Why Christians Don't Get to Discriminate
There has been a certain amount of uproar on my Facebook feed over the last couple of weeks. Now, that in itself is not too uncommon. People tend to use social media to rant quite often, even though I don't think they should. But this particular uproar has been about one specific thing. About two weeks ago, an Oregon judge recommended that a Christian couple who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding should pay $135,000 in damages. And it's fair to say that there are a lot of peeved off Christians who are kersploding all over the internet about it.
Please hear me. I think this is a ridiculously high amount of money. I don't know this whole story, but it seems to me that while the couple did break the law, they did so unintentionally. And despite the list of nearly 200 symptoms as grounds for compensation listed by the lesbian couple, I don't think that $135,000 is a fair sum to fine the bakers for what they did.
That's my opinion at first glance anyway.
But while I think Aaron and Melissa Klein are being charged an unfair and extreme amount of money for what they did, I still don't agree with a lot of the people in my feed that what they did was justified. Here's why:
Discrimination is always wrong. Christians don't get to pick and choose when it's okay. Like it or not, a person's sexuality is as much a part of her as the color of her hair, her religion, her height, or her race. It doesn't matter what you believe, because what you personally believe does not change how someone else identifies.
You could be absolutely, wholly, entirely convinced that I am a 52-year-old Hispanic man. And you would be wrong.
I've lost about half of you, I'm sure, but if you're still there please hear me out.
This isn't about your sincerely held religious beliefs or what not. Those things are great, and we all have them, no matter what they are. And that's just the point. Whether you're a Christian, a Muslim, an Atheist, a white person, a person of color, a heterosexual, a homosexual--no matter who you are or how you identify, your identity is the most important part you. It has been shaped and will continue to be shaped throughout your entire life. It is affected by those around you, but it is held by you and you alone.
Identity is what makes you who you are, and without it, you're lost.
I don't have to like your identity or agree with it, but it is inhumane to try to take it away from you. Only you get to change it. You and God, if that's what you believe. I'm out of that picture.
[bctt tweet="Christians don't get to pick and choose when discrimination is okay."]
While I know why Aaron and Melissa felt they had to refuse to cater Rachel and Laurel's wedding, I think that they missed out on a pretty fundamental aspect of business. Are you ready?
Just because you serve someone doesn't mean you support him.
In all of my glamorous years of waitressing, I have dealt with some interesting people:
an Irish man who told me that the problem with America is that The Mayflower wasn't big enough to take us all away from his country for good
an African American woman who called me a "stupid white girl" because she didn't like her sandwich
an old man who told me not to come back to the table until he put his foot in a specific position to alert me that his group was ready to order
I served every one of them. I have watched mothers allow their children to hit each other and call each other names or run around my feet while I'm carrying heavy trays of hot food. I have tripped over a man's coat that was trailing out into the aisle and dropped an entire tray of burgers and fries. He neither noticed nor apologized to the blonde chick covered in barbecue sauce.
And despite really, really wanting to, I have never refused service to anyone. When people yelled in my face, when people called me names, when people raged over something I couldn't control, and when returning customers who never tipped sat in my section--I served them all.
But I supported none of them. I 100% completely disagreed with the way they lived their lives and the way they treated people.
Now I know that this situation is slightly different. Aaron and Melissa thought that they were doing the right thing and standing up for Christianity by refusing service to a wedding they thought shouldn't happen.
Well, then I've got to ask: did they not read the parts of the Bible where Jesus hung out with sinners? Even sat down and had drinks and dinner with them? Blessed them and healed them? Or, you know, died for them?
To put it really simply, Jesus seemed to be a big fan of the idea that you catch a lot more flies with honey. He treated everyone well even when they used him, yelled at him, doubted him, and mocked him. All Rachel and Laurel wanted was a freaking cake.
Aaron and Melissa's fine might be considered by many to be disproportionate to their crime, but what they did was illegal. And I think it should be. Because if we start saying it's okay for someone to discriminate based on their own personally held religious beliefs, we're really setting a bad standard.
People have a lot of crazy beliefs, and I for one don't want to live in a world where they're allowed to do whatever they want because of them. That's not religious freedom--that's a recipe for absolute chaos.