“If you feel uncomfortable around someone, it’s okay not to love them.”
Sometimes, I legitimately wonder if my eyes read different words in the Bible than other human beings. I don’t mean interpret the words differently, I mean, I legitimately wonder if the rods and cones functioning inside my eyeballs are picking up different words than what others read. Let me tell you a story…
One day, I chose to walk to work. On my path, I walked through a part of town that isn’t the safest, particularly at night. This doesn’t mean the area is poor, quite the contrary. Actually, the area is quite wealthy with old mansions lining the busy roads. Consider it a ‘diamond in the rough’.
It was 9am, so I figured I’d be fine. Shortly after I began my walk, I approached a big house with a sign in the neat lawn. “Jesus loves you” the sign read. As a Christian, I recognize this to be true for any person, Christian or not and appreciated the sentiment on my dreary walk to work. I continued walking and as I got closer, I studied the architecture of the house: dark stone and gothic looking. It was beautiful. I stopped and began to really study it. My eyes fell upon the sign again. This time, I noticed it was behind a fence: a very tall fence. A fence designed like most fences, to keep things out. In this context, it was designed to keep people out. I added the words ‘but we can’t take that risk’ to the end of the sign’s message.
Welcome to Christianity in America 2014.
I wish I could argue “those people are not Christians! That is not Christianity! Please don’t judge me as a Christian because of these people!”, but I can’t make that argument. They are Christians, because that’s what they call themselves, and the world is learning what ‘Christian’ means based on this sign behind a very tall fence.
Recently, the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill allowing any business, business employee, or government employee to refuse service to any individual or couple based on the servicer’s genuinely held religious beliefs. The law is written so vaguely, that anyone can hide behind this ‘fence’, while claiming ‘Jesus Loves You’.
Hurray for freedom.
Businesses operate in their own interests. This has been true since the first transaction of mankind. America has become what it is today, for better or worse, because of the maximum allowance for a business to operate in their own interest. We try to be as Laissez-Faire as possible.
Now, stop what you’re doing and go read ‘The Jungle’ by Upton Sinclair.
You done? Okay. Laissez-Faire can only extend so far for economic advancement. Fortunately, we as a society for the most part, have recognized this, and placed necessary regulations on businesses to serve the larger population for the maximum benefit for the most people. Not all regulations are necessary, and some are quite obtrusive, particularly in regards to small businesses. This is as conservative as my blood gets: I think ‘If I own a business, I should dictate how I serve, who I serve and refuse to serve and that is my God-given, American-given right whether you agree with it or not!’.
And then I remember that I don’t own a business.
Businesses are becoming fewer and bigger, being granted more control on trade of goods and services to a larger population than ever before not only in their size, but in their power and might in the regulation environment.
To the mom & pop shop in Small Town, Kansas: if you don’t want to serve someone for whatever reason, go ahead. You will immediately see your profits suffer so it’s likely that you won’t discriminate to begin with: a dollar is a dollar. Do what you want. If you can afford to claim that you can’t because of your religious beliefs, go ahead, but I have to inform you that if you are screaming Jesus Christ as the reason behind that tall fence of yours, you are not practicing love as He taught it. For argument’s sake, if we are to believe as you do that a gay relationship is a sin, even then, you are still required by Christ to serve and love both of the individuals as you would any other person or couple. Anything less is your selfish fear; it is your price when you stand before the King.
Do I sound as though I’m persecuting you? I assure you, I’m not. I share pain with Christians who have been taunted, made fun of, lost friendships and been hated for decisions over our faith. It is not easy to be a Christian in this world, although I can’t equate being forced to render your public services fairly and equally as ‘persecution’. We have to go back a few centuries for Christians to find legitimate persecution, and only a few decades for Jews. Sometimes I wonder if we are digging our own torture chambers to be ‘persecuted’ in?
The real problem for the public is not the mom and pop businesses. It is that this allows the big businesses, with more control over trade and goods in Kansas the power to discriminate however they please claiming ‘religion’ as their defense, and not just towards the LGBT community. When laws start incorporating language like ‘genuinely held beliefs’, it means ‘anything goes’.
It could mean that if I were working as a server at a restaurant, I don’t have to serve the sad excuse of a man that Rep. Charles Macheers is because I genuinely believe him to be a completely inept asshole with one thumb up his ass and the other in his mouth. It’s my religion that tells me that. I’m no lawyer, but quite frankly, my feelings toward this man are slowly becoming as deeply ingrained in me as any religion. I can prove that, even- no, especially in the Kansas Supreme Court.
However, I’m a Christian. I would serve him his dinner because I am called to love my fellow brother. It’s a shame he, and any other supporter of this bill, doesn’t share that sentiment and is instead, shouting about Jesus behind a very tall, but shrinking fence.