My colleague at The Reaction, Infidel753 wrote an excellent article over on his blog, Magnanimity in Victory? It is a response to Ross Douthat’s recent column, The Terms of Our Surrender. In that article, Douthat admits that social conservatives like himself have lost the same-sex marriage battle. But he asks for the victors to “recognize its power.” His argument is that we should be nice and allow conservative Christian florists to refuse to do business with LGBT customers.
Infidel753 asks a logical question, “What the hell makes you think you deserve any magnanimity in your defeat?” When I first read that, I thought that maybe he was being a little harsh. After all, we are liberals and being kind to the powerless is our thing. But then I read Douthat’s article. He predicted Infidel763’s reaction, noting, “Christians had plenty of opportunities—thousands of years’ worth—to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance.” That bit of minimization really bothers me. Douthat is a Catholic, as am I by birth. Certainly he must be aware of the church’s history with homosexuals. What he calls “intolerance” I call “murder.”
But Douthat’s main argument is that we ought to let people refuse to do business with LGBT people out of a sense of religious freedom. This I don’t see at all. No one is suggesting that we outlaw florists hating gays or being against same sex marriage. We are talking about outlawing the practice of florists putting signs in their window that read, “We don’t serve fags.” We are not talking about forcing Christians to bring lesbians into their homes. We are talking about outlawing public businesses from refusing service to “those people” whoever “those people” are.
I do think there is a limit here, though. Religious liberty does, it seems to me, apply to churches. Marriages are something that they supposedly consecrate. So I think it would be wrong to force a Baptist church to perform weddings that it did not want to. I think this falls under the same rights that allow preachers to spew out their anti-gay hatred from the pulpit.
But who exactly do these Christians think they are fooling? In forty years, almost all of them will be performing same sex marriages. At one time, churches supported slavery with Genesis 9:27, “May God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.” They don’t do that anymore. All Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they are going to follow. So eventually, they will get over their problems with the idea of homosexuality.
Infidel753 makes another excellent point about this. Even if we wanted to forgive all the bigotry of the past, what about that of the present? The truth is that same sex marriage is not yet legal throughout the nation. And even after it is, a large number of conservative Christians will work to turn back the law. We’ll just have to wait for them to die off. So by the time it makes sense for us to show magnanimity, there will be no one to show it to.