Thursday, December 06, 2007

How concerned should I be?

As regular readers and my friends probably know, I am a Christian. You probably also know that the Bible says homosexual activity is wrong. With that in mind...

When Canada introduced gay marriage nationwide a couple years ago, I wasn't thrilled but I wasn't very concerned. On one hand, I don't think every sinful activity needs to be illegal, but on the other hand, this seemed to be giving society's blessing to a sinful activity, not just allowing it. But on the other hand, I just didn't see how gay marriage would harm our society. The Supreme Court said churches couldn't be forced to do gay marriages because that would violate religious freedom, so one of my biggest concerns was allayed.

A couple years later, for the most part I don't see problems in our society stemming from allowing gay marriage. In the legal world it gets kind of tricky though. First there's the issue of forcing marriage commissioners to perform gay weddings (which I already addressed here and here). Then there's the issue of forcing organizations that own buildings to rent out their buildings for gay weddings. I heard about this happening with the Knights of Columbus. But then I searched for an article, and I found out the BC Human Rights Tribunal decided that because Knights of Columbus is a Christian organization, they can refuse to rent out their buildings for gay weddings. They only got in trouble because they cancelled a booking after first accepting it. I have heard that businesses like Bed & Breakfasts can't turn away couples for being gay though. I'm not sure where I stand on that one. I can see that B&B owners would be concerned that they're facilitating sin if they have to rent to gay couples, but then how far should the law go in allowing businesses to discriminate in serving customers?

I think my biggest concern about this issue right now is about freedom of speech. Some people get in trouble for speaking out against homosexuality. I may not fully agree with everything the people mentioned in this article wrote, and I would prefer if they said it in a less inflammatory way. But I'm not a big fan of "hate speech" laws. Don't get me wrong, I think encouraging violence should be illegal and I think any form of hateful speech is deplorable. I just think the line between legitimate criticism of a group and hate speech is too murky. No group should be immune to criticism. I'm not sure exactly where the law should stand on this issue, but I suspect it's going too far now.

Throwing one more link and monkey wrench into this: I have seen arguments that it is okay for Christians to be in committed homosexual relationships. There's a page here that talks about that perspective. I think they make a good argument about Sodom, but I'm not so sure about their arguments about Paul's references. Their interpretation of Romans 1 certainly isn't the most obvious, from my reading. As for the other references to homosexuality in the New Testament, they base their arguments on the original Greek, which I haven't studied. Do any Greek scholars want to comment?

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