A bill recently passed in the Kansas House would allow any individual, business or religious group with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to refuse services, facilities, goods, employment or employment benefits related to any same-sex marriage or domestic partnership.
It’s called “The Religious Freedom Protection Act” and I have friends who are on both sides of this bill. But I want to think about this complicated issue from a particular perspective. How should Christ-followers in the marketplace deal with others with whom they have significant moral disagreements?
Followers of Jesus have to ask hard questions of ideas and movements that come along using religious language. While the language may seem to promote religion, does it truly reflect Christian faith and practice?
Jesus’ most famous message is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In it he sketches for us his alternative way of living in this world.
Jesus teaches that we can trust our Father in heaven to take care of us, one way or another, and that this is the very best way to live. There are no magic promises and not everything will unfold according to our liking. But because God’s nature is loving and generous, we are to be loving and generous with others, too, even when it costs us.
So he uses language like turning the other cheek and giving to the one who begs from you and cautions us not to judge others—this is really important—because the measure we use in judging others will be used in our own judgment.
Then Jesus makes this significant summary: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Kansas HB 2453 perfectly represents the old way of doing things, not the new way of Jesus.
While as of this writing the Kansas Senate has not acted on the House bill, other groups are trying to push it forward. Arizona has recently passed similar legislation (though the governor vetoed it yesterday) and seven other states are considering comparable bills. This issue is not going away soon.
So, if you are a Christian, how do you think about these “religious freedom” initiatives? How do we follow Jesus in the marketplace as we encounter others with whom we have significant disagreements? We follow the path of loving others.
To accept society’s encouragement or the state’s protection for not practicing hospitality to all others is counter to Christian spirituality.
When it comes to dealing with others—and especially those we might disagree with—Jesus made it clear his followers are always to take the path of love. That means if I’m a Christian and run a bed and breakfast, I’ll gladly receive a homosexual couple and genuinely pray they are blessed and refreshed while they are under my roof.
Think about it. How would Jesus treat them?