Pharisees Among Us

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed religious beliefs as a defense for denying service to others.  I think this was wise.  As I’ve read, this stemmed from instances where a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, and a photographer similarly refused service due to their beliefs that gay marriage is wrong.

There are many aspects on this that might be commented on, but for a blog read by just a few, I’ll save some time and express just two.

1) In a more perfect world, where “live and let live” rules, an offended person would gladly place their business with someone who wants to prosper their livelihood by providing a requested service.  Demonstrations, government fines, new laws, and demonizing would have no place in it. 

However, this isn’t a more perfect world, so we’ll continue to legislate morality until everyone adheres to it or is fitfully punished... never mind that the ideal morality is consensus based and ever changing.  If I read the trend correctly, everything desirable to an individual or collective constituency should be permitted as long as it doesn’t harm others.  However, if an individual or collective constituency expresses disagreement about what is permitted to others, then they are excommunicated within the prevailing culture.

2) Christians need to re-read the Book.  I’m aware of a couple that, as they became more conservative in their beliefs, cut off relationships with other friends because of they didn’t approve of behavior that might set bad examples for their kids.  What was the offense?  “Fun” poker – no money involved.

It’s easy to become judgmental.  You don’t need religion for that, as is obvious by most of the Western Civilization’s condescension given to people of faith.  But, sometimes people of faith are stupid.  There I go being judgmental.

The Bible does provide quite a list of things to be judgmental about.  God condemns this, that and the other thing.  These things, and interpretations vary... are considered sin.   People are told to repent and sin no more.  More to the point, homosexuality is not the only sin identified.  I can’t help but wonder if those refusing to serve a gay wedding ask of others:

Is this your first marriage?  Oh, second? Okay, then.  Did your divorce result from the only stated biblically recognized grounds of adultery or abandonment?  No?  Well, then, I”m sorry.  We can’t serve you.”

Of course not.

If Christians were to sell their wares only to the sinless, they’d be out of business.  Those that pick and choose which sins they’ll serve, or not serve, should be out of business.  You open a public business, you don’t discriminate.

Proclaiming what is “right” and what is “wrong” misses the point of evangelism, however it is intended.  Faith must be defended when assaulted, but Christ never used it as a tool to divide, demean, or diminish.  He wasn’t a hater.  In the full faith of Christian salvation, there should be an attitude of gratitude, not judgment.

Judgment does not reflect well on inclined Christians.  Consider Matthew 5:14-16:

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Judgmental attitudes take the light and place it under a bowl.  Would Jesus have gone to a gay wedding?  My reading is that he wouldn’t have approved of it, but the Bible is clear that he wouldn’t have shunned the people or turned them away.  He reserved that for the Pharisees, the practitioners of religion who liked their company firmly within the bowl.  People who want to save the world first have to be willing to walk among it.

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