Some time ago I started a series of posts on a political subject, the furor then raging over freedom of religion laws either just passed or being considered by legislatures in several states, most notably Indiana and Arkansas. Here are the other posts in the series, should you wish to read them before continuing with this one.
A Class of Rights – Part 1
A Clash of Rights – Part 2
Freedom of Conscious – Political and Religious
My main point has been people have a right to freedom of conscious, and ought to be free to exercise that right. Other people have a competing right, the right to not be discriminated against based on their race, their gender, or other issues (such as their sexual preference, i.e. homosexuality). What you have is a clash of rights. In that case, whose right wins? It’s not an easy question. The media debate tends to be favoring the right to not be discriminated against should triumph over the right to free exercise of conscious. I suspect, however, that if the issue were really pressed, they [the media] would want to be able to freely exercise their conscious, and that they are really trying to suppress the rights of those whose consciouses are contrary to theirs.
As the debate on those laws raged (it’s since died down a lot, hasn’t it?), the most disturbing part of it, to me, was the situation with the Memories Pizza shop in Walkerton, Indiana. A reporter, I suppose knowing the owners of the shop were devout Christians, asked if they would cater a same-sex wedding. Stop for a moment and think of the absurdity of this. Pizza for a wedding reception? This question was a set-up, for the purpose of either embarrassing or causing harm to the shop. The results were predictable: the shop owner said they would refuse to cater the same-sex wedding, citing their religious stand against homosexuality and their rights under the new law.
The reaction was also predictable. The pro same-sex marriage side made all kinds of hateful statements and, allegedly, threats of harm against the shop and its owners. Those in favor of the statements of the pizza shop owner started a crowd funding campaign for the shop and raised over $300,000 in less than 24 hours, 10,000 people donating an average of $30.00. To this the other side responded it was a bogus campaign and the organizer was going to pocket the money. On and on it went.
The fact that the furor has died down is, it seems, and indication that the passage of the laws didn’t cause society to collapse.
So, it’s time for me to answer the question: If I were the owner of the pizza shop, or the cake decorator, or wedding planner, or whatever business that serves the public, would I serve the same-sex wedding? I’m opposed to the practice of homosexuality, on religious grounds, believing it to be a sin against God and man. Hence, I oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, seeing no reason to change what has been a tradition in virtually every society in the world for thousands of years. I want the law to recognize I have, or should have, freedom of conscious and freedom to act on that conscious.
However, with all that being said, I would serve the same-sex wedding if I ran such a business. My reason? It gives me an opportunity to give a Christian touch to someone who I think needs it. I don’t see it as a statement of agreement with what they are doing. I see it as fulfilling Paul’s cautions about not always exercising your freedom of conscious, and his other statement about by all means saving some. If my serving the wedding would bring one someone attending one step closer to Christ, that’s what I’d want.