Fayetteville has become ground zero for conflict with the LGBT movement in Arkansas over ordinance 119.
A quick glimpse of the title of my piece would prompt many to jump to conclusions. The word “morality” is often misunderstood, invoking only visions of “intolerant” bible-thumpers. But morality isn’t exclusive to people of faith. “Morality” is the code that any individual, community, or society adopts for itself, whether or not that code is true or false, just or unjust, moral or immoral, and regardless of how anyone may happen to define those terms. As such, all laws or beliefs are based on someone’s version of morality.
Hence, we have one of the many ironies in the debate over the Fayetteville City Council’s new ordinance–the imposition of a new code of morality onto a community in response to the belief that others shouldn’t “impose” their own morality onto a demographic that identifies itself by some aspect of sexuality. They add the benefit of race and gender, but make no mistake. This law was adapted from language submitted directly from the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that works specifically to usher the LGBT community into the status of protected class, and to necessarily expand the definition of what qualifies as a “right”. As such, the primary subjects of the new morality are all people of faith, even as this is peddled as an non-discrimination law.
Of course, the title of this “non-discrimination” ordinance, along with much of its generalizations, sounds very appealing. It’s fully-cloaked in beautiful intentions, aspiring to a utopian vision of peace, love and harmony across the globe, or at least Fayetteville. What’s scary about this ordinance, though…and one of the reasons why any utopian ideal is impossible to enforce…is what it doesn’t say, and what it really can’t say without a degree of bureaucratic micromanagement as to make its tyranny obvious. Because it can’t, it instead leaves that sole discretion within the hands of an appointed bureaucrat, which is just as bad. This is why any such ordinances are ripe with the potential for exactly the kind of abuse that it claims to prevent there is no genuine need for them–not because abuse doesn’t happen or that there aren’t justifiable claims, but because we already have a fair system in place to address genuine violations within the civil court system. I have no doubt that the proponents of such a law genuinely believe they are fighting for liberty…among the highest morals that we all identify so strongly with. Unfortunately, it’s a sorely twisted concept of liberty in which everyone muat necessarily think “correctly” about things and everyone can feel validated in the most superficial sense by everyone else. These same people will often rebuke tyranny of the majority, but don’t seem to realize that tyranny of a minority isn’t any more desirable. More pointedly, they define tyranny and liberty for everyone else in very personally convenient terms.
True liberty, which includes the freedom of conscience, of expression, of association, and all of which are additionally encompassed within our freedom of religion, doesn’t cater to special interests. This means that it’s sometimes unpopular, and yes, in some instances, downright hateful. But to be clear, the latter is not what is happening among the overwhelming majority of 119 opponents. As mentioned earlier, that accusation is wielded most often against Christians, and itcs rooted in a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity…about what makes us Christians and what we are called to do…because you see, we are all sinners and we are all struggling with our own sins as defined by the word of the God that we worship. That is why we need God’s grace. That is why we are called to see sin for what it is, regardless of whether it’s rooted in our own heart or is recognized in someone else’s actions. Shame on us, as Christians, if we have failed to fully communicate that.
As an example, I once saw a bumper-sticker meme that proclaimed our hypocrisy in that we protest gay marriage, yet we do not mount large protests against divorce…so this seeming hypocrisy implies that our actions must be targeted specifically at homosexuals, which must mean that we harbor a phobia or a hate for them because of their sexual identity. What they’re failing to see in this instance is while divorce has most certainly become a sadly common condition in our culture, even among Christians, divorced people aren’t demanding that we peeaonally condone it or help them celebrate it. Likewise, because our culture has become steeped in such a sad state doesn’t mean we should sit idly so it can steep even further by redefining a social and religious institution through government or judicial fiat. Furthermore, many in the LGBT community adamantly insist that because they are “born this way” (like race or gender), sexual identity warrants the status of a protected class. While I would honestly debate that point, it’s actually a moot one within the Christian faith, because Christians believe that we are ALL “born that way”…that we are all born slaves to thoughts, feelings and desires that God abhors. Most of us might still struggle or revisit those, even after we are born again, myself certainly included. In that aspect, I actually sympathize with the homosexual community more than you know, even as I also know that you might hate me for considering it a sin. I’m very conscious of my own weaknesses and the fact that I have failed God on many occasions, but I won’t condone or seek approval for my own sins any more than I can offer it or seek it for someone else. Like most people, I have many gay friends, both for and against this law, and I would hope none of the former would suddenly assume that I must hate them or don’t wish well for them because I oppose it. But I digress.
The ultimate intention of 119, after all, is to achieve a fundamental shift in the cultural paradigm. This is the HRC’s primary purpose for existing. Proponents claim, of course, that this bill is not so far reaching, and that they’ve accomodated Chritians with the addition of a “general” expemption clause for churches. The problem here is that word “general”, again, whose scope is left up to the discretion of the appointed Civil Rights Administrator, as it often is in tyrannical laws. More disturbingly, it suggests that the freedom of conscience can be restricted to one’s living quarters or the confines of a church building. That’s a very restrictive, conditional freedom, which isn’t really freedom at all. There’s no doubt in my mind that this law is intended to lay the groundwork for something much more sweeping. This has already become clearly evident in cities that have enacted it. There are numerous examples of religious leaders and people of faith being specifically targeted and penalized both civilly and criminally for simply honoring the dictates of their conscience. I’m betting the people being targeted, like most of us, have no issue baking a birthday cake, doing a portrait setting or creating a floral arrangement for a member of the LGBT community, either personally or within their businesses. If we did, that might imply actual hate or fear. Our objections are specifically to ceremonial unions that violate our beliefs, and which demand that they participate, whether directly or indirectly, in the celebration of something their faith deems sinful, which is a sin in itself. They’re being punished for not thinking the right way, for failing to validate someone’s feelings, and apparently for violating someone’s right to a wedding cake baked by Christians. Although, I guess if you hate us, that’s something you might find amusing.
In summary, this law seeks to sidestep the normal legal recourse that genuine civil violations already have at their disposal. It seeks to make that recourse cheap and easy, despite the fact that in the current system, which is neither cheap nor easy, we already complain that litigation is too easy and reform is needed. It achieves easily abused recourse by putting it under the administration of a centralized unaccountable authority that is inherently intended to sympathize with the accuser, and which he/she most certainly will if they are to justify their existence. Not only does this feed off of the growing victim mentality in our country that leftist policies thrive on, but in doing so, it creates a new protected class and shifts the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused. I would even submit, without hesitation, that this goes so far as to indirectly create preferential hiring for the LGBT community for employers eager to avoid frivolous claims (for those that stay, anyway), and that the HRC knows full well that it does. It’s incredibly ironic that the left, who claims to care about the equality of women in the workplace, would embrace a law that essentially encourages hiring a trans-gendered man over a female. Every aspect of this is a blatant attempt to out-maneuver the most basic constitutional foundations that are considered vital to a free society.
An irony in all this is that 119 is legalism in the full Biblical sense, but by whatever manner the opposition seeks to punish us, it won’t divert a faithful Christian from the truth. Today is the big vote in Fayetteville, the only city in the nation so far who has managed to get a repeal effort on the ballot, and whatever happens, one thing is certain. It’s not over. If Fayetteville’s “civil rights” act is defeated, proponents of such legislation are not going to walk away. Most are in this fight for the long haul. If the act isn’t defeated, if we lose this battle…it’s also not over. We’re in it for the long haul, too. In fact, our scripture warns us that this is coming. That we will lose more battles than we win; that we will eventually be ostracized and hated; that we’ll be outcasts; that it will only get harder to stand firm. Because of the nature of our country’s founding, we have gotten by pretty easy in America compared to Christians in most of the world, but we know that someday it will come to us, too. We also know that we are being trained to stand firm every day that we live in our faith. Being perceived as an ignorant class by those who are truly intolerant and narrow-minded will only galvanize that faith.