It’s a truth universally recognized by anyone who has ever talked about the BenOp that a person who expresses concern about the church’s future is in want of a person to quote Tertullian at them.

Sorry, is that cheeky? Here’s the quote and we’ll get to why it grates on my ear so in a moment: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” (UPDATE: An astute reader informs me that the more accurate translation from Tertullian is “the Christians’ blood is seed.”)

The problem isn’t that Tertullian is always wrong. The problem is that this quote has become a sort of truism reflexively recited by American evangelicals who can only imagine that government-sanctioned opposition to the church will be a good thing for the American church. And while there will likely be some benefits to come from opposition, it’s essential that evangelicals not be overly sanguine about the American church’s short-term prospects.

The Historical Precedent for the Death of Regional Churches

The first point we need to get clear is that, historically speaking, it is simply not true that persecution always helps to strengthen and refine the church. Sometimes persecution simply destroys a church. Once upon a time there were thriving churches in northern Africa, the Middle East, China, and Japan. Then they died. (You can read about them in this fine book by Philip Jenkins.)

Those churches were all either destroyed (in the latter cases) or driven to the very edge of society (in the case of the two former groups). Indeed, what little remained of the historic churches of the Middle East has been largely eradicated by ISIS.

Thus we need to first figure out why these churches were destroyed or simply made into permanent extreme minorities. There are a number of factors in play:

  • In some cases, the church was closely tied to a ruling elite and when that elite was overthrown the church lost its standing and was crushed.
  • In other cases, the faith was actually only professed by a small minority of social elites and never penetrated into the mass population.
  • Finally, in still other cases, Christian identity has become conflated with a set of other characteristics or cultural values which, over time, erode the distinctly Christian characteristics of a people. So there is still a superficial Christianity, but it is badly compromised by its close ties to nationalism. Greece is a good example of this as somewhere between 88 and 98% of the population profess to be Greek Orthodox but only 27% of those people actually attend church weekly. Elsewhere in Europe the numbers are even more dire. In Denmark, 80% of the population is Lutheran but only 3% attend any kind of church service weekly. This critique also applies to cities and states in the USA that are historically Catholic, such as Chicago or Boston. The gap between those who claim to adhere to a specific faith and those who attend church weekly is enormous.

What all this means is that there are a number of conditions that have historically caused local churches to crumble and regional churches to disappear or lapse into a kind of permanent minority status. And the key thing to get clear is that this is very much a live possibility in the United States.

How would this happen in the United States?

To some extent, you can argue that it already is happening. Consider the gap in polling between evangelicals who do and do not attend church weekly and support for Donald Trump. You might also consider that the only conservative religious groups that have reliably opposed Trump are Mormons and Dutch Reformed Christians—two groups that have developed thick cultural identities in specific places that largely avoid the sort of milquetoast cultural Christianity that has so weakened the church in so many places in the contemporary west.

That suggests a kind of hollowing out of the larger American religious bodies as their adherents either leave the faith entirely or fall into a civil religion that maintains Christian trappings but is more nationalistic than Christian.

But there are other possibilities here as well. Two are worth paying special attention to because they directly impact the long-term viability of evangelical institutions in the United States.

Tax-Exempt Status for Churches

First, and most obvious, churches that do not affirm the morality of homosexuality could lose tax-exempt status. It took a New York Times religion reporter all of two days to call for precisely that in Time magazine. There are a number of complications here, of course. The most obvious way to do this would be to remove tax-exempt status from all churches and other religious organizations.

But such a move would probably be a bridge too far as that box includes a lot of organizations that even many progressives would be reluctant to see lose tax-exempt status. (It also would be relatively easy to spin such a strategy in the media as being anti-Islamic or anti-Semitic, which would create major problems for the supporters of such a move.) Thus there would need to be some kind of legal mechanism for removing tax-exempt status from religious organizations that discriminate against protected classes while preserving it for non-discriminatory organizations.

That mechanism may already exist actually, in the form of the Equality Act. Friend of Mere O and former contributor Andrew Walker has written about it for National Review and Sarah Pulliam Bailey has raised this possibility in a story for the Washington Post.

It is possible that this may be a battle the left cannot win. Perhaps once the immediate post-Obergefell enthusiasm fades, they will lack the support to achieve this further victory. But the fact that we’re having this conversation at all suggests that it is at least possible that churches could lose their tax-exempt status.

If that happens, the consequences for the American church would be dire. Many churches would simply have to close their doors while others could, depending on how the left achieved its victory, see both a massive drop in giving (as rich congregants would not be able to give the same amount of money since they wouldn’t be able to write it off come tax time) as well as an increase in expenses as they would now have to pay property tax for their building. For large megachurches in the suburbs this could be particularly devastating as a drop in their budget combined with an enormous property tax bill would be very difficult to manage.

The Loss of Federal Loan Dollars for Christian Universities

There is a second possibility as well which seems more likely to happen. Many university students pay for college using federal loan money. At present, the feds are happy to let them use that money to pay for tuition at evangelical institutions. And evangelical institutions are happy to receive it. Liberty University receives roughly $800 million in federal loan dollars each year. But they aren’t alone.

You can look through this Wall Street Journal data for yourself, but here are some highlights. All dollar amounts are for the 2013-14 award year and are based on data from the US Department of Education:

  • Azusa Pacific University, where Mere Fidelity host Derek Rishmawy did his Masters, received $136m federal loan dollars.
  • Belmont University, which is where Indelible Grace largely started, received $82.8m.
  • Biola, where Mere O founder Matthew Lee Anderson did his undergraduate degree, received $45.9m.
  • Calvin College, a major CRC school, received $25.4m.
  • Covenant College, the PCA’s official college, received $7.5m.
  • Dallas Baptist University received $43.5m.
  • Dordt College, another CRC school, received $9.2m.
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville, to look at a major conservative Catholic institution, received $19.3m.
  • Hope College received $21.6m.
  • Houston Baptist University, another place that has employed a number of friends of Mere O, received $26.4m.
  • Moody Bible Institute received $4.5m.
  • Multnomah University received $7.1m.
  • Regent University received $69.8m.
  • Trinity International University received $26.1m.
  • Union University received $40.4m.
  • Wheaton College received $18.4m.

Even the colleges that haven’t taken enormous sums of money, relatively speaking, are taking amounts that would hurt to lose. Moody, for example, only took $4.5m. But their unrestricted revenue from operations in 2014 was $112.4m and their operating expenses were $111.1m. So there’s only a $1.3m gap there, which is about 1/3 the amount they are currently receiving from the feds. (Student fees/tuition was $21.2m, which means that roughly 20% of their student tuition is paid for with federal money.)

So even schools that don’t rely a ton on federal money could be in trouble if the government decided to stop giving money to non-affirming schools. Other schools, like Azusa Pacific, Belmont, Biola, Dallas Baptist, Regent, and Union stand to lose even larger amounts of money.

This too is a possibility that has been discussed by many people, particularly David Wheeler over at the Atlantic. Here too we should pause to consider how a move to strip federal funding from evangelical institutions would work. It’s possible that the federal funding could be made to be contingent on a school’s honor code. If the honor code violated the Equality Act, for example, schools could be judged ineligible to receive federal funding. (Title IX is another possible avenue and, indeed, is one that has already been pursued.)

If it came to that, there are a few possibilities: Christians could independently band together and start some sort of bank or other financing scheme to help make up for the loss of federal loan money. That move along with some more limited budget cuts at Christian universities could perhaps combine to blunt the impact of the loss of federal money. Some limited forms of compromise could also perhaps be accepted, if the alternative to it was to cease existing as an institution. Christian colleges could decide that if forced to choose between having an honor code and existing as an institution, it’s better to go on existing. So they may jettison the honor code for their students.

That said, if hiring policies were also subjected to the same tests, then it would be much harder to justify such a compromise while maintaining anything like a commitment to their identity as an evangelical institution.

Of course, that does raise another possibility, which is that evangelical institutions would over-time cease to be evangelical as they either voluntarily or under coercive threat via their bank account abandon their evangelical distinctives.

Conclusion

This paints a dark picture of the immediate future of the American church. I actually don’t think our future is that dark. The immediate future does look bleak, but there are great reasons for hope long-term. In the first place, the revival in interest amongst younger evangelicals in things like historical liturgical practices and historical Christian theology is a very real thing, though perhaps not as broadly influential as we might hope. That said, this interest suggests a faith with stronger foundations than that of our parents generation, which gave us the seeker-sensitive movement amongst many other ill-considered attempts at being relevant to a deeply inhumane culture that would be better served by clear calls to repentance. Here I share Russ Moore’s long-term optimism for the American church’s future.

That said, we need to be clear about what this future is likely to be. In The Return of the King Gandalf tells the people of Minas Tirith after the death of Denethor that the Gondor they have known is gone, for good or for ill. That seems likely to be true for the American church as well. In the immediate future we are going to have a far more fractious relationship to the American mainstream than we have had at any point in the post-World War II era. We will be, as Gandalf puts it, “hard put to it.”

But there is cause for hope. At some point in the next generation or two, we will likely be tasked with helping to rebuild our local places (and not just the evangelical churches and institutions in those places), though the exact form that will take is not clear to anyone right now. But when we do that work, we will almost certainly not be rebuilding the old order of vaguely Christian American civil religion. I suspect that option will simply not be available to us for a variety of reasons, one of which is quite possibly that many of the institutions we built before Obergefell may no longer exist. We will be building something new.

Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy and sons Wendell and Austin. Jake’s writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

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  • Side request: I would like to read something about Endo’s Silence and the BenOp solution.

    I think you are bringing a needed point of discussion when you talk about Jenkin’s book. The church has not always thrived under persecution. We need to know our history and balance the fact that the church as a whole will not be snuffed out under persecution and the idea that parts of the church could be snuffed out.

    • You’re making me want to check out “Silence” from the library to read this weekend. I’ve not read it but have heard great things.

      • I read it two years ago and I am thinking about it again because I am reading Beauty and Silence which rifts off of it.

        It is not an easy book to read for us American Evangelicals. But I think it is worth struggling through particularly because we have been having this ongoing discussion about what a more restrictive cultural environment is like for Christianity in the US. And not just for the reminder that others have a more serious persecution.

        The main issue is how we deal with persecution. Japanese learned that the way to break the church, at least in an honor/shame culture, wasn’t direct persecution, but forcing leaders to walk on images of Jesus. And they forced leaders to do this, not by direct persecution but by torturing those around the leader.

        I am only half way through Silence and Beauty, but Makoto Fujimura really brings out some important nuances and modern thoughts on the book that makes it even more difficult to work through (along side his own story.)

        http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=4459

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  • Greg

    Perhaps we should Compare and Contrast the Tertullian quote and bullet points with the African experience.

    ‘During the 20th century, the Catholic population of sub-Saharan Africa went from 1.9 million to more than 130 million — a staggering growth rate of 6,708 percent.’ [Source: http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/03/24/the-african-moment-in-global-catholicism-gathers-steam/%5D

    [p.s. Adam, Silence: wonderful but difficult book; looks like the film is due out in November]

    • Africa is booming, but it has happened largely under friendly governments. There have been some hiccoughs, as when France chased a bunch of British missionaries out after World War I when they took control of northern Africa, but for the most part the governing powers in Africa have been friendly to Christianity. Many sub-Saharan African nations actually are Christian nations according to their constitutions.

      China is the really interesting test case and I’m still not sure what to do with the way the Chinese church has grown despite varying levels of hostility from the Chinese government.

      • Greg

        Indeed. I raise Africa, in part, to point to the broader reality of the benefit to American Christianity from abroad.

        For us, the Catholic Church is being deeply enriched (here in the States) by Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. So what happens there, in a sense, happens here, especially in terms of clergy, but also in terms of our vibrant ethnic communities.

        It’s not at all bleak.

      • hoosier_bob

        I wonder if you could recommend any cogent analyses of the complex arrangement between the church in China and the government. I do a fair bit of work with several center capital groups that originate from mainland China. The Chinese professionals in these organizations are largely Christians, and have theological views that are not too far from those of evangelicals. Even so, they don’t have the cultural angst that many American evangelicals have. As a result, I’m unconvinced that state control of the church in China has necessarily dulled orthodoxy.

  • hoosier_bob

    I suspect that most evangelical churches will fail for reasons that are much more mundane. In recent decades, evangelical churches have become much more homogeneous in terms of their sociology. As the family-values types have increasingly viewed the church as a bulwark against what they perceive to be a hostile culture, the church itself has become increasingly hostile to those who don’t fit the family-values type.

    A friend who pastors an urban evangelical church was recently commenting on the disappearance of single professionals from evangelical churches. His church sits smack dab amidst a neighborhood in Chicago that’s about 65% single. In 1996, the church’s membership reflected the composition of the neighborhood: About 65% of its members were single, and they participated in church leadership to about the same extent as married people. Today, only 25% of the church’s members are single, and their participation in church leadership is almost non-existent.

    There is a growing number of dechurched evangelicals–Christians who identify with the basic contours of evangelical theology, but who reject the increasingly narrow sociological definition of what it means to be a “real evangelical.” Carl Trueman indirectly addressed this point recently in his criticism of Big Eva, by which he means groups like The Gospel Coalition (TGC), which offer a pre-packaged, our-way-or-the-highway type of evangelicalism. When Wheaton college suspended Larycia Hawkins in December, it did so because Hawkins failed to reflect the “evangelical identity.” That was a thinly veiled way of saying that Hawkins was being suspended because she didn’t talk like a white, middle-class, family-values evangelical.

    In the opening pages of “The Drama of Doctrine,” Kevin Vanhoozer notes that evangelicals have slowly evolved into an identity movement, not too different from other identity movements. They care less about the Gospel, and more about being around people like themselves. This means that evangelicalism has been largely left to the family-values crowd. My urban pastor friend recently told me that, by his observation, evangelicals who don’t marry by the age of 22 are increasingly likely to leave evangelicalism. They now look for their future partners on OK Cupid rather than through church functions. And their closest friends are nominally Christian work colleagues. Many of them will marry people who are nominally Christian, leading them to view their Christian faith as more of a form of spirituality than anything else.

    My friend noted a sharp divide in his church over the Obergefell decision. A certain sector of the church reacted strongly to the decision. Another sector of the church viewed it with utter ambivalence. And there were almost no views in between.

  • Drew Heurion

    Jake, enjoyed this article! I’ve been thinking that perhaps we’ve been romanticizing persecution. So I appreciated your dose of realism toward the beginning. What options do you see for churches if they were to lose their tax exempt status and pay property tax on their buildings?

    • Hard to give general recommendations for everyone b/c every church is going to be different. I think smaller churches in smaller, older buildings will have an easier time dealing with it than huge suburban megachurches though. Can you imagine what the property tax would be on something like Willow Creek’s campus? Plus those churches often depend upon a large number of wealthy benefactors to run all their programs. If those rich people have to start giving less because they can no longer afford to give what they did when they could write off their giving, that could *really* hit those churches hard. Small-ish churches of 100-300 will fare better, I imagine, if only because their expenses figure to be far smaller and more manageable, although they can also get into situations where a very small group of highly wealthy people basically fund the whole church, in which case they’d also have problems.

      One thing I suspect we are going to have to rediscover en masse is the idea of the bivocational pastor–which could also have an impact on how we train pastors. Pastors may not have the luxury of doing four years of training focused solely on learning to be a pastor. Anyway, I’m still thinking about this myself and don’t have any firm ideas, but those are some initial thoughts. Hope to be publishing more on this issue soon.

      • I suspect that the mega churches will end up better off than a lot of the smaller churches that even without loss of tax exempt status are already moving toward bivocational leadership.

        Obviously there is a wide range of health by size. But I am pretty sure I saw a study that said that mega churches as a whole did much better with the recent recession than smaller churches did.

        • Interesting. Would enjoy seeing that if you can track it down. :)

      • Drew Heurion

        Thank you, Jake. I’ve had similar thoughts. That’s one thing I’m concerned about. How are we going to continue to offer the rigorous theological training pastors need but tailor it to work with a complex bivocational ministry. Thanks again!

  • This article illustrates the real problem that faces the Christian Church. What we lose in terms of social status and money is merely a phantom menace. Thus, measuring the Church’s health by what we lose promotes a self-absorption from being merely insular to being spiritually autistic. If what is most important to the Church is what Christ has done for her, then what we lose on earth should only be experienced as a mild irritant at worst.

    Now what if we compromise the Gospel in order to remain relevant in society? Would that be worse than losing our tax exempt status? Would it be worse than having the Church be pushed to the margins of society? We can either stop preaching against sin or conditionally do so. In the latter case, we could say that when the Church fails to preach against the sins of the state, society, or the systems that sustain them, then we have compromised the Gospel in order to remain relevant. We could say that, but too many don’t. Rather, too many of us want to know whether we have said enough against sexual sins and relationships in society. Too many of us are only concerned with specific individual sins that other sins have flown under the radar while we congratualte ourselves for being spiritual.

    How Obergefell has most impacted the Church is to make us face the consequences of how we speak about homosexuality in society. Should we work against the legalization of same-sex marriage in society because we believe that homosexuality is sin or should we take a more libertarian approach to the issue in society while preaching against it from the pulpit? While conservative Christians are focusing more on what will happen to us if we don’t oppose same-sex marriage in society, we have forgotten to consider whether the libertarian approach is a valid Biblical approach. And one reason why we have forgotten to do that is because the LGBT community was more-less invisible to us while they were marginalized because of our hold on society. And now that there are possible ramifications for trying to marginalize the LGBT community, what happens to the Church in society remains at the top of our agenda And that is an indicator that we insist on measuring the Church’s welfare by what is happening to us and thus have not faced up to this real problem.

    • TCap

      Interesting thoughts, but Is it possible to take a libertarian view of gay marriage when the left is working overtime to outlaw dissent? Libertarianism would mean that the religious baker would not be run out of business for refusing to participate in an SSM ceremony. It would mean that states considering allowing conscientious objector status for those holding sincere religious objections would not be attacked as bigots by big business, media and even denominations. LGBT leaders are not interested in allowing dissent to exist, much less be put into practice. Dark days are coming for all freedoms, but particularly free exercise rights.

      • TCap,
        Who is the Left to you? I am a Leftist and I am not working to outlaw dissent. I know there are liberals, and I agree with them, who are working to prohibit discrimination. And that is the issue. What some are calling dissent, others are calling discrimination.

        This is where history helps. There was a lot of refusal to provide services during Jim Crow. It wasn’t mandated by Jim Crow, it just occurred back then because it was part of the culture. And what that allowed was for Blacks to experience a parital or even full deprivation of certain goods and services back then. But the deprivation of goods and services were not the only effect Blacks suffered from the refusal to provide goods and services by some businesses. IT had a horrific marginalizing effect on the psyche.

        And this is exactly what my fellow religiously conservative Christians have and still want to visit on those from the LGBT community. They want not only have the right to refuse to conduct business with whom they consider to be moral lepers, they want society to punish and stigmatize these people as well.

        What you call dissent is, in reality and in the eyes of many a nonChristian, discrimination and bigotry. And what you call dissent is providing stumbling block after stumbling block to those who would otherwise listen to the Gospel. All of us religiously conservative Christians should be ashamed of what you call dissent. For what you call dissent is a taking away of freedom from the LGBT community.

        • TCap

          You and I both know that the issue is not services being denied to the LGBT community, whose condition in 2016 is not remotely similar to black Americans in the 1950’s. That is a remarkably insulting comparison. The HRC and its allies are using non-discrimination ordinances to run out of business anyone who wishes not to participate in gay weddings. These ordinances are not necessary to allow LGBT participation in the economic life of society and are not being used in that fashion. But I guess we should be thankful that they have not yet found a way to attack private thoughts.

          • TCap,
            Services being denied based on group affiliation is the issue. And yes, the conditions that some religiously conservative Christians are trying to introduce has continuity with what Blacks faced during Jim Crow.

            Finally, the particpate is to general of a term. Businesses conduct transactions for profit and the presence of those transaction do not imply approval of the activity or event. This is especially true in a capitalist economic system.

          • L C

            Curt Day,

            The Christian bakers, the Indiana pizza place for examples. did not have signs up saying they deny service to homosexuals and did not, in fact, deny service to people they knew were homosexuals. So you’re comparison to Jim Crow laws is shown to be slanderous and illogical. The issue was the specific act of participating in a “gay wedding” in any way. Religious liberty, in the courts, has always been about whether there can be a reasonable accommodation for conscientious religious objection. What you are erroneously arguing is that the rights of LGBT’s to demand to buy a “gay wedding” cake at any bakery should always trump religious liberty. So should we expect a gay baker to bake a cake with the specific bible reference which clearly says that they will not inherit the kingdom of god? Should we demand an orthodox Jewish butcher to sell us pork chops? How about insisting a Muslim printer sell us a unflattering caricature of the prophet Muhammad? The logical answer to all of these questions should be no–unless the free exercise of religion in this country has lost all meaning.

          • LC,
            I know for some that they want to avoid providing goods and services for events. But so the discrimination and subsequent marginalization there is on a lighter level than if it was based solely on one’s orientation. It is still discrimination with its subsequent marginalization that is the issue.

            Also, you need to be more precise in reacting to my note here. I am not comparing the current attempts to pass “religious freedom” laws with everything that went on in Jim Crow, I am only comparing it with the part where businesses voluntarily refursed to sell goods and services to people based on race. We have to realize that some did refuses to provide goods and services for religious reasons; there were those who used the Bible to justify Jim Crow.

            As for being a conscientious objector here, you have to ask what is it that one is objecting to. And what is also important is to see the legitimate roles businesses have in a capitalist economy. The latter is true because private sector businesses are the only source the public can go to for certain goods and services. To allow a business to deny such goods and services to a group would be to create the possibility that the group could suffer from a partial or even full deprivation of those goods and services. So while we are running around being concerned with whether we are participating in an event with people whom some consider to be “moral lepers,” we are forgetting how others are affected.

            Finally, there was a case involving the KKK and their requests made to a baker. The baker refused to conduct the transaction and had a court decision go against him for that decision. But let’s go on and look at what you are saying. Should a Jewish butcher be forced to sell pork chops? Why is that question relevant here when a baker is one who provide cakes for both biblical and unbiblical heterosexual weddings? Here, the more appropriate comparison would be should a baker who makes cakes be forced to sell pies? And with your other example, how does baking a cake for an unbiblical wedding compare with being forced to denounce one’s own religion? Should a Christian limousine driver have the right to provide limousine services to a gay couple who were just married? Should a Christian hotel owner have the right to refuse to provide a room to a gay married couple knowing that what is merely a celebrated by ceremony in a wedding is actually practiced in the room?

            Religious liberty has its limits because some religions allow its adherents to mistreat others. SO what we have here is a collision between two concerns. It isn’t just about religiuos liberty, it is about what we owe others and religious liberty. And the collision is what we are discussing.

          • Curt,

            You keep engaging in the same kind of distortion that progressive Christians have undertaken since religious liberty came to the forefront of the gay marriage debates. See here for some actual details about some of the cases before the courts: https://mereorthodoxy.com/the-distortions-of-progressive-christians-how-religious-liberty-is-in-danger/

            The idea that this is an invidious, class-based discrimination is, simply put, completely bonkers. I mean, spend five minutes reading about the Baronelle Stutzman case: she *is still* employing people who are gay and lesbians, and she had denied to participate in the wedding despite serving her client for other needs for practically a decade.

            Firefox had the right to terminate the employment of their President because he gave less than a thousand dollars to support Proposition 8. The NBA won’t host their all-star game in NC because of their new law. Corporate interests have been at the forefront of critiquing religious liberty laws….and have made exercising their right to refuse to do business with people *on moral grounds* a central part of their power against them. Should they be forced to do otherwise?

            The reality is that the marketplace has been heavily moralized since (at least!) the 1960s, with the advent of “corporate social responsibility.” The idea that goods and services are delivered without any kind of moral relationship that has been established is a fiction, one that no one seriously maintains….until it becomes useful to coerce the society to conform with the moral views the business community deems acceptable.

            Oh, and “participate” may be a broad term, but it’s not a meaningless term, as you seem to think. There are a variety of means of participation in an event: some are formal, others are material. There are degrees of distance in participation: some will be immediate, others proximate. Some forms of participation deserve protection from the courts; some may not. The reality is that these cases should be judged on a case-by-case basis…but that’s just a very different approach than yours, which amounts to little more than slandering the people engaging in these lawsuits. If you look at the details of most of these lawsuits, and the most prominent of these lawsuits, there is no evidence that what is happening is class-based discrimination. But looking at the details of cases is hard: righteously offering broad denunciations is, alas, very easy.

            Matt

          • Matthew,
            I am not sure if you are responding to my comment made to LC or to a summary of my views. I will first react to the first possibility. Not all of the examples from the article or our comment applies to my comment. Cochran’s case doesn’t nor does the case of the person who was fired by Firefox. BTW, disagree with what happened to both of them.

            As for those in business refusing to provide goods and services to the LGBT community as a whole or specific evens such as same-sex weddings, this is a discrimination issue and I am not the only one to point this out. The refusing to provide goods and services in a business setting to the LGBT community as a whole specific events that are fundamental to one’s life is discrimination. If such goods and services could be obtained outside of the private sector, then there would be alternatives to that discrimination. But in a Capitalist society, there are no such alternatives. What I have written in my response to LC should suffice to make that case and if you have a problem with that, then refer to the specifics of that comment.

            To conflate the Cochran and Firefox cases with a business’s refusal to provide goods and services is what I see is the real distortion I see here. But that isn’t the real issue. The real issue is our self-absorption. We only see how “pariticipating” in a same-sex wedding as a busines that is providing goods and services relates to us. We don’t see the message that our refusal to provide goods and services in a business setting means to others especially in the historical context of how the conservative Church has treated th LGBT community for hundreds of years. Neither do we see the business context in which we would be providing those goods and services. To make your case about religious liberty, you have decontextualized the decision and reduce all pertinent issues to the religious liberty of the vendor. And in doing so, you have made my case about conservative Christian’s struggle with being insular.

            Finally, the discrimination is orientation based rather than class based. It matters not if the discrimination is not full or consistent, it still discrimination. Of those vendors who refused to provide goods and services in business setting to a same-sex wedding ceremony, how many provided the same to unbiblical weddings? Or what about those who provide lodging? Should they be free to not provide lodging to same-sex couples who in real terms experience what is only symbolically celebrated in wedding ceremonies? Consistency does not support your argument that discrimination is not the issue.

            What we are seeing in some of these cases, like that of Christian business vendors refusing to provide goods and services in a business setting, is a collision of rights. It is the right of the customer to request the transaction. It is the right of the vendor ro refuse the request provided that no discrimination because of group affiliation is involved. That the vendor had provided goods and services to individuals from that group does not imply that there is no discrimination against the LGBT community when businesses deny goods and services to same-sex weddings for religious reasons when they have freely done business with heterosexual weddings that are unbiblical. And again, the right to discriminate introduces the realistic poissbhility that the LGBT community could suffer either partial or full depriviation of goods and services for weddings at spot locations. Thus, what the NBA or other corporations do about boycotting has no parallel when it comes to groups suffering from partial to full deprivation of goods and services.

            Do I wish these discrimination cases would be resolved outside of court? Certainly. But then again, I am not a member of a group that is coming out of hundreds of years of being marginalized in this nation.

            As for the Cochran and Firefox cases as well as others like them, these are overreactions whose lifetime depends on whether we use religion to justify discrimination.

          • Curt,

            Out of curiosity, did you read that full essay? I’m guessing not.

            Your use of “discrimination” is so broad as to be useless. Businesses “discriminate” about who they do business with *all the time.* When a business puts up a sign requiring shirts and shoes for service, and denies customers access to their property who lack them, they “discriminate.” When a business chooses not to let a customer return to their property after they engage in illegal behavior on it, they “discriminate.” Etc.

            “But in a Capitalist society, there are no such alternatives.” This is silly. In a capitalist society, there *are* alternatives: there are other businesses who can provide those services. The idea that, as you say, customers have a “right to request the transaction” simply destroys the whole voluntariness of the market-based economy. It is precisely because we do *not* have a right to the goods in question that we have to pay for them. And even if there *was* an absolute conflict of rights in these cases, you’d still have to make an argument that the religious right should somehow be trumped by the sexual-identity right. Why should we agree with that? Why should any Christian, for whom religion is the central feature of their entire lives, go along with that? Those are questions that would need answers for your depiction of the conflict to actually rise to the level of providing reasons to agree with you.

            And the NBA, etc. is absolutely a parallel case: Charlotte, and the people of Charlotte, will suffer a deprivation because of their decision. Whether or not that decision is “central to a person’s identity” is immaterial. But even if it was, what you are suggesting is that Christian business owners should be compelled by the government to suffer the violation of something that is “central to their identity,” namely their religious convictions and beliefs.

            And why the scare quotes around “participating”? You can make a substantive argument that it’s not, addressing the various distinctions that I pointed you to….or you can simply use scare quotes to do the work for you, the way you’re casting every objection under the bogeyman of “discrimination.”

            “Of those vendors who refused to provide goods and services in business setting to a same-sex wedding ceremony, how many provided the same to unbiblical weddings?”

            And what if they did? Notice that to answer this, you’d have to actually look at the details of the cases. You haven’t bothered to do that, from anything that I’ve ever read from your comments. Stutzmann has a long history of integrating her faith with her wedding decisions; do you know what kind of services she provides when she provides the flowers for a wedding? They’re *extensive.*

            What if a wedding photographer simply doesn’t like a couple? Should they be compelled, by force of law, to photograph the wedding? No one thinks so; that would be ludicrous. But because someone has a religious objection to it….they’re engaging in invidious discrimination? It’s good to know where your priorities lie.

            It’s possible that conservative Christians aren’t “insular”; it’s possible that they really have moral objections, and that as broad as they might want to be, they can’t overcome those moral objections.

            I will say, though, that you are very skilled at using insults and overly broad, slightly derogatory language in the place of arguments and reasons. It’s just easier, I suppose, to think that all these Christians have never thought of what you’ve thought of and are just doing it out of spite toward LGBT people….never mind that none of the facts in the cases in question support that interpretation at all.

            Matt

          • Matthew,
            Your guess is wrong, I did read the full essay and I have read other essays as well.

            My use of the word discriminate is correct. Considering how Christian business participation in unbiblical weddings never became an issue until same-sex marriage became legal. So equating the requirements of having to wear shirts and shoes is not comparable to what we are talking about here. Why? Because unlike the shirts and shoes requirement, those participating in same-sex weddings have no apparel to put on in order to qualify for service.

            And your comment calling my claim that in Capitalism the private sector being the only supplier of goods and services is silly shows an inadequate reading of my note as well as a denial of reality. Yes, there are other businesses that same-sex weddings can utilize. But the availabillity of those businesses depends on location and the number of services available in those locations. Let alone, you forget that being refused services by a business because one’s group is not good enough has strong marginalizing effects.

            In addition, your view of the volunatry nature of the free market simply supports the refusal of businesses to provide goods and services based on race as was practiced, not mandated, during Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws varied from state to state and, for the most part, mandated segregation in some of those states. The refusal to provide goods and services in a business setting, for the most part, was voluntary and the result of cultural values.

            And if you want to equate the people of Charolette not having a sports franchise for a particular sport with those in same-Sex weddings not having access to what is considered normal for a wedding, it seems that you are majoring in comparing apples with oranges. Again, the target here are people from the lgbt community regardless of their location. Major league sports franchises are not a normal part of life for a city like weddings are for life of the people.

            As for Stutzman, are you saying that she never did business transactions with those engaged in unblblical weddings? If that is true, then I agree her decision to not provide goods and services to same-sex weddings would not be out of discrimination. But the problem remains of allowing some businesses to refuse services based on religious views allows all to and thus sets up the potential for spot partial or full deprivation. And the laws that are being proposed have nothing to do about the personal likes or dislikes the vendor has for the customer. Of course, if the reason why a vendor refused to do business with a gay couple solely because of personal tastes, then there are examples, either past or will be in the future, where that vendor did business with a same-sex couple.

            Is it possible for conservative Christians not to be insular? Certainly, and the younger ones are taking the lead here. But the question here isn’t about the possibility as much as it is about what we, as a group, have chosen to become. Think about the benedict Option. How is that not an example of being insular? For my fellow Reformed Christians, think about how the regulative principle is applied to more than just worship? Think about who we go to for news and the real world’s facts on the ground. Don’t many Christians stay within a small circle of influence when it comes to learning about the world around them?

            As for insults, tell me how you would describe the conservataive Christian community and its relationship with the LGBT community when you consider the history of the relationship and our chief concerns about providing business services to those from the LGBT community. Which conservative Christians called for the decriminalization of homosexuality? Which conservative Christians want a repeal of the laws in those states that allow employers to terminate a worker’s position based on sexual orientation? Which conservative Christians are opposing proposed laws that would allow businesses to deny any services to people based on sexual orientation? Tell me if the majority of the religiuosly conservative Christians you knew, especially older ones, opposed legalizing same-sex marriage at least in part because such would such would cause society to see homosexuality as normal?

            Why do I stay with broad statements? It is because I am referribng to general trends among religiuosly conservative Christians and there is nothing wrong with using general trends when speaking about how conservative Christians treat those from the LGBT community?

            Getting back to the discussion, whether Christian business owners should provide goods and services to those in the LGBT community as a whole or to certain events such as weddings depends on multiple issues including religious liberty. I never excluded that from the discussion. What I have contended is that you can’t reduce the question to just religious liberty. You must include the historical context of the relationship between the conservataive Christian Church and the LGBT community as well as the kind economic system we have, our history with past discrimination such as Jim Crow and how similar that would be to what we are talking about, and the emergence of the LGBT community from the margin of society to a position of enjoy equality in society. Nothing I said indiated that we never consider the religious liberty issue. I just said that when we reduce the question about what Christian business onwers should be required to do when those from the LGBT community ask to do business, we show ourselves to be insular to a degree. And how insular we are depends on whom we listen to and read about the many issues we think about. So being insular is not this all-or-nothing label, its measurement is on a continuum.

            In the end, we religiously conservative Christians have had problems with living in real democracies. Why? Because democracy requires that you share society with others as equals. But we are so accustomed to hierarchy and thus dependent on authority and privilege. Why are some promoting the Benedict Option? Isn’t ibecause Christianity has at least partially lost its past pull in society and so now we want to retreat, at least in part, so that we can learn from each other how to respond to society? If that is an accurate description of the Benedict Option, how is it that those who support that option are not also supporting an increase ithe degree of insular we should become?

          • LC

            Curt,

            One of the reasons you don’t understand my or other logical arguments on this issue is you have swallowed “hook, line and sinker” the LGBT propaganda that their sexual actions is the basic essence of who they are, rather than a moral choice of what they do. In other words, they have cleverly and deceptively argued it is a civil rights issue when in reality it isn’t. Sadly, you have let yourself be misled into believing this lie. Curt, I know real people who were practicing gays and lesbians for several years who (after a genuine Christian conversion) left the lifestyle completely and some have married. So please spare me the argument that people steeped in this lifestyle cannot change. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, when describing the former lifestyle of some Christians (which in context referred to sinful actions including “anyone practicing homosexuality”) said this “and some of you used to be like this.” A person cannot change their race, but homosexual actions can most certainly be resisted. And according my friends mentioned above who have now married, even a person desires can change from homosexual to heterosexual.

          • LC,
            The issue isn’t whether people can change, the issue is what rights do those who don’t change have. If one believe in equality, it doesn’t take propaganda to understand what their rights should be. I didn’t come to my opinion by reading anyone’s propaganda. I came to my view in the early 90s just by thinking through the issues.

            If you would, please tell me why equality for those in the LGBT community does not revolve around civil rights.

          • DR84

            No one is being treated unequally or unfairly in any way if their homosexual relationship is not recognized as a marriage. This is not complicated. Marriage exists because humans are male and female. It is absurd to say that an instance of a marital union can exist between two males or two females. Men and women are not identical and not interchangeable. You may have thought about this in the 90s, but you did a poor job of it.

          • DR84,
            First, when you can be fired from your job because of your sexual orientation in 29 states, you are beng unequally and unfairly. And if you could not marry a fellow Christian because of their religion while people from other religions could marry in those in their religion, then you would complaing that you were being treated unfairly and unequally.

            For you and me, marriage exists for a male and female. But the religious views of some do not agree with us. Men and women are not itotally interchangeable for us, there is some crossover. But, for me, that is according to my religion. Others do not agree with me.

            So yes, when the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriages, the people invovled are being treated unequally and unfairly.

          • DR84

            So, two brothers that want a marriage license together, but can’t get one, are being treated unfairly and unequally just because they want a marriage license. Got it.

          • DR84,
            Since a brother cannot marry a sister, then both homosexuals and heterosexuals are on the same footing. And there are biologica reasons for prohibiting incest and they have to do with the children and their descendants.

            Now is that the only hypothetical you are going to use while avoiding answering the question.

          • DR84

            What is true about marriage that makes it impossible for two brothers to form a true marriage and possible for two unrelated men to form a true marriage?

          • DR84,
            The real issue here is the one you have been avoiding when you avoid answering the last question I asked you. The issue what you can compare same-sex marraige to, the issue is how will we share society with others including those from the LGBT community. Noting that Society is not bound by what the Bible says about sex and marriage, why is same-sex marriage not a civil right for those in the LGBT community?

            As for your reference between two brothers getting married, you are using that to, in some way, discredit same-sex marriage in society. And, as I pointed out, prohibiting two brothers from marrying does not infringe on the equality of the LGBT community since a brother cannot marry his sister.

          • DR84

            OK, for clarification, do you think is it a right for two men (homosexual partners) to be able to get a “marriage license” but not a right for two men (brothers) to get a “marriage licence”? If so, please explain why. This strikes me as blatantly inconsistent, arbitrary, and the bad kind of discriminatory.

            If you want bring up brothers and sisters marrying again, think more carefully. If two men can ” marry” why then should we even assume that by “marrying” a brother and sister would even engage in incestuous relations? After all, if two men can really “marry” then “marriage” does not require a sexual relationship at all.

          • DR84,
            I’ve already explained why in reference to society. Society has not allowed two heterosexual siblings to marry. Therefore, why is it inconsistent for 2 same sex siblings to marry if we are looking for equality between heterosexuals and those from the LGBT community?

            All I am saying, and this is inreference to society, is that those in the LGBT community be treated as equals to heterosexuals in society. Certainly, God doesn’t approve of any same-sex or incestuous coupling. But the issue has to do with a society we Christians are sharing with nonChristians, We regard the freedom of worship/religion as a right regardless of who or what is being worshipped and who or what the religion revolves around. That freedom of religion is not absolute when one’s exercise of religion iinfrignes on the rights of others. But outside of that, we recognize as a right the freedom of worship and religion. And how do we approach those who worship false gods? Do we legislate against them or do we preach the Gospel?

            What you don’t understand here is that I am not using your frame of reference, that is merely two men getting married, because the issue at hand is equality. And thus I refer to heterosexual siblings as my frame of refernece.

          • DR84

            Not recognizing same sex relationships as if they are marriages does not legislate against anyone. Same sex relationships are not identical to opposite sex relationships and there is no moral principle that mandates society great them identically.

            You can keep making this about some LGBT community, but that has nothing to do with anything. Two men simply cannot form a marital union like a man and woman can. Any practical issues, such as joint tax filing, could be just as useful for two brothers as two men involved in homosexuality.

            You are ultimately saying that society should affirm and celebrate homosexual conduct because the lGBt community wants that. You don’t care about equal treatment, fairness, justice, or truth. If you really are a Christian, you are a coward. We don’t have to cave to their incoherent nonsense.

          • DR84,
            Have yo asked same-sex couples that qustiion or are you speculating.

            See, all your objectsion are due to you religious objections to same-sex marriage. And from that, you believe that though same-sex couples can be denied the right to marry, that legislation goes against them.

            Your problem is that you are approaching this subject from heterosexual view so you speculate and use deduction. But your speculation and deduction does not reflect on the experiences that those who wish to be joined in same-sex marriage but were prohibited from doing so. And to get an idea of what it would be like, just picture a law that would prevent you from marrying a person who shares your religion.

            Until you can see this question from the other side, you will have no way of knowing the inequities involved. But you will write as if you know their experiences. Besides that,, I don’t why you don’t want to share society with them as equals.

          • DR84

            I know there are no inequities involved because I know men are not women and women are not men. I know a man can never have a relationship with another man like a woman can. I know this because of biology, not just because of religion.

            No one has been prevented from marriage. Same sex relationships are not marriages. It really is that simple.

          • DR84,
            According to whom does not recognizing same-sex marriages not legislating against them? And how can this be if the Republican wish that same-sex marriages should be decided in the states? And according to whom are same-sex relationships not equal to opposite sex relationships?

            The reason why the LGBT community has no say in this according to you is because of your definitions. And thus, you feel no need to listen to them and what life is like to them in a nation where they have had to fight tooth & nail to have the right marry the person of their choice and how, in 29 states, they can still lose their jobs because of their sexual orientation.

            This isn’t a question of giving into a group, this is a question of how we want to share society with others. According to you, you do not want to share society with the LGBT community as equals. I see no NT justification for that. But not only that, how will you be able to share the Gospel with people whom you look down on and whom you do not want to have the same rights as you because of the differences in your sexual orientations?

            See, according to you, the LGBT community should not have the same rights as people like you, people who are heterosexuals, in society. And no doubt, your beliefs are determined by your reading of the Scriptures. So how is it that when laws are based on your beliefs, that those not sharing your beliefs have the same freedom of religion as you do? And how would you not see as discriminatory any law that would prevent you from marrying a person of the same faith? The problem here seems to rest in what appears to be your belief that those from the LGBT community are not equal to us heterosexuals. And if I interpreted the problem correctly, the problem here is with your belief.

          • DR84

            I am not looking down on anyone. Why would you even accuse me of this?

            I am looking down on your reasoning; though. It’s childish and silly. You need to get your head on straight.

          • DR84,
            While you claim not to look down on anyone, you accuse me of having childish reasoning. Your refusal to recognize what life can be like for those in the LGBT community is like covering your eyes and ears so you don’t have listen to the other side.

          • DR84

            They are free to make their arguments. That they have failed to show up is on them. That they have instead bullied and steamrolled their way to get what they want is no credit to them.

            That you have bought their nonsense hook, line, and sinker is no credit to you.

            Marriage is not just whatever the LGBT coalition feels it should be. Yeah, it would hurt their feelings if two men in a gay relationship could not get a “marriage license” together. It hurts their feelings too if they can’t have their “wedding” exactly how and where they want it. Oh, and it would hurt their feelings if two brothers could get a “marriage license” together…it would violate the sanctity of their “gay marriages”. So, no, that can’t happen. So, yeah, you reason like a child because instead of caring about what is true and good, you have elected the LGBT coalition above all others and just want to cave to all of their emotional demands.

            They are human beings like everyone else, they are not gods, they should be treated like the rest of us.

          • DR84,
            IF you are going start insulting me as a way of arguing, then the conversation is over with. Again, the subject goes to how do we want to share society with others. Your subject is that we Christians get to define what marriage is and all other can like it or lump it.

            And if you are serious about treating those from the LGBT community like everyone else, then you would support their right to marry the person of their choice in same-sex marriages. Getting married is a thing human beings do. And society is what defines marriage for its members. We can argue that society is sometimes or even often wrong. But that is not the issue here, the issue is how we should share society with others. By insisting that society must use your definition of marriage, it appears that you do not want to share society with a host of people as equals.

          • DR84

            I’m not at all insisting society should use my definition of marriage. Far from it, society should simply recognize the truth about marriage. Which is not something we can just define any way want.

            Man and woman, in a faithful, committed union that connects generation to generation. That’s what we are talking about here. Same sex relationships are not this and cannot be this. We don’t have to pretend that they are and can just because the feelings of some who identify as gay are hurt by reality. Which is what you are saying we must do. It’s pathetic.

          • DR84,
            Yes you have insisted that society should use your definitio of marriage. After all, is your definition what you consider to be the truth about marriage? And where did you get that definition from? And why isn’t society free to add to that definition?

          • DR84

            Marriage is a name given to the reality that a committed and faithful union of a man and woman as a rule and by nature produces the next generation. This a fixed, unchangeable reality no matter how some define the word marriage.

            In other words, marriage is a name given to a discovered aspect of human nature. Even if the word marriage is redefined to be a name for something else, this thing it had been a name for still exists (just without a name).

          • DR84,
            Marriage is a social contract, not one created by nature. So tell me where did this social contract come from? For there is more than one social kind of social arrangement found in human history. So where did you get yours?

          • DR84

            How do you know that marriage is just a human invented social contract wholly disconnected from the natural reality of what human beings are?

            At least I can connect the dots between a natural reality of being human and the practice of marriage: that a committed and faithful man and woman produce the next generation and the practice of marriage, which requires…get this…a lifelong commitment to a faithful (exclusive, monogamous) relationship.

            Can you connect your claim to anything? I bet you can’t. I bet your “just a social contract” claim is nothing but a bald assertion.

            Even more amusingly, “just a social contract” does not get us “same sex marriage”…all it says is that it is one option among many, just like “sibling marriage” is. It offers us no reason at all as to why we ought to recognize it as a society. Just because we could make this “social contract” anything we want does not mean we have to.

          • DR84,
            Have you noticed that you have not mentioned your sources for your claims. You claimed that marriage was produced by nature. But, again, marriage is a social contractual relationship. One can easily see the variety of relationships between men and women that produced children by going back in history.

            Starting recently, between 1960 and 1980, most societies studied have been polygamous (see http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~drwhite/worldcul/Codebook4EthnoAtlas.pdf ). But going before that, we have polygamy, as well as the keeping of concubines, in the Old Testament. In history, polygamy was necessary for maintaining and even boosting the population. So certain hardships like subsistence living and war saw the use of polygamy to maintain the population. Seeing that Africa was most likely the place where our descendants came from, it was a place where polygamy would help. In addition, the number of wives could indicate the importance and economic status of a man. But it wasn’t just in Africa where polygamy was present, Germany during the 17 century allowed polygamy due to the loss of life due to the Thirty Years War. Polygamy began to fade because of the work of Christian missionaries (see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/the-big-question-whats-the-history-of-polygamy-and-how-serious-a-problem-is-it-in-africa-1858858.html ).

            Other places where polygamy was practiced included China, America by the Native Americans, Polynesia, India, and Greece (see https://www.polygamy.com/articles/24411273/history-of-polygamy).

            When there was a formal monogamy practiced, such as in the Greek world, men did have other lovers including prostitutes, concubines, and slaves was both socially and legally acceptable and, of course, some of these relationships produced offspring. In addition, what favors monogamy is not nature but certain political-economic conditions (see https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/scheidel/060807.pdf ).

            Now the above is a just a sampling of documented statements showing that your claim about monogamy being the tool nature uses to produce the next generation is not accurate. So please provide some documentation for your claims about faithful, monogamous relationships being what nature uses to produce the next generation.

          • DR84

            It is quite interesting you bring up polygamy given that it has nothing to do with same sex relationships. Polygamy always involved men and women. Yes, in some societies, men were not expected to be faithful. So what?

            This does not at all refute the reality that a man and woman who are both faithful to each for life have formed a relationship that as a rule and by nature produces the next generation. Which is more than just having babies, this also includes both man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father being there to raise their children.

            It also does not refute the reality that marriage should be committed and faithful. It is self evident that polygamy is not the right way to do marriage. Although, unlike same sex relationships, polygamous relationships at least have something akin to marriage embedded in them. So rather than helping your case for so called same sex marriage, polygamy adds to the case for man-woman marriage. Heck, even the people who were foolish enough to practice polygamy were not so foolish as to believe a man could actually marry man. They at least grasped marriage must include a man and woman, that it is meant to be permanent, and that at least one of the parties must be faithful. So called same sex marriage denies all of these things. Go figure.

          • DR84,
            The reason why I didn’t go through a history same-sex relationships and marriage is because I was addressing your claim that:


            Marriage is a name given to the reality that a committed and faithful union of a man and woman as a rule and by nature produces the next generation. This a fixed, unchangeable reality no matter how some define the word marriage.

            If you want, I will be glad to go through the history of Same-sex relationships too. But what I did show was that nature does not support your argument.

            BTW, when are you going to show documentation for your claims?

          • DR84

            Are you seriously asking for documentation to show that marriage requires lifelong commitment to a faithful union?

            Um, no, some truths are self evident. You might as well ask for documentation to show murder is wrong.

            Oh, and maybe just go to a wedding or try hitting on someone who is married if you just have to have documentation.

          • DR84,
            You’ve stated before that:


            Marriage is a name given to the reality that a committed and faithful union of a man and woman as a rule and by nature produces the next generation. This a fixed, unchangeable reality no matter how some define the word marriage.

            You’ve used this to refuse to recognize the legality of same-sex marriage. BTW, with it you assume that only the function of marriage is reproduction.

            Now I’ve shown that there are more examples of societies where your definition is not how marriage is practiced. Thus, one can conclude that what you claim is nature’s definition is not the case. I’ve documented those examples. And those examples include Old Testament examples

            So yes, I am asking for you to provide the documentation that your definition of marriage is the way by which nature produces the next generation. If it is so self-evident, why have so many societies gone against it?

            BTW, it is self- evident that murder is wrong. That is why is so easy to provide the documentation that states that murder is wrong. So claiming that your definition of marriage is self-evident is not a basis for you to refuse to recognize a law you don’t like.

            If it is so self-evident, you should have no trouble finding documentation to support your case. So where is your documentation?

          • DR84

            It is just as self evident that people ought to constrain their sexual relations to a lifelong monogamous relationship as it is that people ought not murder. Yet, human beings are broken and sinful, and we break all kinds of self evident moral truths. People are not faithful and people murder.

            Moral truths are not the type of truths that lend themselves to documentation. It is not as if there is some sort of methodology like science from which to discover these kinds of truths. Hence why they are self evident.

            Of course, both of these are also backed up by the Bible. Which if is indeed from God (which I believe is the case) very much validates them.

            So bringing up examples of past societies who transgressed moral laws really does not mean much. It does not refute my position and does not help yours one bit. Using those same past societies failures to justify transgressing moral laws in the present is absurd. Just because something can be done, or has been done, it does not follow that it *ought* to be done.

            To bring this back to so called same sex marriage, yes the law can be written to recognize two person same sex relationships the same as marriages. Legal authorities can issue “marriage licenses” to two people of the same sex. This can happen and has happened. My question for you is why this *ought* to have happened?

          • vorpal

            “human beings are broken and sinful, and we break all kinds of self evident moral truths”

            Speak for yourself.

            1. I’m not broken in the slightest.

            2. The concept of sin is a ridiculous measure of how strictly one adheres to the bunch of ancient, man-made rules that one selects from the bible. Thus, I assert that I’m also not a sinner.

            What is self evident is how completely moronic justifying your views by appealing to self evidence is.

          • DR84

            If you ever get cheated on, don’t get upset, you have no reason to be. You were not wronged.

          • vorpal

            Well, there’s a non sequitur if I ever saw one.

          • DR84,
            What you call self-evident is not confirmed by others. It is self-evident to you and some others. But many people don’t find it to be self-evident and that was in the Old Testament. In fact, you could make a case that it wasn’t self-evident when either Jesus was here on earth or during the Apostolic times because it had to be preached so often.

            And who says moral truths don’t lend themselves to documentation. The Scriptures are full of moral truths and they are repeated over and over.

            What you seem to be saying is that what you refagd as truth is self-evident truth for everybody. That obviously isn’t true. But it is a neat way to argue because all you have to do is to proclaim, you don’t have to prove. Such is not the example in Church history. For while Paul says that God is evident in nature, he still makes the case as have many Christians afterwards.

            Yes, bringing up what past societies does mean a lot. Though it may not change what God demands, it tells us much of what people think, know and want. And it challenges your claims about how self-evident your moral truths are.

            Finally, yes, we should have legalized same-sex marriage. It isn’t society’s job to preach the Gospel and to teach people to be disciples. In fact, Paul exercises a level of disinterest in society’s sexual morality (see I Cor 5:12-13) as he tells the church there to discipline a member for a sexual sin that was regarded as being worse than homosexuality.

            Our job in a democratic society is to share it with others as equals, not as people who presume to have the right to rule over them. And sharing society with others as equals, our job is to keep groups from being marginalized. Otherwise, you really don’t have a democratic society.

          • LC

            Curt,

            What I reject is that the LGBT are a special class of people who need special civil rights protection, but are in fact men and women who have banded together to attempt force everyone to approve the legitimacy of their sexual actions. The problem we have here is with our definitions of key words. Equality to you means that no one has the right to publicly disapprove of another’s actions. Again, your civil rights argument is based on the assumption that LGBT are a special class like race, which it is not. You believe that anyone who has a business offering services to the public, has no civil right to refuse to provide a service that violates his or her freedom of conscience.
            You need to read again my earlier post. I did not say that LGBT have lesser rights than anyone else and I gave illustrations that everyone should have the right to refuse to be a part of something that violates their conscience. Again I reiterate my point, the Christian baker should not be forced to bake a gay wedding cake anymore than the gay baker should have to bake a cake that quotes a Bible verse that condemns his or her actions or a Muslim printer should have to print a disrespectful photograph of Muhammad. This is treating everyone equally.

          • LC,
            What I want is that those in the LGBT community be counted as equal to us and so they have the right to be married to whom they choose, that they cannot be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation, and that they face no other kind of discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

            As for definitions, you are wrong about the word equality. ILt doesn’t mean that you can’t disapprove, it means that you are obligated to treat them as equals regardless of whether you approve of them or not

            And no, my civil rights argument is not based on whether they are a special group of people; my argument is that they deserve what I deserve.

            And yes, yuo do believe that the LGBT community should be treated as a lesser group of people. THat is why you feel no need to listen to them when you want to legally prohibit same-sex marriage. And what you say about businesses being able to refuse toserve those whom they want to, that was part of what Jim Crow was about.

          • Guest

            The idea that this is an invidious, class-based discrimination is, simply put, completely bonkers. I mean, spend five minutes reading about the Baronelle Stutzman case: she *is still* employing people who are gay and lesbians, and she had denied to participate in the wedding despite serving her client for other needs for practically a decade.

            And that line of reasoning is ‘bonkers’. In the south restaurants would seat African Americans in the dining room, just not at the lunch counter. Everyone could ride the bus, just that African Americans had to ride in the back. Hotels would rent to African Americans, they just weren’t allowed to use the pool or the public restrooms.

            The standards for civil rights is “full enjoyment of all services” Not ‘some’, not ‘most.’

            Arlene’s Flowers Inc. LLC had an employee that would have gladly taken care of this customer’s needs, they were ordered by the business owner to not do so. To their credit they quit on the spot rather than comply with an order to treat customers illegally.

            And Barronelle didn’t need to ‘participate’ in the wedding at all – it is the business with the obligation to respect the civil rights of invited customers, not any particular employee.

            And the simple solution that all these businesses could have taken is the one that Arlene’s Flowers LLC has done – they no longer offer custom wedding floral services to the general public. Just as the deli owner who can’t in good conscience sell pork as the law requires obviously gives up all potential pork profits so does a florist shop owner who can’t do the same with custom wedding floral services.

          • Your use of ‘participate’ (and again, scare quotes!) makes it clear that you don’t know how the term functions in moral reasoning. The reason why Arlene’s Flowers told the employee no is because, as the business owners, they would still be morally, legally, and in every other way complicit in the wedding. You may disagree–but if you want to argue that they’re wrong, you should at least try to understand what the term means.

            I have no idea what your paragraph about Barronelle means.

            And thanks for showing your cards with the final paragraph. For some businesses (wedding photographers), that puts them out of business completely. Such a liberal, tolerant, and inclusive society you’re aiming to build here!

          • Guest

            ‘Participation’ requires actually doing something new, and baking a cake or making flower arrangements is no more participating in the marriage or wedding than the bakery selling me the bag of rolls is ‘participating’ in my evening dinner.

            And that expansive use of the term ‘participating’ was tried in the recent case involving the city council in Greece, NY having opening prayers. The atheists filing suit also said that someone else engaging in a religious activity was somehow forcing them to ‘participate’ and the Supreme Court said ‘no, you aren’t – only the people actually engaging in the religious activity are participating in it.

            ‘Showing my cards’? Again, they can restructure they business as a private club or non-profit, both business models that allow the business to find the customers they can in good conscience sell to and then make the invitation of sale just to them.

            Again, the need to religiously discriminate is the business owner’s, its up to them to figure out a way to do so while respecting the customer’s civil rights.

            But make an offer to everyone and then apply a religious test to the responding customers? Sorry the customer cannot be held to a religious standard they have a constitutional right NOT to share, their own right to religious freedom shields them from such invidious and odious acts by the business.

          • “‘Participation’ requires actually doing something new, and baking a cake or making flower arrangements is no more participating in the marriage or wedding than the bakery selling me the bag of rolls is ‘participating’ in my evening dinner.”

            Yup. You just don’t understand how the term functions in moral reasoning.

            You can’t restructure a wedding photography company, flower company, cake company, etc. as a “non-profit” or a “private club” and operate for the ends of profit. That’s called “fraud.”

            Again, it’s not applying a “religious test to the responding customers.” It’s a religious test to the events the customers are asking about; in Stutzman’s case, she had served the gay client for 9 years, and then declined to do his wedding. And your suggestion that declining to do a wedding is somehow making the customer “share” their religious belief is….well, I have no idea how that would work, any more than my declining to agree with you would somehow be making you “share” my commitments and beliefs.

            Matt

          • Guest

            So you are saying the SCOTUS got it wrong, that the city council IS forcing the atheists to participate in the prayer and therefore it should have been proscribed? I actually think the court got it right – if the person isn’t praying or actually in the marriage ceremony they aren’t participating in the event. If they think they are then they shouldn’t be offering such things to the general public.

            Many clubs and non-profits make lots of money and pay hefty salaries to their employees, no fraud involved.

            Yes, they are applying a religious test to the customers – they are having a wedding consistent with their beliefs and the business is refusing them because of those beliefs. None of these cases are because of any objective difference the customer had for the product or service they were buying. If some fool told me they didn’t make gay wedding cakes I’d tell them “Fine, I’ll take a straight wedding cake then!” (Hint: they are identical in appearance and materials).

            And you seem bright, the idea you can’t see the business is saying the customer is doing their wedding ‘wrong’ seems more willful than likely. Tough the appeals to ‘but they will sell them most of their services’ shows a basic lack of understanding of what civil rights are all about.

          • Thanks, “Guest.” I’m about done here, so I’ll make this my last comment and then you can have the final word.

            1) What counts as participation in prayer is not equivalent to what counts as participation in other matters. If I make a cake and drop it off at your wedding, it would be like asking the atheist to write the prayer (and use Christian words). The latter would be bad; as the former is a mental act, participation must be voluntary and cannot be established by simply being present when it is happening.

            2) It doesn’t matter how much money people make; it is *unquestionably* fraud if a business operates for the sake of profit under the guise of a non-profit. The reason why the standards for getting non-profit status are so stringent are to ensure people don’t pursue the option you’re commending. That’s relatively basic.

            3) If you want to get specific, there are material differences: the cakes have two men or two women on top, for instance. But even if not, it doesn’t matter once you understand what constitutes participation, and why providing a cake to one event you deem morally licit is licit, and providing the same sort of cake to an illicit event is in fact illicit.

            4) I don’t know what you mean in that final paragraph; it’s not clear at all. I can see that declining a service indicates that the business thinks the customer is doing something ‘wrong’; however, that in no way forces the customer to agree with the business’s judgment, any more (and I repeat myself) than me thinking you are wrong makes you obligated to agree with me.

            And, that’s all I’ve got. Have a great day.

            Best,

            Matt

          • Guest

            1) if making a cake is ‘like a prayer’ why was the business offering it to the public with a right to not share the business owner’s beliefs in the first place?

            2) Ha talk to the Catholic Church and the Mormons if that were indeed the case. Non-profits make lots of money, no fraud involved.

            3) No case ever got to that point, no customer was refused because they insisted on such speciality. Any business could just not carry same-sex wedding toppers and any case that was because of that would be very different than the ones that have gone to court.

            4) and I can’t see why you don’t. They are refusing an event that is different from any other event they would do by a single factor – the sex of one person getting married. If that isn’t because they thought they were the ‘wrong’ sex then I think you are being more pedantically combative than earnest in the discussion. If there is nothing ‘wrong’ with the event then why are they refusing it in the first place?

          • Thanks for the discussion. Have a great day.

            Best,

            Matt

          • Guest

            Take care.

          • Guest,
            I’ve agreed with most of what you wrote. The disparity in the perceived roles many nonChristian business owners and those for many Chrisian business owner is that the roles for the latter is that of being a missionary in the business field. Their business is their ministry. Such a view excludes their actual role in a society with a Capitalist economic system.

          • Guest

            As with so many you seem to be ignoring the religious liberties of the customers.

            Everyone has a right to freedom of belief and exercise, everyone at the business, everyone they publicly invite to come do business with them. As such every single one of them has a right to not share the beliefs of the other.

            The business owner voluntarily made an invitation to the general public to come and buy their wares and services knowing that each of these customers has a constitutional right to NOT share their beliefs.

            And beyond that, the public by constitutional and legal means has acknowledged civil rights one of which is that a publicly invited customer has a right to their own beliefs and still can have ‘full enjoyment of all’ products and services the business offers to them.

            Just as a deli couldn’t refuse to sell pork to someone they knew was a Jew because they think Jews shouldn’t eat pork so can’t a bakery refuse to sell a cake to someone because they don’t think they are marrying properly.

            And yes, any employee at the business can ask for religious accommodation, and the business owner should accommodate them, but that doesn’t free the business from treating the customer legally and constitutionally. Let another employee take care of the sale, hire a temp, 3rd party contract the job out.

            Or, most simply, don’t offer the public something they can’t sell to people of all beliefs.

          • Refusing to provide a service for a particular event is not a demand that customers “share the beliefs” of the business owner. Suppose an event planner was approached by Playboy and asked to host a Playboy party on their grounds. Suppose that they have deep feminist objections to the degradation of women’s sexuality that Playboy represents. Suppose that they say “no” on these grounds. How is that requiring Playboy to share their views?

            Again, read the article I linked. In one of these cases, a printer was defended by a lesbian-owned business…because they didn’t want to have to be compelled to print religiously-themed posters, t-shirts, etc.

            So, I guess, take it up with them.

          • Guest

            Why do people on your side of the issue always bring up things that have nothing to do with any recognized civil right?

            Of course a business can refuse a Playboy party, they can refuse a customer because they are left-handed if they want. That has nothing to do with the civil right to religious belief AND those things closely associated with it, which obviously would include marriage and weddings. How did the late Justice Scalia put it “a tax on yarmulkes is a tax on Jews”. Ditto refusing some one’s ‘event’ that is consistent with their beliefs is refusing them because of their beliefs.

            And yes, there are some who are fine with establishing a right to religious discrimination not thinking forward enough to how that would eventually hurt everyone.

            Simplest solution – don’t offer something to the public that can’t be sold while respecting the customer’s religious rights.

          • “Guest,”

            Because the point of principle is, in fact, the same, and because my “side” rejects the idea that (a) gay marriage is, in fact, a civil right (namely, we think Kennedy was wrong), and thinks that (b) even if it *were* a civil right, it needs to be established *through argument* that such a right should trump the rights of business owners and providers. We also reject the claim that a civil right to a gay marriage entails that people have a civil right to (say) having that gay marriage wherever they want, with whatever photographer they want, with whatever cake-maker they want, etc. A civil right to the wedding certificate from the state does not entail that business owners have no rights about whether they are going to participate in the celebration of those events. That simply doesn’t follow.

            Matt

          • Guest

            Your reply is all over the map. ‘Gay marriage’ isn’t a civil right any more than ‘marriage’ is a civil right. The constitutional right was access to the civil contract titled ‘Marriage’, you can license with a wife so can every other citizen, ditto for a husband. We all have a right to access to that civil contract regardless of our sex.

            And no right is trumping the rights of the business owner or providers. They have no right to require customers to hold any particular beliefs, the customers have a right to their own beliefs. If the business didn’t want to do business with people of all beliefs they wouldn’t have made an offer to the general public in the first place.

            And again, it is the business with the obligation to the invited customer, not any particular employee. It is the photography studio with the obligation, not a particular photographer – it is the bakery with the obligation, not any particular baker.

            And if the business can’t in good conscience sell wedding services to people of all beliefs then they need not offer them to the general public in the first place. Again, there are other business models spelled out in civil rights laws they can run that will allow them to sell their wares to just those with the ‘right’ beliefs.

          • Guest,

            Right. You’ve described what the Supreme Court has decided (for now). I explained why we reach for other examples; we do so (in part) because we think the SC is wrong.

            “And no right is trumping the rights of the business owner or providers. They have no right to require customers to hold any particular beliefs, the customers have a right to their own beliefs.”

            Until you can give me a single reason to believe that refusing to participate in a particular event (which was the gist of my Playboy example–FWIW) is requiring customers to hold their beliefs….this is no longer a profitable conversation. By declining to provide you the service of responding, I’m not the least bit obligating you to agree…nor is the business owner obligating anyone to agree with him when he turns down someone for whatever reason he pleases.

            I see little point in going forward, given that we’re now at the ‘repeating ourselves’ stage.

            Best,

            Matt

          • Guest

            Until you can give me a single reason to believe that refusing to participate in a particular event is requiring customers to hold their beliefs

            The customer’s have a civil right to buy any publicly offered product or service regardless of their beliefs and the nature of their wedding is directly related to those beliefs.

            Ergo they are refusing the customer because they have the ‘wrong’ beliefs and resultant ‘wrong’ kind of wedding in the religious view of someone at the business. That is a violation the customer’s constitutional right to freedom of religion and their civil rights.

            Is that a enough of a ‘single reason’ for you? There is no right to require a customer to comply with a religious standard they have a constitutional right not to share to actually buy the product or service they were invited to come and buy.

          • My response to you below covers this, too.

          • TCap

            No one is denying gay people the “right” to marry. That right does not also convey to them the right to compel the participation of others. There is no such thing as a right that requires anyone else to participate through coercion.

          • Guest

            No one is being ‘compelled’, ‘coerced’ or any other thing. These are members of the public responding to a completely voluntary invitation by the business to come and buy the very things the customers are asking to buy.

            If the business didn’t want to sell these things to the public while respecting their civil rights and freedom of religion they wouldn’t have made the offer to the general public in the first place. There are other business models for those who only want to sell to a subset of the general population that all involve associating with this group first and then making just them the invitation to come do business.

            Can’t sell something to people of all beliefs then making an offer to the general public is the wrong way to go, the customer’s own right to religious freedom and expression shields them from any religious test the business might toss their way. That the business owner’s beliefs say they can’t marry someone of the same sex has nothing to do with a customer who’s beliefs say they can.

          • DR84

            “These are members of the public responding to a completely voluntary invitation by the business to come and buy the very things the customers are asking to buy”

            So, a wedding cake baker must bake a wedding cake for someone’s birthday party? That is ultimately what you are getting at. If someone bakes cakes that are recognizably wedding cakes (tiered, etc), they must make a recognizable wedding cake for any kind of event at all. They cannot only make them for events they have good reason to believe are bona fide weddings.

            If you want to say “well those two men believe they are marrying each other” so what? Someone could also say their birthday party is a “wedding”.

            If you want to say that “but the government says those two men are having a wedding”…then just be honest and own that the government will be making that baker conform to it’s beliefs about marriage, which necessarily violates the beliefs of the baker, if they want to continue being a wedding cake baker (https://stream.org/christian-baker-forced-bake-gay-wedding-cakes-make-no-wedding-cakes/).

          • Guest

            1) This is about a bakery business, not a baker – any employee of a business can ask for religious accommodation and should get it.
            2) A customer can buy an advertised product for any use they want – a wedding, a prop in a high school play, buy it and toss it in the trash on their way out the door.
            3) a business could, in theory, refuse to sell the cake for some uses, but not for any reason protected as a civil right. Not directly or indirectly because of creed (including marriages consistent with those beliefs), sex (including the sexes of the couple getting married), or in many places sexual orientation. AND the business owner knew this before making the public invitation of sale.

            Obviously the business owner can’t require that the customer comply with a religious standard they don’t share. Can’t require the customer put their groceries in separate dairy and meat refrigerators to keep a Kosher law they don’t believe in, can’t require that one of a couple getting married be a different sex for the same kind of reason – the customer can still buy the groceries or cake.

          • DR84

            You might have a point if there was a bakery that premade wedding cakes and sold them off the shelf.

            Which is not how most bakeries work. They meet with the couple and make a special cake for that couple to help them celebrate their event.

            So the wedding cake baker and other wedding vendors help men and women celebrate their marriages. You think that just because they do this they should also have to help two men celebrate their homosexual conduct. This is an obvious violation of freedom and obviously imposes on the wedding vendor.

          • Guest

            And again avoiding the fact it is the business with the obligation to obey public accommodation laws, not any particular baker.

            If the business couldn’t sell a product to the public as the law requires they wouldn’t be offering it to the public in the first place.

          • DR84

            Sure, in some places courts have basically said wedding vendors have to help two men celebrate their homosexual conduct. They don’t have to help two or three men celebrate their friendship, they are free to help them or not. It is only two men who are sexually stimulating each other that these wedding vendors must help.

            I agree that in some places that is the “law”, but on what basis should I agree with this ” law”? Do you think this law is just and right? If so, please explain. If not, do you think unjust laws must be obeyed?

          • Guest

            If you think it is unjust break it, as these businesses did.

            Problem solved.

          • DR84

            So you do think it is just wonderful to make a wedding photographer arrange and take a photo of two men romantically kissing each other, yet allows the same photographer to freely decline to photograph the “wedding” of two men who refuse to romantically kiss each other. Got it. Glad we cleared that up. Oh, and I hope everyone breaks this law you seem to think is just wonderful. Your “law” is garbage.

          • Guest

            Your attempt to craft straw men proceeds. Since your ability to guess thoughts is nonexistent there’s nothing really to discuss.

            When you can remember its the photography studio that is regulated and not the photographer come on back.

          • DR84

            This is no straw man. This is the “law” you are defending.

            That is a distinction without a difference. It is not as if someone ceases to be a human being just because they are making a living.

            That photographer’s are regulated at all is an issue in and of itself. This particular regulation imposed on them is nothing short of criminal.

          • Guest

            That the photography studio is demanding the right to religiously discriminate against the public is what’s unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, and unChristian.

          • DR84

            So it is immoral, unChristian, and (should be) illegal for a photographer to be willing to arrange and take a photo of a man romantically kissing his bride but not a man romantically kissing another man? Am I understand this correctly?

          • Guest

            If the business advertised the sale of wedding photography, yes. offering something for sale and then not selling it legally is an abomination according to the Bible, a Christian wouldn’t offer something for sale they didn’t intend to sell legally.

          • DR84

            Christians are to follow God’s law above the laws of man. Helping two men kiss each other is a plain violation of God’s law.

            It is also a violation of our Constitution. That is an establishment of religion, a religion that demands all act as if homosexual conduct is morally good.

          • Guest

            again the business need not offer anything to the public they feel they can’t in good conscience sell legally; Arlene’s Flowers no longer offers custom wedding floral services, Masterpiece Cakes no longer sells wedding cakes.

            Problems solved.

          • DR84

            If you dont want to ride the bus legally by sitting at the back, then dont ride the bus.

            Problem solved.

          • ʇsǝnƃ

            Which is why the Civil Rights Act was federally passed, and is why state and local civil rights laws had been passed since the late 19th century, some of the earliest being to prevent religious discrimination in making a public offer just as these businesses want to do.

            Can’t sell something to people of all beliefs then an invitation to the public isn’t the way to go. Either the business sells wedding products or services to the general public of all beliefs, even those that include marriage regardless of sex, or that business needs to find the people the owner will sell to first and then make the invitation to just them.

          • DR84

            Please find just one case of a wedding vendor refusing to help someone celebrate their marriage because somehow that vendor found out that their potential customer believes a marriage can exist without a man or woman.

          • ʇsǝnƃ

            Wow a double straw man question.
            1) This is about a business selling the member of the public something they voluntarily offered to same while respecting their civil rights.
            2) The customer’s beliefs are none of the business owner’s concern – they knew they had to sell to them regardless of what they are in respect of their civil rights.

          • DR84

            If a gay photographer refuses to shoot the “wedding” of two men that are not at all involved in homosexuality. Would you say anyone’s “civil rights” are being violated?

            I am pretty confident said photographer would not be breaking any “anti-discrimination” laws. I am pretty sure if the two (straight) men sued, they would get laughed out of court, and most judges would rule that making that gay photographer photograph the straight man wedding would be “discrimination”.

          • ʇsǝnƃ

            This is about a photography studio, not a photographer.

            And more straw man arguments. Yes if a photography studio refused to take pictures because the subjects were straight they would be breaking the law. The civil rights category is ‘sexual orientation’, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or asexual.

            Had a case in Seattle where a straight waitress said the new management was replacing all the straight staff with any gay ones. She won her case.

          • DR84

            You might be right, some judge may rule that an act of sex or sexual orientation “discrimination”. However given that judges have pretty well ruled that same sex so called marriage is for people who engage in homosexuality only (the possibility of two straight men “marrying” remains inconceivable), I find it very doubtful that this would be the ruling. In fact, I believe that this judge would basically have to tear down the Obergefell ruling in order to go against the hypothetical gay photographer that refuses to shoot a straight man “wedding” because doing so would violate his beliefs about marriage. This because that ruling is based on “equal protection” for people that identify as gay, not for people that do not.

            Anyway, you keep speaking of “civil rights” and I think it is prudent for the reality of these “civil rights” mean. Two men who identify as gay have the “civil right” to make someone who makes a living photographing weddings attend their “wedding” and arrange pictures of the two men kissing each other. Even if this photographer believes that being at the “wedding” and taking those pictures is a crime worthy of condemning someone to eternal separation from God. If you are not following along, people who identify as gay have the “civil right” to either send someone to hell (so to speak) or make them unemployed (and based on rulings in Oregon and Washington…broke and destitute with nothing but the goodwill of others to keep them going).

            This is what you are defending, making people choose between hell or being destitute.

          • ʇsǝnƃ

            Two men who identify as gay have the civil right “civil right” to accept the freely made invitation to buy make made by someone a photography business who makes a living photographing weddings attend their wedding “wedding” and arrange pictures of the two men kissing each other as they freely offered the public to come buy from them.

            There fixed that for you.

            A customer has a right to buy a freely offered service from a business secure in the knowledge they won’t be refused because of their membership in a civil rights class. The business wouldn’t be offering the service if they couldn’t provide it legally, especially a Christian. And since many photography studios, florist shops, and bakeries don’t do customer wedding work at all the hysteria hyperbole is just that.

            Your false choice between two extremes his laughable. Point of fact Arlene’s Flowers LLC only made 4% of their gross income from custom wedding services, they haven’t provided them for over 3 years in keeping with the owner’s “conscience” and they’re doing just fine.

          • DR84

            Whatever you want to call, such a “right” is entirely fabricated.

            Also, the photographer that refuses to take a photo of a man kissing a man is not at refusing a customer based on any class. These photographers (or bakers, florists, etc) would refuse regardless of the sexual orientation of the customers. They would not attend and photograph a same sex “wedding” between two straight women or bake a cake to celebrate the “wedding” of two straight women either.

            The Klein’s in Oregon have been sued into practically oblivion and are only doing ok because of the kindness of good people. Elane in New Mexico, last I knew, was no longer a photographer, and my understanding is that Arlene is facing total financial ruin due to her lawsuit.

          • RustySkywater

            However given that judges have pretty well ruled that same sex so
            called marriage is for people who engage in homosexuality only

            Because bisexual people don’t exist and have never existed?

          • Guest,
            I would add that the business owner has not just made an invitation to the public to come to do business. By becoming a business owner, that person has obligated themselves to serve the public through business transactions since the private sector is the primary agent for providing many goods and services.

  • Namyriah

    My alma mater (the one in the photo) was the Harvard of evangelical schools, now it has its own group for gay students, so “evangelical” is now about as devoid of meaning as “Christian,” since the evangelicals are on the same arc as the mainlines, just a little behind schedule in embracing feminism, sodomism, and earth worship. I expect (and hope) that once they’ve dumped Christianity and fully signed on with liberalism, they will decline in numbers just as the post-Christian mainlines have done. Good riddance. God doesn’t need institutions, he needs individuals. If we have to meet in homes, as in the original model, that’s great.

    • RustySkywater

      Wow: nothing can satisfy you. Even Wheaton isn’t to your liking. (Was their ending of their prohibition on dancing the final straw for you?)

  • Achtung

    Jake: Thank you for the article. What you did not mention was that Philip Jenkins, while he does catalogue the death of Christian communities in many parts of the founding East, he still urges the reader to analyze the death of those communities by understanding the concept of time. Were we to understand the demise of these communities in terms of finiteness, then we all must despair. Were we to understand the demise of these communities in terms of the eternal arc, then we must rejoice since Jesus has overcome. Jenkins is very clear in encouraging his readers to embrace the concept of eternal time; after all, as Jesus himself stated the gates of hell have succumbed at the feet of the church.

    I also believe that the mainline church in the West is done for. The evangelicals will see a great splintering, too. Perhaps, the ethnic evangelical church, like the Latinos in the Assemblies of God, will be the only ones who subscribe to an orthodox faith. Reformed and orthodox institutions will struggle to thrive, but will exist. I believe that the orthodox and reformed community has to devise a completely new way of doing business ergo life. Perhaps, many orthodox pastors will face a time of destitution; maybe many will have to become like the country pastors of yore: working at a day job to pay the bills and ministering in the evenings and weekends. Colleges that are ABHE accredited stand a better chance of survival than regionally accredited ones, such as WASC in California.

  • Achtung

    Meanwhile, the church in the global south will continue to prosper. Churches in places like India, Iran and Indonesia will have a potentially larger pool of potential adherents. After all, in these highly religious places, there is a sufficient understanding of God. All that these peoples need is a necessary understanding of Jesus. Meanwhile, in the West, the elites and many White Europeans will increasingly have neither a sufficient understanding of God nor necessary understanding of Jesus. Oddly enough, the idea of god might exist in the Islamic communities, who themselves may be hounded by a more muscular laicite or secularism. We live in fascinating times. And, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and immediately afterwards, people gloated that religion was only the opium of the masses, a relic that would be slayed, quartered and buried.

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  • L C

    Practically speaking, one doable idea that could provide some significant financial help is if enough Christians would start strategically buying life insurance policies with churches and colleges as beneficiaries. Rev. Jerry Falwell, whatever a person’s opinion of him, left several million dollars through life insurance policies to Liberty University. Life Insurance companies, love them or hate them, have a remarkable record of consistently paying death claims even through the most difficult financial times (even during the great depression). To me this would be a practical application of Jesus” admonition that we be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

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