Love Wins With Liberty and Justice for All

By now we’ve all heard about the decision from the Supreme Court on Friday that gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states – or all 52 states if you’re Obama. This decision was a huge overreach of the Supreme Court because it deprives the people of their right to representation in policy-making by denying states their ability to self-govern. Made up of 9 unelected lawyers, SCOTUS was designed to be a neutral arbiter, not a committee of policy makers.

This decision was intended to uphold the 14th Amendment which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection laws in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. However, in the process, the 10th Amendment which says that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution and that all remaining powers are reserved for the states (i.e. “we the people”) has been completely disregarded.

As we prepare to celebrate our Independence Day, I am increasingly concerned for the religious liberties of those who do not agree with a homosexual lifestyle. I have not yet seen any precedent set or any actions taken by SCOTUS to simultaneously protect the religious liberties of citizens while they are trying to protect civil liberties.

When SCOTUS mandated to the states that they would now comply with their ruling that same-sex marriage was legal, why didn’t they have some sort of protection for religious business owners who do not wish to participate or render services for these newly legalized same-sex marriages? I can’t walk into a Catholic Church and demand to be married there – because I’m not Catholic. The same goes for a Muslim mosque or a Jewish synagogue. So what would happen if a same-sex couple demands to be married in one of these places to simply prove a point? Who will win?

Or what of the bakers, photographers, dress designers, flower shops, and the countless other small business owners that are also religiously-minded? Will they be forced to participate in something that violates their religious beliefs? Will they be sued and taken to court only to have their hard work and business destroyed by legal proceedings and fines and red tape? The precedent set by SCOTUS says “yes.”

We have already seen bakers and photographers taken to court only to lose everything they worked so hard to build. And for what? To prove a point? Wal-Mart refused to make a cake depicting the Confederate flag this week but the same worker agreed to make an ISIS flag cake. Why do some businesses get to determine what work they will take and which jobs they will decline? Does it all depend on public opinion and political correctness? If you were only concerned about marrying the love of your life, you would have no problem finding one of the millions of other bakers or photographers that would be more than happy to work at your wedding. But it seems that’s not enough. They are looking to prove a point and are willing to fight in order to prove it. But I see many Christians and Believers who are not willing to do the same.

It’s true that I am a Believer who believes in the Bible and that I do not agree with homosexuality. And, yes, it’s true that my one and only King is YHVH; that the Law that holds the highest authority in my life is His Torah. But does that mean that I should bury my head in the sand and not stand up for my beliefs, rights, or what I know to be true?

This would not be the first time homosexuality has been an issue; there’s a reason YHVH had to put a prohibition against it in the Bible. However, it’s your life and your choice. No one is forcing me to engage in a homosexual relationship. Similarly, a few chapters away from God’s prohibition on homosexuality is the prohibition against pork. I do not eat pork and as long as no one is forcing me to eat pork or serve pork we won’t have a problem. But that’s where I have a problem with the SCOTUS ruling.

I have seen comments from fellow believers who say that “we live in Babylon” and that “this world is not our home” so we should just accept this ruling and not get worked up over it. However, I am a citizen of this country too. I pay my taxes. I abide by the law. I vote. I am an active participant in our country’s economy. And I serve my nation as best I can. So why should my rights and liberties be any less important? Why should I be expected to just take whatever my government decided for me – without legal representation?

By that same reasoning, when the anti-Christ takes power, should we simply submit to his authority because we know that one day YHVH will vanquish him? No. We would fight back. We would stand for what we know to be right. We fight for truth every, single day when we fight to overcome the flesh in our own lives. We do not simply give in to the fleshly desires of our hearts simply because we know that one day YHVH will return and take care of everything.

We still have to do our part. We still have to be responsible. It’s true that we are not of this world – but that doesn’t mean that we stop living in reality or forgo our responsibilities.

I’m not saying push back and physically fight or riot as we’ve seen others do around the country. But I am saying to never give up doing your part to make sure that your religious and civil liberties are not stripped from you. I know it’s easier to simply accept whatever is done to you and to bury your head in the sand. But is that really the best way?

We are on this earth for a purpose – not to simply hide and wait till it’s all over. We have a responsibility to do what is right and to stand for what we believe to be true. Maybe you think that it’s all too far away or that it won’t really affect your life. But you’re wrong.

This life, this world, is our life. And it’s this life that YHVH has given to us and made us responsible for. What will you do with it? Will you hide or will you stand for what you believe to be true?

The law of this land is liberty and justice for all – including those with religious beliefs. The mantra of same-sex supporters has been “Love Wins.” Both are true.

When love wins, there is liberty and justice for all.

Love doesn’t mean agreeing with every decision. My friends and family certainly don’t agree with every decision I make, but I never doubt their love for me. If you’re looking for someone to agree with you all the time then you’re not really looking for love – you’re looking for compliance. And they are not the same thing.

We know that one day Yeshua – Jesus Christ – will return to earth and His love will conquer all and win. There will be judgment for all of us – believers and those who did not believe in Him alike. At that point, nothing else will matter except you and Him. He will not care what your political affiliation was, what church or denomination you belonged to or if you were perfect in everything you did.

He will ask what you did with the life you had been given.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with same-sex marriage won’t be the issue. It isn’t the issue. It’s just a surface level symptom of a greater problem. It’s not that I hate homosexuals or am condemning them to hell because I disagree with them. Only God has the power to judge and He will examine each of our lives, including my own. But when I stand before Him, I want to know that I’ve done everything in my power and within reason to stand for His truth. To know that I haven’t wasted my life or spent my life hiding from the battle between good and evil. That when the storm has passed through and when the clouds have lifted, I am still standing. That’s how love wins.

Love wins when we can love each other enough to respect our differing opinions and let each person make their own decisions for their own life.

Love wins when YHVH’s truth penetrates deep within our souls and changes us. Having something to fight for is a sure sign of love. When you love something enough, you will fight for it.

I love YHVH. I love His Torah. And in the end, I truly believe that His love wins.

Arizona’s S.B. 1062 Bill Protecting Christians Doesn’t Give Businesses License to Discriminate Against Gays and Spanish Jews in New Mexico pt.3

Discrimination or Freedom: Agreeing to Disagree

So today, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed Christian business owners the right to refuse to provide services for gay weddings. Brewer, who spent several days considering whether to sign the bill or not, said, “it had the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways that we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.”

For those of us here in New Mexico, we saw this issue rise up a few years ago when the New Mexican photographers refused to photograph a gay wedding. And more recently, a Christian bakery in Oregon was found to have violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 when they refused to bake the cake for a gay wedding.

In the Oregon case, the subsequent investigation found, “that the bakery is not a religious institution under the law and that the business’ policy of refusing to make same-sex wedding cakes represents unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Under state law, the complaint against the bakery now moves into a period of “reconciliation”. If they can’t reach an agreement, formal civil charges could be filed and the Kleins (bakery owners) could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said their desire is to “rehabilitate” businesses like the one owned by the Christian couple. “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.” Aaron Klein said there will be no reconciliation and there will be no rehabilitation. He and his wife will not back down from their Christian beliefs.

Widespread praise and celebration over Brewer’s decision to veto the bill has erupted all over the internet and social media. Many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, have written their support for Brewer’s decision and have cited the need to love and accept everyone as a valid reason to veto the bill. People are calling for the “discrimination, segregation, oppression, public shaming, and hatred” of gays to stop.

And that’s where I have a problem. Do we use these terms too loosely? Our society does not hate, oppress, shame, segregate, or discriminate against the LGBT community. The last time I went into a restaurant, I did not see a section labeled “gay section.” I do not see water fountains with signs posted “for straight people only.” We don’t require homosexuals to pay different taxes or to sit in the back of the bus or prohibit them from a certain career field or from pursuing a college education. We embrace people of all colors, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and religion and encourage them to pursue the American dream.

We are told to be “tolerant” and “accepting.” That’s fine. We shouldn’t hate anybody. And, yes, we should love everyone as Christ loved us. But to love and accept people doesn’t mean you have to agree with or condone every single decision they make. Yeshua loved everyone He came across but He also told them “go and sin no more.”

We are told to be tolerant and accepting but where is the tolerance and acceptance for those who believe homosexuality is wrong? Because I think it’s wrong I am somehow hating and discriminating and oppressing the LGBT community? Where’s the love and acceptance, people? You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to respect my decision and view-point….just like I respect yours.

Which brings me to my next point. If we must respect everyone’s personal decisions on how they live their lives, why is it that this private-business’ decisions are not being respected? One of the benefits of owning your own business is that you get to set your hours, make your own rules, and decide how you will operate your business. You also get to decide with whom you and your business work. If a consulting firm, for example, decided that they and their potential clients would not work well together, they have the right to turn down the business deal.

I mean, really, if we let the free-market system work and enough people simply stop frequenting these business who refuse to be a part of gay weddings, then won’t they go out of business all on their own? It’s economic Darwinism. Let it happen.

So here is the question: Where do we draw the line? At what point are privately-owned businesses exercising their religious liberties or violating the civil liberties and “discriminating” against potential customers?

I am concerned that the message being sent is that civil liberties trump religious freedoms. And that’s a dangerous and slippery slope to go down. If one liberty trumps another, what’s to stop our other liberties from being taken away? Free speech? Freedom to practice religion the way we see fit? The freedom to own a gun? The freedom to choose how we raise our own children? And who gets to decide which liberties take precedence over another? The government? Is that really the best solution?

Now, to all the believers out there who feel guilty or embarrassed about their belief that a business has a right to refuse to participate in gay weddings: Don’t let others bully you into thinking that you are somehow a bad Christian and that you are not “showing the love of Christ.” That’s not hate…it’s simply a choice to disagree. Sharing the love of Messiah means that you don’t judge the LGBT community. That you don’t hurl hate-speech at gay people. That you don’t condemn at every opportunity. It is not our place to condemn or judge anyone. 

However, showing people love doesn’t mean you now have to participate in or agree with their life choices…whatever they may be. When did “love” come to mean “approve?” You don’t have to agree with my decisions and I don’t have to agree with yours. We do, however, have to respect each other’s beliefs and sometimes, that simply means agreeing to disagree.