Using one’s narrow interpretation of the Bible to justify discrimination in modern society doesn’t pass the smell test.
Some of you may have read about this recently:
On Friday, Denver administrative law judge Robert Spencer told Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, that he discriminated against Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a legally married couple from Massachusetts, when he told them in 2012 he wouldn’t bake them a wedding cake, because doing so would violate his Christian belief that homosexuality is a sin.
The judge didn’t assign any damages, but told Phillips he cannot refuse gay couples in the future. Phillips has said he’d rather close his shop than bake cakes for gay marriages.
“I am a follower of Jesus Christ,” Phillips said in July. “So you could say it’s a religious belief. I believe the Bible teaches [same-sex marriage is] not an OK thing.” SOURCE
I’m not going to argue the 1st amendment rights of the defendant here, Jack Phillips, who refused to ply his trade in violation of his religious beliefs. As an entrepreneur however Mr. Phillips should have openly stated that he serves only special clientage. That way those who also try to “follow Jesus” but don’t accept Mr. Phillip’s rendering of WWJD could eschew his business, or not. His argument centers on what he believes and it is that belief that needs challenging.
If I still considered myself a Christian I would not want to patronize someone who uses their narrow interpretation of scripture to justify an unwarranted form of discrimination. I left the faith years ago because too many people like Jack Phillips were allowed to distort the larger message of Jesus, a character that may or may not have been real and one that any biblically informed person would realize was not the “only begotten son of God”.
How can I make such a declaration? By using the very bible Mr. Phillip’s uses to claim his right to discriminate against same-sex marriages. In Genesis 6:1-2 it clearly states that there were multiple “sons of God”.
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
There are numerous flaws with the Bible for anyone who has eyes can see but do not because it conflicts with their indoctrination as children. An indoctrination that was effected in part by a religious system that itself likely evolved out of plagiarism and where it’s alleged origins have now been affirmed as myths.
These statements may seem remarkable to people like Jack Phillips, yet not because they are unreliable but because Mr. Phillips and people like him have refused to accept anything that refutes that indoctrination they were raised with. I can share their resistance to certain facts because I went through a transformation myself of being a “born-again Christian” to one who feels comfortable in the belief that the God of the Bible is a fantasy and that our salvation does not require us to accept Jesus Christ as our savior.
This didn’t happen over night. It took years and many emotional battles between that part of me that had been inculcated from a very young age with church dogma and the other, adult side of me that looks outside the box and relies on evidence of the tangible kind to assert a degree of truth.
I have no qualms with people who have faith in things unseen. It is my belief that this emotional response to events in our life is built into the human DNA to help us survive and explain our world at a time before rational thought that studied the physical world was developed.
What I do have qualms with are people like Mr. Phillips who use their faith and juxtapose it onto the world as if those aspects of it that they’ve cherry-picked are absolutes and ignore other views the bible mentions that essentially negates what they’ve cherry-picked.
An open mind that allows the possibility that the conventions they were raised with may be flawed or even false has a right to hold onto those elements of their faith that still hold value to them personally. But to suggest as Mr. Phillips does that the entirety of the Christian faith allows him to demonize something like same-sex marriage in light of the facts that Christianity itself has flaws, is more a reflection of his own homophobia. Not something that is scarcely mentioned in ancient texts written by a patriarchal society who believed the world was flat and that the sun revolved around it.
If I were to consider myself a “follower of Jesus” I would look more at what is actually attributed to him and less at that which clearly isn’t. The attraction of millions to Jesus was not his contempt of certain people but his compassion for the powerless and the persecuted. Mr. Phillips doesn’t serve the faith that attempts to draw people to it with his refusal to recognize the lifestyles he is offended by. He closes the door for anyone to understand how he makes his faith-based decision in order for them to judge for themselves if the life they have chosen is right or wrong by one set of standards.
He essentially refuses the challenges to his faith for the very reason he shouldn’t. To do so would be to discover that the claims it makes are not built on solid ground and the evidence stacked up against it would force the Jack Phillips of this world to face the possibility that they have lived a lie all of their religious lives. What the exact truth is may never be determined to everyone’s satisfaction but it is becoming clear to the Biblical hangers-on that the truth can no longer be found within the strict confines of an edited version of ancient scriptures and some people’s narrow interpretation of those texts.
Hate is not a Christian value