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Friday, April 11, 2014

A Flawed Attempt To Be Fair

I like Carl Trueman from Westminster Theological Seminary. I like him because he has a certain penchant for independent thinking which is often missing in many of my fellow Conservative Christians. And so when he weighed in on the current skirmish between the Conservative Christian community and those supporting gay rights and equality, it was time to read what he had to say.

In the current conflict, Conservative Christians have felt attacked. For not only has there been a successful lawsuit filed against a Christian businessperson for refusing to provide photography services for a same-sex wedding, a law "protecting" Christian businesspeople from such litigation was vetoed in Arizona and now a CEO from Mozilla was pressured into resigning because he contributed money to the passage of California's Proposition 8, a law that would ban same-sex marriages in that state.

And while many Conservative Christian bloggers have already spent an inordinate amount of time lamenting over the current direction of our culture with regard to gay rights, the already here "gay-mafia" "persecution" of Conservative Christians, and the approaching criminalization of the Christian faith for its opposition to the gay and other progressive agenda, Trueman made an attempt, though inadequate, at fairness. For he writes in a Reformation 21 blogpost about the Brendan Eich incident that what served the Conservative Christian interest with regard to World Vision, hurt the same in Mozilla. And thus what Trueman is saying invokes what Jesus said to Peter when he was defending Him in the garden about living by the sword. 

So Trueman's point is one about consistency. If we can use economic pressure on World Vision to change their policies toward gays, then we can't complain when gay advocates and sympathizers turn the tables on us such as what happened at Mozilla. Of course some details are missing here. In the effort to protest World Vision's inclusion of same-sex married couples as employees, approximately 10,000 child sponsorships were withdrawn (click here) as a protest. Here, we might ask who paid the real price for the changing of the policy?

But Trueman's attempt to be consistent and fair only goes so far. For example, when he predicts further hardships for Christians over gay issues, such as what Eich experienced, he didn't mention fairness when he could have. After all, under Christian influence, homosexuality has been criminalized, been grounds for losing one's job, and marriage between gays has been highly resisted by the Christian community. When we consider the history of how the Conservative Christian community has treated homosexuals, should we regard it as fair should the gay community try to ban Conservative Christians from being married or from having certain jobs, or should they try to criminalize the Conservative Christian faith? Nobody I know would feels that way but such is the logic that Trueman uses when he tells Conservative Christians that because Christians used economic pressure to change World Vision's allowance for same-sex married couples, then it is only fair that gay advocates or sympathizers can exercise similar kinds of pressure as what happened between Eich and Mozilla.

This brings us to the basic problem my fellow Conservative Christians have with regard to how respond to society's acceptance of homosexuality. Allowing Conservative Christians and gays to treat each other in same way does not make such treatment by either side fair. And perhaps, the Conservative Christian treatment of homosexuals has contributed to society's acceptance of homosexuality because we have equated opposing homosexuality with legislation that prevents gays from being treated as equals in society. So it is easy for nonConservative Christians to accept homosexuality because to oppose it has come to mean relegating homosexuals to a second class status.

We might also ask ourselves whether our society's drift from Christianity and its values might have to do with how Conservative Christians handled society when Christianity was society's dominant influence. Did we attempt to rule over those who were different? Did we assume a privileged status that would allow us to dictate laws and societal values? 

The above questions are important considering that we have entered a post-modern period and one of the main concerns of post modernism is that of combatting empire and domination. Post-modernists are all too familiar with exclusive claims to knowing absolute truths being followed by feeling entitled to rule over others, and that rulership is, of course, always for the benefit of those who would be submitting.

What is really needed by the world in order for it to see the sinfulness of homosexuality is for the Church to distinguish between opposing homosexuality and trying to rule over homosexuals so as to control them and deny them equality in society. For as long as the Church equates opposing homosexuality with legislation that denies homosexuals equality, most fair-minded people will defend equality for homosexuals and thus will reject what the Church teaches about sexuality.

We should note that this blog has had to address this issue more times than I really care to. And the driving force for the frequency in covering this issue is the number writings by Conservative Christians who lament the current circumstances regarding the status homosexuals in society and the Church's loss of influence in the same.

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