First Posted 03-Nov-2014
There are two domains for this. One is the realm of the religious world, where orthodoxy is very much a part of discipleship. We have been arguing about what that Orthodoxy is from pretty much the beginning. But, it’s there and part of being a follower of the Way is taking on orthodoxy within your particular flavor of discipleship.
The second domain is that of secular government. We can’t be a free democracy and also a theocracy. Theocratic rule would have us arrest and jail those who defy the orthodoxy and behave in ways judged to be blasphemous. The Sunni militias in the Middle East that call themselves ISIS are doing this now. They are killing many who in their judgement, have violated Sharia law.
My own son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, died because his defiance of the church was so far beyond the pale that the rabbis had him crucified. There is precedent here. So, to be a free democracy we have to allow the free practice of religion and that makes a theocracy impossible. Therefore, secular government is going to do things which the church does not like. They are going to permit choices and behaviors which the church would declare to be sin. Relationships between two nuts or two bolts as an example. Allowing women to have an abortion as another. And ten-thousand other things that escape my mind at the moment but which the church would object to.
As a secular matter, I really don’t care who you have sex with. The consequences, good and bad, of your choice in significant other will play out whether I agree with your choice or not. As a disciple of the Way, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that the choices are fidelity in marriage or chastity. But, to be a free society I have to allow that the secular government might decide to treat all marriages equally, regardless of the genitalia of the participants. So, the First Amendment protects our right to practice religion freely, without government interference. This is as it should be.
It gets silly, sure, as when Texas cheerleaders got in trouble for putting a bible quote on a banner for a football game. The alternative, though, is worse. Muslim countries that fully implement Sharia law are violent, brutal places to live. Christian zealots are no better. The doctors that have been murdered by opponents of abortion is one example. I don’t like abortion. I wish it were not something women did. I also wish no one was ever murdered. Both happen, though, in spite of my wishes. Nuts sleep with nuts, bolts with bolts, and my objection carries no weight. So be it. We are not free if we abandon the constitution and replace it with a theocratic dictatorship. Our system of government may have much about it that could be better. It has survived 225 years mostly intact. Let’s hope it remains for at least 225 more.