My life, like the life of everyone else, is filled with contradiction and error. The easy thing is to live the selfish life. But even the selfish life can mean different things. There is the selfish life of the left that tells us to live for today’s pleasure. There is the selfishness of Ayn Rand that tells us to seek profit and pleasure. Not much difference except that the latter looks ahead a little more. Both are Godless.
Change does not come in increments of one hundred percent. When one accepts Christ the changes come incrementally. So don’t expect everyone around you to meet your success expectations. You may have succeeded in one area but it is likely that the other person has succeeded in another area where you fail. The demand that one meet expectations is a negative. We have a positive in the New Testament as the writer of Hebrews (10:24) tells us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” That takes not only time and thought to give consideration but it also requires a positive outlook on the work that God is doing, along with an understanding of the Christian ethic required to practice Christian “love and good deeds.”
There are some ethical principles at play with regard to Arizona. This situation will almost certainly play out in some fashion in all other states as the left continues to pursue its domination over religious liberty. As I understand the broader agenda of the left this appears to be their goal – that all values and ethical decisions are to come from the state, not from religious organizations. The exist to serve the state.
One of the characteristics of Christian theology is the understanding that theology trumps politics. That is, God does. Theology is our understanding of Him and the ethic derived from theology provides a framework for the Christian when responding to government and society.
Ethics is the foundation for conscience. This is why Christians are the locus of the “pro-life” movement. Christianity was also the focal point of the abolition of nationalized slavery in the U.S. and the British Empire. Ethics is why Dietrich Bonhoeffer rebelled against Hitler.
Of course the simple term “ethics” may contain a great deal of meaning. Here I am clearly referring to the Christian ethic which is found in the character of God and is seen in its highest expression in the work and life of Christ. There are other ethical foundations, some of which are theistic. Each has its own foundation of some sort. The fruit of each reflects that source. It is the fruit of an ethical practice which demonstrates the functional validity of any given system.
Ethical standards thus sit as abstract principles whereas government is a functional concern. That means ethics cannot be found in government. Even secularists and totalitarians will appeal to abstract principles for justification of their actions. Today’s leftists make regular appeals to the principles of Marx, Hegel, and Malthus to justify their behaviors. Each of us responds to our first principles as we see best and are capable.
At one time I worked for a bank in Omaha. The bank had its annual drive to support the United Way. There are some circles where prestige is raised if that organization reaches 100% participation from its employees. So it is important to a business to get everyone on board. Everyone needs to be a team player. But this was the late 1970s and United Way was beginning to support some organizations whose practices are not in line with my understanding of what is moral. I opted out of giving money to support the United Way.
For that I was summoned to the office of the bank president (or maybe it was the CEO, I’m not exactly certain). I maintained my position. He was congenial. My job was secure. No problems. But still I was called in, which does amount to discipline and a certain level of coercion.
A few years ago I was asked to write software for the distribution arm of an alcoholic beverage producer. I declined. This meeting with my employer did not go so well and I was discharged.
There are certain things that I will not do as a software developer. These include supporting the abortion industry, the sex industry (and that includes certain clothing manufacturers, some of whom are located here in the Columbus area), and the alcohol industry. (Other people I know, some of my Anabaptist friends, also include the military in their personal lists.) Even so there remains plenty of work out there. At this time I am doing software for an automotive remanufacturing supplier.
We know that the law says “accommodate” with respect to religious ethics. Jan Brewer failed to be consistent with that principle. Today’s left is using some new language in order to eliminate this principle of law. They speak of “freedom of worship” or “freedom of belief” because they want all that we do to be limited to the four walls of a facility. When you hear those words know that they oppose the public expression of the Christian ethic.
It is up to us to maintain a Christian mind. We should remember that our ethics and mandates do not come from government but from God. The church grew fastest under Roman persecution. It is growing rapidly under Chinese communist and Korean communist persecution. And it also grew well in the freedom of the 19th century when the missions movement took the world by storm. In all instance believers kept their mandate out front and were not owned by government.
It is up to us to remember our mandate – obey God first. We can do nothing better.
So what does this have to do with cakes and photographs? There is an ethical line here. (Jonathan Merritt could think only of mandate and would not consider ethical principles as a source for the situation. ) First we are not to give direct support to or directly celebrate either sin or to harm to others. Certainly photographing sin for celebratory support reaches that level. When it comes to cake … selling a blank sheet cake without question would not meet that standard. Decorating a wedding cake with knowledge of what is happening would cross that line. There are more considerations. I have intentionally kept the scope brief for time considerations.
Of course not all will come to the same conclusions as I have. My concern here is first that we not be coerced into the sacrifice of ethic to the state so that the state becomes the source for defining morality. That is the worst possible situation. All the leftists of the 20th century (Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, et al) found their morality through Hegel and the other post-Enlightenment philosophers. The bloodshed of the 20th century proved the fallacy of their position. Getting them to see it is on of today’s challenges. It is part of the believer being that “social prophet” who declares sin and calls for repentance from individuals even in government.
Take courage. Joshua 24:15
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