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Why the Ashers Gay Cake Case Proves our Freedom is Under Threat

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The following is  my article in Premier yesterday.
Let me add a few thoughts.
I expected the militant secularists and humanists to take great delight in this.  But it is interesting that more rational and less bigoted people immediately saw the stupidity and danger of the decision – read these articles from  The TelegraphThe Guardian and The Spectator  as examples.  However it is profoundly disappointing that some professing Christians just don’t seem to grasp what is going on.    It is incredible that in order to avoid the extremes of what they perceive to be right wing cultural Christians taking advantage of this judgement to cry persecution, some Christians actually excuse this judgement.   We are truly living in the mad, mad, mad, world where Christians argue that the law of the Land overturns the Law of God – and where they defend the fact that a lovely Christian couple are being prosecuted by the State for refusing to promote a message which they do not agree with, which is opposed to the law of the Land (SSM is illegal in Northern Ireland), and more importantly which is opposed to the Law of God.   The point that we need to grasp is that we are not standing up just for our rights to live according to our faith – we are standing up everyone’s rights.  Because without freedom of religion, all of our other freedoms are in danger of disappearing.
Here is the article:
By: David Robertson | 24th October 2016

David Robertson responds to the news that a Christian run bakery in Northern Ireland has lost an appeal against a ruling that it discriminated against a gay man by refusing to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan.

 

We have finally arrived. We said that we would get here but we did not expect it to be so soon.

The Ashers Bakery decision given today is a real signpost to the promised secular nirvana where in the UK we now have a system of state doctrine that must be obeyed.

For those who are not aware of this case my original post provides the basic background. This interview  in Solas Magazine, that we conducted with Daniel and Amy McArthur shows what a lovely and thoughtful couple they are, and the dangers that have come from the Equalities Commission pursuing them.

The judges have today declared that the bakers were not allowed to provide a service only to people who agreed with their religious beliefs. The only problem with that perfectly reasonable statement is that it is arguing against something the McArthurs were not doing. They did not say that no homosexuals would be served. The judges were wrong because Ashers were not saying we will only provide a service for those who agree with our religious beliefs. They were prepared to provide a cake for anyone and indeed for any occasion. But they were not prepared to decorate that cake with a message that they profoundly disagreed with.

Rather than saying they would not provide a service to people they disagreed with, they were saying that they would not provide a service they disagreed with. The fact that three intelligent people trained in law could not work out the distinction is more than a little disturbing.

The judges went on to say: “The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either” as though this were some kind of brilliant point in law and logic. By this criteria if a member of the BNP (a legal British party) goes into a Jewish bakers and asks for a cake with a Swastika (a legal symbol) to be baked, the baker would not be able to refuse. If a Muslim baker was asked to bake one with a cartoon of Mohammed it would be illegal to refuse. If an atheist baker was asked to bake one with John 3:16 or Psalm 14:1 then it would be illegal to refuse.

After all, in the eyes of the court, providing a cake with a particular message on it does not indicate any support for that message. But we all know that that is not how the Law works. When some people wanted to post on London buses “some people are ex-gay – get over it” Boris Johnson banned them. When the Scottish Christian Party asked for leaflets to be printed, the print company refused.

The judgement states that the key question in the whole case is “Did the claimant, on the prescribed ground, receive less favourable treatment than others?” In one sense the answer is clearly no.  Ashers would not put that message on their cake for anyone – so everyone was treated the same. In another sense the answer is yes – and so it should be. I should be allowed to refuse to provide services that I profoundly disagree with which my company will not provide to anyone. If I run a print company and someone comes and asks me to print a pornographic booklet, in the eyes of the law am I obliged to do so?

The law in Britain is now moving towards a great inequality

 

The reality is that the law in Britain is now moving towards a great inequality. It favours one set of beliefs over others.

In this case a government funded agency paid over £40,000 to pursue a bakery because they refused to put a message on one of their cakes. A message that advocated something that is currently illegal in Northern Ireland. Imagine a Christian went into a bakery run by a gay couple and asked for a cake with a message ‘support traditional marriage’. If this was refused do you think for a moment that the Equalities Commission would have funded a case against them, or that the court would have decided in their favour?

Many of us know what it is like to be discriminated against. I have been refused meeting spaces in hotels, cafés and other public areas because of my religious beliefs – which are, as yet, not illegal.  But if things carry on as they have been doing – the day will come.

I have just returned from speaking at a school where I was asked by a group of pupils doing a project on same sex marriage to give the Christian position. We had a great hour of discussion and exchange of views. By the end I think all of them had heard a position they had never heard before and some were even persuaded! But in the name of ‘equality’ I am sure that these kinds of opportunities will be banned. Whatever happens different points of view must not be heard, and if the law has to be used to enforce that intolerance in the name of tolerance, then so be it. In the brave new world of today’s secular Britain, in the eyes of the law, some are more equal than others.

There are some Christians who seem to enjoy self-flagellating themselves over this issue. Just suck it up they say. Don’t make a fuss. What does it matter anyway?

They don’t seem to grasp that this is not about protecting the Church. It’s about religious freedom, upon which all other freedoms in our society depend. Once you absolutise the state and make it God then real freedom soon disappears.

Once you absolutise the state and make it God then real freedom soon disappears

To his credit and to their shame, the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has a much better understanding than some Christians. In his response – which he has sent to several Christian groups, he argues cogently and coherently that the key issue here is the question of freedom of speech.

The McArthurs were faced with a petty and vindictive campaign, funded by the government and fueled by the hate mobs on social media. The plaintiff could easily have taken his cake and gone elsewhere to get the message displayed, (if a baker said to me that they did not want to put a Bible verse on a cake then I would just shrug my shoulders and take my business elsewhere – that’s their choice and loss!)

But no, the opportunity to impose the new morality on anyone who does not agree has to be taken. There has to be an opportunity for ‘victimhood’, ‘hurt feelings’ and for government, legal and other establishment organisations to virtue signal and say how right on they are with the programme! A senior lawyer once told me that judges don’t lead the culture, they just reflect it by spending their time trying to catch up with the zeitgeist in order to demonstrate how cool and modern they are!

When I asked the question about whether Jewish bakers should be forced to bake a cake with a Nazi message, a leading Humanist tweeted “are Nazis a protected group now?”. His message inadvertently sums up the problem. Its not that homosexuals are a protected group (in this case Ashers were not refusing to serve homosexuals), its that the new state doctrine of same sex marriage is now a protected belief. Any who dare to question this doctrine (or others coming soon to a court near you) will be found guilty of heresy, sedition and blasphemy against the (un) Holy State.

The message here is not one that can be put on a cake. It is not even one about discrimination against Christians. It is simply the message that if we live in country where the state can dictate to businesses what political messages they should promote, we no longer live in a country where freedom of thought, speech and religion has any real meaning. God have mercy.

Footnote:  After writing this article the thought struck me how fatuous the judgement of the judges is.  They commented that because you decorate a cake with a witch does not mean you support witchcraft.  Actually if I was a baker and I did not want to decorate a cake with a witch because I regard witchcraft as evil, then I should be free not to do so.  Or is the court saying that we now have to support witchcraft?  Is this what we have come to? 

Another footnote – I am listening to Kaye Adams on Call Kaye just now.   If you don’t believe in BBC bias then you should listen to this programme.  Kaye is genuinely dreadful – for a presentor to show such ignorance and bias is shocking…she is condesending and demeaning to those she clearly disagrees with and is letting the Stonewall speaker away with logical murder!

And finally and most astonishingly – Catherine from Stonewall on Call Kaye has just said that a gay baker would be allowed to refuse a cake with the message ‘ban gay marriage’.  And yet she supports the judgement.  This is the inequality which is promoted by the BBC and Stonewall..

My earlier articles on this are here:

Bake me a Cake and Mark it with B for Bigot

Ashers Bakery and the Scottish Christian Party – Double Standards?

Homophobic, Idiotic, Christian Scumbag speaks on Radio 5 Live

Having your Cake and Eating It – A response to Stephen J. Graham’s polemic on the Ashers Case

105 comments

  1. Thank you David. Cogent and insightful reflection, as ever. As you say, Ashers were not refusing to serve a gay customer. If they had asked for that cake to be made but without the message, then they would have done it! They were refusing to support a social/political campaign with which they disagreed. That they were prosecuted for this is sinister and shocking.

  2. We covered some of this yesterday on Facebook so wont go over it again here. I was interested in this bit at the end though: “Or is the court saying that we now have to support witchcraft?”

    Pretty sure that is not what the court is actually saying because the court does not believe there is a thing called witchcraft (magical skills and practices as opposed to sunrise worship etc.). Indeed, the courts tend to take a dim view of those who blame supernatural forces for making children evil and therefore justifying beating the crap out of them. Mind you, the same can be said for various types of Christian exorcism as well (the rubbing chilli in the eyes thing for example). Mostly, more harm is done fighting supposed witchcraft than any actual witchcraft. I do like Nigeria where Christian pastors view finding child witches as some kind of competitive sport. Mind you, Tanzania does have a problem with witchdoctors killing albinos. Seems both sides could do with a good dose of rationalism.

    The court was illustrating the difference between making something and believing it.

    1. Douglas, it’s interesting, don’t you think, that the human rights activist and as a gay man Peter Tatchell while being in favour of the ruling initially has changed his mind to being in favour of discriminating against ideas and in favour of not having to act against conscience. Therefore being in favour of the Ashers and against the court ruling.

      I’m curious, would to advocate a Muslim baker being ruled against for not baking a cake with a cartoon depicting Muhammed. Would you advocate someone who is gay being ruled against for not baking a cake with a homophobic message on it? And if not then why would you not find a Christian couple being ruled against for not doing something in conflict to their coincidence (whether they are tight or wrong) abhorrent?

      Also, why would you present “Christian exorcism” as if it is common practice among Christians to abuse children and cause unnecessary pain. Do you not think that such practices are abhorrent to the majority of Christians?

      You claim “I am not going to play favourites”. I will not disrespect other humans… [and presecution] not mean its going to happen in the name of equality.” Douglas McLeland. https://theweeflea.com/2016/09/06/the-victorious-persecuted-church/

      Are you not showing favouritism and would it not be becoming to come out in support of the Ashers, as Peter Tatchell has in the interests of equality that you advocate rather than use the platform you have been afforded here to talk of horrible practices unconnected with the case don in the name of Christianity that the majority of Christians find abhorrent.

      Why not talk in a similar manner about LGBT activists – do you think the customer went into the Asher’s bakery without any political motivation. Is it not bad manners at best, and at worst discrimination against religious freedom to do so for political gain?

      Where’s equality with that?

      1. Adam.

        I think a lot of this stems from a disagreement about what might be termed an anti-Christian message the anti-other protected group messages you use as examples. Is a message that says “Support Gay Marriage” clearly anti-Christian? It is a message that some Christians dont like but not all of them. It does not say all/some/few/any Christians support gay marriage. It is a statement that is free from religious intent. If the image was not two muppets but a common interpretation of Jesus then I’d say it did have religious intent. Only the bakers made this about religion. However, an image of Muhammed is not free from religious intent.

        If a gay baker was asked to bake a cake saying, for example, a picture of the Bible or a message saying Jesus Rocks then I’d say it would have to be made. A cake with a homophobic message is wrong because it has the intent. You mistake the intent of the cake in Ashers as being anti-Christian. It wasnt. A homophobic cake is anti-gay and therefore falls foul of legislation protecting people.

        I brought up exorcism to highlight the difference between the lack of harm of halloween cakes and the actual harm that happens when people believe in witchcraft. There was a difference that I think is important.

        I think its been established that the customer had been to Ashers before so any claim that this order was targetting them suggests the persecution complex needs to be dialled back a bit.

        I dont get what you meant about the playing favourites. After all that conversation was about the epic pain and suffering caused by and done to Christians over the last 2000 years. Baking a cake hardly compares….

    2. Douglas,

      Your comment about a statement that is “free from religious intent” can only undebatable if it can be shown that in the Asher’s case it did not affect their religious convictions. Rather the opposite is true for them on this occasion.

      At the same time, I take on board your argument about this not being the case for all Christians. therefore it would suggest that an appropriate ruling should be taken on a case by case basis should it not? I would challenge your alleging that I am wrong to liken the Ashers case to a gay baker being asked to decorate a cake with homophobic messages.

      Also for the plaintive as a known gay lobbyist does it not suggest that this was a politically motivated manoeuvre in tanking to Ashers to court rather than they being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation. The human rights activist and gay man Peter Tatchell talking about being in favour of discrimination against ideas but not against people and arguing for the Ashers does both support this and seem to indicate the the LGBT community is divided over the court ruling.

      You clearly are articulate and able to communicate ideas. It surprises me that you don’t get what I mean with quoting you as “not playing favourites”. Are you suggesting that talking of “various types of Christian exorcism” and “fighting supposed witchcraft” is not showing favouritism when not accompanied by mention of other forms of abhorrent conduct by individuals and groups that don’t make themselves appear to align with Christianity?

      Your points about “epic pain” and “exorcism” done or received over the years not comparing to an issue over a cake. OK looking at this another way, if the cake is not such a big issue then why didn’t the plaintiff just go to another bakery, one that is known to not hold the position that the Ashers have?

      If we look at history, perhaps the “holocaust” comes to mind for many of us if we are to consider people experiencing “epic pain”. It didn’t start with people being sent to death camps. It began with signs being painted on shops owned by Jews. By Jews then being made to give way to others in the street. Then being called rats and the honourable thing to be eliminate them as rats eliminated from a sewer as “the final solution to the Jewish problem”.

      The court ruling sets a dangerous precedent regarding religious freedom and both David and Peter Tatchell have judged rightly about this.

  3. Thanks David. All my instincts and sympathies are with your viewpoint. I do have some doubts that keep surfacing in my mind. One is how far a society should go in accommodating consciences. For example, should Muslim women teachers be allowed to were the burka in the classroom? At what point we can reasonably feel culpable for our part in conveying the views of others? For example, was the American bus driver right in refusing to drive his firm’s bus because it carried an advert promoting gay marriage? One can imagine many situations where we are complicit in promoting values we disapprove. The employee in a bookstore or newsagent does so all the time.

  4. I once believed as you do. Even had an all night argument with my sister over Christian’s rights under the 1st amendment of our constitution to refuse to bake a cake, or provide flowers for gay weddings. I was wrong. It would be no different than a white southern cafe owner refusing service to a black person for religious reasons in the 1950s

    1. It’s actually very different. There is no direct analogy at all. I really wish that people would stop and consider the facts and think before they comment just on the basis of their own preconceived prejudices! The plaintiff was not refused because he was gay. In fact he had been served several times before. Ashers refused to put a political message, with which they disagreed, on their cake. the fact that you want to force individuals and businesses to put state political messages with which they disagree on their products, is indicative of how dumbed down, irrational and intolerant today’s culture is becoming.

      1. If it were just a political message, like Democrats Rock!!, most likely they would not have refused. Surely you don’t think people are so dense to believe you when you say it’s ‘just’ a political message they disagreed with. They disagree for religious reasons. It’s a religious ‘message’ they disagree with.

      2. You really need to get your facts before you comment on the basis of your prejudice. They have refused political messages. And why do you think it’s okay for people to be compelled to post messages which go against their most fundamental beliefs?

    2. The black/homosexual issues are not in principle parallel. The black was an objection to who the person is while the homosuality issue is an objection to lifestyle or behaviour.

      1. I once thought that too. But even if it were so, why would it be allowable for a baker providing a public service as a business to refuse to bake a cake for someone based in what he perceives to be their behaviour or preferences in their private life?
        Would I then be within my rights to refuse to service say… and ac unit on a home if I perceived the family were broncos fans or vote Democratic? No. People in public business provide services. It’s not their right to discriminate based in personal or religious grounds. This UK baker was very clear that the reason they refused was their own personal religious disagreement with gay marriage. The court made very clear in their ruling that they were illegally discriminating based in their own religious position. A business doesn’t have the right to discriminate in who they will serve based on religious bias. Instead of protecting their religious rights, what they do is violate the customers religious freedom. That’s illegal. If they can’t in good conscience do business that way, they shouldn’t be in business to the public. -kia

      2. And once again you are missing the issue. The baker did not refuse to bake the cake because of the customers behaviour or preferences in their private life. The Baker refused to put a message on the cake with which he profoundly disagreed. Can you not see the difference? Your position is utterly and completely ridiculous and is based upon prejudice and ignorance. You would clearly not expect a Jewish maker to make a cake with a Nazi swastika. Therefore your whole case is completely demolished. Once again I repeat it so that you can try and understand and grasp this point. Asher’s did not discriminate on the basis of who they were serving, they discriminated in terms of the service that they were providing. Your last sentence is as chilling as it is dumb.

      3. The court disagreed clearly. And they saw thru the subterfuge that you are trying to portray. You’re just wrong in how you are trying to paint this.

      4. Just simply stating that “you are wrong” is hardly an argument. The court’s decision is absurd, as Peter Tatchell points out, because it means that the state can now tell individuals and businesses what political messages they must support! The fact that you are unable to see this is an indication of how obsessed you are with one particulars set of “rights”. it is a completely irrational and totalitarian position – and one for which you have no answer.

      5. Just saying the courts decision is absurd doesn’t give you a law degree and the experience to say so either. Might be better to stop calling names. It’s not very intelligent or mature

      6. But I didn’t just say that the court’s decision is absurd. I wrote a whole article is and gave a number of references. On the other hand you wrote about what did not happen. If you actually read the court judgement you would realise that it agrees that Asher’s did not refuse to serve the customer because he was gay. do you really not find it absurd that the State can tell people what messages they must proclaim? please try to stick with the arguments and don’t just demote your prejudices

      7. I’m sorry, I can’t stick with your brand of dialogue. It’s insulting to anyone who disagrees with you. If you won’t stop name calling and slinging poo, I will withdraw. Have a great day, I hope you grow up some day

      8. I love the irony of someone saying that they can’t stand name-calling and then finishing with” I hope you grow up someday”!

        You had made a point about Asher’s discriminating because of the customer’s personal life – that point was answered. And what do you do? You accuse me of name-calling (what names did I call you?) and run away in the huff. if you are going to engage in rational dialogue, then it’s normal that when you make a point and that point is answered you either acknowledge that you come back with new information. Just simply abusing the person who has counted your arguments doesn’t really constitute rational argument!

      9. I was simply pointing out the parallel is inexact. However, I’m interested in your response to David’s example: should a Jewish baker be obliged to bake a cake with a nazi swastika on it?

      10. John,

        And here we see another dynamic. With the position you argue that homosexuality is about choice rather than being born that way and entitled to everything that anyone heterosexual is, I can imagine the screams of homophobia coming from the left.

        I would offer this from Milo

        “When the left tells you that people were ‘born this way,’ that was an invention. They came up with that in the 90s and the 80s to get at the religious right who were saying love the sinner but hate the sin, so the gay lobby thought, ‘Well what if we’re like women or blacks, what if we don’t have a choice? That makes them bigots,’” Milo claimed. “So they came up with this born this way thing, which really has no basis in science at all. All the science suggests that its a mixture of nature and nurture.”

        “My own attitude to this has been, we are all messy complicated people, and sometimes we’re in pain and sometimes we’re confused and sometimes we don’t know what we want,” he continued. “The progressive left insists that we acknowledge their bizarre, complex ways of describing themselves, their genderqueer, polyamorous, whatever. But if you say you’re a gay catholic or a gay conservative, suddenly their heads explode.”

        “Well if I were to take a straight pill my career would be over, but I think I probably would, and I’ll tell you why. And I’ve never really heard this from other gay people, but it always seemed perfectly obvious to me,” he explained. “It’s not about bigotry or homophobia, because we could live in a perfect society, and in many ways we pretty much do, where people are not discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality, but for me and it might be [too much information] for some of you, but for me not being able to create a child with the person you love, you know, while you’re loving them, that gets you. You notice that.” http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/20/milo-i-would-take-a-straight-pill/

        So, if it is fact that the “born that way” has no basis in science, a gay man being catholic and conservative makes “progressive left” heads explode with it not being about bigotry and homophobia where people are pretty much not discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality and he would like to have a family naturally with a person he loves then it is it not the height of bigotry to hinder any possible transformation of the mind in order to enable that to happen?

      11. Hi Adam

        Good to read you from time to time on this blog. I agree calls of homophobia are certain. In actual fact I was not saying that homosexuality is about choice. It may be. I suspect it is more a mixture of nature/nurture in most and in some the hedonistic desire to try everything. My point was that the church’s beef is with the homosexual nature (for we all have fallen corrupt natures) but with homosexual behaviour, homosexual acts in thought and deed. I can understand though that my comment could be read as seeing homosexuality as nothing to do with nature.

      12. Adam

        Sorry, my comment should read,

        ‘My point was that the church’s beef is NOT with the homosexual nature (for we all have fallen corrupt natures) but with homosexual behaviour, homosexual acts in thought and deed’.

      13. Hey John,

        Good to read from you too – I usually found our conversations fulfilling, informative and helpful. Thank you.

        You wrote “the homosuality issue is an objection to lifestyle or behaviour”. OK so my response to that was to talk about choice with “the position you argue that homosexuality is about choice rather than being born that way and entitled to everything that anyone heterosexual is.” To be clear, I wasn’t intending to argue that homosexual orientation was about choice and I apologise if this is how it came across.

        More importantly, it seems does it not that there is not conclusive evidence about to what degree it is nature or nurture. From what I perceive, we seem to be in agreement with that.

        As a gay man, Milo says for him it has been mostly nature. I think what Milo wrote is interesting, and courageous, and could come with the risk of being accused (wrongly) of being homophobic, as could your comment.

        You wrote “my point was that the church’s beef is with…homosexual behaviour, homosexual acts in thought and deed”. As mentioned, there are differences in views about this within the wider church i.e. among Christians as a whole. Some embrace SSM for example, Some reject it and other “acts”.

        However I can fully accept that the church you belong to has “beef” with this, as you say.

  5. I am not competent to comment on the Judges’ grasp of the law. The judgment seemed well worked out with frequent references to case law including other jurisdictions. What I do find curious is the logic. Apparently making a statement, whether oral or written (even in icing) bears no connotation of what you believe or hold to be true. The judgment appeared to argue that beliefs and actions are indistinguishable – maybe that is an example. One thing the judgment did suggest if I read it right was that the law should be changed – from memory “that is a matter for the (NI) Assembly”. It would appear that the Attorney General’s special pleading, as to the flawed nature of the legislation, was disregarded.

  6. Kia,

    the judgment was at great pains to demonstrate that the matter was a political one, not merely religious. This was in the middle of a political campaign to change the law of Northern Ireland.

  7. So far I’ve been unable to find a reliable, full report of the judgement, so I’ll reserve judgment on it, but from what I’ve read and from David’s blog and from my lapsed knowledge of the workings of the legal system in England & Wales, I offer the following comments.

    1 What a wonderful Christian witness the young married couple are, through a severe personal testing that many armchair Christian commentators are unlikely to undergo.

    2 The illustration cited the Court , by way of comparison, seems trite in the extreme and is an error of category, of little or no equivalence.

    3 It is beyond me why such a seemingly simplistic, cut and dried judgement should have been reserved for such a long time. What I’ve read so far, none of the judgment addresses the points of concern and consideration raised by the Attorney General’s last minute intervention (though not party to the proceedings).

    4 Public policy does play an of submerged, hidden role in decision making of the judiciary. As does personal belief, world view. It is a idealists fallacy to think otherwise. (see the “realist school of jurisprudence”) – Mr McLellan in particular. I can clearly recall defending in Court when a “stage whisper” came fro the Chairman of the bench “He’s going to get off”. Nevertheless, he, my client, was convicted when logically, according to the law he should have been acquitted.

    5 This judgment may or may not have widespread implications, may be a precedent that will be slavishly followed, beyond the scope of contracts for services or narrowly construed.

    6 From a strict contract law point, it seems that the bakery was in breach, having originally entered into a contract to bake the cake. So the whole judgment might be “obiter dictum,” rather than “ratio decidendi.” But I clearly stand to be corrected.

    7 Where is the exalted “freedom of will”, or choice. There are many examples that no doubt will be and have been given of sloganeering which if declined may fall foul of the law . What about the minority group of mothers who are carrying Downes Syndome children in the womb wanting posters printed, “Downes Syndrome -Abort- you know it makes sense! ”

    8 Conscience: I’m afraid it has largely been secularly, shamelessly. seared. No shame is now the name of the game.

    9 Belief can only be separated from behaviour by coercion, but how is belief changed?

    10 There was an expression a number of year ago, “if it was a crime to be a Christian, would you be convicted?”

    11 Responses from Christians: not sure what is meant by “self flagellation” in this context. Something deeply disturbing is at the root of the question, Why does it matter? The root is theological. A very recent discussion with an older Christian admitted they were confused, doubted the Trinity, rejected the fall and the atonement of Christ (cosmic child abuse- you can see who the influencers are) and couldn’t simply answer the question, Why did Jesus die? It was all about love and inclusion. Their faith had changed over the years, they’d been “researching the internet.” There was no time to discuss this at any length, but the bottom line is likely to be the undermining of scripture, which the bakers clearly accept, an undermining from within the church.

  8. PS As a student, one of my legal heroes was law Lord, Denning (a double first from Oxford). He wasn’t too popular with many of his peers as and higher ranking law Lords as he was known to make his decisions and then, use the law, legal argumentation to support, to justify it, rather than arrive at the judgment through the application of the law. Welcome to the real world of secular law, Mr McLellan. Sorry to disillusion you.

  9. William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

  10. I believe discrimination law is an ass, and this case proves it. There will be many more cases like this where the plaintiff is really an entrapper, eager to push his or her agenda by using this well-intentioned law to do so. I’m beginning to think the Ashers should have ‘turned the other cheek’ by simply paying the fine (or whatever the original ‘sentence’ might have entailed). If it was a fine I for one would have happily contributed. Unfortunately the more appeals that are lost the stronger the ‘law’ becomes.

  11. I assume, perhaps wrongly, that booksellers are not obliged to stock books that for reasons of content they prefer not to stock. Is there a parallel here?

  12. I note the positive nugget of your discussions with the school pupils, that’s heartening to read.

  13. As a Christian Fundamentalist, I agree with the court’s decision. I agree with it because we live in a capitalist economic system. If discrimination based on religious views is allowed to be practiced by one, even f it is an event, it sets up the potential for allowing discrimination to be practiced by all.

    At the same time, it is too easy to observe that some abuses will occur in the name of combating discrimination. These abuses are nothing more than the result of the pendulum swinging in the other direction. And how far that pendulum swings at least partially depends on how far it swung in the other direction. And if we are going do what we can to limit the number of abuses that are involved with the current direction of the pendulum swing, we are going to have to acknowledge how wrong the pendulum swing was when it went in the other direction.

    1. Curt – What are you doing supporting a capitalist economic system? And basing your moral views on that rather than on the Scriptures? What kind of fundamentalist are you? What kind of Christian are you? Logically of course you practice discrimination all the time, the question is what you base that discrimination. Why are you defending the right of the State to tell its citizens what they must promote?! Do you think that a Jewish baker should be compelled to bake a cake with a Swaztika? Where do you draw the line?

      1. David,
        Hate to tell you but living in a nation that passionately embraces capitalism means that there is a certainly involuntary support of capitalism, like it or not. Personally, I prefer Socialism, but I am not the one choosing the system.

        Second, how Scriptural is it to marginalize the LGBT community in society? For such is a real possibility when business owners, in a Capitalist economic system, can deny services to those in the LGBT community because of religious views. My nation practiced this before only it was race that was the determining factor as whether one could have full access to goods and services in the “free” market. And some defended that practice by referring to the Scriptures. Now, something similar, though not as drastic, is being proposed again. And the same effect occurs when we deny goods and services to a group; it produces a socially marginalizing effect on that group. And that effect does not purify members in that group. Rather, it builds resentment.

        Third, doing business with a group in a capitalist economic system does not necessarily promote that group. Rather, doing business in a Capital economic system is part of a social contract so that, for customers, all may have access to necessary goods and services, and for businesses, one can provide goods and services for profit.

        Fourth, your referral to a baker having to bake a cake for a Nazi group has already been decided by our courts. And again, the issue is whether we can deny someone rights based on our disagreement with them.

        The real issue David is how we Christians will share society with others. Will we share society with others as equals or will we attempt to gain some privileged advantage so that we can call the shots? Considering what Jesus said about not lording it over others like the Gentiles do and the fact that we give religious freedom to those religions that worship idols and that we live in a Capitalist economic system, I believe that I am relying on the Scriptures for my views here.

      2. Who is talking about ‘marginalising LGBT community’….? What does that even mean? What about marginalising the ‘racist’ community? Or the polygamous community? How scriptural would ‘marginalising them be?

        Your defence of this fundamentalist authoritarian intolerance is quite disturbing – especially as you seek to Christianise it! You believe that the Scriptures command us to put anti-Christian messages on what we make! That just about sums it all up…

      3. Curt, I’m wondering if (assuming you’re a baker of course) you would bake a cake for a country gentleman bearing the slogan “Support Fox Hunting with Dogs”. Or perhaps you’re already a country gentleman yourself, so maybe if somebody asked you instead to ice it with the slogan “Support Fracking for Gas”, what would you say?

  14. Curt,

    As a self identified “Christian fundamentalist”, what are your “fundamentals”?

    In one of the UK’s daily newspaper it is reported that NI Equalities Commission, head said “You can of course restrict your offer so for example , restrict the selling of cigarettes or drink…” And that where there is a conflict between the law to serve all equally and faith, there must be a financial sacrifice (by those of faith.

    Of course this could be the way it has been reported, but this appears to be a misrepresentation, or misunderstanding of the judgment by the Head. .)

    It also reveals a lack of understanding basic contract law of “offer and acceptance”, advertising and “invitation to treat.”

    The article states that the Court of Appeal crucially found that the bakery could have refused the order had it limited itself to selling cakes for birthdays or other specific events. The bakers terms and conditions excluded decorating with rude words or sexual images, but had no restrictions on political slogans.

    I think the bakery has already changed their business terms by stating they will not decorate political slogans.

    It also seems that the Attorney General of NI is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court based on considerations of Constitutional Law. (Not reduced to mere capitalist or commercial considerations)

    And: “The family at the centre of the Ashers Baking Company case have suffered because of a false understanding of equality, the First Minister of Northern Ireland has said.” (taken from this link:

    http://www.christian.org.uk/news/first-minister-speaks-enormous-sympathy-ashers-family/

  15. To all,
    To David,
    Marginalizing the LGBT community is the same as marginalizing any other group of people. Take the plight of Blacks during the Jim Crow era in America. The mere denial of goods and services, like being refused a cup of coffee, because of race, sent a message to many Blacks that they were counted as inferior to those Whites who could freely enjoy goods and services in the marketplace. One only needs to hear their interviews to see how such a refusal was received. Of course, there are other ways of marginalizing people besides the simple denial of services and goods because of the group one belongs to. To marginalize a group of people is to make those people understand that they are inferior members of society who are viewed by society as undeserving of fair and equal treatment.

    As for my attack on authoritarianism, there is a place for authority to be respected as well as there are legitimate authority figures. The question is this Should Christians should have a place of authority over all other groups in society by having a privileged place in society in determining its laws or should Christians share society with others as equals? Those who opt for the former option are most likely doing so because they are seeking an authority relationship where it is unwarranted. That seeking gives evidence to an authoritarian personality. My contention for a long time has been that because we have so many relationships in which the scriptures speak of having authority figures that we have a difficult time in turning off that authority switch when it comes to sharing society.

    To cumbriasmithy, I play music. And if my musical services were contracted on the market for a same-sex wedding, I would then play for that same-sex wedding in exchange for the agreed upon compensation. However, that is different from when I played for the son’s wedding. I played for his wedding as a gift, for free. Such is the difference between attending a wedding as a vendor from attending a wedding as a supportive guest. And I would not play for any unbiblical heterosexual wedding or any same sex wedding as a gift.

    To Geoff Graham,
    I am often asked the question what is a fundamentalist. I go back to its original definition as one who believes in the fundamentals of the faith. Back in the early 20th century, to distinguish themselves from theological liberals, Christian fundamentalists state 5 basic tenets that defined what all Christians should believe and they revolved around the description of Jesus, this was described in terms of him being supernatural and his substitutionary work on the cross along with his resurrection, as well the belief in the inerrancy of the original autographs of the Scriptures. I stay with that description because it focuses on what Christians believe rather than how they are often characterized.

    BTW, I don’t believe that there is any false understanding of equality in the decision made in the bakery’s case. That they made cakes for weddings means that they would have to discriminate against Same Sex weddings if they were to apply the principles they were applying. What the ruling is trying to emphasize is the that we can’t in the name of religious convictions, deny groups of equal access to goods and services in an economic system where such goods and services are primarily provided by the private sector. Such would allow for a possible partial or full deprivation of some goods or services to a particular group.

    1. Curt, Who is speaking about marginalising the LGBT community? And who is talking about denying goods and services? Do you understand what happened in the Asher’s case? And who is saying that Christian should have a privileged place in society? You seem to be setting up an awful lot of strawmen and accepting a lot of cultural presuppositions which seem to be anti-Christian. Every society has to make laws. Do you not agree that it would be best for each society if they made their laws in accordance with the word of God? Or do you think that that the church should subject itself to the law of man rather than the law of God?

    2. Curt, David,

      Firstly Curt, yes “denial of goods and services, like being refused a cup of coffee, because of race” is abhorrent. It would be abhorrent if the bakers has refused the plaintiff on the basis of their sexual orientation. However this is no the case as was clearly laid out by David. The Law protects religion against for example holding same sex marriages if that is against religious conscience and therefor protects against being discriminated against on the basis of religion.

      The plaintiff was a known gay rights activist. This was about political gain, not equality.

      Having said that, Douglas was right above that there was a “message that some Christians don’t like but not all of them”.

      I can see how with your approach (consistent with being pro SSM) you might take offense to the decision made by the bakers leading you to think that it is tantamount to marginalisation of LGBT. However you don’t have the right to not be offended and your persuasion one way does not automatically make you right and others who think differently wrong. When a gay man and prominent human rights activist comes out (excuse pun) in support of the bakers, it’s not a convincing argument to say the have been marginalising to LGBT. If what you say is true then he would be marginalising himself. It would be silly to think that is what he is doing.

      That’s one thing.

      Another is how to conduct oneself “in Christ”. One part of the body cannot say to another “I don’t need you”. If the body were only made of eyes, how would it hear, of ears, how would it see? One part of the body affects the other, if it is in pain the rest of the body feels it, if joy, the rest of the body rejoices with it. If it is unity, it stands, if divided, it falls.

      And what is division if not a fruit of the flesh, joy if not a fruit of the Spirit.

      So what are out priorities here David and Curt? It’s right yes to speak prophetically, to call out false teachings as Jesus did to Pharisees, to call out false prophecies as Elijah and to say as Paul did to circumcising Jewish Christians insisting on other being mutilated that he would with they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. All of this is sexy stuff. We all like to feel empowered, approved of and loved for what we do.

      But at the same time, there is the encumbrance to not “have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” 2 Tim 2:23. It’s the wise man that knows the difference between this and demolishing “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” 2 Cor 10:5 and acts accordingly.

      A prominent Evangelical Richard Tiplady has stated, Christian worship and community is unattractive to outsiders. The only offence should be the cross of Christ.

      It may be worth considering to what degree any argument here is furthering the gospel of good news about Jesus and to what degree it is harming that end.

      Just a suggestion.

  16. Curt,

    It’s good that you are engaging in this.

    You seem to be reading this solely, or primarily through the lense of your “belief” about “equality” and it’s effect on commerce, and contracts. Is that how you read inerrant scripture. through the lense of your belief about equality?

    There is no moral or legal equivalence with race, national nor ethnicity. Nor scriptural equivalence.

    And the Court of Appeal accepts that the bakers could legally have restrictions on the service it could provide.

    We are all equal before the law, – the law of God.

  17. Discrimination law is still an ass, because discrimination is merely the process of choosing between alternatives. The gay rights activist used – or more accurately abused – the huge power and popular kudos of his movement to entrap, victimise, ostracise, defame, marginalise and attempt to wreck the lives and business of the owners of the Ashers Bakery on account of their moral convictions and a snap decision they were forced to make with absolutely no time to deliberate over it. Do they now have a legal right to bring a counter-claim against him? I don’t know, but I hope they are wiser than that and can continue to see this as the ridiculous and massive storm in a teacup that it has become.

  18. David,
    Why speak about marginalizing the LGBT community when actions speak louder than words? Trying to prohibit SSM, legally allowing the firing and harassing of employees based on sexual orientation, writing new laws that allows for legal discrimination against those from the LGBT community has certainly replaced the time when homosexuality was a criminal offense. And no one has to speak about marginalizing the LGBT community when we can write laws that allow or even direct society to do that.

    Likewise, determining marriage laws based on what the Bible says about marriage or allowing Christians to use religious freedom as an excuse to discriminate against those in the LGBT community shows that some are pushing for Christian privilege. Of course, remember in the past that we had blue laws or that candidates from other religions became unelectable also promotes Christian privilege.

    See, we don’t have to talk about it when actions speak louder than words.

    Finally, if we base our laws on God’s Word, where would freedom of religion be? And why would we want to base too many laws on God’s Word when we have the attitude Paul expressed in I Cor 5: 12-13? Or why would we want to control the laws when Jesus told us not to lord it over others? Or why would we expect nonChristians to follow all the laws we could base the Bible on so that society could become a supplemental disciplinary arm of the Church? Don’t you remember Church history? Don’t you remember how Martin Luther directed both German society and its princes to treat the Jews for their unbelief? Is that what God wants us to do?

    Is the LGBT community to us what the Jews were to Martin Luther?

    Or let’s put it another way. Let me quote from Jeff Halper’s An Israeli In Palestine


    An ethnocracy is the opposite of a democracy, although it might incorporate some elements of a democracy such as universal citizenship and elections. It arises when one particular group–the Jews in Israel, the Russians in Russia, the Protestants in pre-1972 Northern Ireland, the whites in apartheid South Africa, the Shi’ite Muslims of Iran, the Malay in Malaysia and, if they had their way, the white Christian fundamentalists in the US–seizes control of the government and armed forces in order to enforce a regime of exclusive privilege over other groups in what is in fact a multi-ethnic or multi-religious society. Ethnocracy, or ethno-nationalism, privileges ethnos over demos, whereby one’s ethnic affiliation, be it defined by race, descent, religion, language or national origin, takes precedence over citizenship in determining to whom a country actually “belongs.”

    Is an ethnocracy what the NT calls Christians to work for?

    1. Curt – you are making fundamental errors – but perhaps that is because of your self description as a ‘fundamentalist’ Christian? You claim to follow Jesus and yet think that to prohibit that which God prohibits (SSM) is wrong?! Do you think it is unChristian and ethnocratic to be against polygamous marriage or incestous marriage? If we don’t accept Gods laws about marriage – whose laws do we accept? What do you think our laws should be based on?

      You also completely miss the point about the Ashers case. You are aware that SSM is illegal in Northern Ireland? Ashers were being asked to put a message on a cake which they disagreed with and which is illegal in Northern Ireland. Why should they be punished for that?

      If we don’t base our laws on Gods Word then what are we going to base our laws on? You seem unable to answer that most obvious of questions.

      Your comments about the LGBT community being as the Jews were to Luther is as historically ignorant as it is offensive.

      Your extremist form of fundamentalist Christianity – which seems to want a privatised religion and a State run by the rich and powerful, is quite worrying….how far fundamentalist Christians have moved from their historic roots…!

  19. Adam,
    First, I would need you to quote the law(s) that apply here. I know that we have the same battle here in the states and that when the possibility of SSM becoming legal, a number of states considered laws that would allow Christian business owners to deny services to those from the LGBT community.

    Second, what we are seeing here is a pendulum swing. And how far that swing goes depends on how far the pendulum swung in the other direction. Remember that there was a time when homosexuality itself was a criminal act. And that there was much prejudice against homosexuals in society. The law is starting to try to rightfully correct those past abuses. But the initial time of trying to correct a bad situation often includes an overreaction. Personally, I think Christian vendors should provide services by way of a business transaction to Same Sex weddings. To deny services causes those outside of our circle to look down on us and thus the Gospel we preach. Plus, doing business with those from the LGBT community is not an endorsement of their lifestyles–at least not in a Capitalist economy. Our problem is that we can’t see the larger picture and thus can’t see the ramifications of our denying doing business with the LGBT community.

    Third, me being offended by something does not justify discrimination. Over here, we had a long time period known as Jim Crow. And for many who embraced it, they found Biblical reasons for justifying not just discrimination, but exploitation and persecution of Blacks. There were Jim Crow laws that were passed by states and municipalities, but those laws in and of themselves did not fully summarize what the Jim Crow era was about. For it was about the subjugation of Blacks to Whites. And again, many an adherent to the Jim Crow way found Biblical reasons to support and continue it.

    Those who tried to challenge different aspects of Jim Crow were called agitators and communists. They were described as unscrupulous people bent on bringing chaos and anarchy to the established order. The question here becomes do our religious objections to providing business services to Same Sex weddings fit the model of religious objections being used to discriminate against Blacks during Jim Crow. For if they do, the state has an obligation to override the religious conscience of those business refusing to provide services to Same Sex weddings in the interest of protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.

    See, I don’t count the discussion here to be about some trivial topic. And it isn’t just a matter of the consciences of Christian business people. For the practice of discrimination by Christian businesses has caused many a stumbling block to be laid that inhibits many unbelievers from wanting to hear the Gospel because it has been so strongly associated with prejudice and discrimination by the practices of its believers. So this is no trivial issue.

    1. Curt, you say, “Personally, I think Christian vendors should provide services by way of a business transaction to Same Sex weddings. To deny services causes those outside of our circle to look down on us and thus the Gospel we preach.”

      So would you bake a cake and ice it with the slogan “Support bestial relationships”? How far would you go in endorsing sinful behaviour in terms of ‘business transactions’? The ‘outside circle’ already looks down on Christians and our gospel so at what point should we say enough is enough and stop bowing to the devil? You seem to be at the top of a slippery slope which elevates equality (whatever that might mean in reality) above the law of our God. We cannot dictate the behaviour of the unsaved, but surely we should not have our own behaviour determined by ungodly demands.

      1. cumbriasmithy,
        Do you want to keep going with hypotheticals without reflecting on what you are comparing? So long as you find a hypothetical that someone rejects and then you apply it to Same-sex weddings. If you are going to use hypotheticals, you need to watch your comparisons. Why? Because the issue isn’t as much about messages on a cake as it is about protecting marginalized and previously marginalized groups from discrimination. And one cannot seriously discuss this issue while decontextualizing the actions in question.

      2. I’m comparing like for like. Leviticus 18:22 to Leviticus 18:23; and you can’t get much closer than that. So is one verse relevant and the other not?

    2. Curt,

      It is widely accepted within the UK once SSM was made legal that churches would not be forced to marry same sex couples. this is a UK based site, therefore I would suggest your “need” is better met with you familiarising yourself with the UK context rather than having the law explained to you. As you are familiar with the “same battle” in the states, you would in principle be welcome with your contributions to discussions here once helped if you have familiarised yourself with the UK context.

      You talk rightly about a pendulum swing. See the conversation above, if you would, for a distinction between homosexuality (as in orientation) and homosexual practice. If by homosexuality you are referring to homosexual acts being illegal in the past, this of course is true and obvious.

      Your argument is that the bakers have discriminated. You repeating the word “discrimination” does not make your argument any more valid then it did when you first made claim that this had happened.

      The Jim Crow likening has already been debunked.

      So in summary what is the point you are trying to make in your response to my comment? That the bakers were discriminating against the plaintiff because you say so? Are you suggesting that is a serious challenge?

      Nevertheless, I respect your freedom to comment and to have the opinion you have chosen.

  20. Geoff,
    Would like to correct the summary you made of my point. It isn’t the effect that equality should have on commerce and contracts that is the issue here. The issue here is the effect that contracts and commerce have on people when equality is not part of the picture.

    And the issue isn’t whether we are all equal before the law. The issue is whether the law respects our being equal with others.

    I see no NT justification for Christians to seek anything other than an equal position with others in society. Thus, we must oppose those laws that puts some group at a disadvantage if not not for the sake of that group, at least for the honor of the Gospel. For when we promote inequality while calling ourselves Christians, we attach that inequality to the Gospel in the eyes of many. And the more we do that, they more we cause people to look down on the Gospel.

    Curt

  21. Cumbriasmithy,
    There was no trap for the bakers to fall into if they wanted to provide, in a business setting, goods and services to a same sex wedding.

  22. Curt,

    We are getting to the bottom of this, despite your “shotgun technique”, obscurantist, advocacy and despite your stated fundamentalist view of the inerrancy of scripture.

    You are relegating the holy Law of God, and placing people at a higher level than God himself. In response to my statement that we are all equal before the law of God you state, “And the issue isn’t whether we are all equal before the law. The issue is whether the law respects our being equal with others”. Really?? Yes, the law reveals we are all, equal with others, (almost irredeemably) sinful. Our God is Holy and His love for us is never less than a Holy-love.

    I’m not sure which NT you are reading, You are clearly reading the NT through the lens of your present day, own, understanding of equality. It is not the NT I read. Does yours have some pages or paragraphs missing? Does it mention morality? Does it have imperatives that flow from the indicatives?

    What do you see as the “honour of the Gospel”, the Good News of Jesus? What is the gospel? Is it that we can live any way we want and have Jesus as added value, to enhance or complete our pre-conversion lives. Perhaps you don’t believe a conversion is necessary.

    It is nothing less than a radical, inside-out, life transforming, costly, changed life, such as shown in former lesbian and Queer theory, cultural academic Rosaria Butterfield (see this link below):

    https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2016/10/31/rosaria-butterfield-responds-to-jen-hatmakers-blessing-of-lgbt-sexual-relationships-as-holy/

  23. PS Curt,
    I invite you to listen to the short exert on Quantum 85, from about 3:25, of a BBC radio interview where there was a robust cross examination of a “Stonewall” gay rights activist on whether a gay baker would have to bake a cake saying “Gay/equal marriage is wrong.” “They would be in their rights to refuse to bake the cake”, was the answer finally given.

    A fatuously contradictory, unequal answer which unbelieving prominent gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell opposes. He was prominent in SSM legislation change.

  24. Geoff,
    If you want to continue the discussion, then I would suggest you quit spiking your comments with insults and accusations.

    The short of it is this, how will we Christians share society with others? Are we going share society with them as equals? If so, then we will use the preaching of God’s Word to persuade them. And then we don’t have to require that society punish those who break any of God’s laws. This was the approach taken by the Apostolic Church. In addition, such an approach is consistent with Jesus’s command not to lord it over others.

    The alternative is to share society with others as a privileged member of society who forces their religious values on others. In other words, we can be a Christian version of a kinder and gentler taliban.The downside to this besides meriting unnecessary scorn from others is that, over here, we would have to change The Constitution especially the 1st Amendment. There is nothing in the NT that supports such a notion. It seems that in the NT, all we are called to do is to preach God’s Word. Those who don’t believe only have themselves to blame. On the other hand, forcing our religious values on others causes them to be offended by our presumed superiority and authority over them. That moves them to dishonor the Gospel.

    BTW, I’ve already read Butterfield’s comments to Hatmaker. And the only conclusion I can come up with is that together, you can find enough material to make 2 wrongs, which never makes a right. Hatmaker is wrong in saying that homosexuality is acceptable according to God’s Word. Butterfield is wrong in saying that we have failed to understand what the Bible says about sin when we support laws that condone sin. For example, over here, we support the 1st Amendment that allows for the sin of idol worship.

  25. David,
    You wrote the following:


    You claim to follow Jesus and yet think that to prohibit that which God prohibits (SSM) is wrong?! Do you think it is unChristian and ethnocratic to be against polygamous marriage or incestous marriage? If we don’t accept Gods laws about marriage – whose laws do we accept? What do you think our laws should be based on?

    Let’s apply your logic to another area. God prohibits idol worship and yet our nations allow freedom of religion. Should we Christians oppose freedom of religion because of what God prohibits? Or what about Blue Laws? Should we push for Blue Laws in our respective nations?

    As for the other items you listed, let me ask this: Is SSM more similar to heterosexual marriage than it is to polygamy? We should note that polygamy was not prohibited in the OT. Are there objections to polygamous marriages other than the what is expressed in the NT?

    We have judgments to make. There are laws, such as about murder and theft, that come from the OT that should be a part of civil law. But there are also laws that should not be unless we want Christians to have a place of supremacy over others in society. When Jesus tells us not to lord it over others and when Paul states that he is concerned with the sexual purity of the Church, not of the society outside (I Cor 5:12,13), are they supporting us forcing nonChristians to follow Christian views of marriage? Should we legally prohibit remarriage after divorce unless divorce is due to adultery?

    And what has been the result of past efforts to marginalize the LGBT community in society? I can tell you from friends that some of the results are that people don’t even want to listen to the Gospel because it is associated with those who appear to want to establish a Christian taliban in our nation. In the general public, conservative Christianity is now associated, and with just cause, bigotry and such was not necessary.

    Is it up to the state to enforce all Biblical laws that believers in Christ are bound to?

    As for Asher’s case, I was unaware of where the incident was. As for them being punished, it might be unfair but it is the result of the pendulum swinging in the other direction. And how far it swings in its current direction depends on how far we pushed it when we had control of the pendulum.

    As for your comments about my comparison with Luther, your general revulsion at my analogy does not prove your point. It merely shows that you were offended.

    Finally,, if you understood what I said about Christians sharing society with others as equals, you would realize that I am not opting for Christians or any group to be dominated by elites. And if you remembered my statement that I am a Socialist, you would have also realized that I am against the state being dominated by elites. In fact, I find your claim about who I think should run the state to be nothing more than jumping to conclusions. And I think that also shows that you put more energy into being irritated by what I have written more than you have taken in analyzing what I have written.

    So I will ask my last question again: Is an ethnocracy what the NT calls Christians to work for?

    1. Curt, That’s a lot of words in which to not answer the question. What should our laws be based on? Are you seriously arguing that that if a nation bases its laws on the word of God that this is somehow unjust and wrong?

      It seems as though you are arguing that freedom of worship also means sexual freedom to do whatever you want, economic freedom and indeed any kind of freedom – even if that freedom involves sin! It doesn’t really make much sense. As to your specific question, the modern day state is not a theocracy and does not regulate worship – but it does regulate pretty well everything else and should do so in accordance with the word of God. Or do you have a better idea?

      And blue laws, by which I presume you mean Sunday laws, are a great idea for social justice. Of course governments should use them! For the sake of the poor and workers. 24-hour shopping seven days a week is a disaster for everybody!

      you tell us that there are some laws from the old Testament that should be enforced, and that there are others that should not, but you don’t tell us on what basis you make that distinction. And you keep using this language about the marginalisation of the LGBT community. Does this also apply to the adulterous community? Or the thieving community? Or the racist community? Should we be concerned that we might marginalise them by upholding the word of God?

      No one is arguing that the state should enforce all the biblical laws that believers adhere to – but there are principles that apply to civil laws.

      Yes it does appear from your comments that you are completely unaware of the Asher’s case – I would always advise being careful about commenting on something without knowing anything about it!

      And my revulsion about your comments comparing persecution of the Jews to marginalisation of the LGBT community still stands. You offer no evidence for your assertion – it’s just typical of the kind of ahistorical nonsense that people discover on Wikipedia and use as fact!

      Your notion about Christians sharing society with others as equals does lead to the elites dominating. The people with money and power will de facto make the laws of society. What is your alternative?

      Believe you me, I don’t put any energy into being irritated by what you have written! I find it somewhat depressing, and a little bit amusing but you seem to think it is brilliant and requires a great deal of energy to refute. It’s the kind of nonsense that middle-class Western liberals espouse, without any real rational or historical reason. It’s just a bit strange but someone who describes himself as a fundamentalist Christian is espousing a western liberal libertarian anti-Christian perspective.

      I also find it somewhat dishonest of you to argue against something that nobody is arguing for. Of course the New Testament does not call for an ethnocracy – we are not an ethnic group. But we believe as Christians that God’s laws are the best laws, and God’s ways are the best ways, for all human beings. Your notion that Christians are somehow an ethnic group who really need to stay in their own bubble and let the rulers of this world make the rules of the world, is antithetical to the new Testament and indeed the whole history of the church.

  26. Hello Curt,

    It seems to be the modern way of seeking to close a discussion by playing the insult card. You can chose to be offended or not.

    The words I used, were as summation of your style of argumentation, discussion and which I describe as advocacy. Were you not being obscurantist, and using a shotgun approach, when seemingly at every turn you ignore the main points and go off at a tangent, hoping to hit some target, any target.

    And you are still at it, utterly and deliberately avoiding the main points.

    What was my main point about Butterfield? And conversion, and the Good News. And indicatives and imperatives? Again and again you failed to deal with them, grasp the nettle. In a Court of law, you would have been deemed to have conceded the points

    Again, and again: this has nothing at all to do with ethnicity. There is no moral equivalence with race, skin colour, nor nationality and you are seemingly being deliberately obtuse.

    You have ended up in a position, where in the UK, your fundamental Christianity is at odds with liberal national newspapers and prominent gay activists who oppose the Ashers baker Court judgement. Does that open the door to the Gospel, or heap even more scorn?

    Believe it or not, I too get concerned when Christianity is seen for what it is against and hones in on morals rather promotes the Good News of Jesus, as I’ve mentioned in other posts. But conversion to Christ should result in a transformed life, morals and lifestyle.

    And ultimately, this Ashers case was not about morals either, but living in a democracy with the responsibility of free speech (which never has been lawfully, totally free in the UK and still isn’t.)

  27. There are some big questions being discussed here vis-à-vis the Christian and society. Should Christians engage in the political process and if so to what extent should we seek to impose our convictions on society by legislation? What principles should guide the state in the framing of laws?

    And questions I raised above.

    How far should state go in protecting the consciences of its citizens? At what point is our social engagement such that we become culpable; specifically, in the present instance, when is conveying the views of others irresponsible and compromising?

    In my view there are no simple answers to these questions. The degree to which Christians should engage politically has always been a thorny question for God-fearing believers. Differing cultural contexts, realpolitik, will clearly also have a bearing. How far the civil laws (and their sanctions) of a godless state should articulate with those of a theocratic nation is also a difficult one to answer. Few Christians will embrace full blown reconstructionism yet equally few will feel that the mosaic civil code is entirely irrelevant. Even the Mosaic civil code was not a reflection of God’s ideal but took into account the moral capacity of its subjects; the divorce law accepted the reality of human sin and aimed at protecting the vulnerable. A proper way to use the God-given civil laws of ancient Israel to my mind is to reflect deeply on the values they espouse and seek to commend these to our society (at whatever level we engage). Christopher Wright has done some good work on this front. We will also remember law is powerless to protect the moral health of a nation. Israel had God’s law and sinned as grossly as the nations who did not have his law. The answer to our society’s moral collapse is not law but gospel.

    How far should the state defend individual consciences and what freedoms should it promote. Whatever the complexities here as Christians we should not lose sight of the big principles. The state is God’s servant whether it acknowledges it is or not. God will hold the powers of the state responsible for how just/righteous its laws are and for how justly it treats its citizens. It is responsible before God to promote good and judge evil. Good and evil is defined by God and God has given human beings an intuitive awareness of what these are. In this sense we are god-like, able to distinguish between good and evil. Where the state is so corrupt that it calls evil good and good evil God will judge it. There are various ways Christians, legitimately caring about its welfare, can point this out, make the case for the truly good, hoping to facilitate change. We should be careful as Christians not to buy into liberal notions of what is ‘good’ that lead to promoting what is evil. Yet we will remember that laws must take into account the human condition and what it can bear. Divorce is an evil but it may be a necessary evil in a fallen world; permission and promotion must be distinguished. What we allow and what we approve are two different things involving different principles. The complexity of balancing these two in realpolitik is not enviable.

    We are not of the world but live in the world. As a result we are enmeshed in a complexity of relationships. When is my involvement so complicit that I am compromised and sin? When am I culpable associated with another’s behaviour? Another very hard question. I can’t agree that contracting at a business level somehow absolves me from personal responsibility. Yet I do recognise that quite where we draw some of these lines is difficult. Should hoteliers refuse gay couples? Is not refusing condoning their sin and sharing in it? Is it impossible to own a newsagent store selling trashy newspapers and magazines? Is an employee in a newsagents culpable when they sell newspapers and magazines promoting much moral contamination? The difficulties of social intercourse become greater the further our society removes itself from the gospel. We are perhaps not too far away from the difficulties that faced the believers in Corinth. In fact, the principles Paul outlines there for Christian freedom including our engagement in society need to be carefully studied and preached in our churches today.

    1. “A proper way to use the God-given civil laws of ancient Israel to my mind is to reflect deeply on the values they espouse and seek to commend these to our society (at whatever level we engage).” In principle, yes I agree. Though those ones about tattoos and wearing garments of different cloth might need some adaptation for our society.

      “Laws must take into account the human condition and what it can bear.” Excellent point. “We are enmeshed in a complexity of relationships.” That much is true.

      “The principles Paul outlines there for Christian freedom”. And here I think, is your main point is what I would say is the crux. To what degree does argument result being “Greek to the Greeks” having conversation seasoned with grace, demolishing arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God and permeating the gospel in society? And to what degree does argument result simply in quarrels, a hindrance to the gospel and makes Christian community and worship appear to be unattractive to outsiders? I would suggest that in the conversation here, shows examples of both.

      Perhaps this is worth keeping forefront. “Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” 1Thess 5:15

  28. Curt

    It is true that we ought all to be equal under law but that says nothing about what the law should be. For example, the law may forbid stealing. Under law equality means none may steal. However, if a thief protests this impinges on his freedom to steal and complains that the law against theft means he is not being treated equally then clearly he is misguided.

  29. A wide ranging comment from John.

    There is a difference between what we can control and what we can influence.

    And there is centuries long jurisprudential discussion about the distinction between law and morals in the UK.

    Even last week reading parts of Exodus, I was struck by how modern and up to date the laws are and how much the laws of England and Wales have been based on them. There also has for centuries been a conflict between law and equity, the state(law) and church (morals, equity). Christian roots in the UK go deep. They are societal, stabilising, balancing, roots.

    Family law in UK has Christian roots. Even a marriage needs to be consummated otherwise it can be annulled. (Though I understand this does not apply to SSM -so there’s no equality there.) In England & Wales there is only one ground for divorce – irretrievable breakdown proved by one or more of five categories and even up to decree absolute, reconciliation will stop proceedings. I understand that definition of “adultery” has been problematic for SSM, divorce, but here I’m currently ignorant. But again there’s no equality, as there are physiological differences between the sexes. Who’d have believed it!

    As David has many times stated in many ways the UK is coming away from its Christian heritage, moorings and is becoming all at sea as a result. So it’s not quite the same as Corinth and the church would have largely been first generation believers.

    Though the situation is the same as Paul is at pains to contend for, within the church, in 1 Cor 15, a coming away from the “weak ” Gospel, on which Scot, Dr Andy Gemmill, Director, Cornhill Pastors Training, Glasgow, Scotland gave an edifying lecture on this week, “Our resurrection hope” as part of the Christian Institutes, Autumn lecture series.

    Yes David, I wanted to write Archie Gemmill.

    A book David has heartily endorsed is a must read for any thinking believer in the West today on the topic, as Frances Schaeffer puts it, how then shall we now live?: it is Keller’s “Making sense of God.” It includes chapters

    – A satisfaction that is not based on circumstances
    – Why can’t I be free to live as I see fit as long as I don’t harm anyone
    -The problem of self
    -An identity that doesn’t crush you or exclude others
    – A hope that can face anything
    – The problem of morals
    – A justice that does not create new oppressors

  30. Equality before the law is foundational to the England and Wales legal, judicial system. The law applies equally to everyone, without fear or favour. It is a sad indictment on the shallowness of Western society today that we are even having the dicussion and that it is necessary for John to have to state what should be the obvious, about it saying nothing about what the law should be.

    The US President is subject to the law and without partiality (except where lawfully privilegd, exempt) as is our Prime Minister the same as anyone else in a particular country, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. Try applying that legal maxim to the law of God!

  31. David,
    Actually, I did answer your question. But you seem content on making personal assessments. So let me explain what you might have overlooked. In a democracy, people come together to decide on what laws to have. In addition, as I distinguished between an ethnocracy and a democracy, there is a principle of equality that makes up a democracy. Thus, what laws come into play should be governed by that principle of equality so that no ethnic or religious group seeks or gains a place of supremacy over all others in a multi-ethnic and/or mutli-religious society.

    Certainly, democracy will not be carried out perfectly, but it does provide a general direction. At Occupy, we made decisions by consensus in a way blocked tyranny of the majority. Not that we did that perfectly or that we didn’t have flaws or that our model of decision making can be easily transferred to a more heterogeneous group than our own; but such provides a direction to shoot for.

    In the other corner is your question: Are you seriously arguing that that if a nation bases its laws on the word of God that this is somehow unjust and wrong? . At the same time you state the following: No one is arguing that the state should enforce all the biblical laws that believers adhere to – but there are principles that apply to civil laws. . The combination seems to be a contradiction. For what biblical should not be enforced if one is basing the laws on God’s Word when His Word cannot result in producing some injustice or wrongdoing? While you ask what OT laws I would not include, you do not provide any principle for determining which Biblical laws will become state laws and which will not. In addition, who is to judge a state law to see if it a proper interpretation of a Biblical law or principle? BTW, you should note that the Greek word for law is also translated as the word ‘principle.’ As for the Blue Laws, how fair is it to make those who do not believe or who adhere to another religion where their day of rest is on another day to have to follow Christianity’s blue laws especially when not all Christians agree with them in the first place?

    finally, what you are advocating is simply an ethnocracy where Christians lord it over nonChristians. Yes, not all Biblical laws will become state laws, but what state laws can exist that are not biblical laws or based on what Christians see as Biblical principles? And since state laws must reflect biblical laws and principles, what role in government is there for nonChristians to have?

    As for my analogy to Martin Luther’s opposition to the Jews with the opposition some Christians have shown to those in the LGBT community. The analogy is rather obvious and I have run this by others, including ministers, who understand the connection right away. Just as Martin Luther wanted German society and princes to punish the Jews for their unbelief lest those non-Jewish Germans are found to complicit with the unbelief of the Jews, so many religiously conservative Christians want society to punish those in the LGBT community for their sexual orientation and/or identity lest these Christians become complicit in that sexual sin. That punishment has come mostly in the form of laws such as those past laws that criminalized homosexuality. It also comes in the form of the lack of legal protection that allows employers to harass and even fire people for their sexual orientation or identity. It comes in the form of laws that allow businesses to discriminate not just against same sex weddings but against members of the LGBT community itself. All of that is meant to communicate to society that those in the LGBT community are not to be considered equal, they are to be considered to be deviant and thus treated that way. From that comes the personal persecution, though not in the same degree in whichLuther told Germans to practice against the Jews.

    There is no need to cite the evidence for the analogy because the evidence is either obvious or well known from the past. Here in America, all we need to do is to consult the FBI stats on hate crimes that target people for their sexual orientation or identity. Or can look up the stats on those who have lost their jobs because of their sexual orientation. Or better yet, talk to friends who are homosexuals and see what their experiences have lived through. Certainly not all have the same experiences, but enough have felt the pain of Christians trying to wear their religion on their sleeves. And all of this is done with either the blessing of the Church or from people following the implications of what laws the Church promotes or supports for society regarding the LGBT community. It is difficult for us who are not marginalized to understand the injustices they have suffered. For unless one has experienced those injustices, one hasn’t a clue about what life has been like for many in the LGBT community.

    Finally, if elites dominate society, then that is not the result of Christians sharing society with others as equals. If Christians don’t share society with others as equals, then Christians become those elites who rule society. What we see here in America today is an economic class version of Halper’s description of ethnocracy. And this was prevalent during times when Christians had a place of supremacy in society. Marx observed this. His solution was faulty in that it maintained a ruling economic class, but what he observed occurred when Christians had more control over society. My guess is that you believe that if Christians rule society using the Bible to form their laws, that Christians would protect all including nonChristians from injustice. And thus, it seems that you want Christians to rule over nonChristians in a paternalistic way. But historically speaking, is that what occurred either in England or America especially when one considers their respective empires?

    To keep a ruling class of elites out, one must find ways of increasing governmental representation of the lower classes and of all races. In America, The Constitution was written for the benefit of a then new group of American elites. It wasn’t written with the intention of having all classes being represented equally. In fact, during the time of the ratification of The Constitution, somewhere around 5% of the population could vote. Native Americans and Blacks were not even regarded as being fully human. And whereas Great Britain was way ahead of us in terms of opposing slavery, it still did not recognize the equality and full humanity of people of different ethnicities and from other nations when it established colonies on other continents. Even at home, Adam Smith who wrote about how the elites of Great Britain ruled over the making of laws and they did so for their own benefit regardless of how those laws hurt others.

    1. Curt,

      You are right to quote Martin Luther as having persecuted Jews. In fact he once said that if a Jew should cross your path you should cross yourself because you are coming onto contact with the devil incarnate. Towards the end of his life he got frustrated with Jews not converting to Christianity and this was what he did with his frustration. Perhaps later in life he was beginning to lose his mind just as the other great thinker Nietzsche did. However this doesn’t discredit the great work he has done at other times as Nietzsche’s insanity doesn’t discredit his thought and influence on society today.

      Above you spoke of marginalisation of LGBT. Again Peter Tatchell, a gay man, is in support of the bakers. It would be silly to think marginalisation is what he is doing.

      I asked are you arguing that “the bakers were discriminating against the plaintiff because you say so?” It would be silly if you were.

      Again, the bakers did not want to serve the plaintiff not on the basis of his sexual orientation but on the message they wanted. So likening this to the demonization of Jews by Martin Luther is comparing lemons with oranges. David calls that offensive, I call it silly.

      So sorry, Curt, to my mind you have either said or implied 3 silly things and it’s a case 3 strikes as far as I am concerned. My dear brother, again we know there is the encumbrance to not “have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” 2 Tim 2:23. For that reason I am bowing out of further conversation with you.

      I would kindly ask that you consider your position and I wish you all the best with LGBT advocacy where you are at in the States. Being genuine here, not sarcastic.

    2. Again a large amount of words that still manage to avoid answering the question (is this how democracy works?)…

      You talk about the principle of ‘equality’ but what does that mean? For example on ‘equal marriage’ who says what that is? Do I have an equal entitlement to marry my brother, son or three uncles?

      Your seeming contradiction is not a contradiction at all…of course it is possible to have biblical principles applying without agreeing that the Bible provides a detailed law book.

      Your LGBT/Jews analogy is facetious and facile. It doesn’t work in any historical sense at all – never mind the difficulty of equating race/religion with sexuality. And if sexual orientation is as you say then I assume you will be campaigning for the paedophile community because after all that is a sexual orientation?

      The irony is that you as a Christian refuse to accept the idea of Gods Law having anything to say to society, whilst basing your ideas of society on human laws – which you appear to regard as self-evident. In other words you are creating a liberal ethnocracy in the name of equality and democracy which is neither equal nor democratic. The paternalism is entirely yours. And your faith in humanity to make its own laws and go its own way is profoundly dangerous. As a Christian do you accept that righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people?

      1. David,
        Again I answered the question. How democracy works tells us how decisions are made. But my guess is that you are looking for what sets of principle(s) are being used by government to make decisions.

        So why do you have a problem with what equality means? Take the SSM issue for example. Wouldn’t equality mean that those from the LGBT community would have the same rights as those who are heterosexual: the right to work and live as they want just as heterosexuals have the right to work and live as they want. And part of living as they want would be the right to marry the person of their choice just as heterosexuals can. Thus the religious views of those who believe that SSM is sinful, and that includes our religious views since both of us believe it is sinful, should not interfere with that equality or be imposed on the lives of those who do not hold to our views.

        As my analogy with Luther’s treatment of the Jews, it seems like you want to be more insulting than factual. That religious conservatives here, and I am speaking about those on my side of the pond, opposed SSM for reasons including that they were afraid that homosexuality would then be counted as normal and thus homosexuals would not be treated as deviants is actually a fact. It follows from that that those who expressed that fear want society to marginalize rather than normalize homosexuals. That many religiously conservative Christians state that they would feel guilty in how society would treat the LGBT community if they did not oppose SSM is a fact. That some religiously conservative Christians are seeking laws that allow them to discriminate against those from the LGBT community in additional ways to not having to provide business services for Same-Sex weddings is a fact. That in the majority of states here, it is legal to harass or even fire an employee for their sexual orientation is a fact. And that some religiously conservative Christians have linked problems in our nation, like terrorist attacks or even natural disasters, to our nation’s acceptance of homosexuality is a fact.

        What Luther wrote was that Germans would be complicit in the Jews’ sins of unbelief if Germans did not punish the Jews in the ways he recommended. What is different between today and then is that religiously conservative Christians, at least the ones here, are not calling on society to punish the LGBT community in the same way Luther called on Germans to punish the Jews. But by trying to get society to marginalize homosexuals, it follows that they are trying to get society to punish those in the LGBT community.

        Now I know you don’t like to read this many words of mine and I don’t blame you, but I feel that you used too few words to try to refute my point. Christian writers here have from time to time spend an inordinate amount of time writing against the LGBT community and writing against things like SSM. For many of them, the legalization of SSM caused them to claim the sky is falling while ignoring other very important problems. So while you claim that the analogy is facile and doesn’t work in any historical sense, I believe that the facts above beg to differ.

        Finally you are making a false claim when you say that I don’t believe that God’s law should not have anything to say to society. In the previous note, you asked which laws of God would be pertinent to society and which ones should not be. Both statements can’t be correct.

        But your latest claim is false anyway. God’s laws has much to say to any society. The issue isn’t whether it has something to say, but how and who should say it. Just because one doesn’t believe in making a laws forbidding SSM because one respects the equality of those in the LGBT community, doesn’t mean that one believes that God’s law doesn’t have anything to say. God’s law on homosexuality can be shared whenever we teach or discuss the Scriptures. As a private citizen, just as I can say to those from different religions that they are worshiping false gods, I can say to the LGBT community that they are violating God’s law regarding sex and marriage. But being able to say either message does not require me to support laws infringing on their freedoms.

        What I have said about God’s law being legislated is that it should not be legislated in ways that infringe on the rights and equality of others who do not share those beliefs. Why should atheists, Muslims or Orthodox Jews be forced into following our Blue Laws? However laws prohibiting murder and theft should be part of our laws here.

        As for your liberal ethnocracy claims, you will have to be specific in making your claim. But if you think all democracy is is majority rule, then we have different definitions of democracy and your claim that I am proposing a liberal ethnocracy falls flat.

        Sorry about the lengthy response but I am trying to address as many of your points as I can.

      2. It doesn’t appear to me as though you’re trying to address my points at all. You spend a lot of words avoiding them!

        ” how democracy works tells us how decisions are made” – but you have already said that you don’t agree with majority vote as the criteria. You talk about equality as though that were self-evident. You talk about your version of democracy as though it were self-evident – and yet it is not clear what you mean at all!

        And you still have not addressed the main problem with your views on SSM. You regard it as a matter of equality even though you disagree with. Does that applied to the polygamous community? Or the incestuous community? What about the paedophile community? is the inevitable logic of what you seem to be saying.

        And you entirely miss the point about Luther. The problem is not with Luther. It is with your equivalents of the Jews with the LGBT community – as though sexual behaviour is equivalent to race and religion. That’s an assumption that is to say the least unproven.

        And your whole position becomes completely contradictory when you say that God’s law should not be legislated in ways that infringe on the rights and equality of others who do not share those beliefs. You seem to assume that the rights and equality of others is self-evident. What about those who believe that stealing is morally right? Do you think their rights should be infringed upon? The point is that a judgement has to be made at some point – and all I am asking is where does that ultimate judgement come from and what should be based? It’s

  32. Curt,

    I guess the issue for you is whether you consider sexual activity outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage so grave an issue and so detrimental to the well-being of society that legislation should exist to limit and contain it. I recognise that sexual activity outside marriage covers a range of behaviour (fornication, adultery, divorce, polygamy, polyandry, homosexuality, paedophilia, bestiality). I am not suggesting one law fits all but asking the question whether Christians, concerned for the welfare of society, will wish for more strenuous efforts to discourage these.

    No one questions that laws have been framed in the past that we believe today were prejudicial to some in society for no valid reason. However, the whole point of laws is to be prejudicial to behaviour detrimental to civil and moral good. Do you consider the biblical view of marriage that has prevailed over centuries in our country a ‘good’ that is worth defending in a democratic society and all efforts to undermine and change this as ‘evil’ that the state will bel opposed to.

    Clearly I am not advocating prejudice in the more common sense of unreasonable hostility rather I am meaning a reasonable hostility. Few would (at the moment) demur at legally framed hostility to paedophilia, theft, violence, etc. We do not consider it wrong to disadvantage those so disposed. We do not consider hostility to such behaviour unreasonable prejudice. Why? Because we view such behaviour as detrimental to the common good. Will Christians find sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage sufficiently evil to believe society would benefit from civil measures to deter it?

  33. Legally framed hostility? And laws “hurting others.” What is that meant to mean? What on earth is the purpose of law, civil or criminal and the range of “remedies” for breach.? . And the distinction between law and morals. This is becoming tedious Curt. Again and again you fail to make necessary definitions (following the post modern way of description without definition) and make errors of category.

    In everything you point to in support of your case is an example of not living in accordance with the gospel, as Paul corrected Peter (see Galations). And how far you are moving away from it in your comments.

    What Luther got wrong doesn’t negate what he got right. Didn’t his attitude to the Jews stem from his belief that their unbelief in Jesus was preventing His return?

  34. John,
    I will not always be able to respond to the notes of others because of time constraints, But I will try to address your Nov 3 note.

    Let me ask this, what were the results, at least here in America,of marginalizing the LGBT community and driving it underground with our laws? It was driven underground especially when homosexual acts were counted as criminal acts but we could also include allowing people to be harassed and fired from their jobs for their sexual orientation and even the prohibitions against SSM.

    Yes, we should have a concern for the welfare of our society. But that concern can also become an excuse to seek a paternalist relationship over society. And the question becomes this: Does the NT teach us that we are to seek control over society? We might also ask what have been the results of seeking that control?

    In addition, who are going compare the LGBT community with? Are we going to compare them with thieves, sexual predators, and murderers? And if so, how are those comparisons valid?

  35. Geoff,
    Yes, laws that hurt others. If you want some examples, then look up the Jim Crow laws used in the South because many Christians used the Bible to believe that Blacks and Whites should be segregated and that the latter group should have dominance over the former. Jim Crow laws were written to prevent breaches in those beliefs.

    As for Luther, what did he get right when he wrote against the Jews? And remember that Luther was very heavy handed with most, if not all, who disagreed with him.

  36. David,
    Regarding Democracy, all I have said is that majority decisions alone do not make up a democracy. For a democracy, one needs a democratic structure and processes. But I also wrote the following:


    In addition, as I distinguished between an ethnocracy and a democracy, there is a principle of equality that makes up a democracy. Thus, what laws come into play should be governed by that principle of equality so that no ethnic or religious group seeks or gains a place of supremacy over all others in a multi-ethnic and/or mutli-religious society.

    Saying that democratic structures and processes alone do not make up a democracy should not surprise you. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had elections. Iran has elections and a parliament. The Soviet Union and today’s Russia has elections and their committees and parliaments. And yet, who would call those countries democracies? So why is saying that majority rule alone does not make up a democracy so confusing for you? Democracy requires democratic structures and processes. But those structures and processes can be hijacked to serve one person or a small group or an ethnic or religious group. So it is important to state that a democracy is made up of both democratic structures and processes plus a state of being that stresses equality. So again, how have I not answered your question?

    Second, I don’t know why incest and polygamy pose challenges to accepting SSM in society though I believe that homosexuality is sin. After all, neither one are homosexual issues. Plus, whether one sees incest and polygamy being a problem depends on whether one sees SSM being more similar to monogamous heterosexual marriage or more similar to incest or polygamy. I see SSM being far more similar to heterosexual marriage and not related to incest or polygamy unless one wants to argue that SSM is more related to the latter because they are sin or because marriage has been so radically redefined.

    Because marriage is a complete union between two people, there are issues for why incest and polygamy should be rejected. As for incest, reproductive issues come into play regarding the health of the children. And in fact, some degree of incest is legally allowed here. As for polygamy, legal and property division issues come into play and such illustrates why polygamous marriages cannot produce a complete union between two people. In addition, polygamous marital relationships structurally foster inequality between partners. Yes, inequality can exists in monogamous heterosexual marriages but that isn’t a product of the structure of the relationship. Thus, allowing for polygamous marriages sees a far greater redefinition of marriage than what legalizing SSM calls for. In addition, monogamous marriages provide a better defense against STDs than polygamous marriages do.

    As with your problems regarding my analogy to Luther’s anti-semitism, I didn’t say the comparison is valid because the two groups are identical. I agree sexual behavior is not equivalent to race. But sexual orientation is more equivalent to religion than to race at certain points. But the two groups, the LGBT community and the Jews don’t have to be identical for the analogy to work. Why? Substitute the LGBT community for the word ‘Jews’ in Luther’s suggestions of what German society and princes should do to the Jews and tell me that would be justified. Why does their sexual behavior merit our wrath? Certainly their sexual behavior would merit Church discipline by any member who exhibited it and not repent. But the extent of Paul’s opposition to sexual immorality in the Church stopped with the Church. I Cor 5:12-13 show that he was not concerned with disciplining sexual immorality in society. And yet, many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians want society to continue the punishing of the LGBT community even though society is made up of both Christians and nonChristians.

    So why do you want society to punish the LGBT community, though certainly not in the same degree that Luther wanted Germany to punish the Jews, with laws and sanctions?

    As for your last paragraph, it certainly misses the point of equality. How can stealing be morally right in a society where there is equality? After all, wouldn’t the conjunction of that ethic and equality mean that what if one person steals from the other, he/she is giving the other person permission to return the favor? Those who steal or those who murder are infringing on the rights of others, not coexisting with them. So how does allowing people to steal compare with allowing SSM?

    As I wrote, you want to know what ultimate principle is being used to determine laws. That is possibly why you claimed that I had not answered your question. Tell me this, how can Christians insist on using God’s Word as the ultimate principle by which all laws should be written without lording it over those who either believe that another book besides the Bible is God’s Word or who do not believe in God? This goes back to the question i stated before, how shall we Christians share society with others? Are we going to share society as equals so that we learn how to agree on what laws should be in place that protect each other’s equality or are we going to insist on a dominant position and place of supremacy in society. If we choose the latter, how can we do that without lording it over others?

    1. Curt,

      I’m not sure if you’re being deliberately obtuse or if you just have a natural knack for missing the point! but let’s have one more try…

      I have not disputed at all that democracy is not just majority vote – your kind of arguing against the strawman and wasting a lot of words. I don’t think I am the one confused!

      You haven’t answered the question because you have been completely unable to define what equality is. You cannot have a society based on something if you don’t even know what it is.

      Your understanding of marriage is somewhat bizarre, at least from a biblical sense. But the more important thing is that you completely fail to get the link between SSM, polygamy and incest (by the way it is perfectly possible to have an incestuous marriage which does not involve children – on your definition of marriage equality can you explain why two brothers should not marry each other?). The point is that you have certain standards about polygamy and incest – I have certain standards about SSM. But you think that your standards about polygamy and incest should be encased in law but my Christian standards about SSM should not. Why?

      And once again you completely confuse the issue by mixing up the Jews and the LGBT community and by arguing for something that no one is arguing for. Who is actually arguing that the LGBT community should be punished by the law?

      you ask how can be morally right to steal when that clearly goes against equality? But it does not follow that it clearly goes against equality – in fact the opposite could be argued. If you have $1 million and I have $1000 surely if I stole some from you it’s equalising things?

      And once again you still refuse to answer the basis on which your ultimate secular law would be based? Why? Are you unable to? If it is by majority vote – then are not the majority are lording it over the minority? If it is unelected judges, are not they are lording it over the rest of us? I’m afraid your position is rationally incoherent theologically bizarre and totally impractical.

    2. Hi David, I think Curt has too much time on his hands and is enjoying winding you up. Just ignore him and get on with something more worthwhile. He isn’t providing any useful solutions, just twisting the problems into knots.

      1. Nah – I think he is for real…..but you are right – he’s just going round in circles….time for it to end unless he actually brings something fresh…and actually answers…

  37. Curt,

    Yet again you reveal you know little about legal systems and the law and moral distinction.. And when asked to define “hurt” you refer extremes. to racial abuses, skin colour and ethnicity without even an acknowledgement of the distinction between those evils and sexuality. I think you are extremely blinkered as far as this is concerned. I think the American expression is, having blinders on.

    Neither have you sought to make a case for family based on binary gender. What do you think God’s purpose for marriage is? What do you think heterosexual, covenantal, marriage is a reflection of, points towards. (Ephesians is a clue.)?

    Maybe, where we agree is that the whole of humanity is equal in the eyes of our Triune God: as we are all created in His image.

    Where we may not agree, is that since the fall, that is a broken, shattered image in need of restoration, a restoration only possible in and through the Good News of Jesus.

    And that doesn’t mean everyone has to be white, middle class, middle aged and middle minded. A Chinese Christian retains their Chinese identity.

    You are on the wrong blog (permitted by David to post your comments) if you think that Christian protestant theology does not owe a big debt to Luther. And again I think your rightly zealous race, ethnicity and skin colour concerns and stance may be binding you to this.

    Yes Luther was robust at times, but I understand that he frequently used writings against him as loo paper, except for his lengthy written rejoinder to Erasmus.

    I admire your tenacity and concern for what you see as justice, but think it is misdirected in this instance. From a country which has “relative” poverty in parts, but no guns and a National health service, I think they are many more issues you could engage with in your country.

    I’d also suggest LGBT issues in the West are largely a product of living in “prosperous ease” and come from liberal elites in all fields of culture and life, starting in the 1960’s. (But I’m not a cultural historian) See Ravi Zacharias: “Deliver Us From Evil.”

    I’ve lived in relative prosperous ease, unlike my granddad coalminer, who fought in WW1 and lived through the constrained times afterward and through WW2 into 1960’s. Both he and my gran had 10/11 siblings. Though he wasn’t a Christian, I doubt he would have seen what is happening as progress. But of course everyone knows better than him now.

    I may be well off beam but there seems to be unresolved hurt in your life, the way you keep coming back to ethnicity. Without being patronising, have a holy brotherly hug from me. We live in tumultuous times where the Good News of Jesus is need more than ever. It is of eternal significance.

    This will be a relief to many but I’m leaving this particular post now.

    May the LORD bless and keep you, make His face shine upon you, look upon you with favour, and give you His peace, Curt.

    Yours in Christ Jesus

  38. David,
    your notes are both clarifying and confusing. They are clarifying in terms of your penchant for making negative personal remarks about me. They are confusing because as much as you say I don’t answer your questions, I already have. You asked what I mean by equality. IN one of previous notes, I defined equality for the LGBT community in society. I wrote the following on November 3:


    So why do you have a problem with what equality means? Take the SSM issue for example. Wouldn’t equality mean that those from the LGBT community would have the same rights as those who are heterosexual: the right to work and live as they want just as heterosexuals have the right to work and live as they want. And part of living as they want would be the right to marry the person of their choice just as heterosexuals can.

    I was very specific regarding what it would take to enable those in the LGBT community to experience equality in society. So how can you say that I haven’t answered your question about equality?

    Establishing equality for a group depends on where their rights are not being recognized. During the Jim Crow era in the States, establishing equality meant something else because they didn’t suffer inequality in the same way that the LGBT community does today. For Blacks back then, having the unencumbered right to vote and run for office along with the right to eat, work, live, and go to school where they desired was establishing equality for them. In other words, having the same rights and opportunities that all other groups have constitutes being equal. And that point should be clear from how I described what would make those from the LGBT community equal in society today.

    Then how is my understanding of marriage bizarre? Viewing marriage as a complete union between two people is bizarre?

    Remember that marriage in both of our countries is an institution for all in society. And society consists of both Christians and nonChristians. And the answer to your question about two brothers, a question I anticipated, is obvious from my previous answer. But what you want is a single source, like the Scriptures, that authoritatively tell us what we can and cannot do. And this is one of the key differences between us. That while I recognize the authority structures taught in the Scriptures, IMO, you seem to go beyond that and embrace an authoritarianism that does not know when to turn off the authority switch and work with others as equals in determining what laws we should pass and what kind of society we should have. In the meantime, you seem to be trying to paint the LGBT community and their practices as a threat to society which merits sanctions against at least some of their practices. Have you ever considered that the part of what Romans 1 teaches us is that homosexuality, though it is not normal in terms of how God designed us to be, could be normal among unbelievers? And if it is normal in terms of what we expect because man has fallen into sin, why are we trying so hard to suppress so many things through law.

    Have you ever worked with any homosexuals or had close personal friendships with any? I have and that is regardless of the fact that they know what I believe the Bible says about homosexuality. In fact, some of those friends of mine and I have discussed it and we can because they know that I respect them as equals. They also know that we can because I very much appreciate their contributions to society, to my family, and to my own life.

    Other than that, the counterexamples your bring up work only if one selectively employs equality. Your counterexaple of stealing does just that. It leaves out what was said about equality being measured in terms of opportunities and rights and focuses solely on possessions. Your bringing up polygamy and incest forgets the feasibility and equality problems the former poses and the health and equality problems the latter poses. And this is despite the fact that I already addressed those points.

    The real key issue here is that of authority and its use or abuse. It seems that you believe that we cannot relate to nonChristians as equals when it comes to sharing society with them. It seems that you believe that Christians must impose Biblical laws and principles on nonChristian members of society lest things become unmanageable. Unfortunately, Church history does not give Christians much evidence to support their right to have authority over nonChristians in society. Our past, and even current persecution, of the LGBT community shows why we should not rule over them. Our own intramural wars, colonialism, and empires give ample testimony as to why we should not rule over nonChristians. And yet, you want Christians to use the Bible to rule over nonChristians in society through the laws government passes.

    And while we discuss these things, you continue to make negative personal remarks about me. And I am trying to think why ministers would assume the right to speak that way to me when we are all like the publican from the parable of the two men praying. Just as your negative personal remarks provide obstacles for me to take you seriously, Christians’ efforts to control and impose their religious views on nonChristians through legislation make it very difficult for many of them to want to listen to the preaching of the Gospel.

  39. Geoff,
    Form what I understand the beginning of your response to be is this: while discrimination against Blacks because of races is unwarranted, discrimination and other hurtful acts against the LGBT community is warranted because of the evil of their sexual acts. In other words, you are saying that they had it coming to them. And why, in a society based on religious freedom do members of the LGBT community deserve to be hurt by society and its laws?

    Isn’t the better remedy for sexual sin between consenting adults is to preach the Gospel? And should society then punish all those tho don’t repent and believe?

    1. It’s refreshing to read a relatively short comment from you, Curt!

      In retrospect, I think the Ashers should have iced the cake with the slogan as requested, but it would have been worth politely and quietly (if that’s possible in a noisy shop) pointing out that they did not agree with the slogan they were being asked to inscribe and that it made them very uncomfortable because of their beliefs. This may have given them the opportunity to share the wider gospel with their customer. However, in a busy shop environment it just isn’t possible to think and deliberate, so unless the circumstances were not as I have assumed (ie they did actually have time to think) this is one reason why I believe the Ashers have been very unfairly treated throughout this crazy affair.

      Maybe one member of the LGBT community was ‘hurt’ by this refusal (and I really don’t think he is likely to have been ‘hurt’ at all, in fact he’s probably revelling in the publicity and kudos he’s gained for his ’cause’), but was that a warrant for him to take such drastic action in revenge? Do our discrimination laws now mean a minority sector of society should enjoy exaggerated privileges over the majority? Where should the line be drawn?

  40. Cumbriasmithy,
    Most of my responses have been aimed at David and so I have been trying to address his points.

    I understand the discomfort that many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians have in participating in Same Sex weddings. I think part of that is due to the lack of vision to see the context, outside of their own personal Christian missions, in which they operated.

    As for your last paragraph, why be so eager to ascribe extra negative characteristics to someone from the LGBT community? I have quite a few friends from that community. And I have been able to share what God’s Word says on sexual issues with some of them. And despite our disagreements, we remained friends after sharing what God’s word says. I see them make positive contributions to society and to me personally.

    I think what we are seeing a combination of the results of being hurt in the past and the desire to prevent any similar pain from returning. And that combination sometimes causes some strong reactions. And what we, as a Christian community, need to do is to try our best at understanding the pain they have gone through.

    Also, I think asking for laws that protect at the workplace from discrimination and allow them to get married is asking for equal rights, not special privileges.

  41. Thanks David.

    Epilogue:

    Holmes: The mystery has been revealed. A difficult case indeed.
    Watson: Tell me Holmes, how so? A difficult case indeed.
    Holmes: Well it started not long after those bakers came out of court, with the appearance of that discredited aged philosopher Hobbes. He’s so out of time and step today. He butted in and the case had nothing to do with him.
    Watson: Where Holmes? I didn’t see him.
    Holmes: He was there, but in disguise. Remember the social contract? And it’s moralistic underpinnings?
    Watson: I’m not sure I do.
    Holmes: Well it was a long time ago, and there has been so much obfuscation since then, so I’m not surprised.
    Watson: I know what you mean Holmes, it wore me out. But tell me dear chap how did you work it out.
    Holmes: It was that last exchange and his last uncomprehending comment and biliously distorted questions, contorting my comments, when it came into view. Some people just don’t like to be blessed.
    Watson: You’ve still got me there, Holmes. What is it?
    Holmes: Well you see “its elementary, it’s the fundamentals my dear Watson.” It’s all about the fundamentals, the Fall and gospel fundamentals. It’s why Jesus came. It’s why He died in our place, to take the punishment WE All deserve.
    Watson: (Shaking head in disbelief) But he said he was a fundamentalist. Who’d have thought it?
    Holmes: He is. But this may be a case of PSMTD, (progressive, selective, moralistic, therapeutic, deism.) Who knows old chap? Difficult to spot, these days. We may never get to know and we’ve got to get on. We are all sinners after all.

    THE END (All round sighs of relief)

  42. David,
    I’ve already said would it takes to make groups equal. That was in my November 3 comment. And what it takes depends on the group and how they have suffered. It’s about have the same rights and opportunities as all other groups. And if we want to know how groups have suffered, we ask them. There is quite a bit of denial in the states regarding whether we have a racist nation. Those whose members of the race that suffers the most say one thing, those whose members of the race who don’t experience racism say another. What does it take to make a group equal in society? One way to find out is to ask.

    1. Again – no you havn’t…..you’ve just repeated mantras which immediately fall apart when they are questioned. What does the same rights and opportunities mean? Should the polygamist community have the same right to marriage? Or the man-boy love community? or the incestous community?

      Your last two sentences are just cute non-sense…

    2. Curt

      I must echo David. I must ask which groups should be treated as equal and how do you decide? Should paedophiles, incestuous couples, pedasts, thieves all be ‘treated as equal’? If so why and if not why not?

  43. David,
    On Nov 3, I wrote the following:


    So why do you have a problem with what equality means? Take the SSM issue for example. Wouldn’t equality mean that those from the LGBT community would have the same rights as those who are heterosexual: the right to work and live as they want just as heterosexuals have the right to work and live as they want. And part of living as they want would be the right to marry the person of their choice just as heterosexuals can. Thus the religious views of those who believe that SSM is sinful, and that includes our religious views since both of us believe it is sinful, should not interfere with that equality or be imposed on the lives of those who do not hold to our views.

    The above is not a mantra about being equal, it is specific. Here, those from the LGBT community can be harassed at their jobs or even fired because of their sexual orientation. So in most of the states here, those from the LGBT community do not have full equality with heterosexuals and they won’t until at least more anti-discrimination laws are passed to protect them. And since SSM is now legal here, one piece of the equality puzzle has been found. Then I wrote that those of us, including me, who think SSM is sinful cannot interfere with their equality. In a Capitalist economy, that means that we cannot discriminate against them while they seek to buy the same goods and services we do. What more do you need for a description of equality for the LGBT community? Please list what other issues you would like me to address regarding what would make those from the LGBT community equal to their heterosexual counterparts in society.

    1. And still you miss the point. Who determines what equality is? Do I have the equal right to go into a gay baker and asked them to bake a cake with an anti-SSM message? If not, how is that equal? Your attempt to justify the state in forcing Christians to endorse things which are sinful, by claiming its equality is woefully inadequate both in its logic and morality.

  44. David and John,
    Unlike David, you seem to want to compare the LGBT community with criminals for the most part. Why? Are those who participate in SSM forcing themselves on others like pedophiles and thieves do?

    As for polygamy, I wrote the following on November 2


    As for the other items you listed, let me ask this: Is SSM more similar to heterosexual marriage than it is to polygamy?

    On November 4, I wrote the following:


    Second, I don’t know why incest and polygamy pose challenges to accepting SSM in society though I believe that homosexuality is sin. After all, neither one are homosexual issues. Plus, whether one sees incest and polygamy being a problem depends on whether one sees SSM being more similar to monogamous heterosexual marriage or more similar to incest or polygamy. I see SSM being far more similar to heterosexual marriage and not related to incest or polygamy unless one wants to argue that SSM is more related to the latter because they are sin or because marriage has been so radically redefined.

    Because marriage is a complete union between two people, there are issues for why incest and polygamy should be rejected. As for incest, reproductive issues come into play regarding the health of the children. And in fact, some degree of incest is legally allowed here. As for polygamy, legal and property division issues come into play and such illustrates why polygamous marriages cannot produce a complete union between two people. In addition, polygamous marital relationships structurally foster inequality between partners. Yes, inequality can exists in monogamous heterosexual marriages but that isn’t a product of the structure of the relationship. Thus, allowing for polygamous marriages sees a far greater redefinition of marriage than what legalizing SSM calls for. In addition, monogamous marriages provide a better defense against STDs than polygamous marriages do.

    So why are you and David asking about polygamy and such as if I never answered the question?

    1. Because your answers were wholly inadequate. And again you completely miss the point. Reproductive issues do not come into play if it is two brothers marrying – so would you be for that kind of equal marriage? And who are you to determine what is right and wrong for people who want to be in polygamous marriages? You’re completely failing to answer the question – which is what determines right and wrong? And there is absolutely no need for you to cut-and-paste your previous answers, we have read them!

    2. Hi Curt

      I think this gets to the crux of the matter. You write, ‘Are those who participate in SSM forcing themselves on others like pedophiles and thieves do?’. You seem to be buying into the liberal notion that any behaviour which is not obviously harming others ought to be legal. However, this is a liberal rather than a biblical principle. I wonder how legitimate it is for Christians to adopt this principle in framing legislation when it leads to supporting what as Christians we ought to abominate. It also presupposes that the flourishing of for example gay values because they are not at first sight impacting adversely on society are not actually doing so.

      Has not the legalising of SSM marriage seriously altered the whole definition of marriage and so materially changed a foundational building block of culture? Has not the legalising of homosexuality not led to the celebrating of it and giving it, via the media, an undue influence on the shaping of modern culture. Is it a good thing for society that fornication/divorce/homosexual relationships are both normalised in society and celebrated in the media?

  45. At the time of writing this comment there have been 97 previous comments posted.

    Isn’t it time we as a society recognised that though this kind of issue is not unimportant, there is an element of perspective required in proportion to others issues and that there are other pressing needs deserving equivalent attention?

    I never cease to be amazed about how much passion this arises and how disproportionate the number of comments are in comparison to other issues.

  46. I think what is most of concern about this issue, apart from the judgement itself, is how few Christians (outside of Northern Ireland) are talking about it, It’s striking that across social media I have seen very few references to it. If it’s Donald Trump plenty of UK Christians seem to have opinions (for and against). Yet with a case like this, which potentially has far more effect on their freedoms, they are silent.

    1. Jeff that’s interesting so you think whether or not a baker is required by law to write a message supporting SSM on a cake has potentially far more effect on freedoms for UK Christians than the outcome of a presidential election in the most powerful country in the world.

      I’m sorry, that’s just silly.

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