photographer is, in many ways, intimately involved in a couple’s romance. Put another way — also incomplete, but hopefully on track — my wedding photographer doesn’t think about how I use guns (if I had an interest in them). But before I’m allowed to buy a gun in some places, I have to be vetted to make sure that my gun ownership is legit.

    If I’m a crazed man bent on murder, I don’t get a gun. I’m “discriminated” against with good reason. I would have to use illegitimate methods of obtaining such a thing. Similarly, if homosexual unions are not legitimate from a traditional marriage standpoint, if someone wants photos or a cake or whatever, is it not okay to require that they go someplace more “black market” for such goods/services?

    I am, of course, ignoring all solid social contract and public service arguments here and focusing instead on the one of this post. I work for a company which provides goods and services to people all over the world. We have certain obligations and requirements we cannot break by law… which is likely why people are trying to get certain laws enacted/changed.

    Should a bar owner be required to sell another beer to a drunk person about to go drive? The person’s cable company has zero connection to the drinking problem, but the bar owner does.

    If I worked at a restaurant and someone came in screaming and swearing at me, ogling my staff, throwing dishes on the floor, and smearing food all over my tables and windows, should I be required to serve them, or can I ask them to find service elsewhere? Because if I, a cake maker who finds homosexual marriages inappropriate, belligerent, and purposefully staining of my business, am required to do so, then any jerk should be allowed to make a mess, make my staff uncomfortable, and abuse me. And I’m not as okay with that.

    If I’m not wearing the appropriate clothing, I can be denied service at places; unless, of course, I was LMAFO in “Sexy and I Know It.” [smile]

    What about marrying two people who are already sleeping together? That’s different for church folk because, morally, they’re actually moving in the right direction. However, I think many religious people would suggest that what the couple has done before did not start them on a good footing. So let’s try this…

    Should a pastor be allowed to refuse to marry a couple if one of the prospective spouses is beating the other or is engaged in consistent affairs with multiple people? The government can offer divorces and annulments for such things… Should a pastor be required to marry a father to his of-age daughter? If not now, what if the law changes? Should people be required to bake cakes for those in a polygamist relationship headed toward marriage? If a photographer finds out that I’m already married and I want him to photograph my wedding to another girl, should he be allowed to decline?

    If we’re talking businesses under current law, businesses don’t have much choice in whom they can serve when it comes to certain things. If we’re talking people who are trying to set laws that make sense to them… they have a right to pursue legal rights (just as homosexuals are seeking legal rights).

    Should my internet provider care if I use my connection to look at porn? Perhaps they should. And, depending on the porn we look at, the government is very interested. Because some things are illegal. Like homosexual marriages in many states.

    Granted, the legal status of something doesn’t much affect the moral status of it. So this brings us, again, to the question: If something is morally wrong, should I be allowed to refuse to participate, even if I work for a company?

    Just a few crazy thoughts as they tumble around my mind.

    Final note: I have a constantly growing love and compassion for my friends who are attracted to the same sex. I’m able to see their struggle more and more clearly in connection to my own sexual sins as a guy who really likes girls. But one of the biggest differences I’ve encountered is that I see a sin in both inappropriate homosexual and heterosexual behavior. Others don’t.

    Sadly, we too often don’t see the sin in our gluttony or pride or greed or lack of compassion. And, as you point out so well in your post, that is a tragedy.

    Thoughts? Thanks for letting me dump mine here.

    ~Luke
    Luke Holzmann recently posted..Photos, Miracles, Lies, and Humor

  4. These are some great thoughts and you really captured some areas of hypocrisy in Christendom which we should all find very convicting. But selling a cake is far different than wedding photography. In the latter, you enter somewhat into the intimacy and celebration of the sin. I am no more appalled by homosexuality than I am often by my own heart, but I can see that this could be dicey. On the other side, preserving one’s rights seems to strike a discord with Jesus’ words and I am always uncomfortable with the demand that we are entitled to anything. I guess I am fence sitting but the dialogue itself stimulates me to look deeper. Thanks for this challenging post.
    Barbara Dillard recently posted..Pot of Gold

  5. I can shorten my response thanks to Luke Holzmann’s response!
    The thing about almost all (if not all) of the lawsuits that have arisen so far is that – to counter your “Both couples were denied service because they are same-sex couples” statement – had little to do with the fact that they were same-sex couples but everything to do with that those couples wished to get married and have these people/businesses show their support of these unions. At the very least, the couples were directed to other businesses who would be willing to help. In the case of a bakery in Colorado, the couple was told that they could get pretty much anything but a wedding cake because of the belief that same-sex weddings are biblically immoral. The New Mexico-photographer said basically the same thing. A florist in Washington was sued by a gay couple who had been customers before, but the florist said she could not support the wedding.
    In each situation it was only about the wedding, not the people, per se. And as many of my friends and I have said, we would rather not have someone participate in any way in our wedding if we knew they disagreed with it! I require pre-marital counseling before I perform a wedding, and if I take issue with something in their relationship as immoral I have no issue telling them that I will not be able to do the ceremony until it is resolved. One case involved an addiction to pornography, and I would not allow the wedding to happen until there was an effort to get it under control. Likewise, I will not perform weddings for someone who has not finished a divorce (someone asked me, and my cousin tried to do this once), has “someone on the side” or sees prostitutes, or for homosexuals. Yet I will love and hang out with them all day!
    Daniel M. Klem recently posted..Yes, of course a business owner should have the right to refuse service to gay people

  6. I agree with Daniel, above.
    Marriage is marriage, not just any service. I myself, if working at a bakery, could not write the names of two men on a wedding cake and insert a little statuette on top of two men in tuxes. I did work for a wedding florist, and many of our friends were gay, but I would have had to quit before designing wedding arrangements for them, it would have gone so strongly against my conscience.
    I had subscribed to this post, but feel now that you are so very judgemental, Matt, and revel too much in irony, and countering long-held beliefs for the sake of being an iconoclast. I get this feeling that you have a narrow definition of what a Christian is, and if people vary from that, it’s your job to bash them.

  7. I agree that the law in Arizona was a stupid attempt which is akin to using an axe to do brain surgery. However, I also believe that it was wrong for the homosexual couples to sue the people who refused to handle their wedding, especially when they have other choices in photographers and bakers and even venues. The homosexual couples involved in the lawsuits were being bullies. If service providers are forced to serve anyone, then when homosexual marriage is legalized, pastors and churches might be forced to provide marriage ceremonies for anyone regardless of how it violates their beliefs. In England, churches have to perform marriage ceremonies because the church is part of the state and the state has legalized homosexual marriage. This is not the case in America. I am of the opinion that I can accept civil unions for homosexuals and I am even okay if they find a church which will perform marriage ceremonies for them. But don’t force churches whose beliefs are that marriage is ultimately an institution created by God between a man and woman to violate its beliefs and don’t force people to serve you by suing them out of business if they refuse. Two wrongs do not make a right.
    tandemingtroll recently posted..The Marathon cometh

  8. Any religion that is forced upon you by the state is not a true faith. That is all I care to say at this point.

  9. The issue here is the more fundamental struggle between worldviews. Frankly, I believe Christians are soon going to have to make serious decisions about their faith in the face of an increasingly hostile culture. Thus, while I understand why some folks see this kind of law as giving Christianity a black eye, I also believe that what is driving this desire to protect religious liberty is not necessarily some sort of animus against homosexuality, but a recognition that many on the other side of this argument don’t care if Christians are playing “nice” or not. Their driving ambition is to wipe out any vestige of the Christian worldview because it makes demands on people when they are confronted with the absolute nature of the Gospel. So maybe we ought to step back and not just assume motives here.