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Casting stones

| Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In my three years at Notre Dame, I have sat back and read Viewpoint after Viewpoint column concerning various sentiments relating to people who are not straight. I feel as though certain legitimate points have been woefully overlooked with regard to our fellow students and citizens who are not straight. For example, not all people who are not cisgendered or straight are automatically gay.

To name some assertions that have concerned me in the past: To compare the self-giving love of two consenting adults to bestiality or prostitution is horribly inaccurate and sensationalist, and the Catholic sacrament of matrimony that requires unitive and procreative love is not the same as, or even necessarily linked with, the civil marriage the states have control over. Now that those are out of my system, on to more immediate issues.

While Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona vetoed the bill that would have allowed business owners to deny service to certain individuals on the grounds of religious freedom, the sentiment remains that it is permissible to discriminate against non-heterosexual “sinners” when it comes to business and civil rights alike.

That being said, for inexplicable reasons, non-heterosexual people are the only ones our fellow citizens feel called to actively and vocally disapprove of. Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says homosexual acts — not people — are “intrinsically disordered,” but it also says contraception is “intrinsically evil.”

Jesus adamantly condemned divorce (Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-12), and, as my Intro to New Testament course discussed today, it is dauntingly difficult to find legitimate biblical grounds to justify living a lifestyle where all followers of Christ do not sell all of our possessions and give them away (Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:25, Acts 4:32, and, for dramatic effect, Acts 5:1-11). I am a sinner; you are a sinner; your parents are sinners; your RA is a sinner; your favorite professor is a sinner.

Let’s take a step back from the light topic of how far fallen we all are and discuss Jesus’ actions. He was not a fan of people lording over one another (Matthew 20:25-28), or even the Pharisees, really (Matthew 23:1-12). It was not the righteous Jesus shared meals with; rather, he caused uproar over eating with tax collectors and sinners alike (Matthew 2:15-17).

Should the Christian owner of a restaurant feel deeply in his or her heart that non-heterosexual people really are sinners and truly are breaking from God’s will, then, as a Christian exercising religious freedom, that business owner is called to follow the actions and love of Christ and welcome each and every sinner to dine there.

It is no more righteous or Christian to send away someone who is not straight than it is to send away a divorced mother, a man who uses contraception or a junior who has not sold or given away her extensive scarf collection.

We are all sinners, but we are all one in Christ. So, for the love of the God who loves and redeems each and every one of our sorry souls, let’s just be kind to one another.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Nick

    I think you missed the point. The business owners weren’t refusing service to gay people. In fact they served gay customers regularly. They objected to being involved in a gay wedding celebration in any capacity… not because they hate gay people, but because they believe involvement in a gay wedding would violate their conscience.

    • Julia

      This law would not have only applied to businesses whose services could be used in a gay wedding. It would have enabled any business owner, under the premise of religious freedom, to refuse service to non-heterosexual people, which is discrimination. Furthermore, since gay marriage is legally banned in Arizona, there are quite literally zero instances in which this law would apply to businesses seeking to get out of potential involvement in a gay wedding. Additionally, my main point was that it is not fair that non-heterosexual people seem to be the primary subjects of discrimination and judgment by others. As we are all sinners, none of us is in a position to judge others and throw stones. There is no Christian way to live other than to treat each and every person with dignity, love, and respect – which does not happen when non-straight people are the only ones whose sins are publicly condemned.

      • Nick


        You may want to read the bill. It does none of what you are claiming. In fact discrimination against gay people is currently legal in Arizona, but unsurprisingly no gay customers are being refused service or being discriminated against. Furthermore, in New Mexico (where gay marriage is not recognized) a photographer was sued for objecting to take photos of a commitment ceremony so your dismissal of cause is unfounded. In fact the law doesn’t actually refer to gays or Christians. It is an amendment of the RFRA.

        I absolutely agree that all people – gay and straight – should be treated with love and respect, as is stated in the CCC. Unfortunately in the US many people believe that they are justified in branding traditional supporters of marriage as bigots and modern day Jim Crows. They are now using the force of law to try and silence them and drive them out of business.

        • Julia

          Oh, sorry, I didn’t even get to the second part of your last paragraph. No, no one is trying to drive anyone out of business. There is also inherent error in the term “traditional marriage,” as the term has evolved even within the past century in the Catholic Church. (Women were not deemed equal even a century ago, and so only recently did marriage in the Church come to refer to a union between two equal persons.) Furthermore, no one is trying to get rid of heterosexual marriage. Quite simply, people who aren’t straight believe that marriage is important and fundamental and wonderful, and many of them want families – they simply want love and marriage and children too, not to undermine straight marriage. It is “traditional supporters of marriage” who are trying to keep others from having families and rights of their own. And, again, I really find it difficult to believe that anyone is trying to drive these people out of business. Those who are against this law and the sentiments behind it merely want to live their lives as equal citizens who are treated with respect. You can have your business, and people who are not straight are actually trying to support your business by having the right to purchase from you.

          • Julia

            I had posted another comment before this, but I don’t see it. I’ll get around to reposting it.

          • Julia

            The gist of my other comment was that, if discrimination is already legal, and if no one is being discriminated against, and if the bill does none of what I said, and if gay marriage is banned in Arizona, there is no purpose to the bill. Additionally, on the grounds of religious freedom, a Christian believer in traditional Christian, or Catholic sacramental marriage, should have no moral qualms concerning a civil commitment ceremony. A commitment ceremony is not religious and does not go against Christian teaching, as it is not marriage. On the grounds of religious freedom, a Christian should not feel the need to tell a couple that their intended commitment to each other is wrong, sinful, or immoral, as it is not Christian marriage. By refusing to serve a same sex couple, a Christian is enforcing his or her religious beliefs on a couple who clearly does not share them. In this refusal, a Christian would be casting judgment and would not be treating them with love and respect, as they are telling the couple that they do not respect their love. Additionally, even though the proposed amendment says nothing explicitly concerning Christians or people who are not straight, I have never read an article that gives an example of a business owner from another religious denomination refusing to serve a divorced person or someone who sins in another way. It has only, in everything I have read, been read in light of Christians who do not want to serve people who are not straight.

          • Nick

            I’ll try to keep this brief.
            1. Traditional marriage refers to the institution the US government has recognized for the entirety of its history.
            2. Unfortunately redefining marriage means that fathers and mothers are optional, and makes marriage primarily about emotional validation rather than providing a stable environment to raise children.
            3. A photographer in NM, a Baker in WA, and a florist in CO have all been sued and faced significant fines for following the dictates of their conscience. If it’s not about exacting punishment the couples could have gone to any number of other businesses and not filed suit.
            4. Don’t you think it’s a bit intolerant for you to decide what beliefs other people should be allowed to hold?
            5. You’re conflating casting judgement on a person with conscientious objection to an event or institution. An individual can recognize that all people are sinners, love and respect gay people, but still think marriage is important for trying to insure that children are raised with both a mother and a father.

          • Julia

            1. Just because something has always been this way does not mean it is incapable of changing. See also, the Church’s position on slavery and women.
            2. No, if people only wanted to be validated emotionally they would live together. Same sex couples want legal recognition and protection so they can visit one another in the hospital or file taxes together, for example. Additionally, not every married couple has children, and not all children have two, married parents. Should a same sex couple go through the arduous process of having children, it is assured that they truly want to raise, love, protect, and provide for that child to the best of their abilities. There are no children of gay parents that occur from unintentional pregnancies.
            3. I never said it was or what not about exacting punishment, but, so you know, it is not. They could have gone to another business, or they could have fought for their rights to be served as equal citizens.
            4. Yes, it would be intolerant of me to believe that. Good thing I do not. I think it is intolerant for someone who holds certain religious beliefs to refuse to serve someone who does not share those beliefs.
            5. Clearly you have never been discriminated against and are not actually responding to what I was talking about. Being told that you are not welcome in an establishment or that your job is at risk because of who you love feels awful. It does not feel as though you are being loved, no matter the supposed intentions behind it. And, again, not every child has a mother and a father. It is ignorant to claim that no child can thrive with “non-traditional” families or parents. Single mothers and fathers and divorced families and grandparents who raise their children everywhere would beg to disagree with you. Some gay people want children. They will likely be wonderful parents, for the reasons referenced in my second point. Some gay people do not want children. They might just want legal protection, the same that straight couples who get married but do not have children want.

          • Nick

            1. You’re changing your argument. I simply replied to your claim that there is no traditional form of marriage.
            2. Those ends could be achieved by civil unions. Not all children have a mother and father, but it is in the interest of the state that this ideal be promoted because it benefits children.
            3. The business owners serve gay couples. They object to involvement in a marriage ceremony. Thus treatment is not a function of identity, but objection to an event.
            4. You just told Christian business owners what they are allowed to “have qualms about.” Again, the business owners didn’t refuse to serve gay couple or those in favor of redefining marriage. They objected to involvement in a gay wedding.
            5. You have no idea whether or not I have been discriminated against, but you seem to have no issue with forcing other to act contrary to their consciences. Who are these supposed people being told they aren’t welcome at an establishment because of their sexual orientation? Where did I say children cannot thrive without a father and mother? That doesn’t mean that children in general don’t do best with a mother and father.

            Trying to demonize everyone who disagrees with you isn’t productive or tolerant. You might consider that there are many people who see the value in children having a father and mother, but still love and respect gay people. They don’t deserve to be defamed, sued, or pushed to the fringes of society.

          • Julia

            1. The first time, I did not know you were explicitly referring to US marriage civil alone. I restructured my argument accordingly.
            2. No, they cannot. There are different rights and protections that civil marriages have that civil unions do not.
            3. Again, no marriage ceremony going on in a state that bans them. It is a civil commitment. Not marriage, not religious.
            4. Fine, I said Christian business owners should not force their religious beliefs on others and refuse to serve them under the guise of religious freedom. Again, no gay weddings going on.
            5. Correct, I do not. So sorry for assuming you had not, as I had assumed you would be somewhat more compassionate and sympathetic towards those who are discriminated against if you ever had been. You are saying that gay marriage is wrong because it means children won’t have mothers and fathers. Again, there are a myriad of families with various forms of parenting. What is ideal is up to you, but it is not fair to keep people who want to be parents from having children and legal protection because you do not think it is ideal.

            I am not demonizing you. I never attacked you. I also did not accuse you of demonizing me. That is irrelevant. I also do not think you quite are able to grasp the concepts of love and respect if you think that it is righteous or Christian to treat people differently because of their sexual orientation. The only people being pushed to the fringes of society are the people who are discriminated against legally every day, which are people who are not straight, not the business owners or you.

          • Nick

            2. Untrue. The legal implications of a civil agreement can be defined however a legislature chooses.
            3. Not relevant to moral objection and legal action.
            4. You continue to insinuate that refusing to participate in an event is forcing religion on others. I don’t think you understand what that means. Is a gay baker refusing to serve a Westboro Baptist event forcing their beliefs on others?
            5. It is in the interest of the state to promote a marriage ideal. It has naught to do with me.

            You’re not demonizing me? You just accused me of lacking compassion, and claimed that I don’t understand the concepts of love or respect. You continue to claim that these business owners treat people differently based on sexual orientation even though it has been stated numerous times that they serve gay customers and only object to involvement in specific events.

            Again, where are all of these gay people that you refer to being unjustly discriminated against?

          • Julia

            2. Maybe in some cases, but only marriage ensures equal protection and rights under the law.
            3. Yes it is. Your primary argument is that businesses should not have to participate in gay weddings. Gay weddings are not going on. Your argument is not relevant.
            4. A gay baker would not be welcome at a Westboro Baptist event. A Westboro Baptist group would be too busy hurling slurs to ask a gay baker for his or her business. Telling someone that they are not welcome in your secular establishment because they do not live in accordance with your religious beliefs is casting judgment and negatively impacting others’ lives as a result of your religion. For reference, however, in an ideally Christian world, I believe that a gay baker should be the better person and bake a cake for the Westboro Baptist group, should that incredibly unlikely situation ever occur. At least one person in that situation would be showing love.
            5. Cool.

            Yes, I am saying that you are lacking compassion, in this case, and seem to be confused about love and respect, in this case. That is not demonizing you. I have no idea who you are or how you treat people other than what I have seen in your points. I am referring to your logic and arguments, not to you as a person. I do not know you. And, again, as no gay weddings are going on, there are no instances where this law would have applied to gay marriages. A civil commitment is not a marriage. It is not religious. Moreover, the law could so easily be construed to allow any business owner to deny service to any consumer, presumably one who is not straight, on the grounds of religious freedom. You cannot possibly claim that every business would only use this protection under the law in light of gay weddings, as those do not exist in Arizona.

            Really? How about in New York City, one of the country’s most liberal cities, where there has been a startling increase in physical, violent attacks on and murders of LGBT people? How about at Notre Dame, where people who are not straight are not ensured job protection merely because of whom they love? How about every instance where the word “faggot” is used? How about across the country where families are not granted equal protection under the law because their state might not recognize their marriage? How about the discrimination and abuse that has led to numerous LGBT children, teenagers, and adults taking their own lives? Or, please refer to what is going on in Uganda. A quick Google search should provide you with an image of a gay man being burned alive simply because he was gay. Or, if you are truly only interested in businesses and gay weddings in Arizona, then yes, there is no discrimination there, because, as you said, discrimination is already legal there and, as I said, it is already illegal for a same sex couple to get married there. That being said, there is an underlying and pervasive sentiment that it is permissible to cast judgment on and treat someone differently because of the way they sin. Returning to the point of my article that you seem to have missed, it is not okay to act as though people who are not straight are some awful sinners that are so below ideal religious standards that they do not deserve equal treatment and protection under the law or in your business or in your house. The only Christian way to live is to treat others with love and compassion, which does not happen when you refuse service to others you think are sinners on the grounds of religious freedom. There is no loving way to tell someone that you refuse to serve them because of whom they love. It is abundantly clear from the Bible that Jesus cared deeply about divorce and wealth. It is not right to refuse to serve a divorced person who is on a date with a new significant other (which counts as adultery, based on Scripture), and it is not right to refuse the money of a wealthy person because you disapprove of their wealth. It is not right to refuse to serve a gay couple because you disapprove of their love.

          • Nick

            You’re still missing the point. No one is refusing to serve gay people because of their orientation. They’re refusing involvement in an event they find to be morally objectionable. If you can’t grasp this then you can’t make an argument about the facts of the case. Forcing others to violate their deeply held beliefs shows a profound lack of respect or love for others. Your failure to recognize this is clear. You’re widely missing the mark from a legal perspective because you’re too emotionally involved in your argument.

          • Julia

            No, you’re missing the point. You keep speaking of these “events.” As there are no gay marriages in Arizona, and as a civil commitment ceremony is not marriage and is not religious, this law cannot be used to make business owners participate in a gay wedding, the event they would be opposed to. You never provided an instance in which this law would actually be legitimately used. Civil commitment ceremonies do not count, as they are not religious and not marriages, therefore not violating the belief in Christian marriage. You also missed the point that this law would have left the door wide open for any business owner to legally discriminate on the grounds of religious freedom. You did not address any of my points. You did not address the entire point of my article, that it is necessary to treat all with compassion and turning people away because you feel they are sinners is not compassionate. While my article was written in light of this law, it was not only about this law. It was about the overwhelming discrepancy between how not straight sinners are treated and judged and looked down upon, despite the fact that everyone is a sinner.

          • Julia

            Additionally, as the law did not name LGBT people as those against whom this law may be used, it could be expanded to others as well. Should an adulterous couple be on a date in your restaurant, which should be an event that a good Christian is absolutely opposed to since it is abundantly clear that Jesus condemns it, you would have the legal authority to refuse to serve them. That would not be loving. Nor would it be to turn away a gay couple on a date, which could also be an event you are morally opposed to since a date could aid in the development of their relationship. Again, as there are no gay weddings going on, and as intolerance of a civil union represents putting Christian ideals of marriage on a civil event that is not marriage, I fail to see how this law could have possibly been used in ways that were not discriminatory. That being said, this law was still not the sole purpose of my article. I suggest that you stop casting stones at those who sin differently from you, and start looking at the appalling way that LGBT people are treated globally.

          • Nick

            Your examples are completely ridiculous. A business owner would have no way of knowing that a couple was adulterous. And how is it sinful to serve food to a gay couple on a date? Marriage is obviously different than two gay people eating a meal together. I’m surprised you can’t grasp that. Where have I cast any stones? You’re imagining things now.

          • Julia

            If a business owner knew one of the adulterous people in the couple, knew they had previously been married, and knew that the person they were on a date with is not their previous spouse, then yes, they can know. If a gay couple is on a date, then they are quite possibly in a relationship with one another, which goes against most Christian denominations’ teachings. If they are actively living out their relationship by being on a date in your restaurant, they are participating in an event in your establishment that a Christian would not necessarily agree to be devoid of sin. I’m surprised you cannot grasp that. You have cast stones by claiming that it is Christian to discriminate against people because of the way they sin.

          • Nick

            If a gay couple is eating a meal together it may be something sinful, or it may not. Serving them food is not an endorsement of anything. Involvement in a marriage is quite clearly different. I still haven’t said anyone should discriminate based on sexual orientation. I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. In fact I have actively condemned it.

          • Nick

            You point boils down to the idea that “civil commitment ceremonies do not count.” That is an fallacious argument with no rational grounding. Why do you think you have the right to define other people’s consciences? On what basis are you determining that others cannot maintain moral objections to civil commitment ceremonies?

            Again, business owners already have the right to discriminate against gays in AZ and have not done so. You can disagree with the concept of gay marriage and still love and respect others. I never once condemned gay people or decried them as sinners. Everyone sins, it is participation in a specific event that is at issue here. Not the judgement of a class of people. You and many liberal Americans on the other hand are judging and demonizing everyone who holds a moral position that you object to. The fact that you are unable to see this is glaring. You seem to be more interested in making accusations and emotional arguments than actually looking at facts.

          • Kristen

            This will probably not be too well articulated because I’m tired and don’t have the time to be writing this, but am anyway. Nick– Regarding your point #2, I have to ask to what level the state has the right to get involved in promoting these sorts of family ideals. Some would argue that it’s better for children to have parents of both genders; others could argue that it’s better for children to have parents with high school diplomas or have a certain income level. Considering that fact that a marriage in the U.S. is, legally speaking, a civil union, do you really think it is a fair solution to reserve one type of civil union for heterosexual couples and another type for same-sex couples? In terms of marriage in a church, it is clearly fair for the church to impose the limitations that they see fit, but in terms of federal marriage, it just does not make sense. Frankly I think it is an idea backed by politicians who personally support same-sex marriage but can’t use the “marriage” word for fear of losing suppost from socially conservative voters. And, again to your second point, why can’t promoting marriage for all types of couples ultimately benefit children? I think an emphasis on intact family units is definitely beneficial to children, but I don’t see how promoting marriage for heterosexual couples only promotes this moreso than promoting marriage for all types of couples.

            Lastly– I honestly don’t know much about the technicalities of the Arizona bill and the cases that preceded it, but I think it is important to step back from the minute details and really consider the big picture. And that is, at what point does one’s personally held religious beliefs cross the line of what can be legally acceptable in a secular state. I do agree that people’s religious beliefs should be respected, but I think that much of the rhetoric behind religious opposition to same-sex marriage is really just disguised discrimination. Maybe not for everyone, but as this article pointed out, there are so many Christian values that people neglect regularly. I think that it is important to really reflect on how grounded in one’s religious beliefs this opposition to same-sex marriage really is, and whether it is in fact a form of predjudice that can conveniently be defended by one’s religious affiliation.

  • Nick

    Conor Friedersdorf with some intelligent commentary. You should read this before casting stones.


    • Food for Thought

      I think that article does present an opposing view in this discussion that is important to consider. However, consider the article below about instances around 50 years ago when very similar claims regarding religious qualms were used to defend racist actions. Yest, religious freedom is important. But so are the rights of each and every individual, and I truly believe that 50 years from now, people wil be looking back at the sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle discrimination of LGBT individuals just as we look back on the level of racism that was present in the mid-1900s. Yes, people will continue to unfortunately maintain a range of biases– but there is no acceptable reason why discrimination against LGBT individuals is not outlawed in the same way as discrimination against certain races is (even though, yes, certain people’s consciences could be cited as the reason for their discriminatory actions). Read the first comment on the article as well, I think it pretty much sums up the point I am trying to hit home as well as the type of evolution in our society’s thinking regarding LGBT individuals that I truly hope will occur over the coming decades.

      • Nick

        Discrimination against LGBT individuals should be illegal. We agree on that. I disagree with the premise that individuals who don’t want to be involved in gay wedding ceremonies should be made to under force of law. The issue is with the event, not refusing service to all gay people.