I rarely do this. Attempting to chart compromising middle-ground territory which seeks to remove politics as the central point in the conversation on faith and sexuality, I usually refuse to weigh in on policy. Out of deference to the position I hold as President/Founder of LOVEboldly, which seeks to create safety for all people of all perspectives in the conversation on faith and sexuality, I rarely take a public stance on political on-goings, even when my silence grieves me.
But this time, it’s different.
Today, along with thirteen other prominent evangelicals, many who I admire and count as friends, I signed a statement condemning Arizona SB 1062, a bill which has been touted as anti-gay because it permitted businesses to discriminate. (Sidenote – the bill has since been vetoed).
What you might not have heard about Arizona SB 1062 is that it wasn’t actually anti-gay. It was anti-other.
The bill allowed anyone or their business to discriminate against anyone at anytime based on religious beliefs. Christians could decide not to serve Muslims, who could decide not to serve Jews, who could decide not to serve blacks, Hispanics, people with disabilities, homeless people, red-heads, divorced people, single parents, ill people, or whomever else they may happen to feel threatened their religious beliefs. So, standing in solidarity with the ‘other’, a group of noted evangelicals decided to take a stand against legislating discrimination. I am honored to have my name standing with men and women I hold in such high regard like Rachel Held Evans, Brian McLaren, Steve Knight, Brandan Robertson, and Alan Chambers.
The statement we signed challenged fellow Christians who had supported it and similar legislation in other states saying,
That is precisely why I signed it.
It was Jesus himself who reminded us in Matthew 5:46-47 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
The precedent that Jesus offered us was not the kind of living that distanced itself from enemies, outcasts, and people on the ‘other’ side. It’s the kind that washed the feet of his betrayer. Jesus was the softest to the most abused, the harshest with the most abusive, defender of the defenseless, standing in solidarity and friendship with the most unlikely folks to receive anyone’s friendship. Jesus withdrew from serving no one – even his enemy.
Christians who espouse that discrimination towards any group is the key to protecting religious rights profane the name of the Christ who elevated the worshipping harlot who anointed his feet over the religious elite, who touched the lepers when his religious codes told him to protect his own purity, and who offered living water to the Samaritan whore at the well.
Jesus served without discrimination – washing feet, defending dignity, sacrificing his privilege, his prestige, his position, and his power to serve.