Beliefs Culture Ethics Politics

Why North Carolina’s unprecedented exemption is wrong for America (COMMENTARY)

Couples kiss after they participated in the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Jersey City, N.J., officiated by Mayor Steve Fulop at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at City Hall. Photo by Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal - courtesy The Star-Ledger
Couples kiss after they participated in the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Jersey City officiated by Mayor Steve Fulop at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at City Hall. Photo by Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal - courtesy The Star-Ledger

Couples kiss after they participated in the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Jersey City, N.J., officiated by Mayor Steve Fulop at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at City Hall. Photo by Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal – courtesy The Star-Ledger

(RNS) This week, North Carolina’s legislature overrode its Republican governor’s veto to allow magistrates and clerks to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

This unprecedented move — never before have state employees been allowed to simply stop doing their jobs — comes at a time of profound debate regarding same-sex marriage. It is exactly the wrong move.

To be sure, same-sex marriage is a contentious moral and political issue. National support for marriage equality is now at 63 percent, but that means 37 percent still have doubts. And while some of that 37 percent may be bigoted or homophobic, a significant portion has sincere religious objections. As same-sex marriage may soon be the law of the land, why not accommodate those sincere believers wherever possible, so that they can enjoy their right to religious liberty?

There are two important reasons why.

First no constitutional right exists in a vacuum. Rather, rights exist in balance with other rights and other interests.

Sometimes, those interests may be easy to set aside. In the 1990s, when a group of Native Americans were held to have violated drug laws because they used peyote in a sacramental ritual, Congress nearly unanimously passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect them. In this case, the competing interest was trivial (anti-drug laws were not meant to target religious ritual), no one else was harmed, and Congress took action.

Other times, however, the competing interests are profound. In the 1960s, many business owners sincerely believed that whites and blacks should not marry one another, mix with one another, or even sit with one another in restaurants. Like today, some of these people were simply racist. Some, however, had sincere religious objections, and plenty of unambiguous Scripture to back them up.

What should courts and legislatures have done? Should they have accommodated those religious objections, passing civil rights laws but exempting those with religious beliefs?

Imagine what that would have looked like: separate lunch counters, segregated schools, and all-white neighborhoods. The exemption would have eaten the civil right itself. “Separate but equal” would have endured.

Flash forward to today. Citing religious freedom, laws have been passed that allow private businesses to turn away gay customers, state-licensed adoption agencies to turn away gay families, and now state employees to turn away gay people who seek to legally marry. Is this real equality? Or is it something less than equality, in which case the exemption has overwhelmed the civil right itself?

Some would say that LGBT people can simply find another magistrate to marry them; indeed, the North Carolina law requires that one be made available. This does mitigate some of the harm.

But there might be other restaurants down the street, too. Does that make it okay for one to say, “no blacks allowed”?

Of course not. Even when alternative remedies are available, the public refusal violates the right to equal protection under the laws, as interpreted by the Civil Rights Act.

And while African-Americans and LGBT people have very different histories and cultural positions, the offense caused by “no gays allowed” is basically the same.

But what about that magistrate, forced to perform a marriage he or she finds religiously forbidden? Doesn’t she have rights too?

Yes — and this brings me to my second main point. In a democracy, civil marriage is not a religious issue.

To be clear, no one is saying religious institutions should have to accept, host, or bless gay unions, or any other marriage they may find objectionable.

For example, the synagogue I grew up in refused to perform interfaith weddings. Does that violate the civil rights of the couple wishing to be married? Well, it does affect them, but the couple’s right to get married wherever they want is trumped by the synagogue members’ rights to freely exercise their religion.

What goes on among religious people, and in religious spaces, is constitutionally as well as theologically sacred.

But the courthouse is not a religious space, and the magistrate is not acting in a religious capacity. She is doing her job, which she took an oath to do.

In fact, by obeying the law, she is following Jesus’ commandment to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.”

Jay Michaelson is a columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the 2013 report “Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights.” Photo courtesy of Jay Michaelson

Jay Michaelson is a columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the 2013 report “Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights.” Photo courtesy of Jay Michaelson

Same-sex marriage is only one of many marriages that some clerks may find objectionable. Suppose two divorced people marry one another. Some Catholics may believe that to be against God’s law. But a Catholic magistrate is not a Catholic priest. He’s not performing the sacrament of marriage. He’s acting under secular, state law.

Or suppose a 17-year-old girl marries a 60-year-old man. Some may find that religiously or morally problematic, but the state of North Carolina allows it.

Or suppose a black man marries a white woman — illegal in North Carolina until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional. Was that ruling incorrect? Should marriage clerks with sincere religious objections have been able to opt out?

This is why North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, vetoed the bill. Not because he endorses same-sex marriage — he doesn’t. But because confusing civil and religious marriage undermines the rule of law.

Here’s what a believing magistrate in North Carolina should do when that gay couple approaches her window. She should understand that she is not wedding two people before God, but validating their legal marriage under the laws of the United States. She should feel blessed to be able to do so. And she should thank God that in our country, the two are not confused with one another.

(Jay Michaelson is a columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the 2013 report “Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights.”)


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  • I was surprised that Republican Governor Pat McCrory actually would not sign the legislation. So it is nice to see that the State Senate and State Representatives pushed him out of the way, and completed their legislation. This is the will of the people of North Carolina, and it is high time the States begin to take back control of their states.

  • Probably because unlike yourself, Gov. McCrory knows civil liberties does not merely extend to whiny Christian fundamentalists. The author is entirely correct, this is segregation by government employees.

    It is merely creating such frivolous carve outs to the rights of citizens by government employees. Government employees who by their position represent the laws of the land and have a duty as part of their job to enforce them. Such refusal is an attack on the public. If you cannot perform the position requiring enforcement of the laws, then one has no business in such positions.

    The public does not have to be harmed by the individual prejudices of government employees. You know that the provision for clerks/magistrates to be available will not be enforced, nor can be in some areas. It amounts to denying entire populations the ability to get married under the law.

    Anyone who thinks this law has anything to do with religious freedom is a lying sack of crap.

  • Last time I checked, NC just tossed out a boatload of Democrats because they were ramming liberal garbage down the people’s throats. So McCrory should have read the pulse of the people before vetoing against the will of the people. He will be a one term governor.

  • Last time I checked the 14th Amendment applied to all citizens regardless of which party is in power. “Might makes right” is not a principle of law or democratic government.

    Why do you hate freedom so much?

    Btw I hope you realize how really stupid the anti-gay crowd sounds when they use the expression, “rammed down our throats”. It makes you guys look like you have some kind of oral fixation or phobia.

  • If I’m a fireman working for the city, I don’t get to decide whose fires I put out because of whatever religious beliefs I might have about the owners. If I work for the DMV, I don’t get to decide whose license I issue based on my religious beliefs about who should drive, and so on. I don’t see why it’s so hard for these people to understand that when you work for the government, you are acting as a government representative and you must act accordingly. It’s the same as if you are a Hindu and believe it’s a sacrilege for people to eat beef, if you don’t want to serve people cooked beef, you can’t expect to get a job working for McDonald’s. If some court official doesn’t want to marry gay couples, then it’s time for them to find another job. And it’s time to remove ignorant bigots like these from office in the next election.

  • Larry: By the hurling of the invective, we have officially reached the point where discussion has gotten silly.

    Me: That point is usually reached with your first comment.

    We would like to introduce Exhiibit A. Any objections?

  • Larry,

    “Might makes right” to the LGBT mobs.

    Once a so-called down-trodden minority, now a majority force that rules all. How ironic that the heavy rainbow boot is on the other feet.

  • Most certainly NOT the will of the people. Opinion polls were firmly against this discrimination. Lawmakers are out of touch with reality.

  • @Joseph,

    Fair enough. But a Christian gets to make the choice of selling out Jesus for a comfortable popularity in a decidedly anti-Christian society, or holding to the truth that same gender marriage is utterly antithetical to Christian life. This isn’t about some abominable redefinition of marriage, this is about promoting homosexuality to homosexuals. No matter who has to be crushed to garner that end result. No pun intended.

    What’s exciting about all of this, that even in the modern world of the 21st century, old fashioned paganism is still as embraced as if it were the Molech age. But of course called “social justice.”

    Lipstick, makeup, and a dress on a pig, doesn’t hide what’s underneath.

    Pun intended.

  • Putting out a fire in anyone’house is not an immoral act, nor is issuing a driver’s license. Officiating a union forbidden by scripture is. See the difference?

  • That is some cute tone trolling Shawnie.

    Are you objecting to being called whiny or a lying sack of crap? Both of which are probably appropriate if you think the law had anything to do with religious freedom. If you don’t like harsh language coming from me, maybe you should respond to someone else.

  • Government employees engaging in discriminatory acts are immoral acts. They are malicious uncivil actions done to demean and attack those on the receiving end. They are also violations of the purpose of such positions. If you cannot enforce the civil laws as written, you have no duty working as part of the civil government system.

    There is nothing moral about your position. Saying something is allegedly in scripture is not the same as saying something is right or wrong.

    If you think scripture prevents your from doing the public taxpayer funded job you have taken, GTHO of that office. You have no business working there. You certainly do not deserve the protection of legislature.

  • BB, if you can’t handle enforcing the civil laws, don’t work in the public sector. You are not needed there. You don’t understand things like duty to the entire public or civil liberties. All you will do is cost your local government unnecessary money paying out settlements from the lawsuits that will come from your nonsense.

  • Larry,

    Many good people (and yes there are some left in society) are trying to make sure Christians are protected from people like you.

    Your support for sodomy and those that desire to make it literally their defining characteristic, and to force it on everyone is truly diseased. This pro-religious laws are to keep society sane and safe. Most secularists that have a semblance of morality left in them know that Christians are such good people for society, that these religious laws are their attempt to keep the drooling, frenzied sexually depraved from gaining to much power over other people’s lives and families.

    This will only increase as the homosexuals, bi-sexual and trans-whatever’s . . truly believe that they have the license to control society.

  • Larry,

    You must not understand my posts here. Which of course is to be expected. I would “marry” same gender ADULT people if my SECULAR paycheck said to do so. No different than Paul selling tents to licentious Roman pagans. “Business is business” and of course the render to Casers thing.

    This is about protecting Christians NOT about hoping you’ll make the right choice or that your fellow (neo) sodomites have changed in any way in a few thousand years.

    Let the dead bury the day.

    A good perspective to keep oneself from being polluted from the world.

    In real life I have advocated that Churches and Christians simply shake the dust off their shows as advised by Jesus to do. The real threat is these drooling fanatics coming into The Church preaching gay pride. People like you will never protect Christians from these horrid activists and maybe that isn’t your job anyway. This is simply about truth and honesty. Something your gay parade does not march to.

  • Shawnie5,

    Christians are engaged in many secular transactions with miscreants and the debased. Just give these homosexuals their paperwork and let them go off to the lives the way “the world” has approved of it. This has nothing at all to do with the biblical God and Christian truth.

    Let the dead marry the dead.

    C’mon now.

  • Morality comes from scripture?

    Morality comes from our social nature, and does not require supernatural support. Recommended: “Being Good” by Simon Blackburn, or “Morality” by Bernard Williams.

    best wishes

  • Scripture and the Imago Dei was about all we had to get us past slavery, infanticide, oppression of women, and the general idea universal in pre-christian culture that the outsiders did not have the same inherent human rights as the insiders. Those were universal default settings of natural humanity, and lord knows nobody else could come up with a “rational” way around them.

    I am continually amused by this notion of inborn morality and empathy. If it were true, pre-christian history would look VERY different from what it actually was.

  • No doubt many will see it that way. But that doesn’t mean the others aren’t deserving so some kind of protection.

    I think a better way to handle it that would protect everyone’s rights here would be for NC to adopt some form of common-law marriage like Texas and Colorado have. Everybody can do it themselves, and simply file an affidavit declaring themselves married if they care to make it official. No one needs to officiate, no muss no fuss.

  • First, thanks for admitting that we were downtrodden, and that you and your kind positively enjoyed putting a boot to our necks. You are rarely so candid..

    But really, how have we graduated from a minority to a majority force? How do “we” rule “you all.” How do we do that, and force you to our will? how did we get 65% of the populace to get over your prejudices? Rainbow pumps wouldn’t have done the trick. And neither does your theory of a morally corrupt culture. That’s just the story you tell yourself.

    Here’s what’s really going on. The tide is turning, and the kind of despite and hate you regularly exhibit here, no longer flies with decent, kind, compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent, and moral people, whether religious or not.

    It still appeals to those of your mind set: despisers, hard of heart, moralizing busybodies, people who hate and/or grift on hate for a living, homosexual hating homosexuals, liars, Pharisees and hypocrites.

    But with good people? No. Not…

  • The issue is, what is true. If your religion really is true, then that is the worst possible news for the rest of us because we will be tortured in the fires of hell forever. If your religion is not true then we get a different perspective.

    Cleopatra and Helen of Troy are both in hell, based on your logic. Do you really think they deserve this infinite punishment? Aside from them, billions of ordinary dumb people will burn for all eternity. What a nightmare, maybe it would be good to wake up and see it is not actually true.

  • Actually, I personally beliehe that, as the Bible says, “the soul that sins shall die,” and that hell and everything in it will be ultimately annihilated. Which is what atheists think is the ultimate end snyway, so what’s your problem?

  • No bb, I just don’t take a word you say seriously. Ever. You hate civil liberties and democratic principles. I get that.

    If you actually had principles, you would be urging good Christian folk to resign their posts in protest. Not urging them to do a [email protected]$$ed job.

    You want sympathy? Eff you. You don’t deserve it. I don’t have to turn the other cheek. You act like a hateful troll, you get treated as such.

  • Then why do you support such immoral positions, as do various churches? Because your position is apologetic fiction.

    Anyone who can claim maliciously harming others is moral, will never be in a position to tell anyone what is right or wrong. You support mistreating others in service of your faith. Anything you have to say about morality or the idea you get it from Scripture is worthless nonsense.

  • Hi

    Is your position consistent with traditonal Christian teaching about the state of the lost after death? I had understood that the Catholic Church and Evangelicals agree that unrepentant sinnners go to hell.

    Am I wrong about this?

  • Separate but equal. Hmm where have we heard that one before?

    Who says anti-gay bigots have nothing in common with racists?

    Fundamentalist Christians deserve no special protection from doing their job as public employees because they are too deranged by their bigotry. You can’t discharge the duties of your government position, quit. Nobody has to suffer for your faith.

  • Who said anything about “separate but equal?” Everyone would have the opportunity to get married just as well as everyone else under a common-law model.

  • Oh, I believe unrepentant sinners go to some kind of hell state, too. I just don’t think it is an eternal state.

    I am not sure but I think the official Catholic belief is an eternal hell. But while most evangelicals probably believe in an eternal hell there is no “official” evangelical position on this, as there is no official evangelical “church.” It is an open question with scriptural support on both sides. If you’re interested, check out Preston Sprinkle at “Theology in the Raw” on Patheos. He has several great articles discussing the merits of both sides.

  • Greg1,

    First of all, Happy Saturday, my Friday!

    But more stupendously, God, through his kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44), will soon make ALL things right for all meek humans on earth (Matthew 5:5–no matter where we live) through the upcoming millennial rule of his son, Christ Jesus, King of his government (Isaiah 11:1-9).

    Homosexuality and same-sex marriage will no longer even be an issue (Revelation 21:3,4), along with all the “other” issues and problems we now face! Can you imagine that? ? I can hardly wait!!

  • LGBT mobs? LOL! They make up 1.6% of the American population. You should probably say “Americans who support equal rights for all American citizens.” Now that’s a mob I will support.

  • If you want to get technical, there is no bibilcal law that says anything about repercussions for officiating at a marriage of any sort. So those who officiate weddings are not breaking any of the law or the prophets.

  • But Larry,

    I am not a wimp. Either in words or deeds. YOU are not going to bully and bash Christians without getting a mirror held up to your mouth, soul and actions. I like that you display unhinged and unrelenting hatefulness. This shows that the powers that moved the ancient Sodomites and Romans are motivating your side of the populace. And as is always the case in history, the evil you represent, or rather represents you, is once again gaining power and popularity.

    I notice with absolute satisfaction, that it is not enough that a Christian employee “just do their job.” No, no, they must become you and yours.

    How very telling.

    It’s not that often that I can get the mask your side wears to fall off so easily.


  • Larry,

    FINALLY, your unhinged hatred of Christians has “come out.”

    At least seeing you drop your sheep’s clothing makes for a bit of comedy in such intense times as these.

    Plain and simple:

    Anyone that can equate racism to Christian marriage is clearly seen as an anti-Christ.

    Hi Larry.

  • The thing that most disturbs me about these discussions is the suggestion that all Christians agree on this question. As with many moral questions men and women of faith just don’t agree. This issue was once settled teaching, but all that has been gradually changing for more than 60 years. We need to face the fact that it is no longer settled teaching. True, denominations may have have taken sides, but among the Christians in each denomination there is no longer a common understanding. Claiming all “true” Christians support one side or the other is just silly… because it is so obviously not true.

  • Tom, like it or not Jesus told us not to be deceived by phonies, and that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” belongs to the kingdom of heaven but only those who do the will of the Father. Therefore, it is necessary to figure out whether acceptance and condonation of same-sex relationships are within the will of the Father. So lay out a biblical/historical case for why we should accept same-sex relationships and let’s dissect it and see if it holds water.

    It is amazing how so many people that fly under the Christian flag are willing to accept what may be sin, for all they know, and demand that others who see it as sin accept it as well (in itself a serious scriptural no-no), without even checking it out from every angle.

  • So where is that rigorous debate you were claiming? Oh right that was all bullcrap. There is only one interpretation that must be taken and all other sects are not really Christian to you if they differ from it. Yet you would gladly take credit for the works of those sects and members, should they accomplish anything of merit.

    Tom was being far more polite to fundamentalist Christians than necessary. He was still trying to engage his fellow Christians in reasonable discussion. Too bad “reasonable” is not in the Fundamentalist vocabulary.

  • Where is the debate? Give me something substantive to respond to and we’ll have some. Although polite, Tom didn’t do that and neither have you.

  • Larry to fall back on the 14th Amendment is bizarre. How come it took so long for everyone to finally see that this Amendment was actually addressing gay marriage, and not the obvious, that humans of every race having the right to enjoy the existing laws on the books? You are as silly as they come. But of course when there is emotion involved, we all become drunk with interpretive skills.

  • Fran, I hope you are enjoying the Lord’s Day, as well (Acts 20:7, 1Cor 16:1-2, Rev 1:10). I believe you are correct that our Lord Jesus, will indeed make all things new. But it will be very different than what you imagine it to be, but that is okay, as it will be even better. Never underestimate God, who is Father Son, and Holy Spirit. You are welcome to understand God any way you choose, but our Lord Jesus is not Michael the Archangel, as the JW’s believe. The angels were created (Col 1:16, Rom 8:38-38), but Jesus was begotten (Heb 1:5), and in the perfect image of the Father (Heb 1:3). If the Emphatic Diaglot inserts the article “a” before the word “God” (“and a god was the word” John 1:1), then I would have grave reservations about a system of belief is that blatantly violates the First Commandment from the outset (Ex 20:1-3). Enjoy the Lord’s Day.

  • Nobody would ever have imagined there would ever be such a thing. It is implicit in Sacred Scripture. Christians are not allowed to participate in other people’s sins (1Tim5:22). We are to repent from our sins, (turn away), accept forgiveness, and sin no more (John 8:11). That is how we obtain eternal ecstasy in heaven (1Cor 2:9), otherwise, we will throw ourselves into eternal hell (Mark 9:43).

  • Fran, I was away for the weekend, and finally got to your response. I’m surprised Ms. Grossman allowed you to make so many posts; usually she emails people to tell them to stop. Anyway, your post is too long to respond to, but if you can understand that Jesus, is God, then all falls into place. But your premise of the Catholic understanding of the Trinity is way off base. God is the Father; there would be no Jesus, if there was no Father, nor would there be a Holy Spirit if there was no Father, but because the Father IS, then Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are divine beings, who share the divine nature. Notice how both Jesus and the Holy Spirit “proceed” from the Father (Jn 8:42 & Jn 15:26). But the Holy Spirit is not merely the Spirit of the Father (Matt 10:20), He also proceeds from, and is the Spirit of the Son (Gal 4:6, Acts 16:7, Rom 8:9, Phil 1:19). The Holy Spirit is also a Person (Paraclete = Helper, Representative, Advocate), and personal attributes are ascribed to him).

  • Ran out of room: …teaching truth (Jn 14:16), giving testimony for Christ (Jn 15:16), having the knowledge of the mysteries (1Cor 2:10), forecasting future events (Jn 16:13, Acts 21:11), and installing bishops (Act 20:28). Also notice how Peter says that to lie to the Holy Spirit is lying to God (Act 5:3). I said above that Jesus was “begotten” but the angels were only created; that is why Jesus is not Michael the Archangel: Scripture says, “…to which of the Angels has he ever said: “You are my Son; today have I begotten you, Or again: “I will be a Father to him, and he shall be a Son to me?” (Heb 1:5). So Jesus is the Son of God, begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit receives His knowledge from the begotten Son: “When the Spirit of truth comes … he will not speak on his own authority, but … he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15). John 1:18 says that “No one ever saw God; [but] the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father…” The Love…

  • Well, to be absolutely fair…according to the Babylonian Talmud Jews of the early Christian era could imagine same-sex marriage, they just had a hard time imagining the post-Flood Gentile nations signing off on it:

    “These are the thirty commandments which the children of Noah accepted upon themselves, but they only keep three (of them) – one, that they do not write a marriage contract for males…”

    –Babylonian Talmud Hullin 92a-b

  • Tom,

    Here’s an historic interchange between Pliny (the Younger) and Tacitus about “Christians” that do not return to the world and its ways:

    . . . none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do.”

    Pliny was inquiring about what to do with “Christians” and experienced that that behavior was also a determining factor of “real Christians” in ancient Rome. Nothing has ever changed. You can tell a “real” Christian from a phony by how much they imbibe the world and its ways. Liberalism, progressive views and relativistic secularism is plainly more like the world than it is anything established in the New Testament. Now, since ancient Roman persecutors of Christians knew the difference between the real ones and the phonies, it is just as easy today if honesty is still of any worth to people today.

    Here’s the link I referenced:

  • Larry,
    There is no such thing as same gender marriage ANYWHERE in the New Testament NOR anywhere else in the entire Bible.

    What debate is needed? Debating something that doesn’t exist is idiocy.

    Let’s see gay theology:

    David and Jonathan were lovers? How absurd when both men had children and were Israelites as well. That Jonathan recognized David’s anointing doesn’t need to be sodomized. David showed utter obeisance to Saul’s anointing. That didn’t make their relationship pederastic.

    Ruth and Naomi were lesbian lovers? That too is utterly debased and sickening “theology.” Naomi and Ruth were in laws. How diseased a mind to make them homosexuals. Ruth married a man.

    Jesus “blessing” a gay relationship of the Roman commander and his “pais” (youth) servant? Once again, a debased and perverted perspective. Pedophilia being “blessed” by Jesus? That is utterly satanic.

    There is nothing to support LGBT anything from the New Testament. That reality is…

  • And yet a good deal of Christianity doesn’t accept the idea of opposing gay marriage or ostracizing gays from their presence. Take it up with them. Better yet, take it up with the various ordained ministers and pastors who perform gay marriags. They are as Christian as you are. Whether you chose to acknowledge that or not. 🙂

  • Larry, it accomplishes nothing to simply say “there is disagreement on the issue.’ Big Duh, there is. What we need here is for someone to put their money where their mouth is and explain WHY they think the scriptures can allow same-sex marriage, in a context like this one where their position can be examined, critiqued and countered. Obviously that isn’t going to be you, because you are just meaninglessly barking from the sidelines and neither know nor care about the particulars of the question. But I keep hoping that one of these days someone will show up around here who has the wherewithal to step up to the plate

  • The First Commandment obviously violates the first commandment as you have interpreted it.

    Thou shalt have no other gods BEFORE ME. An admission that there are other gods.

  • @Shawnie–

    Scriptural support on BOTH sides? Do you mean, one more time, the god who created everything is being entirely ambiguous about eternal verities? and here I thought the word o’ god is always clear, just like you claim ti is always clear regarding the clobber passages.

  • Somethings are clear, others not so clear. What do you think the young Jesus spent days discussing with the teachers in the Temple while his parents searched for Him? Why do you think the gospel says that Jesus “opened the scriptures” to His disciples? Why do you think He upbraided Nicodemus for “being a teacher of Israel, but not understanding these things?”

    Uncovering the treasures of scripture sometimes requires digging.

  • It accomplishes less to say, “you disagree with me, I don’t acknowledge your existence”. But that is how you treat Christians who do not share your same bigotries.

    On one hand you bring up a good point of the alacrity of non-fundie Christians. Why am I defending them if they won’t defend themselves? On the other hand, you have no problem taking credit for the works of those Christians whose existence you would normally deny in every other context. So the situation demands that I reference them.

    But the most important thing to realize above all is that a discussion of scripture HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH CIVIL LAWS IN THIS ARTICLE.

  • “It accomplishes less to say, “you disagree with me, I don’t acknowledge your existence”. But that is how you treat Christians who do not share your same bigotries.”

    Not for the most part. I think most Christians who are on board with accepting same-sex marriage in the church are doing so because they simply are not fully aware of what they Bible says about it, and they have believed the pro-affirmation arguments without really checking it out too closely. Now, there are others who know the fatal flaws of the case and yet still keep presenting it as if the flaws are not there and calling for others to accept it anyway — and yes I have some serious doubts about “Christians” like that, because every one of them knows Jesus’ warning about how “it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”

  • “On the other hand, you have no problem taking credit for the works of those Christians whose existence you would normally deny in every other context.”

    When you come around sniping at me for “taking credit” for what other Christians do, I am usually referencing, in the broadest and most panoramic manner possible, the entire history of Christianity’s influence upon the west’s culture, values, and institutions, almost all of it accomplished long before anyone ever thought about such a thing as same-sex marriage in the church. And “taking credit” is rather a misnomer, because most of that influence was the work of far greater heroes of the faith than I. Yet, as Jesus said, there would always be phonies throughout the church age, growing like tares among the wheat, and that is no less true today.

  • “But the most important thing to realize above all is that a discussion of scripture HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH CIVIL LAWS IN THIS ARTICLE.”

    It has to do with religious freedom — with the sincerity of our beliefs and historical reality of the faith tradition from whence they come.

    But, if we allow for the sake of argument that a discussion of scripture has nothing to do with civil laws, then perhaps you would want to confine your comments to articles about civil laws and not intrude into discussions about intra-church controversy on this mattter, such as the recent article about evangelicals and same-sex marriage.

  • Indeed, Ben. People were worshiping and burning incense to Caesar, as well as statues, and other demonic spirits as if they were God.

  • “It has to do with religious freedom — with the sincerity of our beliefs and historical reality of the faith tradition from whence they come.”

    Its not about either. Free exercise of religion like every other form of freedom of expression is limited where you are doing it to cause deliberate and malicious harm to others.

    The 1st Amendment does not cover defamation, starting a riot, conspiracies to commit crimes, human sacrifice, or discriminatory conduct in public settings. The sincerity of your belief is a joke. Its a pretense to treat people like crap based on personal prejudices. You dishonor the very thought of religious freedom and instead want license for fundamentalist Christians to be above laws governing everyone else. Freedom for me and not for thee.

    So we can add civil laws to the list of things you will talk about, but don’t really know.

  • “The sincerity of your belief is a joke. Its a pretense to treat people like crap based on personal prejudices.”

    Again, kindly refrain from trying to tell us what we actually think. We can do that just fine ourselves, thanks.