SCOTUS-Pocus Part IV: The Compromise

Leave it to a politically-charged issue to bring out those who would love nothing more than to perpetuate the “all Christians hate gays” garbage, a lie initiated by people with an axe to grind against people of faith.

So, first off, particularly for the benefit of some folks who have taken to “certain” social media outlets in a misguided attempt to cast a negative spin on my position on the gay “marriage” issue (you know who you are, and why you’re really whining about things):

Let me state this very clearly: as a Messianic Jew, I do strongly believe that the practice of homosexuality is against G-d’s law, and is something that people need to turn away from.  I do not, however, “hate gays” or actively antagonize those who identify as homosexual.  Nor do I believe that anyone should “hate gays”, or use violence, threats, intimidation, or ridicule (what my generation would call “gay-bashing”) against people who identify along the homosexual spectrum (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning).  I believe that is possible for someone who identifies along this spectrum to turn from their lifestyle (which I do, because I have personally witnessed it occur), but I do not believe it can be done through threats and violence, shaming, or other practices that are counterproductive to an open understanding of options available to someone interested in considering a move away from homosexuality.

I’ll expand on why I believe this way, and why I think it is right and proper for every “straight” person who professes Judeo-Christian faith should feel this same way.

It should be very easy for a person of Judeo-Christian faith to see, through the multiple passages in both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible, that G-d plainly prohibits homosexual practice.  Likewise, there are examples in the Bible that clearly point to the only way that Christians (and Jews, for that matter) should treat people who identify as gay or lesbian.  Christians in particular, because of the teachings and example of Yeshua (Jesus), are called and commanded to love one another, and love others, even those with whom we disagree – this last part is, in Christian-ese, “hate the sin, love the sinner.”

When Christians practice the “hate the sin, love the sinner” concept, they have an understanding that everyone has sinned (including themselves), and continues to sin.  They don’t turn a blind eye to someone’s sin, but will expose the sin for what it is, but speak that truth with a loving attitude, not with a “holier-than-thou”, finger-pointing attitude.  When a Christian tells a gay person that the lifestyle he or she is living runs contrary to G-d’s concepts, and that there is a better way to live, they’re not speaking out of malice or discrimination against the person, they’re speaking out of genuine concern, that reflects G-d’s own desire that “none should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Now, as we live in the “free world”, where everyone can and should be respected equally, it’s clear that not everyone will agree with G-d’s decisions on the homosexuality issue (or many others, for that matter).  Not everyone will agree that they need to turn from sin and follow the example for living that Yeshua (Jesus) laid out in the New Testament.  A number of people in the gay community will choose to believe they were “born gay” because they either don’t recall a point in their lives when the gay lifestyle became a viable choice for them, or they don’t want to acknowledge the fact that it’s entirely possible for them to turn away from the gay lifestyle.  Others would say that they have been so burned in one way or another by so-called “religious” people in the past, they will believe all “religious” people are wrong and that those who live a truly Christian life are living a fairy tale.

So, the best option for us as citizens of a fundamentally-changing America, is for all of us to be sensitive to the fundamental right of people to determine for themselves the various aspects of their lives, including religion and sexual orientation, regardless of our own personal views of agreement or disagreement with those decisions.

Put it this way: if I, as a conservative Judeo-Christian believer, demand that my right to live how I choose and believe must be respected by both the government and society, I must also be prepared to respect the right of others to live how they choose and believe the way they choose to believe, regardless of whether or not I agree with them.

So, when we consider the issue of gay “marriage”, secular society will largely wink at this issue and not care much about opposing it, whereas people of faith have a very hard time with the concept, particularly given the fact that G-d instituted marriage in the first place as being a union of one man and one woman, and that has never changed; given also that the traditional concept of marriage has stood unfaltering since the beginning of time, until a small segment of society has, only very recently, chosen to re-define it.

OK, so let’s consider this fundamental, earth-shaking change that will, in reality, affect only approximately 3.4% of the total US population.  SCOTUS has spoken – for good or ill (and I’ve already discussed that previously, so we won’t go there again right now) every state is supposed to enable the legal ability of homosexuals to become wed.  Therein lies the key: “legal” recognition of a same-sex couple to live in a wedded union.

Ask 100 gay people what gay “marriage” means for them, and the majority would likely tell you it means they can have the same rights in “marriage” as straight married couples.  For the sake of argument, let’s deliberately ignore gays who belong to the “militant gay faction” in our little poll, since these folks would likely tell you that “G-d lost, and we’re going to hunt down and destroy all the Christians for opposing us.” (Yeah, radical words, I know… but I actually read that from a known militant gay activist recently – and that thought process doesn’t help anything.)

So, what is it really, that gays want out of the gay “marriage” decision?  From my readings, and my discussions with various people in the gay community, most would say they want the same “spousal” benefits, rights, and responsibilities as straight people do.  In fact, this was the crux of Obergefell’s case first brought in Ohio, which caused the SCOTUS decision in the first place.

Christians don’t like the concept that gays can call themselves “married” in the same way that G-d had originally defined marriage.  Christians in general, will argue that allowing gay people to marry fundamentally changes society for the worse, and that allowing gay “marriage” will be a slippery slope that will force other, more errant demands (like polygamy) on society.  An example of this slippery slope, would be recent decisions in various areas around the country that have enabled people who identify as transgender the “right” to use rest facilities of the gender they identify with, not just the gender they were born with, which can be seen as endangering young girls particularly, and enable perverted men to use women’s facilities and, if challenged, claim they are suddenly “transgender”, thus getting away with their perversion.  All this fundamental change in our traditionally-moral society, many Christians will say, will usher in an area of so-called “lawlessness” in our society, where evil is called good, and good called evil, which ultimately could be seen as the beginning of the “end times” spoken of in the Bible, where evil will be allowed to have its tyrannical rule on the earth for a period of time, before Mashiach (Messiah) comes (for Jews), or comes again (for Christians).

Well, far be it from me to argue against the end times rearing its head, and hastening the coming of Mashiach.

But, we are still in the here and now, with the reality of gay “marriage” upon us, with many Christians wondering how to respond, and with militant gay activists already striking out against Christians and Christian-owned businesses, such as the militant activists Laurel Bowman and Rachel Cryer did a couple of years ago in Oregon.  Now, reports from upstate New York add two more militant gay activists to this infamous list, Andrea Needham and Sara Dailey, who reportedly filed a complaint against a Christian-owned bed-and-breakfast for refusing to host a gay wedding ceremony.

Let’s face it: unless both sides of this larger issue come to some compromise or understanding, this kind of litigious behavior on the part of radical gay activists will continue, unless we put in place ways to stop it.  One would think that the rights of free exercise of religion, guaranteed in the First Amendment, would be enough, though.

So, let’s think about a compromise, that gives both sides what they want, and “forces” both sides to give a little.

Since the biggest issue here is the legality of recognition of a same-sex union, particularly for the purposes of rights, privileges, and responsibilities that are bestowed on spouses as recognized and “licensed” by states (see Obergefell v Hodges), here is my four-point plan as a possible way for states to both enable such recognition, and ensure the religious liberty of those who choose not to be involved in same-sex unions.

  1. Licensing applications for same-sex unions would proceed as for opposite-sex unions.  In areas where religious conviction would prohibit a county clerk a same-sex license application, each state would have alternate designees, such as magistrates, county judges, or other officials who could register the applications with the state directly, so that the religious rights of county clerks or whichever official in a local area is normally entrusted with filing marriage applications, are not violated.
  2. The actual “marriage license” document in each state would use different terms for same-sex and opposite-sex unions.  Opposite-sex licenses would use the term “marriage”, and same-sex licenses would use the term “civil union.”  This is, for the states, a matter of semantics, since the end result of the activation of either license amounts to the same thing: both same-sex and opposite-sex unions are recognized by the states, and each are equally bestowed with the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities that come along with wedded union.  But by using this terminology on licenses, the term “marriage” would technically not be re-defined; people of faith would still be able to state that the term “marriage” would still refer to a man/woman union.  In practical terms, however, same-sex couples would certainly refer to themselves as “married” if they want to (and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t).
  3. Since marriage licenses need to be signed by an official authorized by each state, whether this official is a judge, county officer, pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam, the states will change their licensing procedure for such officials.  Each official will now have the option of choosing whether their state authorization to officiate weddings and sign the legal license document, will be for same-sex only, opposite-sex only, or either type.  In this way, each official will have the opportunity to “opt out” of officiating same-sex unions if they so choose, as would befit their religious beliefs.  Such legally-binding options are not without precedent: the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) offers medical professionals who apply for a DEA prescribing license for controlled substances, the option of restricting their prescribing privileges to include all or only specific controlled classes (C-II, C-III, C-IV, or C-V), and certain types of medications within many of these classes.  In the same way, this option method by the states enables each official the option of legally restricting him or herself to officiate specific types of ceremonies, and their choice would be protected by this state law.  Thinking through a scenario, if a gay couple approaches a religious minister about performing a ceremony, they would be informed by the minister whether his or her state authorization to perform weddings extends to same-sex couples or not.  This puts the onus on the couple to choose an official who is authorized by the state to perform same-sex weddings, and this would be as much a part of pre-wedding planning on the part of the couple, as the guest list and where to get the tuxes.  And before someone cries foul on this part, believe me, there would be enough religious ministers who would choose “both” on their authorization forms, so that gay couples wishing a “religious” ceremony could have one.  This option also takes any legal liability for refusing to perform a gay ceremony off of the official, since the states would protecting peoples’ first amendment rights to free exercise of religion by providing each official with the legally-protected choice to opt-out of performing gay ceremonies.
  4. Similar to the previous point, states will enact a law that will legally protect businesses and individuals from liability in the case of the owner or individual choosing not to be involved with a same-sex wedding or other ceremonies involving same-sex couples, such as birthday parties and the like.  It would work like this: a photographer, baker, florist, dee-jay, church, reception hall, or other business or individual who would traditionally be involved in some respect with such an event, would register their choice of involvement in same-sex only, opposite-sex only, or either, with their state or county.  This could be done in a number of ways, depending on the state, so long as the information would be readily available to those planning the events.  This information could also be legally displayed in the business if the owners so choose (though I think this display should be optional).  In this way, just as with wedding officials, the state law would protect the first-amendment rights of business owners who object to becoming involved in same-sex events on religious grounds.  This then puts the onus squarely on the couple (whether same-sex or opposite-sex, it would make no difference here) to filter out which businesses or individuals to approach in the planning of their ceremony based on the businesses or individual’s legal choice.  And certainly, like the ministers, there would be more than enough bakers, caterers, hotels, florists, and other people who personally could care less whether the job they’re getting is for a same-sex or an opposite-sex ceremony, so this would instantly stop the radical practice of deliberately “shopping” businesses owned by people of religious conviction, and suing them for “discrimination” – since the state law giving each business a choice, would nullify the concept of discriminating against gays due to their sexual orientation.  Naturally (and this is a huge point), this “legal protection” would not and could not extend to all operations of a business.  So, let’s say that a gay person walks into a bakery to get a bagel and a coffee in the morning on his way to work, the Christian who owns the bakery could not tell that gay person “I won’t serve you because I have a religious objection to homosexuality”, because in that case, it would clearly be discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  This legal protection concept would apply to services rendered for same-sex ceremonies (weddings, births/birthday parties, etc.), and not to typical every-day business transactions.

You can probably see, reading through this compromise plan, that this would enable the states to be able to adhere to at least the technicality of the SCOTUS decision.  SCOTUS said that all states have to recognize gay unions – it didn’t necessarily say how.

Likewise, you’re probably thinking that such a compromise plan, while following the SCOTUS dictum, would not make either side 100% happy.  Neither the gay point of view, nor the religious point of view, would come away totally having everything the way they want.  But I honestly believe that if our country, in its post-gay-marriage culture, could implement these concepts as a compromise solution between the two sides in this great cultural divide, we may just find that though nothing would be perfect, that everyone in America may just be able to live with it.

I don’t normally ask for comments here, but this is one time I’d love to hear from people with honest (and non-hostile, please) comments about the compromise options I’ve outlined (comments are moderated).  Also, if you agree that this compromise concept has any merit at all, please feel free to link to this post on social media, etc., so others can read it who may not normally visit people’s personal blogs.  I’m honestly looking at this whole issue from the point of view of how the religious community and the gay community might be able to come together a bit and come up with something that won’t be seen as just benefitting certain people or groups, but may well just benefit everyone, so that our country may be able to navigate through this so that everyone feels that they’re getting something that works.