Put an Egg in Their Shoe

In just a moment I would like to interact with a post by Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Merritt, which you can read here if you haven’t already. In one sense, I wish they hadn’t written that thing together, because I have some respect for Kirsten Powers. She has done some very fine against-the-tide work on things like international persecution of Christians, and on the Gosnell horrors. I don’t know as much about Merritt, but what I have seen seems to indicate someone who is being wafted along by the breezes emanating from the Zeitgeist Wind Farm, which is a bad metaphor because that’s not how wind farms work. To change metaphors, it is as though they happened to be at the same place on the road because she was walking into a great city while he was walking out of it. Anyhow, however they came to say it, what they said needs a response.

But before saying anything about their argument, I want to say something else about a necessary scriptural backdrop to all such discussions.

As conservative Christians, we are accustomed to discuss homosexual issues in the light of Romans 1. There Paul tells us that our gay pride parades are the result of refusing to honor God as God, and refusing to give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21). Nothing is plainer to exegetes — who are not selling out, or who don’t have a gun to their head — than the fact that an apostle of Jesus Christ taught us that for a man to burn with lust for another man was unnatural, and that for a woman to burn with lust for another woman was even more unnatural. But that is not the point I would like to make, although the point I need to make assumes this. We need to go on to see that this chapter teaches us something else quite important about our current controversies.

The wrath of God is described in this chapter (Rom. 1:18), and it is described as God giving people over to their desires (Rom. 1:24). The mercy of God is found in the restraints He places on us, and His wrath is revealed from heaven whenever He lets us run headlong, which is what is happening to us now. This wrath is described this same way again a couple verses later. God gave them up to dishonorable passions (Rom. 1:26). It is repeated a third time just a moment later. God gave them up to a debased mind (Rom. 1:28). When God lets go, that is His wrath. As Lewis says somewhere, Heaven is when we say to God “thy will be done.” Hell is when He says that to us.

So what consequences follow when He lets go? What does this wrath look like when it is visited on a culture?
The next point is often missed. This progression amounts to the wrath of God being revealed against us because we are being delivered up to the tender mercies of the wicked, which are cruel (Prov. 12:10). Notice Paul’s description of what these people are like outside the bedroom. Right after his observations on men burning in lust for men, and women for women, he gives us an additional character description.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful . . .” (Rom. 1:28-31).

Now who do you want to put in charge of the new civility? Who do you want as an arbiter of true sensitivity in speech? Who should run the training seminars for all the big corporations on what “hate” is? Who should set the boundaries for acceptable public discourse? Who should be the appointed gatekeepers on what constitutes tolerant speech? For any Christian who has read Romans 1 rightly, not these people.

They don’t know what tolerance is. They don’t know how to spell it. They hate the very idea of it. They have taken the biblical doctrine of tolerance and have filed it into a shiv, so that they might smite us all under the fifth rib, as Joab did to people. This should not be surprising to us. Someone who finds the anus of another the object of his desire is not someone that I would trust to determine whether or not this sentence is a hate crime. They are liars and filled with all malice. They are backbiters, overflowing with malignity. They are implacable.

So if you want to form a brigade of tolerance cops, that is bad enough, but then, when you want to staff the whole brigade with these people, the entire spectacle turns into how the right panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights would look if Bosch had just taken three hits of acid just before painting it. The way of peace they have not known (Rom. 3:17). There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:18). The only thing that their lawlessness can really do well is breed more lawlessness (Rom. 6:19). So I know! Let’s put them in charge of civility in public discourse.

This is the wrath of God upon us, and the wrath of God delivers us over to more than just our demented lusts. It delivers us over to the ministrations and judicial processes of those who refuse to tolerate any rebuke of their lusts, whether the rebuke is express or implied.

So then, on to the central argument presented by Powers and Merritt. They point out that there are more ways to be unbiblical in weddings than homosexuality, which is quite true, and they wonder why photographers don’t refuse to do weddings for people who are on their third unbiblical marriage. Two quick points, and then to the real issue. First, all such professionals should have the full right to refuse service to anyone, whether or not they are spiritually consistent in the exercise of that right. Second, the reason service is being refused in the cases of homosexual weddings is because the sin involved is flagrant and obvious, and results in something that is not marriage at all. It is same sex mirage, not same sex marriage. A photographer would have to hire a private detective to find out if the previous heterosexual marriage ended on biblical grounds. With the homosexual marriage, the perverse nature of the proposed arrangement has been brought to him, and is standing right on the other side of counter, as much as to say, “whatcha gonna do about it?” So this is an issue that evangelical photographers, bakers, etc. are not pushing. They are pushing back. Homosexuals are pressing this issue with bakers, photographers, and so forth because they are full of the malignity that Paul described for us earlier. They are the ones picking a fight, and I hope they get a real one.

But now let’s go to the heart of the principle that Powers and Merritt are advancing. They are arguing that if an activity is legal, and if someone has a privately-owned business that is open to the public, and a little bell that rings when you open the door, then that someone should be required to provide their professional services to any customer who walks in, so long as they are not required individually to “affirm” whatever they believe to be the sin in question. They can be required to make the sin look good, just so long as they don’t have to sign a paper saying that it is good.

Now to think this “protection” will last any time at all in our current climate is to be a black belt naif. The quaint idea is that liberty of conscience means that we don’t have to affirm that homosexuality is normal. Are we allowed to affirm the contrary? I am glad that Powers and Merritt want to leave us something, but this standard is already under assault, as we speak. So can I be a television broadcaster, or a public school teacher, or a newspaper columnist, or a weatherman, and I can post on my own Facebook page that homosexual behavior “is disgusting,” and I can do this without activists calling for my head and my job, in that order? The only thing to do here is express the wish that Powers and Merritt would get out more. This kind of “protection” is like hoping that we will be spared the worst ravages of the tsunami because the children have built us some sturdy sand castles on the beach.

So let’s see what this principle of theirs would look like if applied in other sectors. Does the proprietor of a business for the public have the right to decline service to someone because that someone’s behavior is offensive to them, although perfectly legal? Powers and Merritt say no, and urge us all to grow up. So . . . a web designer who wants to decline his services to a men-only golf club? A printer of business cards who did not want to serve Gosnell prior to his arrest? A graphic designer in Nevada who does not want to design any newspaper ads for the Moonlight Bunny Ranch?

Someone might say that these scenarios are not realistic, because nobody in those categories is (currently) demanding to be served. The Moonlight Bunny Ranch guy knows not to call the ad agencies that have that little fish on their web site. Right. But the issue is the principle. Suppose he did come into my little graphics shop, and I am being advised in the back room by Powers and Merritt. They are willing to show me the way Jesus would have done it, had He been a graphic designer. My customer thinks my first draft was okay, but he came back in because he wants me to “make her tits bigger.” That’s what draws most of their clientele, he explains. Wait, I say, because I have to do a quick consult on the back room — I fortunately happen to have a couple of experts back there. What, in the column they have written, would give me the right to go back out to my almost customer in order to tell him to put an egg in his shoe and beat it?

Read over their column again. Nothing they have argued would give me that right. And this means that their argument is not just inimical to religious liberty, but also to personal liberty generally. Not good at all.

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Thursday
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Thursday

Suppose he did come into my little graphics shop, and I am being advised in the back room by Powers and Merritt. They are willing to show me the way Jesus would have done it, had He been a graphic designer. The problem is that people like Powers and Merritt don’t really think gay sex is a sin.  The attitude behind all this seems to be something like, “Yes, technically gay sex is a sin. We can’t take it out without taking away from biblical authority and destroying everything that backs up our faith.  But it’s not like a sin sin, so don’t worry… Read more »

Thursday
Guest
Thursday

Why is gay sex (or at least relatively monogamous gay sex) such a special sin that we have to treat those committing it with kid gloves?

Johnny Simmons
Member

This post was the tits. I’d share it with my more Victorian friends but I’m afraid it would get on their tits and make our relationship go tits up.

Michael Smith
Guest

Been looking forward to your response since I read this yesterday.  Thanks for delivering with the thoughtfulness many of us have come to expect… :) One thing that struck me about Merritt & Powers’ post was how they dismissed out of hand Russell Moore’s distinction between “unbiblical non-marriages” and “unbiblical marriages” (my words, not Moore’s).  It appears the weight of the distinction between natural and unnatural affections, between unions that even unwittingly testify to God’s glory in creation vs those that distort His creation, has no bearing on their prescription. Which reminds me of your “Free Fall” post from last… Read more »

Brian
Guest
Brian

Should a PR firm owner be required to defend the Westboro Baptists?

chuckweinberg
Guest
chuckweinberg

Thanks Pastor Wilson. I read their article and left a comment that they will certainly not like. The church needs to wake up and start to take a stand.  Just because a criminal government legalizes same sex marriage doesn’t make it any more right than their counterfeiting currency at the rate of a TRILLION dollars per year while telling us it’s wrong for us to do the same.  The homosexual crowd would like to have everyone support their right so they can feel better about themselves as they refuse to fight the sin that so easily besets them. We all… Read more »

prayersofadoration
Member

They have taken the biblical doctrine of tolerance and have filed it into a shiv.

Best metaphor ever!

Ben Bowman
Guest

Thursday. I recommend reading “Is God anti-gay” by Sam Allberry. I just finished it and it is a great little book that I think answers that question and more. 

BJ
Guest
BJ

The hypocrisy of the secularists (and their religious allies) is stunning. One of the things that really gets me is that they know so well how to prey on Christian sentiments. Not one true Christian was to hate people or treat people badly or make anyone feel bad about themselves. They do not want to be judgmental or angry, generally speaking. But the secularists use this to silence us from speaking out against even the most egregious sin. “Don’t condemn abortion, you’ll hurt the mother’s feelings. Don’t refuse to take pictures of sin, you will hurt them sinners right in… Read more »

KJ
Guest
KJ

Joe Carter responded to Powers and Merritt another way. I’m glad to have your response as well, Pastor Wilson.

timothy
Guest
timothy

Why is gay sex (or at least relatively monogamous gay sex) such a special sin that we have to treat those committing it with kid gloves?   My take (and the better educated believers here, please jump in and correct me if I err) is that it is the outward manifestation of the homosexual’s relationship with God. Remember, there is a distinction between Sin (the thing) and sins (the manifestations of the thing).                                                                                                                                                   We are all born, by nature a slave to Sin–the manifestation of that thing is sins. God defeated Sin at Calvary when we trust Him,… Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

Please excuse the grammatical and spelling errirs above (:

Scott Diesing
Guest
Scott Diesing

The real law that needs to be passed is this: private business owners should be able to choose their own clients.   Period.  What Powers and Merritt are doing is attacking the easy target of any bill being considered in a 21st century democracy for being what every such bill is: inconsistent.  So what? 
 

carole
Guest
carole

I agree Scott. I think a business should have the right to refuse with no explanation.  The other particular problem is that the LGBT community pushed through the “Born this Way” argument without any evidence.  The constant comparison between homosexuals and the disabled or ethnic groups is just bogus. But many people were convinced of that before the studies showed it to be inaccurate.  Alcoholics are more convincingly “born that way” than the homosexuals. Last I checked you could still refuse service to a drunk.

John Rabe
Guest
John Rabe

And let’s be honest about it. This column was not written for the Daily Beast in order to engage Christians on this principle. It was written for the audience of the Daily Beast in order to be able to say, “We’re not like them.” 

Tim Etherington
Guest
Tim Etherington

Scott, while this is true and businesses do have that right, there are circumstances when they are not allowed to discriminate. For example, no business is allowed to discriminate based on race. That is a “protected class”. What the homosexual-rights lobby has done quite successfully so far is to get sexual preference made a protected class therefore they are not allowed to be discriminated against in increasing measure. There is an economic part of this equation. Homosexual couples are free to take their business elsewhere. I remember reading somewhere that homosexual couples are higher earners than the rest of the… Read more »

Moor
Guest
Moor

The main argument I’ve seen against “business owners choosing whom to serve” is that business owners are granted FDIC insurance, police and fire service, and other municipal “privileges” when they become business owners — and they are therefore beholden to uphold the standards of the system they’ve entered.                                                                                                        … Read more »

RFB
Guest
RFB

I’ll go with “have the right to refuse with no explanation” for any and all, for $500 Bob…
As the barkeep of this joint is wont to say, it is not no standard, but whose standard.

Michael Smith
Guest

@Thursday & @Timothy – I do think there’s something unique about homosexuality that explains why we almost intuitively treat it differently (for better or for worse:  either we’re *more sensitive* than we might be with other sin or we’re more harsh).  Unlike almost any other sin, homosexuality is treated as an issue of *identity*.  No one introduces themselves with “Hi I’m a Jim, I’m an adulterer”  or “Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m a liar.”  At least they don’t typically unless they are confessing…  But with homosexuality, you have a disposition clearly declared sinful by the Bible, but claimed as a… Read more »

Joseph Schoolland
Guest
Joseph Schoolland

Doug,
I agree that we should fight for our freedoms, but what do you think about a photographer applying Matthew 5:38-41 to this situation? Would it be a more powerful witness to tell the homosexuals that this is a mirage and not a marriage, but still serve them better than any non-Christian could?

Scott Diesing
Guest
Scott Diesing

Tim, I’m aware of the illegality of  racial discrimination in private business. I would like the law of the land to be this:  “Business owners can choose their own clients.”  That is a consistent law.   The law makers in Arizona are trying to protect business owners by allowing a specific loop hole.  That is an inconsistent law.  That is the only point Powers and Merritt are able to make.  And my point is they could make it about _every_ law a 21st century democracy is likely to make.  We don’t make consistent, principle based laws.  We’re too far gone… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think Thursday got it right in saying that for Kristin Powers and many others, homosexual conduct is not considered to be seriously sinful.  There is no single Christian voice on this matter:  the Episcopalian church in my neighborhood has a male priest married to a man, the parishioners have largely come to terms with it, and would vehemently reject the notion that their beloved priest is a monster of sin or that his marriage is illusory.  A bakery that refused to make a cake for their wedding would probably have been shunned by many local straight people who consider … Read more »

David Zuniga
Member

Michael, on this slippery, wet-glass slope — constructed in Europe 175 years ago, refined to fine art* in these united States over the past 50 years — entire *societies* identify with godlessness, and are shot through with the panoply of sins listed in Romans 1.
Paul in Romans 1 is describing not only individuals but communities/cultures. 
(*I told Doug that his recent interview of a Christian ‘rap artist’ smacked of the hip triangulation described in John Rabe’s comment, above.)

Brian
Guest
Brian

Here’s another, even more direct analogy: should a gay photographer be compelled to provide services to a wedding at Westboro Baptist?

Jane
Member

Should a gay photographer (who otherwise hires himself out to photograph public events for publicity purposes) be required to travel in the entourage of a Westboro Baptist anti-gay funeral protest and permit his pictures to be used to promote said “church”?

Andrew Lohr
Member

(1) Jesus made a point of which Powers & Merritt do offer a version/distortion/misapplication.  He said de-branch your own eye before you de-twig your brother’s.  And many ‘evangelical’ churches are full of fornicators, adulterers, and divorce/remarriage.  Have we dealt with these popular sins among us, or mostly condemned the weird minority sins of ‘gays’?  Sins, yes; deal with, yes; but our own Achans may be one reason this Ai is giving us so much trouble, eh?   / / / / / / / / (2) What is the Christian duty toward professed unbelievers who fornicate in some way, or covetous,… Read more »

Robert
Guest
Robert

Scott and Carole, For your positions to be consistent, you have to affirm that the Civil Rights Movement in the South in the 60’s was wrong. You have to affirm that Whites should have the right to discriminate in employment housing sales and banking opportunities against Blacks. Maybe that is what you believe. Maybe you believe that it is appropriate to hire illegal aliens. The other option is to reword your argument.

Robert
Guest
Robert

When I lived in Reno, the legal house of ill repute advertised with t shirts and key chains you could buy in the souvenir shops down town. Just FYI

Dan
Guest
Dan

I have to admit this is a tough issue.  And primarily so, due to the fact that conservative Christians have lost the culture war regarding gay marriage.  When I say lost, I certainly don’t mean lost in the sense of being wrong on the issue.  We are 100 percent right on the issue.  But because our country has become so aggressively secular in recent decades, the tide has turned against our Judeo-Christian heritage in general, and against the traditional view of marriage in particular.  Nevertheless, we need to remain firm regarding the traditional view of marriage and family.  We cannot be shy about stating the truth, even when it’s… Read more »

Kamilla
Guest
Kamilla

Robert,
 
 the problem with making reference to the south befor the civil rights era is this: that was legally enforced/mandated segregation. all the Christian baker wants are what, in other areas, are accepted without comment. Namely, the rights of conscience and association.
 
Doug,
 
At the point where Powers and Merritt play the WWJD card, I respond: he’d eat with sinners and we know he did because he wasn’t always eating alone. But he didn’t bake the desserts for the “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Festival. 
 
I think that works. 

Bernard
Guest

Does taking photos to produce child porn affirm anything? Or if a photographer took such an assignment, would it just be a professional transaction?

Scott Diesing
Guest
Scott Diesing

Robert, I don’t think it is necessary to be against the civil rights movement as a whole to be against federal government intrusion in private business.  If I’m remembering my history (based vaguely on things I’ve seen on T.V. back in the old days) the civil rights movement was non-violent civil disobedience aimed mainly at abuses by state and local governments such as forced segregation and voter discrimination.  I can be against those things (and against racism in general) without being  in favor of a federal law that intrudes on people’s rights to decide who they will do business with.… Read more »

Scott Diesing
Guest
Scott Diesing

My argument consists of two points: 1) the only thing Powers and Merritt accomplish in their article is to show that the bill they are denigrating has inconsistencies (which it has) and 2) all bills passed in the give and take of our form of government are doomed to be inconsistent.  And my conclusion is: “big deal”.  It’s sort of like me boasting that I went to the local elementary school and challenged the biggest kid in 1st grade to a fist fight.  And won!  “Big Deal”.

timothy
Guest
timothy

Jill Smith.   I  read your post and wash my hands of your town and you. There is no repentance there–no acknowledgment of sin. Rather, the onus is for the follower of Jesus to ‘recognize’ their sin. I mean really! Your town is soooo cool! So hip! The best food! so happy! great families! fantastic zoning boards! the people are so cutting edge! so intelligent! It looks great! Trendy! popular! What is not to like? Oh! Look! an apple!                                          … Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

Jill Smith.
 
Let me amend the above–I do not wash my hands of you–merely your town and this age. I have lived in such towns and neighborhoods. I feel dirty just thinking of them.

Joseph Schoolland
Guest
Joseph Schoolland

Thank you, Doug. That clears things up for me. 

vRico
Guest
vRico

So what insurance companies do is considered legal discrimination? I mean look at the criteria they use to create their models for approval and pricing. Talk about hypocrites.

Sara
Guest
Sara

Timothy said: “I feel dirty just thinking of them.”
I know you do. But that’s your responsibility. None of us are the crucified Christ. We are not called to take on the sins of others in order to redeem them.  Lay your feelings of dirtiness at the foot of the cross. Jesus knows what to do with them.
Jill Smith: Right on.

RFB
Guest
RFB

I see in a post above the question: “What about gays in committed monogamous relationships?”  The question is stunning in its seeming ignorance of what God says regarding sodomy, which for the sake of brevity, is too numerous to count the amount and types of condemnation that God has rendered, including the destruction of two cities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The supporting context of the question also seems to suggest that because a government entity endorses a practice, said endorsement and recruiting inoculates the behavior. This argument resembles God’s admonition in Romans 1:32 “…they not only… Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

Sara. When I lived in one of those towns, I was out on my daily walk in the rich part of town and two gay men where walking and snuggling enjoying the afterglow of their sin. They saw me, I saw them as we walked past each other. What do I mean by that? I mean that God is in me and His character comes through. they where convicted of their sin with nary a word being spoken. They new it, I knew it. Light and dark; heaven and hell passing in a park on the upside of a trendy… Read more »

Travis M Childers
Guest
Travis M Childers

Scott, I believe the “law of the land” should be the unwritten understanding that business owners may choose their own clients, and that local municipalities should have the right to codify restrictions pertinent to the wishes of their voters. For example, I believe there should be no federal or state law outlawing a businessman from posting a sign reading “No niggers served here”. I would not patronize such an establishment if they beat the price of all other competitors by 90%, and I would consider picketing in front of the store, demanding that they relinquish their hateful, prejudiced bias against certain… Read more »

Gianni
Member
Gianni

Pastor Wilson, you said, “for a woman to burn with lust for another woman was even more unnatural”. Was that in jest or for rhetorical effect, or do you think the text somehow implies an asymmetry between the sexes? Thank you!

Sara
Guest
Sara

Timothy said, “What is the trend-line that you see Sara? Is the good that you envision that Pastor Wilson become a gay episcopalian priest?”  Whoa, I have no idea how we jumped here.  I’m glad that you walk with Jesus and that the Holy Spirit is on you. I was simply 1) encouraging you to give your burden to Jesus [of feeling dirty just thinking about unrepentant gay people and places] because that’s what we ask others to do — give their burdens to Jesus, whether those burdens be sin, or angst, or fear, etc.  He is big enough to… Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

Ok Sara. That is good news.                                                                                                                                                                   I misunderstood what you where saying. Let me be clear about he dirtiness thing; its not a “struggle thing” but a hard-one attribute of God’s work in me.                                                                                                                                                                 Its the dirtiness I feel towards my own sins and dying sinful nature. Lewis wrote of this phenomenon. The unrepentant and blind sinner (like the gay episcopalean preists) have no clue (oir little sense of ) the danger they are in. Conversely, as we grow in Christ, our sense of our own depravity–at little sins!–is heightened and commesurably our gratitude for… Read more »

soylentg
Member

Regarding Jill’s earlier comment:

 There is no single Christian voice on this matter:

…I beg to differ.  However, that comment did leave me wishing that Pastor Wilson would coin a similar descriptive name for the false Christian as he has so ably provided with the marriage/mirage phraseology.

Arwen B
Guest
Arwen B

“similar descriptive name for the false Christian”

I have seen them described elsewhere as “churchians”

Josh McGee
Guest

Come join Kirsten & Jonathan for next week’s column, where they encourage gay photographers to lovingly photograph events at Westboro Baptist Church, out of the good ness of their hearts and because it is what Christ would have expected of any decent soul…