March 28, 2023

A Florist, a Baker, a Website Maker

By Stephen Tuttle | March 5, 2022

The United States Census Bureau breaks down religious beliefs into the broad categories of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, unaffiliated, and atheist/agnostic.

Although more people now declare themselves to be unaffiliated with a specific denomination, far more Americans—some 230 million—identify as Christians than any other religious belief. And the US Center for the Study of Global Christianity lists more than 200 separate and distinct Christian denominations alone in the United States.

All of this comes to mind as yet another Christian has generated attention for refusing service to same sex couples based on “closely held religious beliefs.” In this case, it’s a Colorado-based web designer who does not want to be compelled to create a wedding website for same sex couples because she prefers to be able to promote her religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

This seems to be a peculiarity of a particular kind of Christian belief system in which opposition to any non-traditional human sexuality is the single most important tenet. So far, we’ve had a florist, a baker, and a website maker argue all the way to the Supreme Court that their First Amendment rights of both free speech and freedom of religion were being violated by state and federal laws that define their refusal to provide services to same sex couples as discriminatory.

It’s an interesting position since Christianity, like every other major religion, includes a fairly long list of prohibitions. Same-sex sexual activity doesn’t even make the Christians' top 10 list of proscribed behavior, so it’s peculiar so many seem to focus on that singular issue.

It’s true enough same-sex activity is mentioned more than once, and not favorably, in the Bible. The Old Testament is especially harsh. Chapter 20 of Leviticus is a laundry list of sins punishable by death, not just same-sex behavior. All of Leviticus is full of various proscriptions and prohibitions that might have made sense at the time but do not now. (Women fare especially poorly in the Old Testament.)

But for some reason, this particular ilk of Christians has decided to pluck out a few verses they believe condemn homosexuality, and they will not serve those “sinners.”

In fact, there isn’t even complete agreement on what the Bible says about homosexuality. There are more than 100 Bible translations in use, every one of them slightly different from the others. It turns out the “literal word of God” is open to quite a bit of interpretation. Those translations that have somehow found “homosexual” in the text have clearly included their own bias since that word did not even exist until the 19th century.

It sets up these business owners for some fairly hypocritical transactions.

Assume a man enters the web designer’s site requesting a design for his upcoming wedding. The designer knows, for a fact, the man is a boastful adulterer, someone who does not keep the sabbath holy, who regularly bears false witness, regularly takes the Lord’s name in vain, and does not honor both his father and his mother. He has broken or is currently breaking half the Ten Commandments. He’d like a website announcing his fourth marriage, to a woman.

At the same time, a woman enters the designer’s site requesting service. She has been an exemplary human being in every way, honorable and virtuous and tirelessly giving of herself to admirable and important causes. She is getting married for the first time, but to another woman.

The commandment breaker gets service and the candidate for sainthood does not.

Tellingly, Jesus Christ takes no position on the issue at all. So, the homophobic Christians cannot say he is on their side. If he ever spoke of it, it did not get recorded or reported. He does tell people to not cast stones unless they are sin free themselves, and to not judge unless you want to be judged yourself; both admonitions are apparently easier to ignore than Old Testament prejudice.

It would seem the closely held religious beliefs of some Christians conflict with the closely held beliefs of the very person on whom their religion is based.


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