- - Thursday, March 6, 2014

I never thought I would see the day when it would be a liability to be a Bible-believing Christian in America. That day has come, and it is heartbreaking and frightening to witness.

The recently vetoed Arizona religious-freedom law brought this into bold relief. The legislation was not inspired by hatred of homosexuals, as some would have us think. It grew out of the potential liability that arises for the Christian who conducts business in keeping with the belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

The law’s purpose was simply to allow Christians or other believers to refuse participation in any activity deemed to be against the principles of their faith.

In New Mexico, a same-sex couple asked Elane Photography to take pictures at their lesbian “commitment” ceremony. Elaine Huguenin and her husband explained that their sincere religious beliefs precluded them from doing so.

The lesbian couple lodged a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which found the couple guilty of unlawful discrimination and fined them $7,000. They appealed the decision all the way to the Mexico Supreme Court, and lost.

In Oregon, a Christian couple, Aaron and Melissa Klein, who owned Sweet Cakes Bakery, refused to bake a cake for a “gay wedding.” The lesbian couple filed a complaint with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. The Kleins were found guilty of violating the same-sex couple’s civil rights. The same thing has happened in Colorado, and it will soon happen all over the country.

As a descendant of slaves, I have a deep aversion to discrimination. It is born of the suffering of my ancestors because of their race. Nonetheless, homosexual behavior cannot be compared with the color of one’s skin, no matter how vigorously elites try to conflate them.

Analogizing them is emotionally manipulative, but logically indefensible. No Christian baker is telling homosexuals she will not sell them a birthday or graduation cake. No Christian photographer is saying he will not photograph a softball game or family reunion. Believers are simply refusing to participate in an activity that forces them to compromise or ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Christians are not denying homosexuals entrance into their establishments, directing them to a special gay section in the back of the store or telling them to go to the back door. That is what Jim Crow laws did to Americans of African descent. Therefore, the comparison is disrespectful and needs to stop, but it won’t because it is useful propaganda.

Homosexual activists also argue that religious justifications were used to prohibit interracial marriage and, therefore, such conscience objections should be disregarded. There is a major distinction, though. While nowhere does the Bible prohibit marriage between two heterosexual people of different races, there are many texts condemning homosexuality.

Romans 1:25-28 is just one: “[W]omen exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. [A]lso the men … burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving … the penalty of their error … .”

The homosexual community no doubt finds this text offensive, but should Christians deny the Bible because activists object? Throughout history, the unwillingness of Christians to yield to the popular culture has led to persecution. I never thought it would happen in my country. Liberals seem to have forgotten that we are a country first settled by people escaping religious persecution.

What homosexual activists seek from Christians is not merely respect as human beings, which we gladly extend. They want legitimacy for same-sex relationships, which we cannot grant.

Until now, America has honored freedom of conscience. That is what distinguishes us from authoritarian and dictatorial countries. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has struck down the proposed Arizona law, but the question remains: Is recognition of legitimate First Amendment interests a thing of the past? Is the Providence of God in which our Founding Fathers so deeply believed to be cast on the ash heap of history? For the sake of my country, I hope not.

Many Christians have been martyred for refusing to bow to human authority, which places itself above God. Therefore, in spite of liberals and homosexual activists slanderously likening our stand to slavery and Jim Crow, we will continue to love them and, at the same time, oppose their efforts to make us bow to same-sex marriage.

In the past, standing up for the truth of God’s word has cost Christians their jobs, businesses, reputations and even their lives. It may come to that again, but we will never be silent, and we will not bow.

E.W. Jackson Sr. is a former Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, a graduate of Harvard Law School, the president of STAND and the bishop of Exodus Faith Ministries.

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