Why Same-Sex Marriage is a Religious Freedom Issue

IMG_0403In recent days the issue of same-sex marriage has been a very important one, particularly for Christian circles. In the days leading up to and following the Supreme Courts hearing same-sex marriage blogs, Facebook walls, and comments sections have been filled with Christians denouncing this change in marriage law.

My goal today isn’t to give arguments against same-sex marriage even though I do view it as sin [1]. Instead I want to give a basic understanding of why Christians are making such a big deal about this issue.

Let me be clear that if something is against the commands of Scripture (which same-sex marriage is) we should make a big deal about it. However there is a deeper issue in this changing of how marriage is defined.

You see it isn’t just about marriage…it’s about religious liberty.

Lots of attention was given to the fact that during Supreme Court arguments on same-sex marriage it was admitted that if Religious institutions refused to accept this new marriage definition it would “be an issue.”

This was taken to mean that “religious exemptions” pertaining to laws that affect a institutions beliefs would be removed. Resulting in a loss of tax-exempt status, and in some cases the ability to refuse admission to students based upon their religious beliefs [2].

The fact that Churches or Christian Colleges will lose their tax-exempt status worries me because it’s the first step in losing our freedom [3]. But what really scares me is the loss of personal religious freedom.

As a Christian I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, in fact Scripture says that most people WON’T agree with me. That’s okay since I’ll still share God’s truth in love, and there is “religious freedom” that allows me to openly share my beliefs.

In recent months however things like the same-sex marriage have redefined the idea of “Religious Freedom”. In the past this freedom allowed me to openly share my own beliefs and refuse to accept those of others.

Today Religious Freedom is:

  1. “the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes, and hearts.”
  2. “rightly bowing to the enlightenment of modernity”
  3. These quotes come from articles in January written Frank Bruni, defender of LGBT marriage [4].

Basically Bruni is saying that Religious Freedom should be secondary to the popular culture, and only used within the Church (there is no place for sharing our religious beliefs outside of it).

Of course that’s an extreme view of just one man. However this redefining of Religious Freedom and removing Religious Exemption is taking place before our very eyes.

When the same-sex marriage movement began gaining steam they went out of their way to assure us it would in no way affect our freedom. But that isn’t their message any more.

On April 30 an interesting article was written for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Modern Sin: Holding On to Your Belief [5]. It explains how the LGBT community have now begun demanding Christians agree with their personal beliefs or view of marriage, or just completely ignore the differences and never talk about our view.

An illustration of this new “Religious Freedom” is found in the article “I choose at once to love my sister and disagree with her on gay marriage” [6] where the sister who disagrees with the others same-sex relationship just never talks about it.  I also find it revealing that the sister who does believe in same-sex marriage uses the analogy of rescuing dogs as an illustration of how those who disagree should approach those of the LGBT community.

“But I’ve found an analogy for understanding it (different beliefs on marriage), even if the analogy isn’t on the same order of importance as marriage. It is this: Becky and I care passionately about dogs, and have come to see dog rescue as an absolute imperative. Several of our friends, though, don’t see things the way we do. Despite many conversations and attempts at persuasion, they still insist on buying pure-breed dogs. They are doing something that we, on moral grounds, wouldn’t do ourselves. So are we required to hate them, or their dogs? Should we refuse to associate with them, and wish them ill? Of course not. Our views are in a certain sense independent of our friends and family.” (emphasis added)

Some people tell Christians to simply give into the issue of same-sex marriage (it will probably pass anyways) but we can’t. Because this is just the beginning.

One of the best sources of information on this Religious Freedom issue is Albert Mohler, and in particular his podcast “The Briefing [7].” Yesterday he discussed an antidiscrimination bill that went into effect on Tuesday (May 12) protecting Gays and Transgender people as a joint effort of the LGBT community and Mormon Church.

While many in the same-sex marriage groups applauded this, there was almost immediately a voice that said it was not enough.

”“LGBT residents say the law is a positive step, but they worry it still allows discrimination because religious organizations and their affiliates – such as schools and hospitals – are exempt.” [8]

The bottom line is this isn’t about same-sex marriage. It’s about breaking down my Religious Freedom an ability to (in a spirit of love) share God’s truth.

I don’t expect people to believe or agree with what I’m saying here…but I do expect the freedom to say it.

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