“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
It wasn't that long ago that Jack at Masterpiece Bakery just up the road from my residence here in Colorado was charged with a civil rights offense because Jack refused to make a wedding cake for a same sex wedding. Although I had been very concerned about the general direction of a small but powerful movement promoting same sex marriage, when Jack cam under attack I began to wonder how long it would take before a Christian pastor or church would be charged with discrimination for refusing to do a same sex wedding. Jack has been able to maintain his business and solve his situation by simply not making any kind of wedding cake in the future. This does not seem like a reasonable solution for pastors.
Of course, when I first started to suggest that it was only a matter of time, many (not all) suggested that, that would be ridiculous and it would never happen. Well, it has happened! Ordained ministers Donald and Evelyn Knapp in Idaho have been threatened with time in jail or up to $1,000 per day in fines unless they perform a same sex wedding. While this is not a church, is there any doubt it will happen to a church in the near future?
The details of the case do paint a web of intricate legal language. It is not a stretch to suggest that when people allowed same sex marriage to be classified as a civil rights issue, it opened up the gate for these kinds of law suits. This issue is not a civil rights issue as civil rights has traditionally been understood. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that this categorization will be undone. So what now?
Religious liberty must be fought for with all the courage Christians can muster. This isn't even about whether these two ordained ministers of the gospel should do the ceremony or not. Even if you think they are wrong in taking this stand, your religious freedom and mine are at stake. Instead it is about whether they ought to be able to practice their religion as they understand it. This is what the first amendment of the constitution is about. While this issue may be far from home for many, it is only a matter of time until your church and mine are going to have to deal with it and if it isn't same sex marriage it will be something else. Religious liberty is a freedom that ought not be taken lightly and must be fought for.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.