People have always been bigoted—in any number of ways. Jesus’ enormous challenge to “love your neighbor” and the accompanying, “everyone’s your neighbor” is part of the challenge to overcome our bigotry, to love in spite of our inclination to turn away and say, “No.” If it were easy, everyone would do it.
But there are not two sides to this. This is crystal clear if you just think it through. Take out the word “gays” and insert the word “blacks.” Or “Asians.” Or “women.” Or “left-handers.” Or “divorcees.” Or “refugees.” Or “women without head coverings.” Or “people who eat pork.”
It just wouldn’t fly. As a civil society, we could not allow some people to be excluded based on attributes we don’t like or approve of.
Notice that the attributes I listed may be inborn (race, left-handedness) or actions (divorce) because the reasoning is the same. (I say this because some misunderstand orientation and identity to be a choice. That is not relevant.)
As a society, we cannot allow some groups to discriminate against other groups simply because they don’t like them, even if they think God doesn’t like them, even if they think those people are in sin.
This is bigotry, plain and simple. To add God’s name to it is a sneaky way to pretend God is behind it, but it is still bigotry, which we cannot allow in a civil society.
“What about white supremacists, or murderers?” These people pose a threat to civil society. Of course it’s different. LGBTQ people pose no threat. The only way gay marriage threatens you is if you were forced to have one. The only way LGBTQ people threaten your religious liberties is if you must become LGBTQ.
For those who worry about some imagined responsibility to God to somehow keep sin at bay, that has never been our responsibility. It’s all about the log in our own eye, and letting God be the judge. It’s about loving God and loving others, our core instruction!
The store owner claims that Christians are the victims of a double standard preventing them from expressing their beliefs. One person’s religious beliefs end where another’s begin. While you are free to express your thoughts, I am free not to embrace them.
In the last century, you could argue that your religious beliefs meant you could—even should—own slaves, because some races were divinely appointed to be slaves. And you could pull God in on it, as people pull God in to endorse their “no gays allowed.” But your right own slaves ends where another’s right not to be a slave begins.
Whatever position you have about “gays”—if it does not stand when you replace “gay” with any of the other categories I listed above, then you don’t get to act it out in a civilized society.
We have to work out a way that we can live together and not bully each other. Love each as other as unconditionally as we have been loved.
That’s how it should be. That’s how it has to be.