During this local political season, it is important that our communication with one another be characterized by a firm allegiance to honesty, integrity, and truth. As a local pastor, I decry sins of the tongue - slander, gossip, lies, outbursts of wrath, false accusations - all dishonor our Creator and defame others who are made in the image of God. It is my desire to speak the truth in love.
To that end I wish to address the misleading way in which the agenda of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has been linked by some, including mayoral candidate Steve Widmeyer and homosexual activist Tony Stewart, to the idea of human rights. We need to preserve the "human rights" of those in the LGBT community and not discriminate against them.
It is important that members of our community understand that this linking of the ordinance with human rights is false and destructive. First, it is false. The ordinance is not about the preservation of human rights but about the public sanctioning of immoral and destructive sexual behaviors. Our forefathers never taught that "human rights" include the "right" to do what is wrong. And this ordinance is not about the preservation of human rights but human wrongs. It is the equivalent of passing a law forbidding discrimination against thieves and adulterers - granting public protections to those who engage in particular immoral actions.
Second, it is destructive. It leaves human rights in the hands of human beings. The founders of our great nation were careful to maintain that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were given to us by the Creator, not by any human agency, whether a vote of the people or a decision of the king. Governments are created to protect and preserve these rights; but the rights exist independent of any government. On this matter, Mr. Stewart is exactly right: every decision of the majority is subject to the moral law.
So where do we find the moral law? Clearly Mr. Stewart believes in it; he appeals to our "moral compass" to oppose discrimination against those in the LGBT community. So how does he identify what is moral or immoral? Shall we soon find him defending the "right" of citizens to practice polygamy, bestiality, incest, or pedophilia? Perhaps murder, rape, thievery? No doubt he opposes such things. But on what basis? Public opinion? Then he undermines his claim that these things exist independent of government decisions and leaves us in the hands of the people. The Creator? Then he needs to explain how we understand and know the mind of the Creator. And if we can only know the mind of God through individual human opinion then we're back to our first dilemma - we have to take a vote. Vox populi, vox dei: the voice of the people is the voice of God. And in that case whatever the people decide becomes "moral" - it becomes two wolves and a sheep trying to decide what to eat. It leaves us in the hands of the people.
Christianity resolves this dilemma by appealing to an objective moral standard that stands over and above every human society - Christian or non-Christian. We know what is good and right and honorable through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Here God has revealed the moral law - it is summarized in the Ten Commandments and lived out in the life of Jesus Christ. And this law clearly identifies the LGBT lifestyles as perverse and destructive both individually and societally. This law leaves us not in the hands of human beings but in the hands of God. As historian Arnold J. Toynbee remarked, "Sooner or later, man has always had to decide whether he worships his own power or the power of God." There is no third option.
Contrary to Mr. Stewart's claim, love and discrimination always go hand in hand. It is the father who loves his daughter who teaches her to discriminate among suitors. It is the mother who loves her son who teaches him to discriminate and choose his friends carefully. It is Jesus who loves the poor who discriminated against the moneychangers and overthrew their tables (see Matthew 21:12-17).
And so we would urge the citizens of our community to use proper discrimination as you approach the polls. Always defend human rights while ardently opposing human wrongs. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).
Stuart Bryan is pastor of Trinity Church in Coeur d'Alene.