By Tom Taylor
Taylor is the author of “The Sin Bearer” and other novels. He is retired from the Norfolk Southern Corporation and lives in Roanoke.
The June 28 Roanoke Times editorial page was almost entirely a celebration of the advances in homosexual rights in America since the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. It was an informative history. But your editorial (“The other Stonewall”) omitted any mention of one significant minority group involved in this issue, whose rights should also be a matter of your utmost concern.
This minority is the conservative Christians in America who believe the Lord God of Heaven in his immense power created the universe, the world, and mankind. We believe He created human beings as male and female, presided over the first wedding in Eden and ordained the sexual expression of love within marriage. Logically and naturally, we do not view the perversion of God’s plan as something to be celebrated or as anything to elicit “pride.”
It should be noted this “Biblical Worldview” is not something radical or new, but has been a commonly held belief throughout American history. American liberty hangs on the conviction that God created mankind. Our Founders saw it as the basis for legitimate law and as the authority on which we base our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell vs. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage in America, himself recognized the natural conflict between historical Christian belief and gay marriage. In his majority opinion he wrote “It must be emphasized that… those who adhere to religious doctrines may continue to advocate [that] same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection…” (Emphasis mine.)
So now the courts will protect religious freedom of conscience in America. Right? Wrong. The protection prescribed by Justice Kennedy has largely evaporated. Since Obergefell vs. Hodges, various Christian bakers, florists, printers, clerks of court and other officials who have refused to honor this mockery of God and marriage have been hauled into court, lost their businesses, been removed from office, threatened and harassed, and in one case gone briefly to jail.
Two of these cases recently reached the United States Supreme Court. Oregon bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, and Colorado baker Jack Phillips had declined to create cakes celebrating same-sex marriages, and suffered great loss because of it. It was alarming that, in both cases, the Court refused to unmistakably declare First Amendment freedom of speech, religion and conscience reign supreme in America.
Instead, the Justices danced like ballerinas around that central issue. They ruled in favor of Phillips only because members of the Colorado Human Rights Commission had shown open hostility to Phillip’s Christian convictions. (Maybe if they had said “please” when demanding he violate them?) The Court simply bounced the Klein case back to the lower state courts for further consideration.
The Justices’ reluctance to plainly rule the rights of Christian dissenters are protected under the Constitution was disturbing to say the least. It seems your editorial celebrating homosexual rights also heralds an ominous outlook for religious freedom of conscience in America.
But there is another reason besides the loss of religious liberty that saddens and disturbs many Christian Americans. About 2,000 years ago an historian named Flavius Josephus accompanied the Roman army through the Dead Sea area. They passed by the scorched shadows of Sodom, still visible nearly 2,000 years after its destruction. Josephus writes in Wars of the Jews, Book Four, Chapter Eight: “The country of Sodom was of old a most happy land… although it be now all burnt up. It is related how for the impiety of the inhabitants it was burnt by lightning… and the traces or shadows of the five cities are still to be seen…”
The Bible describes that terrifying destruction of Sodom in greater detail in the book of Genesis Chapter Nineteen; and makes it plain what the “impiety” of Sodom was. As Conservative Christians we pray an historian sometime in the future will never have to write: “The country of America was of old a most happy land, although it be now all burnt up for the impiety of the inhabitants.”