As Baptists and as Christians we don’t really seem to give a rat’s behind about the hurt that we’re causing LGBTQ people. Our position is what it is, it’s based on biblical “truth,” and if it causes harm oh well, that’s not our problem. Seriously, most of the people I have reached out to on this subject over the last few months refused to even entertain any position that would value these people as they are and for who they are. So in today’s post I want to try something a little different. If we don’t care about the hurt that we’re causing others, maybe we’ll care about the hurt we’re causing ourselves over this.
Since Trump was elected we have pursued a number of different pieces of religious liberty legislation. The idea is that we’ll protect ourselves by making it illegal to discriminate against Christians in this country. (We say we’re protecting people who hold religious beliefs, but the way these things are worded suggests we really only have one religion in mind.) Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee are three of the states where we’ve succeeded in this effort to one degree or another. What we may not realise is that with these so-called victories we have provided a legal precedent for denying the rights of one group in order to protect the rights of another.
Here’s what I really don’t get. That precedent will come back to haunt us in the future, and we don’t see it coming. We act as though the current political climate in this country will continue forever. Either that, or by the time it does change that religious liberty protections will be so entrenched in the law of this country that they’ll be untouchable. Neither one of those assumptions is valid. There will be another Democrat president, if not in 4 years then in all likelihood in 8. And given the new found presidential love of executive orders, nothing is set in stone anymore. How hard will it be, given the precedent we’ve provided, to argue that in order to protect the rights of LGBTQ people the rights of Christians must be limited or denied?
There will be a backlash, and we don’t see it coming. Think I’m wrong? Look at it this way. One of the most repeated statements I’ve heard conservatives make regarding the transgender community in particular is that it’s all in their head. It has no basis in reality so why should we entertain their beliefs? How hard would that sentiment be to turn around and apply to us as Christians? We follow a man who, if he existed at all, lived and died some two thousand years ago and yet we say we can talk to him whenever we want. How hard would it be to argue that that is all in our heads?
We are setting ourselves up to lose everything we’re so afraid of losing, and it’s all because we’re afraid. We have this place in society (at least as we see it) that we don’t want to lose. We have institutions that we’ve spent decades building up, if not longer, that we don’t want to lose. We have this vision for this country that we don’t want to lose. And that leads me to the underlying cause of all this. We’re afraid because we’ve made this world the goal. We’ve forgotten that we don’t belong here, not really. We’ve forgotten Jesus’ statement in John 17:16, referring to us, that “they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” And in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
And so we’ll lose everything we’re working so hard to protect, and we’ll cry persecution when it happens and claim that it’s only happening because we’re not of this world and that’s why they hate us. The truth is we’ll have only ourselves to blame. The sad part is even then we probably won’t see it.