We are living in an era of duality. Such a description brings to my mind the well-known statement, “It was the best of times and the worst of times,” only I cannot declare this as the best of times. When lions dominate the headlines more than murdered children and presidents rename mountains while ISIS slaughters thousands, even good times seems to be a naïve description for the time in which we now live. So why is this an era of duality? Two recent news headlines are fair examples.
A couple of days ago a police officer was denied service by a drive-thru employee at a Florida Arby’s restaurant. Initially the manager said the employee had the right to refuse service but later required the employee to make amends. This morning Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was sent to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it violated her conscience. In both instances, personal conviction led to denial of service. So why am I indignant about the former and sympathetic about the latter? In fact, the Arby’s case reminded me of the Christian photographer, florist, and baker who also chose to deny service to someone due to a violation of conscience. They have suffered severe consequences for the stance and, I believe, unjustly so. Is there a difference or is my bias limiting my perspective?
I will not deny that some personal bias has influenced my reaction. However, being a police officer is a noble profession that has long held the respect of the American citizenry. Police officers place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they strive to maintain law, order, and justice. Granted, there are those who disgrace their uniform and betray their comrades in blue but does this merit the outright persecution of all police officers that is now sweeping across our land? Civilized nations have always lauded those who are willing to risk their lives when and where the average citizen will not: firefighters, police officers, military members, even those in the medical profession who face contagious disease. There is a difference between these men and women and those who embrace a minority lifestyle with a martyr’s ferocity.
Those who have refused to recognize or approve the legality of same-sex marriages are doing so because to do otherwise would violate the convictions of their religious conscience – an aspect of human individuality that has faithfully been respected and protected in our land…until now. These people are not expressing hatred of their potential customers. In fact, the customers who are suing the baker and the florist were “friends” of theirs. The refusal of service in these particular cases was not prompted by a national vendetta against the individuals involved but as an expression of disagreement with their lifestyle choices infringing upon personal religious conscience. If there was any cause involved, it may have been that of defending the ever shrinking rights of conscience that are being assaulted by the very movements demanding love, tolerance, equality, and acceptance.
Where is the line in the sand that distinguishes between equality and entitlement, tolerance and acceptance, disagreement and disrespect, administration of justice and unnecessary violence? The line has already been drawn by the Creator of us all. When we have a proper view of ourselves in the light of our Maker, we will have a proper perspective of our fellow man. The people who demand respect, equality, and acceptance will not receive it; they may receive lip service and surface accommodations. The qualities they are demanding are ones that can only be earned by showing the same to those around them. Lawless violence and disrespectful rebellion do not establish causes; it is only through disciplined leadership and grassroots education that effective change can occur, as was proven in the American Revolution. But above all, it is in our own hearts where true change begins with a recognition that we are mere dust specks in the hand of the Almighty God. Dust specks that were formed with His word, filled with His breath, and bought with His blood.