Of Christians, Bigotry, and Public Policy

Of Christians, Bigotry, and Public Policy<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Rev. Mark H. Creech
Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
 
The Christian Action League's opposition to the anti-bullying legislation (HB 1366- School Violence Prevention Act) raised a lot of raw emotions for some. During my lobbying against the measure (which would have made one's sexual preference a specially protected class and created a historical legal precedence in North Carolina law), a legislative assistant – who is not Christian – confronted me in the area between the two chambers of the House and Senate and let her feelings be known. I could see she was very angry – lip trembling, face flush with red – yet trying desperately to keep her composure. "I do not believe that you are a good Christian," she said to me. "Instead, I believe that you are a bigot hiding behind Christianity." Her view was echoed repeatedly throughout the media and various Internet blogs.
 
But it wasn't just non-professing Christians who were critical. Some detractors were Christians that I deeply respect. Tony Carteledge, former editor of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention's newspaper, The Biblical Recorder, accused conservative Christians who opposed the bill of using the name of Christ "as a big stick in the political process." [1] Carteledge also oversimplified my position on the measure by contending my reference to homosexual behavior as a "'sexual perversion' that can be changed clearly implies a belief that gays and lesbians have intentionally chosen behavior that deviates from the accepted norm." [2] Someone once said that one of the surest marks of good character is a man's ability to accept personal criticism without feeling malice toward the one who gives it. One can be certain there is no malice in me over the censures. But someone also said that it doesn't take brains to criticize; any old vulture can find a carcass. At least when people are disparaging they should be certain their remarks are of substance. There are essentially two problems contained within the criticisms that were leveled. The first is the assumption that "sexual orientation" is immutable and unchangeable. It is the belief that homosexuality and other alternate sexual behaviors are normal, natural, and acceptable – and that any other belief is bigotry. The other implies that anytime Christians vigorously oppose the codification of what they believe to be immoral in public policy, they are imposing their religious views on others. There is much debate about "sexual orientation" today and where it starts. Is it nurture or nature? Is it purely innate or a choice? For devout Christians who believe the teachings of the Bible are to be the measure for all of life's issues, the question is too general in its approach and essentially irrelevant. The Bible is abundantly clear that homosexual behavior is "immoral." A biblical view of homosexuality would also acknowledge that there might be psychological and even biological influences in the development of the behavior. But the scriptures are adamant that it is not what influences a person that makes one "unclean," but the evil that lurks in a broken and depraved human nature. Sin has innumerable expressions in the human disposition that may have various influences. Some seem predisposed to a bad temper and certain influences may lend to the advancement of that conduct. Others seem predisposed to greed or jealousy. And certain influences or circumstances of life may make these behaviors deeply entrenched. But psychological or biological factors are really no more the cause of these behaviors than outside influences are essentially the cause of them. Therefore, the Bible doesn't recognize sexually alternate practices as an orientation but as an outcome of one's sinful nature. Homosexual behavior, as well as other wrong attitudes or actions, fundamentally comes from a universal spiritual orientation that inclines one to rebel against the person and purposes of God. This can only be reversed by the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. If bigotry constitutes being intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion on homosexuality, then the accusation of bigotry is applicable to conservative evangelicals like me. But the same accusation could also be legitimately laid at the feet of the homosexual lobby for its growing insistence to end all discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender behavior for all reasons and in all places. For instance, in May of this year, the Colorado legislature passed a bill designed to normalize all varieties of sexual orientation – cross dressers, men who self identify as women, women who self-identify as men, etc. – by prohibiting any discrimination in 23 separate areas of public life, including restrooms and locker rooms. Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family Action, noted the homosexual lobby made advocacy for the bill "the modern day equivalent of separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks." [3] Minnery also rightly contended that the bill didn't just affect "public accommodations," but also threatens religious liberty:
 
"A refusal to do business with someone based on a sincerely held religious belief that homosexuality is wrong would violate the law. That threatens the religious liberties of every Christian, Jewish or Muslim business owner who operates a business on faith-based principles. This is not a hypothetical threat. In <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Albuquerque, which has a similar law, a Christian husband and wife who own and operate their own photography studio were recently hauled before that state's human rights commission and fined more than $6,600 for politely refusing, on religious grounds, to photograph a lesbian "commitment ceremony." We've seen similar charges brought by homosexuals against a video reproduction business in Virginia, a medical clinic in California, an adoption service in Arizona, and a church in New Jersey." [4]
 
So where is the respect, the compassion, the love and the tolerance for other points of view by the gay and lesbian community? It must be that one is a bigot and discriminatory only if he or she refuses to accept the homosexual community's position on the subject. Make no mistake about it: compromise with gay activism in any form only invites the future erosion of the rights of those who believe in the necessity of virtue. To be completely fair, no one is a bigot simply because he or she earnestly contends for a particular political position. Moreover, Christians are not using the name of Christ "as a big stick in the political process" when they vigorously oppose the advancement of the homosexual agenda. To the contrary, they are simply recognizing that all legislation is value-laden. Public policy is always the imposition of someone's value-system on everyone. Failing to zealously advocate in a representative democracy that man's law should be measured by the plumb of God's would be a dereliction of a good Christian's duty to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's. [5]
 
Resources 
 
[1] Baptist Today Blogs, Tony Carteledge, "Bullies and Blackberries," July 18, 2008[2] Baptist Today Blogs, Tony Carteledge, "Bullies Need Guidance," July 15, 2008[3] Guest Commentary by Tom Minnery, Denver Post, May 24, 2008[4] Ibid[5] The Holy Bible, Matthew 22:21
 
Rev. Mark H. Creech is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. 

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