Monthly Archives: March 2015

Not Even Close

Religion (as defined by Meriam Webster)

1 a :  the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>

   b (1) :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic :  scrupulous conformity :  conscientiousness
4 :  a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Watch that definition very closely, because it’s about to be changed.

Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law is anything but, essentially giving people carte blanche to discriminate againstReligious_Freedom-09cbc anyone if they don’t lineup with their personal beliefs. The law has, in essence, created personalized police state that allows any individual to be judge, jury and executioner if someone disagrees with them.

The law, signed into action my Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), allows businesses to deny business to anyone who doesn’t fit into their personal set of beliefs. Notice I said beliefs and not religion, because it is in that fourth line of the definition that this law will find it’s doom – assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down before the ink dries.

And if you think I’m wrong, then you’ve never been in Indiana during basketball season as an opponent.

An article in The Daily Grind from March 28 relates how an Indiana business owner named Ryan called into 100.9 RadioNOW and professed his support of the new law, stating that he freely discriminated against the LGBT community. I’d love to tell you the man’s last name or that of his business, but he refused to give them.

Before I get into what I believe are the Christian ramifications of this law, let’s take a brief look at this particular business owners actions:

  1. Ryan (the business owner) thinks discriminating against the LGBT community because they are in sin is OK. Let’s run with that for a moment. I wonder if Ryan remembers the time before he was a Christian? You know, when he was a sinner. I wonder if he would have been OK with people discriminating against him then? And will he be OK when he walks into a place owned by someone in the LGBT community and they kindly tell him to get out because he doesn’t match up with their beliefs? Or would he be even more surprised to enjoy an excellent meal, only to have the owners tell him where he had been eating afterwards?
  2. Ryan’s personal convictions are so weak that after “bravely” calling the radio station to spout his nonsensical rhetoric and boast of his “religious” stance, he won’t tell the station his last name or what his business’ name or location is. Wow! What moral conviction! Plus he gets free air time and missed a chance at a major plug that, as we now see, would have gone nationwide. This guy is clearly a marketing genius too.
  3. Ryan’s faith is such (I will call it outright fake, cheap at best) that instead of telling people why he is discriminating against them, he lies to them. So not standing up for his ‘faith’ aside, that commandment about bearing false witness goes right out the window too.
  4. And assuming his has any measure of actual faith in him, when Ryan has people that he believes are in sin in his business, he ignores the one commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20, saying “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I wonder if Ryan knows that Jesus came to earth and hung out exclusively with the sinners of the day, eating with them and ministering to them? I mean the only “quality” time that Jesus spent with the religious leaders of the day, they were in the process of trying to kill Him.

Christians are split on this matter and I feel it’s due to a concern about what they will have to give up in order to allow people who are not of their faith make a decision about Christ. What would they be giving up – the safety of their personal religious cocoon – the one Christ never intended us to have.

I have a friend named Greg who I have known since kindergarten. As the electronic age has come upon us and the miles between us have grown, Greg and I have taken to debating a number of issues through social media. We usually focus on politics and religion, so you can only guess that this new law was hotly debated just a few days ago.

Some Christians view the mere act of serving someone not of their faith as denying Christ and participating in that customer’s sin. For example, if you were a caterer and baked a gay couple a cake or food, that that constitutes taking part in their ceremony. Another might be a photographer taking pictures of that same wedding.

Others, like myself, think that it would require more than just providing the service. So in the case of caterer, I don’t wedding-cake-ideasfind an issue with a Christian baking a cake for a gay wedding or even serving the food, for that matter. But if they wanted me to serve it some plate with sexually suggestive images on it or wanted the cake to look like a phallic symbol, then I’m not the caterer for them. Likewise, as a photographer I’d have no issue taking the various images that you normally take at a wedding, including what are sure to be variances due to a couple being both men or both women. But if those images were to include anything suggestive, I’d have to tell that those are services my business does not provide.

The Apostle Paul clearly spoke to this matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Verses 20 and 21 are the keys as I see it. Verse 20 addresses those that are under the law (those of Jewish faith) and that we should become as though we under that law, even though we are not. The Jews are the extreme opposite of the LGBT community, adhering to laws and rules that we, as Christians, think were done away with by Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

Verse 21 goes to the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that to those without any law we should also become like them – even though we are still under the law of God.

And that may be the sticking point. Just like when you were dating and minded all of the Ps and Qs you would later forget about after you got married, following the law of the Jews is easy for a short time to try and show them the salvation of Christ as we know it. But where do you draw the line going the other way?

Over the years I have made a number of friends who are gay and even have one family member who has expressed an interest in that lifestyle. We eat, we hang out, we do things together. But when it comes down to things like affection, we give a friendly hug and that’s it. When it comes time to eat, I say a prayer over my food quietly while they usually start chowing down.

See, what I think Christians today are forgetting is that becoming a Christian is a choice. God doesn’t force it on us, nor does He want to. God wants you to be under his guidance, care and discipline because we choose to be, not because we have to. And it is that choice, one that every Christian has to make (and no, you are not born into Christianity. But that’s a topic for another post) that they seem to forget that were allowed to make by God Himself. And it is a decision that, for some strange reason, they don’t want to let anyone else make for themselves.

If a person of the LGBT community coming into your business and buying a sandwich or a shirt is that threatening to your Christianity, then your faith isn’t worth a plug nickle. If all it takes is the mere presence of sin in someone else – and believe me, there is still sin in every Christian because none of us are perfect. NONE of us! – to throw you off track, then you better close your business, go home and plant your nose in your Bible and prayer 24/7.

God wants us in the world. He needs us in the world. We are His hands and feet, carrying the gospel to all of the lost, not just the people that we’re OK sharing it with.

In a time when the forces of the day were openly giving letters of authority to hunt down and kill Christians, God called the worst offender of them all to his ministry to preach His word. He preached it to the people of that time and to millions since.

His name was Paul.

Christ broke down all of the Christian faith into two commandments and one commission. The commission we covered above, but the first commandment is to love God with everything you have. The second was like it and was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Notice is doesn’t say “fellow Christian” or “like believer”, it says neighbor. Your neighbor may be a Christian, or they may be gay, or lesbian or even worse in Indiana – a Michigan fan.

And finally, if you think that discriminating against the LGBT community is OK and a righteous thing to do, then I’m sure you’ll be just fine with it when they turn the tables on people of faith. Don’t think it will happen? Maybe you should take a gander at the book of Revelations:

It (the second beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” ~ Revelations 13:16-17

As Christians, I do not believe that we are afforded the luxury of ignoring the masses that do not share our faith. Christ’s Great Commission requires us to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s the only way that we can reach the lost. It was the only way that any Christian was ever reached with the Gospel.

I’m going to include links to two songs that I feel are very germane to the topic at hand. The first is from Steve Taylor and speaks to doing business with people who do not share our Christian faith. The second is from Petra and speaks to a Christians desire to sit safely inside their church, never reaching out to world around us.

 

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