On the Way to Criminalizing Christian Truth-Telling

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

By the time you receive this newsletter the Minnesota Legislature may have already voted to make it a crime to discriminate on the basis of “sexual or affectional orientation.” That is, in housing, employment, public accommodations, public services, educational institutions, credit, business and public policies a person’s sexual orientation could not legally be judged a significant criterion in decision making.

One of the main problems with this action is that it is worded in such a way to conceal the most controversial issue: is the behavior of homosexual relations being endorsed as morally justifiable? Is the behavior of homosexual relations protected from serious social denunciation? Is the behavior of homosexual relations being legally removed from the category of actions that can be grounds for public reprimand, domestic eviction, employment dismissal, educational suspension, professional censure, and political impeachment?

In other words, does the legislative action deal carefully with the utterly critical distinction between preference and performance? Between proclivity and perpetration?

There are many people with deep strongly-felt proclivities toward stealing (kleptomania) and indecent self-exposure, and obscene outbursts (Tourette’s syndrome), and rape and pedophilia, etc. In all these cases society reserves the right to make a distinction between the “orientation” and the “acting out”—between preference and performance, between proclivity and perpetration.

Indecent exposure is prescribed by law not because it physically hurts any one, but because it is judged by enough people as being offensive in such an extreme and unwarranted way that to legally forbid it is not viewed legally as the denial of a constitutionally guaranteed right.

The point is: in protecting persons with “preferences” society does not automatically protect them when they perpetrate their preferences.

To the best of my knowledge the wording of the legislative action conceals this whole problem. However, we may fairly assume it does so not because the sponsors want to leave room for denouncing the perpetration while protecting the preference. We may rather assume that our society is being asked to regard the behavior of homosexual relations as morally neutral or good, while the Bible regards this behavior as sin.

This is already happening. For example, the Social Work Department of Saint Cloud State University said in a position paper (4-29-92):

Many of our students come from strong religious backgrounds that do not accept homosexuality. For these students who seek a career as professionals in social work it is especially important that they understand what it means to accept gay and lesbian people. Accepting gay and lesbian people does not mean accepting them as individuals while simultaneously abhorring their behavior. The separation of the client from the clients’ behavior cannot be used here to resolve a social worker’s personal or ethical dilemmas. It is not O.K. in this case to “love the sinner and hate the sin.”

It appears that this is what the legislative action is meant to endorse: If you say you love the sinner and hate the sin you are the perpetrator. One more step toward criminalizing Christian truth-telling.

With sorrow and resolve,

Pastor John