The recent ruling from the Supreme Court pertaining to the Hobby Lobby challenge to specific forms of birth control has caused quite a stir.
Therefore, I am compelled to write this after President Lindsay of Gordon College, my alma mater, provided his support to a letter that was sent to President Obama. In this letter, President Lindsay asked, by way of religious exemption, to be excluded from the mandate that federal contractors not discriminate in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation. Are individuals, workers, or employees reducible to their sexual behavior?
President Lindsay paints a masterful picture of a simple request for religious liberty, the common good, and national unity as the justification for his exemption from treating people with basic dignity. I guess they forgot to address, in the letter, the religious liberty of those whom they have already decided they aren’t going to hire. As we all know, excluding a minority group from basic civic life because of their rather normal behavior is the pinpoint of a society’s common good and national unity.
President Lindsay’s support for this exemption is so disconcerting for our country that we should all be concerned, not just as alumni of Gordon College. This ‘exemption’ has the potential to have consequences on civil rights in America. This ‘religious’ exemption is not innocuous. This letter is not about a College’s decision to adhere to its ‘sincerely held religious belief,‘ but rather a decision to contribute to the solidification of discrimination policy.
Allowing discrimination on the basis of ‘sincerely held’ religious beliefs’ is so dangerous to the public good. The ‘sincerely held religious belief’ is not based on fact but rather belief. This is exactly what the Hobby Lobby case determined. This entity can believe that a form of contraception is an abortifacient despite the fact that science says it is not. There is no end to what can be sincerely held if it is not based in fact.
When each religious organization gets to choose which beliefs it sincerely holds and can exercise power over those subject to their belief and actions, I think the State not only has a compelling interest but a moral, and constitutional responsibility to intervene for the true common good.
What is this sincerely held belief that Gordon’s President thought would further the public good? Hetero-normative sexual behavior? Is Gordon going to regulate the sexual behavior of every other employee and potential hiree? How would one do that? I guess there could be questions on the hiring application: Do you masterbate? When you climax, where do you put your seed (Genesis 38:9)?
Along those lines, what is ‘appropriate’ sexual behavior that does not violate religious expression? This is to say nothing of who’s religious expression is being honored?
How about in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 where Paul says that men control women’s bodies during sex and women control men’s bodies during sex or that neither can ‘deprive’ one another from sexual intercourse. Imagine the look on the face of the interviewee when asked this, “Have you asserted your biblically mandated sexual dominance over your partner?”
How about in Matthew 5:28 where the Gospel writer says that if men look after women with lustful intent that they have already committed adultery? Should Gordon College’s lustful college age men and women gauge out their eyes, as required by the next verse? In my experience, there would be many blind people at Gordon.
How about in 1 Timothy 1:10 where Paul completely equates lying with homosexuality? It is not sexual behavior, but it reiterates my point. Again, how about in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 where Paul again compares homosexuality to greed and thievery and drunkards. Once more in Galatians 5:19-21 he makes similar comparisons with anger and envy and jealousy.
Is Gordon College going to enforce these beliefs? Or are they going to pick and choose which ones are more in line with what they want? Those that are spiritually convenient or politically expedient? Those that mobilize donors? The answer to these questions leave me to believe that Gordon College’s decision to regulate the sexual behavior of the LGTBQ community is a decision on a political matter, despite what they said. If it is not a political choice then it is simply bad systematic theology, which completely undermines their entire mission statement. I definitely expected more from them. I know that my exegesis professors taught me to be more intellectually honest than that.
Without such action, one has to ask: where does the discrimination end? Can we justify nearly everything and anything as religious expression? So, now bakers are not going to bake cakes for gay weddings? Photographers are going to decided not to take pictures at gay weddings? Christian schools are not going to hire gays? What about the many gays that currently work there? Are you going to have an inquisition or witch hunt to find them and fire them? How about a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy? Are we able to frame our most disgusting and vile xenophobias as religious virtues and hope that the Court will find a First Amendment justification for our actions?
President Lindsay does not represent every person that goes through Gordon College. I believe, as do many of my peers from Gordon College, that there is a path to salvation for those who are LGTBQ — just as there is for every other human being in the world. For an exegetical discussion I wrote on this click here.
President Lindsay is constitutionally protected in his belief that homosexuality is contrary to G-d and the Bible, however exegetically weak and anachronistically ignorant it may be. However, he should not be permitted to act on that belief and take away the civil rights of the LGBT community in hiring practices. The minority rights of the LGBT community must be protected if we are to exemplify, in society, the principles our Constitution and our Christian faith embodies. We cannot let the offensive and anti-Biblical religious views of some dictate.
Images are taken from Wikimedia Commons.
The images are of LGTB Flag by Sparrov.