Are Christians allowed to have beliefs?
In our country the First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion. That’s a real thing, it exists, it is important to a lot of people who have religious beliefs.
And it allows people to act on their beliefs. Exercise means action; they have beliefs and they can live as though those beliefs are true. Even if you disagree. For example, if a doctor believes that abortion is murder, he or she is allowed to not perform abortions. They can decline participating in that operation, because they think it is wrong. You may not think that abortion is murder, but some doctors do, and they are allowed to behave as though it is true.
Nurses, as well. A nurse can say, “I don’t want to be in the operating room where an abortion is being performed,” even if it is his or her job to assist the surgeon in performing operations. The nurse can have a job assisting in operations, handing surgical tools to the doctor, keeping the doctor appraised of the patient’s vitals, and they can do this job every day for thousands of patients, but say, “I don’t want to help with this operation, because I believe that this operation is harmful.”
And there can be a nurse that has a job prepping the surgical room and preparing the tray of tools, and they can say, “I don’t want to prep for abortion, because I believe that abortion is murder. If I help prepare for a murder I am assisting in something that is wrong. I am doing something wrong if I help someone kill a living human.”
Even if you disagree, they are allowed to do that. They can’t be forced to participate in something they actually believe is wrong. Whether it is actually injecting saline and cutting limbs off a fetus, or handing the doctor the scissors and syringe, or preparing the syringe and placing the scissors on a table, they can say “No, I will not be a part of this.” And usually society is accepting of this. They are allowed to decline service in this particular instance because they believe they would be complicit in committing murder. Even if they did the exact same thing yesterday for a different patient, handing the doctor syringes and scissors, it is different this time.
Do they hate the patient? No. I think they are focused on the horror of tearing apart a body with limbs and a heartbeat, and they don’t want to have any part in it. If the patient comes in the next week, will they serve her? Unequivocally, yes. They are perfectly happy to perform an exam on or prescribe medication to a girl that has had or is planning to have an abortion. I imagine it never even crosses their mind. It’s their job to serve patients, and they are happy to do it. I defy anyone to find an example of a doctor or nurse who had a conscientious objection to performing abortion, who also refused to serve patients who had previously obtained an abortion.
Maybe you know where I’m going with this.
Now, if you think that putting people in jail, destroying their businesses, fining employers and forcing reeducation for declining to serve a gay wedding is okay, you’re probably protesting pretty heavily at this point. “But, but, but…” “But, it’s different!” “But it’s hateful.” “But it’s discrimination.” “But you have to serve all customers equally.” “But Christians eat shellfish and have sex on their periods and (insert random Mosaic law here).” “But Jesus said don’t judge!” “But interracial marriage.” “But gay marriage is legal.” “But sometimes homosexuals are bullied.” “But some Christians think it is fine.” “But it doesn’t hurt anyone!” “But they are born that way!”
All of those reasons, all of those protestations, all of those accusations, are completely irrelevant. They do nothing to change this fact:
Many faithful Christians (and Muslims and Jews) believe that acting on homosexual desires is wrong. Period.
That’s not a new thing. It’s not something that Christians made up in response to the laws changing. It’s not a mask for hate. It just is. Many religious individuals think that practicing homosexuality is a sin. And, therefore, they believe that participating in furthering these acts is wrong.
Can you accept that? Can you believe me when I say, “I think gay marriage is wrong.”? Can we agree to disagree on that point? You think it’s fine, I don’t. That has been the way of the world for as long as humans have been able to form opinions, and decent, respectful people can live peacefully with each other even when they disagree on things.
The problem comes when those beliefs are mislabeled as ‘hate’ and turned into a crime. The problem comes when Christians are told they are not allowed to believe that homosexual acts are wrong. If I truly believe it is wrong, being forced to participate in a gay wedding, in any way, is the same as being forced to cut up a fetus. I think it’s wrong, even if you don’t. And society seems to be telling me that I am not allowed to think homosexual marriage is wrong. If I were allowed to think it was wrong, I would be allowed to object to participating. I would be allowed to vote against it, or donate money to traditional marriage causes, or even just say that I think it’s wrong, without the government acting against me in response.
A nurse can say, “I think abortion is wrong, and I don’t want to participate in performing an abortion.” And, right now, the government doesn’t say, “You have to participate. Every day you don’t you will be fined thousands of dollars. And if you keep refusing to participate you will lose your nursing license. And if you continue to refuse you will be put in jail.”
Right now those beliefs, even if you disagree with them, are generally respected. You can think to yourself, “I don’t think abortion is murder, but they do, and I don’t think the government should force someone to do something they think is murder.” Accommodations can be made. Another nurse can fill in. The first nurse isn’t accused of hating the patient. The full force of the ACLU and the judicial system aren’t brought to bear down. No one says that a nurse who refuses to perform an abortion is forcing her religion on the patient. Few people claim that the patient is suffering from discrimination if her Family Practitioner refers her to another clinic to obtain an abortion. People are generally able to recognize the distinction between the girl getting the abortion and the requirement to participate in a procedure some people think is wrong.
Why can’t we do the same for gay marriage?