The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015 is abominable for one distinct reason: In the name of “religious freedom,” it encourages secular bondage.
In 1964, Congress passed the federal Civil Rights Act. This legislation prohibits discrimination in housing and public arenas based upon a multitude of factors, including race, gender, religion, and national origin. Notably, the act does not prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Decades later, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration of Act of 1993 was declared unconstitutional as it applied to the states. So, individual states are free to pass their own RFRAs. More than a dozen have already done so, including Indiana (this year). However, Indiana did not have to pass the RFRA in order to discriminate against others based on sexual orientation—before the law’s passage, the state was already free to turn a blind eye in the midst of such prejudice. Hence, the actions of Indiana’s legislature took things one step further, resulting in an act that encourages people to discriminate based on religion with the backing of the law.
I am no longer surprised when politicians enact ludicrous laws because politics and politicians have cumulatively reached the apex of idolatry. It is detestable that religion is being fashioned into a tool to serve political ends, and some individuals may even have been deluded into thinking that religion is all about discrimination. Putting the name “religion” on a vile act does not purify it of its malevolence. Politics ought never to set the tone for matters of faith.
In the wake of Indiana’s RFRA, the potential for absurdity is evident. You could be a Satanist who says, “The devil made me do it,” to justify denying a lesbian woman service. You could be a devout Catholic who says, “Well, my priest says…,” or a very spiritual Buddhist who says, “Buddha gave me a vision,” to justify your refusal to serve a customer soda. (And, of course, these conditions apply to interactions amongst private entities outside the realm of a religious institution). In fact, in Indiana, an atheist could “pick up a bag of religion” and tell a judge, “Religion made me do it!” and he or she would fall perfectly within the realm of the law.
In the backlash resulting from the RFRA is yet another abhorrent tendency that stems not from “religion” in a general sense but specifically from within Christianity—that is, the flawed idea that, somehow, homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict. The fact is that they always have been and always will be in conflict because homosexuality is a sin. God hates sin and finds all sin detestable. Yet this in no way, shape, or form changes how we should treat each other. Why? Because we are all sinners, and, as such, no one is better than the other. We are all totally depraved without Christ, and, in our shared depravity, we are to treat one another with courtesy and respect. This civility does not necessitate a redefinition of sin. God has always been very clear about what sin is because He is the one who created our world and made all the rules. His eternal testament, the Bible, has power in its unchanging nature: God never wavers between opinions. What has changed is our interpretation of that Word. Sometimes it has changed for the better, putting it in line with what God truly said, and sometimes it has changed for the worse, perverting what He said. Trying to redefine or reinterpret the Word of God to “better fit” our contemporary paradigm forces the instigator to ask the same question as the serpent: “Did God really say…?”
So, the view that all gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are sinners is not a human decision, nor is it a choice. It is a law set by God. Similarly, based on God’s laws, adultery and dishonoring one’s mother and father are sins. Denying that fact means that you deny the Word of God and have rejected His truth for a lie. In fact, I Timothy 1:8-10 (NASB) says that His law was given so that we may know what sin is:
“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.”
As Robby Soave recently wrote on Reason.com, “I’m not particularly convinced that the teachings of Christ even require Christians to refuse to serve gay weddings. Didn’t Jesus engage prostitutes and tax collectors—the sinful people of his time?”
That’s a great question, even for someone who may never have read the Bible or may not have the slightest clue about what the central tenets of Christianity are. In the Bible, it is very clear that certain assumptions about God lead to certain erroneous prescriptions for behavior. The Pharisees, for example, thought they were “above” the “unclean” Gentiles as well as their fellow Jewish brothers and sisters. And, as Mr. Soave correctly points out, when Jesus came, He hung out with the “unclean” all the time because the “lost” were precisely the ones whom He came to seek and save (Luke 19:10). In fact, the state of being lost and the existence of sin are what necessitated a Savior in the first place.
As a leader in my home, in my place of business, and in the church, everything that I do comes back to my core ethos or what Michael Gerber would call the “Primary Aim.” This means that the conversations that I have with my wife, the way I behave with my patients, and what I preach on Sundays all stem from one fixed point of reference: Jesus Christ. He affects what I say to my son, how I guide my patient to wellness, and why I do what I do for my congregants. Jesus is the center of everything, whether it’s seeking and saving those who are lost, being led by the illuminating Word of God (Psalm 119:105), or encouraging those who are half-hearted to choose Elohim (I Kings 18:21).
Accordingly, I have to question the issue of “religious freedom” for all of my Christian brothers and sisters in Indiana and every other place in the world—because what is now lawful may not be profitable. It would be profitable to ask ourselves the following questions. First: What can we do with “religious freedom” in order to be better imitators of Christ for ourselves? Second: How can we use “religious freedom” in order to be better imitators of Christ for others? Third: How will the way we use our “religious freedom” bring those who are far from God closer to Him?
In whatever we do, if we cannot answer all three questions, I have to wonder whether that which we do is worth doing at all. A house of faith built upon the foundation of accommodation or contemporary morality simply will not stand.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal
 Genesis 3:1
 Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:18-32; I Corinthians 6:9-11.