I’m sure many of you have heard how Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign after it was discovered that he made a donation in support of a gay marriage ban in California. See the report at The Guardian.
Whether one agrees with Brendan Eich is beside the point. Is opposing SSM really grounds for the termination of employment? This sets a very dangerous precedent does it not? If one opposes SSM, even if in private, or belongs to a religious group that does not recognize SSM, is that grounds for dismissal? Are we going to get to the stage where it will be impossible for a Christian with traditionalist views on marriage to hold a position in business, the public service, medical industry, or in education if they are know to oppose SSM?
Another question I have to ask is what is the error here? Was it because Eich opposed SSM or because he failed to support it? Now, if one is a Christian traditionalist, you could just try to keep your mouth shut, go underground, keep your views to yourself, hope nobody finds out and turns you over to the thought police. But the thought police will probably figure this out and will come up with a way of weeding out closet Christians. What if one’s employment contract includes a clause where one has to state unconditional support for SSM? What do you do then? It is not as far fetched as you might imagine.
We have to remember that this is part of a cultural conflict in the secular west as governments try to strike a balance between civil rights for gay and lesbian people with other rights like freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. At the moment the pendulum is certainly on the gay rights side, but it might not stay there, and the Mozilla incident might well be the catalyst to come to a more sensible mediating position. Let me add that Christians should be conflicted over civil issues like this, they should feel sympathy for both sides, and should feel conflicted. First, as Christians who remain faithful to the authority of scripture and to their tradition, they are committed to marriage as one man and one woman. Its a matter of faith and principle, why should we have to change, we’ve been around for 2000 years, Stephen Fry can whinge all he likes, but we ain’t going any where, so deal with it. Second, as Christians who believe in Jesus and in biblical ethics, we are committed to loving our neighbours, including our gay neighbours, and promoting justice and fairness for all, even for those who do not agree with us on our way of life. What I’m saying is that the tension in western culture should be reflected in a tension among Christians themselves about how to be faithful to our beliefs and yet want to treat all people fairly. The big question is how do you do both, be faithful to a Christian view of marriage and create an environment that is genuinely just for all people regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation? Christendom is over, but I don’t think everybody is banking on an atheist version of Big Brother as the alternative!
While I like to think that we can find a compromise between the God-fearing and Gay-rights, I’m also a little concerned. Even though SSM is not law in most American states, and not in Australia either, it is being treated as if it is fait accompli. Are we going to end up in a position where Christians – as well as orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Mormons – will end up as second class citizens because of a failure to support SSM? Will we end up with a kind of secular dhimmitude? The word, “dhimmitude” refers the imposition of second class status on non-Muslim citizens in Islamic law. Will we end up with religious folks experiencing some kind of dhimmitude imposed by secular/liberal elites who punish them for failing to embrace the reigning zeitgeist. The origin of the word dhimmitude is quite interesting. I looked it up on wikipedia (students, do not imitate me on this), and I found its first reference:
The term was coined in 1982 by the Lebanese President and Maronite militia leader Bachir Gemayel, in reference to perceived attempts by the country’s Muslim leadership to subordinate the largeLebanese Christian minority. In a speech of September 14, 1982 given at Dayr al-Salib in Lebanon, he said: “Lebanon is our homeland and will remain a homeland for Christians… We want to continue to christen, to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish… Henceforth, we refuse to live in any dhimmitude!”
I think the civil rights balance on SSM and religious freedom is still working itself out and I think we can reach a compromise in western societies and live at peace with one another. However, as part of that conversation about the legislation that follows, we have to be clear that we will continue to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish, and we will not accept dhimmitude!