He bought some poster board, a thick black marker, and a roll of tape. He wrote three words, put the cap back on the marker, and taped the sign to his window for all the world to see.
“No gays allowed”
From that moment on, it was clear that some of his neighbors were not welcome in his store. Perhaps some of his family members. Certainly some of his old schoolmates.
The year was 2015. I didn’t hear the story until this week, when I saw “No gays allowed” trending on Twitter because the shopkeeper is in the news again. I decided to share my two cents, ’cause that’s what I do here.
First, I’ll let you in on a few of my paradigms so you have an idea of where I’m coming from. I’m a Christian, a libertarian, a heterosexual, a Dallas Cowboys fan, and a tea drinker.
WHAT THIS LIBERTARIAN SAYS
People should be free to do what they want, as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. I don’t believe that we have a right to patronize a private business or access private property; I see these as privileges. Thus, I think a private business should be allowed legally to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Even if that reason is foolish or morally wrong or even cruel. I don’t believe in civil legislation of morality unless that immorality violates someone’s rights.
I understand that many people believe we have a right to patronize a business. I acknowledge that some of my beliefs fly in the face of anti-discrimination laws. I see things differently than many others. If I impose my brand of morality on the shopkeeper, what stops him from imposing his brand of morality on me?
WHAT THIS TEA DRINKER SAYS
Pick up some black tea with golden tips. Steep for three minutes only. Add a splash of whole milk. Sip luxuriously. It’s liquid gold!
WHAT THIS HETEROSEXUAL SAYS
Now I’d like to speak directly to people who have a different sexual orientation than I do. I don’t know the pain of being scorned, banned, or demonized because of my sexual orientation. I can’t empathize, but I will strive to sympathize with your pain. I can’t join, but I will seek to advocate for your humanity. A hand-scribbled “No gays allowed” sign can’t stir up in me all of the same thoughts and feelings that it stirs up in you. But it will make me angry, sad, and disgusted. It will make me find another business where everyone is welcome.
WHAT THIS DALLAS COWBOYS FAN SAYS
Please, Lord, let 2018 be the year!
WHAT THIS CHRISTIAN SAYS
The shopkeeper blamed his Christian beliefs for his vile action. I’ve been a Christian all my life. I’ve read and taught the Bible for many years. “No gays allowed” is 100% unrecognizable to me as a Christian belief.
It’s a longish story why and how, but for now I’ll simply say that I trust God and the Bible. I trust that God loves all people equally and unconditionally and, because of that, He gives us laws that protect us. The refusal to trust Him and the goodness of His laws is one way to define sin. And, yes, the Bible names homosexual behavior as a particular sin. I won’t go into why that is (at least not now), but I’m simply establishing that teaching of the Bible for the purpose of this discussion.
Here’s the thing, though: Homosexual behavior isn’t the only sin. There’s theft, pride, heterosexual promiscuity (!), dishonoring parents, and slander, to name a few more. Why is the shopkeeper singling out this sin? God doesn’t single it out. The Bible doesn’t single it out. Why do some so-called Christians single it out? Furthermore, God does not tell us to keep gay people out of our places of business. Including them is not a sin. The shopkeeper might feel self-righteous, but that’s all it is.
On that note, I’ll mention another sin. This one made the Top Ten list. God said emphatically, “Do not misuse my name” (Exodus 20:7). In other words, don’t do ungodly things in the name of God. Like God, I get mighty riled up when people do hateful, ugly things in His name. Pointedly telling people they’re not welcome because of their sexuality hurts people and serves no good purpose that I can see; it keeps no law of God. The only message it sends is You’re not welcome. What would Jesus do? Not that.
God bought some poster board, a thick black marker, and a roll of tape. He wrote one word, put the cap back on the marker, and taped the sign to His window for all the world to see.