The Legalization of Same-Sex “Marriage,” Participation and Conscience

Greg Strand – February 25, 2014 Leave a comment

One of the significant issues of discussion and debate has to do with same-sex “marriage.” (Please note that I have placed quotation marks around “marriage” because I do not believe this is a true marriage as ordained by God as revealed in the Scriptures. This gets to the heart of the discussion/debate.) Not only does this have to do with the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” but now the push is to force participation in such “marriages,” as a photographer, baker or some other business. This is not a legal issue but a matter of religious freedom and not being forced to act against one’s conscience.

At present, there are seventeen states that recognize same-sex “marriage,” with people in Idaho and Kentucky petitioning the courts to grant the same legal rights there as well. In order to stem the tide, people in Arizona and Kansas, and nine other states, are attempting to put some restraints on this law by putting some parameters around what one can be exempt from based on religious or moral conscience. As summarized by one, “The question is no longer whether couples may marry, but whether a baker may refuse to sell them a wedding cake on the strength of his religious or moral conscience, without risking a lawsuit.”

Another pinpoints the issue with laser-like precision: “A wedding photographer in New Mexico, cake bakers in Colorado and Oregon, and a florist in Washington State have all found themselves in this predicament. Each now faces the coercive power of the state. They are being told, in no uncertain terms, that they must participate in providing services for same-sex weddings or go out of business. . . . the key issue is not a willingness to serve same-sex couples, but the unwillingness to participate in a same-sex wedding.”

It is not a major surprise that those who are unsympathetic to a religious or moral conscience exception would want to force that issue with the expectation that all must be forced to accommodate the same-sex couples wishes. What is surprising is what we hear from some Christians about this.

In these two posts, Powers and Merritt claim that the religious and moral conscience exception is the new homosexual Jim Crow law.

Kirsten Powers, “Jim Crow laws for gays and lesbians?”:

Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Merritt, “Conservative Christians Selectively Apply Biblical Teachings in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

In these two posts, Moore, who was quoted in the posts noted above, responds to their claim as does Mohler, who both reflect the importance of this debate and the far-reaching effects of it.

Russell Moore, “On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?

Al Mohler, “Caesar, Coercion, and the Christian Conscience: A Dangerous Confusion

Since the comparison is made to the Jim Crow laws, which were wrongly used against blacks, it is important to ask if the analogy is an accurate one. One can make an impeccable argument using an analogy, but if the analogy is flawed, so is the argument. Carter asks and answers the question and concludes that sexual orientation is not analogous to race. Baucham raised the issue and also concludes strongly that “gay is not the new black.” This was written in 2012, which is important to read now again. I have previously commented on this excellent post.

Joe Carter, “Is Sexual Orientation Analogous to Race?

Voddie Baucham, “Gay Is Not the New Black

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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