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The Value of A Conscience

In the last few years, the push for gay marriage has gained a lot of steam and political power. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling decided it was legal. For far too many people, legal means it’s also now moral. Legal also means that we must for forced to participate whether or not we believe in the practice.

The news is full of examples of businesses and individuals who have lost their businesses and jobs because of their belief in traditional marriage. Manny Pacquiao just lost his Nike deal over a comment he made about gays that he immediately apologized for making. Proponents scream discrimination and demand retribution from anyone who holds a different opinion and acts upon it. Many will say it’s anti-American to do anything but what they want. However, when the shoe is placed on the other foot, say having a homosexual owned bakery make a cake for a traditional marriage event, they get to scream obscenities at the one asking for the service and refuse to make the cake.

The many debates I’ve had on this topic all fall into the same pattern. Those who support gay marriage call it discrimination to oppose it because they believe opponents are turning away a person. Grasping that it isn’t the person that’s being rejected only the project seems to be beyond them. The level of deception is tremendous.

Here’s the problem: it can’t be both ways. In a free and civil society, a conscience is extremely valuable and needs to be respected. When one person is forced to act against their conscience and deeply held beliefs because it’s not popular, soon others will be as well as the whims of society change. We have a responsibility to stand up for all people to hold and live according to their conscience and beliefs, not just the ones that are popular or the most vocal.

In reality, all points of view must be respected especially the unpopular ones or those we find repugnant. For example, I would never ask a bakery owned by a KKK member to make a wedding cake for a black couple or, in their eyes what would be worse, a mixed race couple. I find their bigotry to be utterly disgusting but I respect their right to believe it. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t preach the Gospel to them in hopes of changing their beliefs but it does mean that I wouldn’t really spend my money with them.

To force someone to violate their beliefs is a great evil even if you strongly disagree with them. If you support gay marriage, great. You have a responsibility to allow others to hold a different set of values than you do just as we do to respect yours. Having the discussion is important but discussion dies once one side begins to persecute to opposing side. It’s wrong from both directions.

As Christ followers, we do need to stand up for our rights in this and the other battles we are facing. However, we must remember that our first mission here is the Great Commission not politics. We also have a responsibility to protect the consciences of the people we are called to reach. Loving people is our job no matter what they believe. If we want to live our beliefs, we need to respect other’s ability to live out theirs until the Gospel penetrates their hearts and they are transformed by the Holy Spirit. Remember, that’s what He does.

 

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