There are a number of thoughtful responses to the controversy over whether the state should coerce Christians (and other people of faith) to participate in the celebrate of a gay “marriage.”
But I want to draw your attention in particular to two important articles by Joe Carter.
In the first article, “Is Sexual Orientation Analogous to Race?” Carter formalizes the argument being made:
Major Premise: A sexual orientation is analogous to the category of race.
Minor Premise: Race is a category protected by anti-discrimination laws.
Conclusion: Therefore, sexual orientation should have the same civil-rights protections as those afforded to race.
Carter first gives a legal primer on what constitutes a justification for anti-discrimination laws, and then examines whether the major premise (sexual orientation is analogous to race) is true. The entire piece is informative and carefully reasoned.
Here is what he concludes:
We must, therefore, challenge our fellow believers who are promoting hate by claiming that discrimination based on sexual behavior is similar to racial bigotry and Jim Crow-style segregation laws. These types of claims that sexual orientation is analogous to race are unbiblical, racially insensitive, and morally repugnant. We must correct such misperceptions in a spirit of gentleness and truth. But we must also do so forcefully and make it clear that we cannot be followers of Christ and promoters of evil.
In his second article, “Since Jesus Ate With Sinners, Do I Have to Eat at the Strip Club’s Buffet?“ Carter starts with the common argument that
Since Jesus [had dinner with/partied with/hung out with] sinners in the places where they congregated, we should do so too.
But then he shows why this is biblically and logically inadequate. He then helps us think through the issue, adding several qualifiers to make the principle more biblical. Finally he ends up with the following:
Since Jesus [had dinner with/partied with/hung out with] sinners in the places where they congregated, we should do so too when: (1) they are not engaging in sin, (2) we do so for the purpose of calling them to repentance, (3) when our presence does not condone sin or the mocking of God, and/or (4) when the sinners are not our fellow believers.
He then pleads with fellow believers:
Please stop arguing that Christians should be forced to violate their conscience unless you are willing to be consistent in its application. On this issue, what our culture accepts cannot be used as the standard. Fifty years ago, racism was tolerated while sexual sins were publicly denounced. Today, the situation is reversed. Many Christians (surprisingly, even some Anabaptists) are now willing to argue (or at least imply) that the state should be able to force Christians to serve at celebrations of sexual sin. Yet, these same people will likely balk at claiming that we should be forced to serve celebrations of racial sin.
If, like the Pharisees, you want to bind the conscience of all believers to a standard that is difficult, if not impossible, to support by Scripture, the least you can do is to argue for its broad application. Tell us that the white baker is not only obligated to serve a same-sex wedding but that the African-American florist is obligated to bake a cake for the Aryan Nation’s national convention.
If you want us to follow your legalistic argument, then at least have the courage to follow it to all its logical implications.