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The “Price” of Living in Babylon

Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” — Daniel 3:14-15 NLT

shadrach meshach abednego standI am not a legal scholar. So please forgive the misuse, misinterpretation, or absence of appropriate jargon. The opinion expressed herein is that of a Straight White Male (SWM), which, to some, automatically makes me Intolerant Privileged & Sexist (IPS). Nevertheless, the recent decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court to deny wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin the right to refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony out of religious conscience has all the feel of a Nebuchadnezzarian edict.

Justice Richard Bosson’s concurring decision explains,

“In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

Translation being: The “price” of living in Babylon is acquiescence, accommodation, and begrudging endorsement of lifestyles and morals you deeply oppose. Of course, you may disagree with King Nebuchadnezzar (and his ilk) as long as you

  1. Keep it to yourself, and
  2. Bow down to the idol.

Your only other option is to endure a very hot furnace.

Perhaps even more chilling than the progressive whittling away of religious freedom, is the believers who (perhaps unknowingly) have a hand in it.  I mean, didn’t EVERYONE know we would get here? Including my brothers and sisters who support gay marriage? First normalize homosexuality in culture, then make gay marriage a civil rights issue, legalize it, frame the opposition as bigots, hatemongers, and roadblocks to societal evolution, finally, force them to bow down… either through begrudging compliance (photographing a ceremony that you deeply oppose) or financial reparation (tithe to the god whom you dissed). Is this, like, such a surprise?

What’s next, only God knows.

A while back on Facebook, I floated a question about my daughter who has her own photography business and was contacted by a local psychic to photograph a session. My daughter is a Christian, a businessperson, and asked the appropriate question, “Should I do this?”

If the New Mexico ruling becomes the logic of the land, my daughter cannot refuse to photograph a psychic reading on religious grounds.

Is that right?

I have said before, and probably appeared like a nutter, that the erosion of religious liberties in the United States will end in the physical persecution of Christians. If the response to such a statement is not a guffaw, it is the perfunctory eye-roll. As if THAT would NEVER happen. Of course, such persecution never starts with “the blazing furnace.” It starts with a legal ruling, then maybe a monetary fine, then perhaps the revocation of a business license, and then community service or even jail time. But is there any question of the progression of things from here?

Is there any question that the New Mexico ruling is the logical outworking of a very immoral premise, i.e., that “tolerance” means I must act like homosexuality is normal.

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus described the time of the end. It is not a pretty picture, which is probably why so much effort is placed into assuring it’s an allegory. To His disciples, He said,

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” — Matt. 24:9-13 NIV

There are earthquakes, and wars, and rumors of war. But at the center of the tale are His children, “hated,” “persecuted,” and eventually “put to death.” For standing firm.

Are we witnessing a progression towards such a scenario? I think so.

The “price of citizenship,” said Justice Richard Bosson, is “to channel [our] conduct, not [our] beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different.” Which, in this case, means photographing two men kissing and pledging to be “one flesh,” despite how vile or unholy one feels the relationship may be.

But is that such a steep “price” to pay?

Perhaps we should inquire of those Jewish lads who were simply asked to bow down to an idol. I mean, how hard is that?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” — Dan. 3:16-18 NIV

Babylon is nice, fer sure. Hanging gardens. Aqueducts, State of the art ziggurats. But when the “price of citizenship” means worshiping the piddly idol of state or culture, it could be that facing the “furnace” is, indeed, far better than bending the knee.

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{ 63 comments… add one }
  • Randy Streu September 1, 2013, 6:10 PM

    Great piece, and perfectly on-point. I don’t really have anything to add, just wanted to give kudos.

  • billgncs September 1, 2013, 6:32 PM

    we are foolish if we don’t think this part of the plan for the enemies of the church.

  • Jessica Thomas September 1, 2013, 6:32 PM

    I thought of your daughter’s situation immediately when I read that article. Homosexuality aside, the court case is chilling to me because of where it will lead for religious freedom in this country. Unfortunately, I don’t think the majority of Americans care about religious freedom anymore. They don’t seem to understand why it was included in the Constitution in the first place. (Besides, that Constitution is as dusty as the Bible. We need to rewrite it…)

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller September 1, 2013, 7:27 PM

    The ironic thing is that the judge’s ruling doesn’t work both ways. If it did, he could just as easily have said

    In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the GAY COUPLE have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans, SUCH AS CHRISTIANS, who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the GAY COUPLE, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.

    And I thought religious freedom was a protected right.

    Becky

    • Jason Joyner September 2, 2013, 10:35 AM

      Excellent job in turning that around Becky. Exactly!

  • Wayne Woodall September 1, 2013, 8:45 PM

    Once again, totally agree with you Mike.
    Political correctness has also made it punishable for a contractor to tell the truth about their beliefs. In this case, any contractor should have a clause in their performance agreement allowing cancellations for unforeseen events allowing return of deposits, and no additional liabilities. “I’m sorry Mr Smith, and Mr Smith, I’ve come done with a stomach ailment, and cannot photograph your event. I hope you can find a replacement”.

  • T. W. Johnson September 1, 2013, 11:53 PM

    Mike, from one SWM to another, I concur. We in the know realize that it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. What’s a child of God to do, though…except pray? So yeah, we pray, and yet we already know the outcome. Unfortunately, it often feels to be a waste of time, because we know that prophecy will not change.

    The world has some bleak times ahead; and America will eventually feel the full, unstoppable brunt of that force. The bad news reports we receive via cable TV, the radio, etc., are nothing compared to what lies ahead. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

    Many people don’t believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, but a day is coming when they’ll wish for one.

    The alternative is that no one will escape. But if God would save one family from the flood, then what’s to stop Him from saving His children from the day of wrath? Sadly, if it doesn’t happen, better to burn in the “furnace” than burn in the “fire”.

  • Kat Heckenbach September 2, 2013, 7:10 AM

    Mike, as you’re not unfamiliar with playing the devil’s advocate, I hope you see my comment here in the proper light.

    So, when the gay couple decides to order flowers for their wedding, the florist should be allowed to say, “Sorry, we’re Christian-owned and we will not sell you flowers.”

    And when they go to rent a limo, the limo company can say, “Sorry, we’re Christian-owned and we refuse to rent you a limo.”

    And when they find a DJ or band they want to play at the reception, the DJ/band can say, “Sorry, but we’re Christians and we will not play at your wedding.”

    And when they go to the restaurant they want to have cater, the restaurant can say, “Sorry, we’re Christian-owned, we refuse to cater your wedding.”

    And when they find a hotel to stay at for their honeymoon, the hotel manager can say, “Sorry, we’re Christian-owned, and we will not allow you to stay here.”

    Don’t get me wrong–I think religious freedom is being taken away. But I’m not so sure that allowing businesses to refuse to work with people they disagree with for “religious reasons” is right either. Can a Baptist photographer then refuse to work a wedding if alcohol is served at the reception? Or maybe a Catholic photographer can refuse to do a wedding for someone who has been divorced? Or a (fill in the blank) photographer can then refuse to work with people who have body piercings or tattoos or who cuss or who….

    My point is this–religious freedom is about how one worships, not how one is allowed to discriminate in the business world.

    And for the record, when it comes to the word “tolerance” coming from groups that are demanding tolerance, my immediate reaction is to mentally quote The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Also, I have no idea WHY a gay couple would WANT a photographer AT their wedding who has made it perfectly clear he/she finds the whole thing offensive. It’s not like there is a shortage of photographers in the world.

    • Randy Streu September 2, 2013, 7:46 AM

      Kat – it’s not like there’s a shortage of photographers, limo companies, caterers and florists in the world. So, yes. Part of freedom means the freedom to choose when and with whom we do business. It may not even always be for the right reasons, but we ought to have the freedom to conduct ourselves and our affairs, so long as we’re not actively impinging on the life and liberty of others, as we see fit.

      And before anyone asks… yes. I mean that in every single situation — even the most distasteful of them.

      Nobody has the right to have his or her wedding photographed. Or to have it in the church. Or to have food catered. By definition.

      • Kat Heckenbach September 2, 2013, 9:10 AM

        If no one has the “right” to have their wedding photographed, then discriminating against someone because of race or creed when it comes to photography isn’t impinging on their “rights” and should be allowed, but we’d have a fit if someone refused to photograph a black couple getting married. (Remember–being the devil’s advocate here.)

        I’m not saying I think it’s right to force someone to photograph a wedding they find offensive. If the wedding was at a nudist colony or was a BDSM-themed wedding, people would be saying it’s absurd to *force* the photographer to take the job regardless of the photographer’s religion. And I don’t think someone refusing to photograph a gay wedding violates this idea:”to channel [our] conduct, not [our] beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different.” There is no law that says gay weddings can’t be photographed by *someone*, so therefore saying, politely, “I won’t do it, but you can move on to someone else who will and I won’t stop you,” IS “leaving space for other Americans who believe something different.”

        I really think what is being missed in this is that a photographer is being hired as an employee. And any employee has a right to quit their job at any time for any reason–it’s not slavery. If the photographer says, “I don’t want to take this JOB, I don’t have to.” We have a right to work or not work, so long as we take responsibility for that decision. If the photographer took the job, then proceeded to to behave rudely because of her beliefs, then there would be an issue.

        • Randy Streu September 2, 2013, 11:26 AM

          Responding to the devil’s advocate:

          A couple things about this: first, the Bible doesn’t say anything about it being a sin to be black. Nor is there anything that anyone remotely reasonable could CONFUSE as saying it. Nobody — even the staunchest racist tool — believes color is sin, per se, so citing a religious objection, at least from a Christian perspective, is fairly dubious. This is not the case when it comes to homosexuality.

          Second — and this is the sort of thing that’ll make people mad at me — I actually DO believe people should be allowed to do business with whomever they wish, for whatever reasons (as I alluded to above). Fortunately the market would respond fairly negatively to racial discrimination (as you mentioned above) and whatever idiot were to choose to run his or her business that way would quickly lose it. But the market — and NOT the law — should make that decision.

    • Mike Duran September 2, 2013, 7:52 AM

      Good questions, Kat. Two brief responses.

      One, I think we need to distinguish between services that provide necessities and those that provide luxuries. In other words, the gas station or grocery store owner who refuses to do business with those of a certain ethnicity or religion is a lot different than a photographer, florist, or cake decorator who denies service. There’s a limited amount of grocery stores and gas stations, and I NEED both services. Photographers, florists, and cake decorators, not so much.

      Second, if a business wants to discriminate, that’s on them. However, open refusal to serve certain customers has business consequences. So if I make it known that I will not photograph gay marriage ceremonies, I should probably expect to lose some business. Gays are free to find another photographer and tell all their friends and supporters to avoid me. However, my guess is that a business that openly discriminates of someone of a certain ethnicity or religion (sexual orientation is another category), will suffer serious consequences. That’s the price of business. For instance, if I knew of a restaurant in town that openly refused to serve Asians, Jews, or Deadheads, I would refuse to eat there… even though I’m neither Asian, Jew, or Deadhead.

      Follow-up question: So should my daughter then be forced to photograph a psychic?

      • Kat Heckenbach September 2, 2013, 9:14 AM

        Mike, see my comment to Randy. But to absolutely clarify, your daughter has no obligation to take any job she doesn’t want to. You can’t force someone to be your employee. I’m a “freelance writer” but no one’s going to find me online and force me to write an article about something I don’t want to write about. They can ask, they can offer, and I can tell them how much I’d charge, but I don’t *have* to take the job, ever, for any reason.

        • Mike Duran September 2, 2013, 2:49 PM

          Kat, I think the ruling is saying just the opposite: If someone refuses to perform a service based on what the court consider discriminatory religious beliefs, they can be effectively sued. You said (to Randy), “I think religious freedom is being taken away. But I’m not so sure that allowing businesses to refuse to work with people they disagree with for ‘religious reasons’ is right either.” Then if someone hires you for a freelance job, and you REFUSE THEM BECAUSE OF YOUR RELIGIOUS CONVICTION, this is discrimination according to the court. Right?

          • Kat Heckenbach September 2, 2013, 5:24 PM

            Mike, I was going to post another comment earlier, but, alas, we had family dinner plans :).

            I said I was playing devil’s advocate, and I was. To be honest, I am not 100% cut-and-dried when it comes to my take on all of this. I think, really, truly, the problem is that there WILL be people who twist this into exactly what you say. And it is sad. Most of the people I know, both Christian and gay (or gay Christian) believe in “live and let live.” There is no *forcing* anyone to believe or behave in any particular fashion. They–meaning all those groups and subgroups–aren’t people who would sue because someone refused to be their photographer. They *wouldn’t want* to hire a photographer that finds them, as subjects, offensive. They get that not everyone agrees about everything, and they move on. That’s tolerance. Live and let live. Not force you to see it my way. Not force you to do a job I wouldn’t want you for anyway.

          • Robert H. Woodman September 2, 2013, 7:26 PM

            Mike,

            First, great post, and I agree with you that any business providing a service that is not necessary should be able to decline business for religious reasons.

            Second, a businessperson can decline to do business so long as declining the business is based on a something that doesn’t appear to violate anti-discrimination laws. The New Mexico decision is an outgrowth/extension of the civil rights laws that protected African-American and other minorities. The Federal government extended civil rights to women and persons with disabilities, and several States have extended/are extending civil rights to homosexual persons. They are doing that largely at the real and perceived behests of the citizenry. That is the price of living in a democratic republic. The same Federal court decisions that made it illegal to discriminate against minorities, extend to other persons (with few exceptions) to whom the Federal and State governments choose to extend civil rights protections. Thus, had the photographers declined to take the business for a facially neutral, non-religious reason (whether that reason was real or invented), this would have never come before the courts. (Notice also, that this case was handled in New Mexico state courts; there is not yet Federal civil rights protection for homosexuals, though it is just a matter of time until that happens. It very well could be appealed to SCOTUS, but how SCOTUS will rule is anybody’s guess at this point.)

            Third, your daughter’s response to the psychics would need to be conditioned on the applicable STATE laws as well as Federal law. There is no Federal civil rights protection for psychics yet, and I don’t have any vibes that it’s coming soon (sorry, couldn’t resist). There may or may not be State protection (likely NOT) depending on where she lives, but the best way for her to respond to any such request is simply to come up with a (hopefully valid), non-religious, facially neutral reason to decline the business. She may also want to consider revising how she advertises herself to include some statement somewhere on her web page and in brochures that she hands out to the effect that she may decline business for any reason or no reason as she sees fit (it would need appropriate legalese just in case she has a difficult person who wants to take her to court).

            Again, great post. And yes, I agree with you that physical persecution of Christians is coming to America. It will be terrible, but it is inevitable given the moral and religious drift that we Christians have permitted to develop in this country.

            • Teddi Deppner September 3, 2013, 10:33 PM

              That’s kinda what I was figuring, Robert. But I still don’t like the position it puts me in, as someone who offers services for hire (in my case, web design).

              What happens when I don’t want to design the website because it’s a romance author’s site that has erotic images that I don’t care to look at or work with? What exactly do I tell them?

              If I “invent” a reason not to do the work, then I’m lying and violating my conscience, too.

              If I say, “I’m sorry, I don’t handle this type of website,” and I’ve done author sites before, what if they call me on it?

              Seems like I would need to word things very carefully to both avoid the appearance of discrimination and not “invent” (lie) about why I’m not taking the work.

              Or expand my definition of “available” to include “wanting to work on this project” and simply say, “I’m not available.” But that seems a bit like lying, too. *sigh*

              • Robert H. Woodman September 4, 2013, 3:06 AM

                Well, Teddi, I understand and am sympathetic to your position. As I suggested in my third paragraph, what you can and cannot do depends on applicable state laws, and a lawyer should be consulted to help you write a disclaimer that allows you to reject any job for any reason (even better if you can reject a job for no reason).

                Generally, a “protected class” to whom civil rights protection is given consists of people who are being discriminated against for what are called “immutable characteristics.” These “immutable characteristics” include gender, race, color, national origin, disability, and others. Interestingly, religion is a “protected class” but not because it is an “immutable characteristic”. Rather, religious belief is protected from discrimination by explicit protection in the Federal and State constitutions. My own opinion, based on my observation of trends in the law, is that courts treat religion with less deference now than they did even a few years ago because we Americans have changed our relationship with religion from a commitment to a consumer choice. Also, based on my observation, the idea that being a homosexual is something that a person has no control over makes homosexuality an “immutable characteristic” in the eyes of many people, which is how we get civil rights protection for homosexuals that apparently trumps religious protection.

                I do think that you need to expand your definition of “available” to include “want to work on this project.” As I stated before, you should get a lawyer to help you craft a suitable “out” for yourself in declining projects. I don’t view “I don’t want to work on this project” as any form of lying. If you don’t want to work on it, then you aren’t available to work on it. Of course, YMMV.

      • Luther Stapleton September 2, 2013, 10:22 PM

        Also, it is not sin for homosexuals to buy groceries or fuel their cars, but it is sin to openly parade and lend support for what God says is sin

    • Matthew Sample II September 2, 2013, 11:03 AM

      Religious freedom applies to all of life, because all of life is informed by our faith. How we choose to love our neighbor should be dictated by the conscience and not by the court…

      • Rebecca LuElla Miller September 2, 2013, 7:00 PM

        How we choose to love our neighbor should be dictated by the conscience and not by the court…

        Matthew, I think this statement gets to the heart of the matter. Basically the court is saying, the government gets to decide how a person exercises their faith. Now the government’s value of not discriminating has a higher value than a person’s religious conviction.

        Which brings me back to Mike’s post and the comparison with Babylon.

        Of course, Christians living under Roman rule most likely thought they were living in the last times because of the debauchery of the culture and the persecution they faced, so I’m not saying I know this is the beginning of the end which Scripture tells us about, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Our brothers and sisters around the world have been suffering for their faith for some time. May God give us the same courage, should that be the direction our government goes.

        Becky

  • Gloria Repp September 2, 2013, 8:56 AM

    Good comments, all — I lurk here but really appreciate the input, as well as Mike’s blog very thought-provoking subjects. Here’s another facet to consider, perhaps: In looking at the sequence of events it appears that first, the photographer was asked by one of the women to photograph her wedding; she made it clear that she was in a lesbian relationship. After the photographer refused, politely, she received a second email that looked like the usual query–from a bride with no aberrant sexual orientation. So she emailed back with a list of the prices etc. These two emails were presented in court as proof of discrimination. I am wondering whether the photographer was set up, perhaps so a court case could ensue . . . to make a point. Some would call this “entrapment.” …. Thoughts?

    • Bobby September 3, 2013, 4:22 PM

      Wouldn’t surprise me for a second.

    • Robert H. Woodman September 4, 2013, 3:15 AM

      It sounds like the photographer was set up. It’s not really entrapment for a couple of reasons — first, “entrapment” is only a defense in a criminal case, not a civil case; second, “entrapment” as a defense only works if the defendant can show clearly that he or she would have behaved differently except for being coerced into bad behavior.

      The photographer clearly discriminated against the lesbian couple for religious reasons. The question is whether the discrimination is legal or illegal. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that it is illegal to discriminate against homosexuals for religious reasons. The question then becomes whether religious freedom has greater or lesser legal standing than homosexual rights. The New Mexico Supreme Court has clearly placed religious freedom lower than homosexual rights. The case may go to SCOTUS, but I have no idea whether SCOTUS will accept the case, or how it might rule if it does accept the case.

  • Wayne Woodall September 2, 2013, 9:06 AM

    Gloria, that’s what I believe. I think these groups go after businesses on a regular basis. Chick Fil A, etc.

  • Nick Houze September 2, 2013, 9:16 AM

    We live in scary times, and we will be increasingly required as Christians to refuse to bend the knee. The sooner we set our hearts to always do what is right, the better equipped we will be to face the consequences. We ought to obey God rather than men. And yes, Mike, your daughter ought to refuse the psychic if it offends her (and psychics offend me). Romans 14: to have doubts and do it anyway is sin.

  • Barbara j Gonzales September 2, 2013, 9:57 AM

    Great article and true. We as followers of Christ must stand for something bigger than the world. If we don’t stand for something we’ll fall for anything. .. after reading the Harbinger eyes were opened even more. … we’re into the end of the story.

  • janet September 2, 2013, 10:24 AM

    Both article and comments are excellent. I do think we will continue to pay a price, whether economic, social or physical as our country gets farther and farther from its Christian roots, roots, which are denied by many of its current population. We’ve been blessed for all these years with relative freedom.

    A number of good points were raised in the comments. I do think the gay couple in this instance went after the photographer. I would think they could find another photographer without a problem if they really wanted to do so. Nowadays, “freedom” tends to mean that you’re free to do things my way or suffer the consequences. You’re free to have beliefs that are increasingly liberal but if you don’t, we’re free to sue you, harass you or otherwise make your life miserable. But that should surprise Christians. As your example shows, such behavior has been going on since the beginning of the world once sin entered it and it will continue to go on while the Devil, the world and our flesh are around.

    janet

  • Jill September 2, 2013, 10:49 AM

    I can’t really say whether we’re in the end of times, but this court decision does make it clear that we’re living under an ever-more authoritarian state. I can definitely see the connection with Babylon. In this case, there’s a bit of an irony, too. The United States took over New Mexico, and it hasn’t been longer than 30 or 40 years since American businesses operating in NM put up signs in their windows stating “No dogs and no Mexicans allowed (Mexicans, in this case being New Mexicans who already lived in the state before the takeover)”. Now, New Mexico is using the authoritarianism of the US gov’t to prevent that from happening to anybody. It’s funny how history comes back to bite you.

  • jed September 2, 2013, 11:18 AM

    “Negative rights” are no longer clearly understood, and neither is the classically liberal philosophy of the Founding Fathers that made the Constitution possible.

    Now, we have only (2) competing brands of authoritarianism, both competing to enforce their world view on their political enemies. That, and lining up to the public trough for access to government funding… The stick and the carrot… divide and conquer… And in this way, a once great people is taken captive.

    In Egypt, when the people were allowed to vote, they elected the Muslim Brotherhood (supported and funded by the U.S., of course). In the United States, we only vote for less liberty and more authoritarianism.

  • J.S. Clark September 2, 2013, 11:42 AM

    This sort of thing should remind us that our people are not those of America, they are those of the Kingdom of God. There’s going to be conflict because we don’t belong to the present age and the age knows it. They don’t like us because we’re not part of them. We’re just ambassadors with unrecognized diplomatic immunity.

  • E. September 2, 2013, 2:34 PM

    I have been watching sermons on compromising and reading up on the Word a lot and it appears that the small compromises are what will do us in as Christians.

    I understand that we can not discriminate or reject people from hotels, businesses, and restaurants, but if you own your own shop and it is backed by a religious belief- you have to stand for something. It is your own business. You do not have to compromise.

    Christians compromise everyday: we tolerate coworkers in their course joking, swearing and rude comments. We compromise when people live a certain way and we are okay with it so we won’t lose friends. We compromise and tolerate every sin everyday. God is seeking a “church” without spot or blemish. We have to be holy as he is holy. Set apart. What will separate us from others if we do not pick up the Cross?

    I am not perfect and these words are for myself as well.

    • Luther Stapleton September 2, 2013, 7:16 PM

      We have all made small compromises for which we should repent. It is difficult to be in the world but not of the world but that is what we are called to do

  • Douglas MacIlroy September 2, 2013, 3:05 PM

    Really?

    Everybody patting themselves on the back for their professed beliefs and their slavish adherence to them? Doesn’t this strike anyone as a little bit backward? Ever feel as though you were huddled around a fire and looking with fear into the dark while your shamans try to soothe you as you wait for the dawn?

    No, of course not. But that’s what it is and always has been and ever shall be. Time to wake up and see life for what it is, a miracle without supernatural underpinnings, a joy without being told that it is so, and a world of wonder full of all sorts of countervailing ‘belief’ systems. Just because you stick to your group and hear nothing but the party line does not necessarily make it so. You are spinning slowly in an eddy in a backwater of time, ardent adherents of ‘your’ fictional deity and steadfast deniers of all others.

    You read this and to your mind comes all of the sentences you have heard from defenders of the faith. You put your hands over your ears and and eyes and begin the ritual repeating, unaware that the sun is already up and the day awaits.

    That no one takes the time to write responses such as this should not be taken as sign of the correctness of your doctrine. It just means that those who have read the post to the end are either of the same faith or understand that they are looking in on what amounts to a museum diorama. After contemplating the self reinforcing behavior and wondering about its origins, they move on to the next exhibit.

    Sincerely,

    Doug

    • Randy Streu September 2, 2013, 3:37 PM

      Thanks, Doug, for bringing something to this conversation that nobody here has ever, ever heard before.

      I’m going to go home and rethink my life.

      • Douglas MacIlroy September 2, 2013, 9:00 PM

        Dear Randy,

        Good luck with the re-thinking.

        Doug

        • John K. Patterson September 3, 2013, 12:06 PM

          Someone forgot their sarcasm detector! This has nothing to do with the post. Go speechify about the mass delusion/conspiracy of Christianity somewhere where it’s relevant.

          “Wake up, man! Open your eyes, man! You’re all just a bunch of puppets, man!” Give me a break.

    • Mike Duran September 2, 2013, 4:16 PM

      Doug, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Rebecca LuElla Miller September 2, 2013, 7:13 PM

      Doesn’t this strike anyone as a little bit backward?

      Doug, you might as well ask if believing 2+2=4 is a little backwards. Truth by it’s nature will have been around since the beginning of time. Or do you believe that once upon a time 2+2 equaled something else?

      If God is true, it doesn’t matter what sort of changes government makes regarding our freedom to worship Him, and our desire to continue to do so is not anachronistic.

      But that’s the point, I guess. You don’t believe in God’s existence. But I’m wondering why you think your belief is right and ours is wrong. Would you care to explain?

      Becky

      • Douglas MacIlroy September 2, 2013, 9:47 PM

        Dear Rebecca,

        Beginning of time? Interesting way to start a conversation. For the sake of brevity, let’s not go there.

        2 + 2 = 4 has always been and always will be true. Equating belief in god(s) to belief in mathematics is not going to be productive for you. That 2 + 2 = 4 is a fact that can be proved.

        You rightly assume that I don’t believe in any gods but please don’t assume that I am as inflexible as many of those that do believe. I freely admit that my ‘beliefs’ could be incorrect just as I will readily admit that yours may be correct. So in that regard, there is nothing to explain. If the same degree of honesty were applied to all people and their beliefs then the world would be a better place.

        It is simply the congenial, ‘hail fellow, well met’ attitude of the blog post that I was questioning. Everyone sitting around the campfire slapping each other on the back and discussing the fine points of issues as delineated by doctrine while all around you the real world rolls on and you remain happily oblivious. You do yourself and others no good by refusing to leave the diorama. There’s no lock on the door.

        Sincerely,

        Doug

        • Rebecca LuElla Miller September 3, 2013, 12:32 PM

          Doug, you say there is “nothing to explain,” but you give no reason for holding the view that belief in God is backwards. You say you might be wrong, but clearly you don’t think you are. I assume you do have a reason for that but are unwilling to explain what that is. I find that interesting. You also imply that you don’t believe in the beginning of time and you don’t wish to discuss “unfounded suppositions,” as you said to another commenter.

          So here’s what I’ve gleaned from your end of this discussion. Without positing any proof for or reason to support your position, you believe those of us with faith in God are backward, that religion leads to dissolution, that progress means freedom from what you term as superstition.

          The irony, of course, is that you divorce your own unfounded statements from superstition and offer no other explanation for what you term to be the miracle, the joy of life–as if it sprang from nothing.

          From my position, sitting outside your circle, looking in, that sounds like a far greater superstition than that a Person with all power created this amazing life we enjoy. For surely, you can’t say that your ideas of time and the beginning of life and the lack of the supernatural have the same kind of proof–the 2+2 kind–that you expect from me in support of my belief in God.

          Becky

    • Luther Stapleton September 2, 2013, 7:21 PM

      ” a miracle without supernatural underpinnings ”

      a self-refuting statement

      ” After contemplating the self reinforcing behavior and wondering about its origins, they move on to the next exhibit. ”

      you mean like the normal atheists rants with their unfounded presuppositions?

      • Douglas MacIlroy September 2, 2013, 9:57 PM

        Dear Luther,

        There are many more definitions applicable to the word miracle than your favorite. Call it what you will, I’m sure you understand my meaning.

        Calling my response a rant is a bit extreme. I was civil, but questioning, and submit to you that a rant is something you are treading far closer to the edge of than I.

        As for the subject of ‘unfounded suppositions’, well, let’s not go there. Your view from the Park Place and Boardwalk of unfounded suppositions isn’t letting you see the forest for the trees.

        Sincerely,

        Doug

        • Luther Stapleton September 2, 2013, 10:12 PM

          ” You are spinning slowly in an eddy in a backwater of time, ardent adherents of ‘your’ fictional deity and steadfast deniers of all others.

          You read this and to your mind comes all of the sentences you have heard from defenders of the faith. You put your hands over your ears and and eyes and begin the ritual repeating, unaware that the sun is already up and the day awaits. ”

          A rant by any other name is still a rant.

          miracle: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

          it requires the existence of something for an extremely outstanding or unusual event to occur. What is truly miraculous is the the very lack of a First Cause proposed by anti-theists. We can talk of string-theory, the multiverse, or rats being produced from rotten cheese but every concept requires something, even if only the laws that set the process in motion.

          Would you prefer us to set around the atheist’s campfire patting each other on the back decrying the intolerance of those we have no tolerance for?

          • Douglas MacIlroy September 2, 2013, 11:01 PM

            Dear Luther,

            You continue to imply that I have no tolerance for the vast multitude of beliefs systems embraced by people, yours included. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

            My original response simply posited that the entire blog post and response thread seemed a bit backward when seen from outside. If my attempt to describe the scene from a different perspective has upset you, I apologize. Consider that I was speaking to those who may benefit from being shown another point of view.

            Sincerely,

            Doug

            • D.M. Dutcher September 3, 2013, 12:00 AM

              Who cares if it’s viewed as backwards? That word is what a snob uses to deride something he thinks is unfashionable. What matters is whether or not the point of the topic is true, and I think it is. Your argument is constructing a strawman’s state of mind to accuse us all of being out-of-date and behind the times for not accepting this undefined, Panglossian optimism we seem to be lacking.

              People agree with Mike because what he says has the ring of truth to it. Devout believers often do have a relationship with the secular power like Babylon did with the Jews, and given the small steps some governments take to constrain religious liberty, it’s not too out there to worry. You want to argue he’s unfounded on that, that’s one thing, but who cares how we are viewed for holding a belief? That’s high-school lunchroom stuff.

              • Douglas MacIlroy September 3, 2013, 2:30 AM

                Dear Mr. Dutcher,

                I care, Mr. Dutcher.

                It saddens me that humans as a species cannot seem to shake themselves free of religions and the consequences of adherence to them. There is a wider world out there yet we just keep muddling along, mired in, and handicapped by our inability to progress beyond the tales and superstitions of the past. When viewed through the long lens of history, this will be seen to have had a huge effect on how we developed and where we squandered time and opportunity.

                I joined the discussion from the outside, so to speak, asked a question and have not been surprised by the reaction to it. It was the right question and needed to be asked. Did I expect the answers I’ve received? Yes, to some extent, but I have to admit to being surprised at the varying degrees of veiled vitriol in the responses.

                Panglossian optimism? Snob? Lunchroom?

                This is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about and why it appears as I described. A backwater in time and ineffably sad.

                Sincerely,

                Doug

                • Randy Streu September 3, 2013, 3:51 AM

                  Doug – there’s no vitriol coming from anyone. You found what you expected to find (and probably less of it than you’d hoped), because from your first sentence, you wrapped snide rudeness in a package of faux pleasantry and outright condescension (the single most honest part of your initial post).

                  You seem to believe you’re saying something brand new to a group of Christians who has heard all of it before, and multiple times. But that’s not really the issue. Your pseudo-intellectualism by itself merits an eye roll, at best.

                  At issue is your presumption in taking what you clearly view as a bunch of schoolchildren to task for basing the way in which they live their lives upon a faith in which you happen to not believe.

                  You fail to understand that that’s more or less the point. As Christians, we aren’t asking for special rights, or demanding that the entire world make way for us. We aren’t demanding that people who do not believe the way we do set those beliefs aside to serve us. We’re asking to worship, live, and do business as we believe God wants us to.

                  Whether or not you believe in that God doesn’t make any difference at all.

                  • Douglas MacIlroy September 3, 2013, 5:36 AM

                    Dear Randy,

                    Pseudo-intellectualism? Eye rolls, a lot of assumptions and conclusion jumping, but no vitriol, right?

                    Your final sentence wraps it up well.

                    Doug

                    • Randy Streu September 3, 2013, 6:06 AM

                      Let me ask you, Doug… how is anything I said any more vitriolic than your original post?

                • Jessica Thomas September 3, 2013, 6:38 AM

                  “Everybody patting themselves on the back for their professed beliefs and their slavish adherence to them? Doesn’t this strike anyone as a little bit backward?”

                  Douglas,

                  Is this the question you are referring to? If so, aren’t you doing the same thing you are charging the other commenters with (i.e., patting yourself of the back)?

                  Your responses make sense to me if I place myself within your worldview–until the bit where you admit you could be wrong about the existence of God. That sounds like a cop out to me. If you think you are right, that there is not God, and that the supernatural doesn’t exist, why not own it? Are you not an atheist but an agnostic? If so, I say, another cop out.

                  Further, if you are smarter than our forefathers (which you seem to think), and are convinced you know better than them how to delineate truth from fiction (which you seem to be), why not delineate truth and say, “There is no God. Period.” Your waffling strikes me as illogical.

                • D.M. Dutcher September 3, 2013, 7:47 AM

                  The beauty of the “long lens of history” is that much of it doesn’t exist (being in the future), and can be whatever you want it to be. As can the idea of progress. For all you know of the future, lack of religion could led to a worse world with harsher superstitions and less progress despite more technological advancement. Religion ironically could be arguing to preserve things we shouldn’t toss away out of the fear of seeming backwards. You’re blaming us for not chasing after fainter moonbeams than what you see us following.

                  And well, when most of your argument is shaming us into feeling how backwards we must look, you shouldn’t complain when people disagree with that, or even invert your own argument back at you.

  • GEOFF WRIGHT September 2, 2013, 4:05 PM

    My wife and I have a gay couple (women) as friends. When they had their civil ceremony we were not invited. Why? Because they realised we would not be comfortable participating. They didn’t take us to court (GET A LIFE!) and we remained friends. Both sides behaved appropriately, in dignity and with respect for one another. Thanks. Geoff Wright. Australia.

    • Teddi Deppner September 3, 2013, 10:51 PM

      I think this is the way things should be. Respect each other’s beliefs and feelings.

      If you and I were to disagree on some point of lifestyle, the fact that I think you’re wrong shouldn’t be reason for me to abuse you (the outright hatred and bigotry that Christians have shown homosexuals in the past and still do at times).

      But also the abuse that some people have shown homosexuals shouldn’t be reason for the government to start forcing everyone to condone and/or embrace life choices we disagree with. If society has changed to the point where most people no longer believe that homosexuality is morally or physically harmful, and if it is no longer against the civil laws… Can we not exist in peace without creating this kind of reverse persecution?

      Should restaurants and other business establishments now be forced to accept barefoot and unshirted patrons, because requiring “shirts and shoes” for service is discrimination? Whatever happened to “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”?

  • D.M. Dutcher September 2, 2013, 5:50 PM

    I don’t think we’ll end up physically persecuted. I agree with you though that we are living in Babylon, and we’ll end up with a small, devout, pure subculture of Christians and a larger one of assimilated pseudo-Christians. In a way, it’s worse than actual Babylon because it doesn’t affect all believers equally, isn’t done as a sign that we have sinned and need to repent, seeking the Lord, and that we have no prophets to tell us the Lord’s will on what to do.

    There’s going to be some interesting problems for believers in the future. I think many people have made their life decision assuming no real coercion or punitive aspects by the state, but I wonder how that will change as devout Christianity may be viewed more like being a mormon or JW than the norm.

  • Luther Stapleton September 2, 2013, 7:12 PM

    We will either bow down or face being ostracized, persecuted, and at the least further marginalized in an ever increasing secular society that calls evil good and good evil.

    What we must not do is bow down and bring shame upon our Lord by calling normal what He has declared deviant. If the world hates us we must always take comfort the fact that it first hated Him and we can expect nothing less for all those who live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

  • Doug September 3, 2013, 8:10 AM

    Very well done! True followers have seen this trending, and it’s gaining speed. Pray to the one true God, who has provided us the way in scripture. We must hold fast, regardless of the secular consequences we will face.

    • Douglas MacIlroy September 3, 2013, 1:20 PM

      Dear All,

      I have spent a restless night and must say that each of you has made very valid points, key among them was Randy but no less so than each of you. The mirror of words you held for me reflected what I needed to see, but have not, until yesterday.

      Thank you.

      I would ask that Mike delete every response of mine but that would be getting off the hook of my own boorishness too easily. The arbitrary nature of immortality on the internet will be my punishment (self inflicted, and realized with the kind help of those who took the time to respond to my impolite words.) If, as some suggested, I said what I said to provoke then please lobby for its removal. Clean up this site. I don’t think that will happen and that’s okay, too. I said what I said and as one of you suggested, I’ll own ( and apologize) for it.

      I will remember this episode, and rightly so, as a lesson or series of lessons about many things, the majority of which were ably and gently pointed out by each respondent. I will be very careful how and when I speak in the future. I will be more polite. I will mind my own business. I will forgive others.

      Going to put that into practice now.

      Sincerely,

      Doug

      • Teddi Deppner September 3, 2013, 11:08 PM

        We all have those times we leave a comment trail that we later wish could be undone, for one reason or another. I know that rueful regret.

        I think perhaps you caught an animal by the tail and were surprised by the fangs and claws that came into play. Many communities have knee-jerk reactions when a stranger walks in who looks like someone who has caused trouble before, who talks just like the last troll who did not come for fellowship but for a good bar fight. This is true both of Christians and atheists, football players and Star Trek nerds, you name it. We have our little cliques. And don’t like the other team showing up to disrupt our discussion.

        (Do you think I could fit a few more metaphors in there? Maybe something about giraffes and coffee makers. Hm…)

        Anyway, Doug. Thanks for the kind words and the willingness to be humble. I’m just a commenter here, but for my part I do think you got ragged on pretty hard. But you spoke just like someone who came to start a fight, even if you really didn’t.

        If I showed up on an atheist’s blog and jumped into a conversation telling all the atheist commenters how they were deluded and sinful and going to hell because my Bible says so, I’d probably get a similar reaction. (By the way, I’d never do that, but it’s the stereotypical Christian troll thing to do.)

        Sorry you got our verbal fists instead of our conversation. If true conversation across lines of belief is really something you’re interested in, you might try phrasing it differently. Or find a blog to comment on that purposes to cross those lines. 🙂

        • Douglas MacIlroy September 4, 2013, 7:03 AM

          Dear Teddi,

          I got what I deserved and meant what I said when I apologized. I re-learned a valuable lesson, too, and for that alone, I am grateful.

          Your kind words are a balm on my self-inflicted dumbass rash and I appreciate them. You certainly owe me no apology, in fact, I should repeat mine.

          I have read each reply in this thread and am intrigued by the discussion. Will listen quietly in the future.

          Aloha,

          Doug

  • Patricia July 28, 2015, 6:46 PM

    I believe we are living on the last days for it speaks of how men will be lovers of self covetous boasters proud blasphemers disobedient to pare ts unthankful unholy without affection trucebreakers falseaccusers incontinent fierce despisers of those that are good traitors heady high minded lovers of pleasures more than lovers of GOD. We are called by GOD to ceput from the world and be a separate people and not to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.To obstainfrom the very appearance of evil. We were t able to stop them from passing the laws for abortion and same sex marriage but we sure don’t have to participate in it or condone it. Christians have been quiet to long. We don’t force people to accept what we believe, it is there chose. SO why ask us or even take us to court because we refuse to do what we know is wrong. SIN is SIN .

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