Sunday, April 26, 2015

Journal-Gazette Letter: Rough Draft

Below is a rough draft of a letter/column I will be sending this week to the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette. The letter focuses on reactions to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by the Indiana legislature earlier this month. Most of the letters were vehemently opposed to RFRA. My original letter and a few others were the only ones supporting the bill.

The Religious Freedom bill has motivated many to write letters to this newspaper. Very few of the published letters expressed any support of the bill (my letter was one of those few). As I read the letters of those opposing the bill, I wondered how many had actually read the bill or the amendment (which basically neutered the bill). The original RFRA was given over 60 days of public testimony in our state legislature, but the amendment was written in secret without any public testimony at all. Yet I have not heard any of those who favor open government complain about that process.

Many of those who opposed the bill used such strong language that I thought we were talking about two different laws. Words such as “fiasco, anti-gay image, humiliation, buffoons, toxic legislation, embarrassed, laughingstock, bigotry, obsessive hate” filled the letters page of this newspaper.

As I watched business “leaders” and politicians panic, it occurred to me that the true “homophobes” are not those who believe homosexual marriage is a moral perversion. The true homophobes are people who are deathly afraid of upsetting the various gay rights organizations. The true homophobes are those people who are afraid to say publicly what they really believe because they fear personal attacks and intimidation tactics.

Emotional demagoguery and fear replaced rational discussion and debate about the merits of the bill. Many people opposed to the bill do not want rational discussion because rational thinking is dangerous to their position. Instead, feelings and emotion rule the issue, not facts.

Many opposed to the bill say they believe in free speech but then are surprised to find that people exist who actually have opinions different from theirs. Since they have little or no experience in actually discussing controversial problems, they resort to intimidation and emotional labels to shut down debate. Facts do not matter, only how the law made people “feel”. And, of course, our feelings take priority over inconvenient facts.

Some college students today are so immature and insecure about inconvenient truths that college campuses have established “safe zones” where students can go to deal with the trauma of having to listen to viewpoints which contradict their own beliefs.

One letter writer asked someone to show him where the Bible teaches that homosexuality is more of a sin than robbery or murder. As a pastor, I will be glad to educate him. The Bible uses the word “abomination” for those sins which are particularly detestable to God. Not all sins are labeled an abomination. And not all sins are equal in their seriousness or their effects. Just as our justice system does not punish every crime with the same penalty, not all sins have the same moral seriousness or consequences. The Bible refers to moral sins such as homosexuality, idolatry, lying, pride, dishonesty in business, and murder as abomination. One reason the Bible calls these acts “abomination” is that all of them contradict truth, a fundamental characteristic of God. This does not make other sins “less sinful”. It simply calls attention to the more serious nature and consequences of some sins.

I wonder where all of this rush to allow people to love who they wish and to avoid any type of restrictions on moral behavior will end. Here are some questions for those who are so fanatically opposed to RFRA and so invested in homosexual marriage:

Should churches and religious colleges lose their tax-exempt status because they oppose homosexual marriage and have prohibitions against certain sexual behaviors?

Should college accrediting agencies remove accreditation from those schools which teach that only marriage between one man and one woman is acceptable and that any other “marriage” is immoral?”

Should states refuse to recognize marriages officiated by ministers who oppose homosexual marriage?

Should states allow polygamy between consenting adults, where polygamy would include one man and multiple wives, one woman and multiple husbands, three or more men married to each other, or three or more women married to each other?

Why should any government prevent two brothers or two sisters from marrying each other if they are sincerely in love with each other? Incest is not the issue here since children cannot be naturally produced between same-sex couples.

Once a society rejects any objective basis for morality, then the only basis for any morality is what that society chooses to accept. And, as we have seen recently, that basis can change faster than a politician seeking votes or a business seeking profits.