A florist, a baker, a website designer | Opinion
By Stephen Tuttle | March 5, 2022
The United States Census Bureau divides religious beliefs into the broad categories of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Unaffiliated, and Atheist/Agnostic.
Although more people now identify as unaffiliated with a specific denomination, far more Americans – some 230 million – identify as Christians than any other religious belief. And the American Center for the Study of World Christianity lists more than 200 separate and distinct Christian denominations in the United States.
This all comes to mind as another Christian drew attention for refusing to serve same-sex couples on the basis of “closely related religious beliefs”. In this case, it’s a Colorado-based web designer who doesn’t want to be pressured into creating a wedding website for same-sex couples because she’d rather be able to promote her religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
This seems to be a feature of a particular type of Christian belief system in which opposition to all non-traditional human sexuality is the most important tenet. So far, a florist, baker and website builder have argued all the way to the Supreme Court that their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion were violated by state law and federal authorities which define their refusal. providing services to same-sex couples as discriminatory.
This is an interesting position since Christianity, like all other major religions, includes a fairly long list of prohibitions. Same-sex sexual activity isn’t even on the list of 10 forbidden behaviors of Christians, so it’s odd that many seem to focus on this singular issue.
It is quite true that homosexual activity is mentioned more than once, and not favorably, in the Bible. The Old Testament is particularly hard. Chapter 20 of Leviticus is a long list of sins punishable by death, not just homosexual behavior. All of Leviticus is full of various proscriptions and prohibitions that might have made sense then, but don’t now. (Women fare particularly badly in the Old Testament.)
But for some reason, this particular type of Christian has decided to extract a few verses which they believe condemn homosexuality, and they will not serve these “sinners”.
In fact, there is not even complete agreement on what the Bible says about homosexuality. There are over 100 Bible translations in use, each slightly different from the other. It turns out that the “literal word of God” is subject to many interpretations. Translations that somehow found “homosexual” in the text clearly included their own bias since that word didn’t even exist until the 19th century.
He sets up these business owners for some pretty hypocritical dealings.
Suppose a man enters the web designer’s site to request a design for his upcoming wedding. The designer knows full well that the man is a boastful adulterer, someone who does not keep the Sabbath holy, who regularly bears false witness, regularly takes the name of the Lord in vain, and does not honor his father or his mother. He has broken or is breaking half of the Ten Commandments. He would like a website announcing his fourth marriage, with a woman.
At the same time, a woman enters the creator’s site to request a service. She was an exemplary human being in all respects, honorable and virtuous and tirelessly giving herself to admirable and important causes. She marries for the first time, but with another woman.
The command breaker gets the service and the candidate for sainthood does not.
Tellingly, Jesus Christ takes no position on the matter. Thus, homophobic Christians cannot say that he is on their side. If he ever spoke about it, it was not recorded or reported. He tells people not to throw stones unless they themselves are freed from sin, and not to judge unless you yourself want to be judged; both warnings are apparently easier to ignore than the prejudices of the Old Testament.
It would seem that the innermost religious beliefs of some Christians conflict with the innermost beliefs of the very person on whom their religion is based.