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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
Associated Press/Photo by Bebeto Matthews
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

Religious freedom in Arizona

Religious Liberty

“And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more’” (John 8:11).

Ah, the mean, old Religious Right strikes again. To actually believe that a Christ-following professional photographer can refuse to take photos at a ceremony between two people of the same sex that purportedly results in a marriage? How bigoted. Sometime soon, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will decide whether to sign into law a bill that would allow businesses to defend themselves against discrimination lawsuits by citing their religious beliefs or veto it. [Editor’s note: Brewer vetoed the bill Wednesday evening.]

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Contrary to alarmist news stories from the left, the bill would not give Christian business owners the right to refuse to serve homosexual customers at all. I doubt many such owners would even consider it. We know that religious freedom isn’t absolute. It’s subject to reasonable restrictions. But the in-your-face homosexual lobby and other liberals forced the issue. For example, Hobby Lobby and other like-minded businesses shouldn’t be forced to offer to their employees drugs designed to kill babies in the womb (and call it healthcare). Nor should Christian business owners be forced to choose between losing their livelihood and conducting business that would violate their conscience.

As expected, the other side invokes Jim Crow, that old system of legal segregation that made black Americans second-class citizens. Although homosexuals have the same civil rights as everyone else, unlike blacks back in the day, they shamelessly equate skin color with sexual behavior—and get away with it. Striking down the ban on interracial marriage doesn’t even come close to redefining the word to include two people of the same sex. The God-ordained institution is a union between one man and one woman. A marriage between a man and woman of different races doesn’t violate this tenet. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia (1967) struck down racial restrictions on marriage. It didn’t fundamentally change marriage. In no way are these two things similar.

God calls homosexuality an abomination. He also calls “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” abominations. But I have yet to see liars or murderers or instigators lobby the government to coerce people into accepting—and celebrating—their inclinations.

Christ broke bread with sinners and saved an adulterous woman from stoning. In neither case was He disregarding their sin or disavowing the law. He told the Pharisees exactly why he sat down to eat with sinners (emphasis added). “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” He told the Pharisees that any “without sin among you” could throw the first stone.

Tolerating those who reject Christ shouldn’t entail compromising our beliefs. Neither breaking bread with the unrepentant nor defending them against metaphorical stoning is a stamp of approval. We’re to imitate Christ and remember the work He began: to seek and to save that which was lost.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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