Councilman Mike Kennedy
Mayor Sandi Bloem
Members of the City Council
Coeur d'Alene City Hall
710 E. Mullan Avenue
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814
June 5, 2013
Dear Councilman Kennedy,
On several occasions last night at the City Council Meeting you asked for a description of the difference between discrimination on the basis of religion versus discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Since you asked this question of me among others, I felt it would be fitting for me to reply having had some additional time to think about the matter. The problem with rushing this legislation is that you robbed yourself the opportunity to receive the best and most thoughtful responses to your questions.
So what is the difference between discrimination on the basis of religion versus sexual orientation? First, I would insist that basic to our make-up as human beings are the twin realities of religious and sexual expression. In every culture and at every time in human history these two things are natural and normal components of what it means to be human. We are religious beings and we are sexual beings.
Second, these two types of expression are both capable of natural and unnatural, constructive and destructive manifestations. In every society at every time in human history, including our own, both religious and sexual expression have been regulated and limited so as to preclude unnatural and destructive behavior.
For example, although we have constitutionally guaranteed rights of religious expression, these rights are limited by what is natural and constructive. For instance, ancient forms of worship that required the sacrificial offering of human beings or even the public sacrifice of animals are not permitted in our communities. This would be true even if the human victim voluntarily agreed to be sacrificed. We judge such religious expression perverse and unnatural, violating the sanctity of human life and destructive of the very fabric of society.
These same principles apply in the arena of sexuality. Sexual expression has never been, is not, and will never be completely unregulated. Most states currently prohibit consensual or non-consensual sex with minors, incest, polygamy, bestiality, rape, etc. On what basis do we make such limitations? I would suggest that one criterion is that which is natural and constructive.
Human beings are created to operate in a certain fashion, in accord with our God-given nature. Homosexual acts are inherently perverse and unnatural; this is a simple matter of biology and is confirmed by the sexual and personal consequences that attend the practice of homosexuality as well as by its intrinsic fruitlessness. The widespread presence of STDs, including AIDS, in the homosexual community is concrete evidence of its perversity. It is inherently risky sexual behavior because it is unnatural and destructive.
So in what sense is discrimination on the basis of religious expression different than discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? On one level there is no difference – in both cases societies discriminate against religious and sexual expressions that are unnatural and destructive. On another level there is a huge difference – the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered community is requesting protection for practices which are unnatural and destructive whereas the religious groups protected by current legislation are not.
You also asked whether I would think it just if an owner of a company fired an employee after discovering that he or she were homosexual. But let me suggest that this begs the question of whether homosexuality is constructive or destructive behavior. As a society, we do not fault the owner of a company from conducting mandatory drug screenings and potentially firing an employee who fails to pass the screen. Why? Because we recognize that drug use is destructive to the individual and potentially to the company. I would suggest that the same is true of unnatural sexual expression – whether lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, adulterous, or incestuous. If the behavior becomes public knowledge and the employer judges that that behavior compromises the reputation of his company or the quality of the work then he should be at liberty to fire the employee. Similarly, if a hotel owner recognizes a neighbor who has entered his hotel with a woman who is neither the neighbor’s wife nor his daughter, then he should be at complete and full liberty to refuse to give the man a room – the same would apply were it a same sex couple parading their sexual intentions.
So how would I speak to someone who was fired or refused service for unnatural sexual expression – whether adulterous, incestuous, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered? Again, I would ask a related question: if my brother failed his drug screen and were fired by his employer, what would I say to him? I would say a couple things. First, I would express my sympathy for his plight. “I am sorry that you have lost your job; that must be a grievous trial.” But I wouldn’t stop there. Knowing as I do that the drug use is self-destructive and has brought this on him, I would also say, second, “But listen, my brother, this is a wake up call for you. You need to change your behavior; you need to get rid of the drugs. They are self-destructive and will only cause you more problems in the months and years to come – and even more when you face your Creator on the Day of Judgment.”
This is precisely what I would say to anyone fired or denied service because of his or her sexual orientation. His behavior is destructive and unnatural – love dictates that I not set my heart on his destruction by telling him that what he’s doing is normal or natural. It simply is not.
I hope you will pardon the length of my letter. I felt it important that you have some more reflective thoughts on this question. Magna est veritas et praevalebit.
Pastor Stuart W. Bryan
A Reformed & Evangelical Congregation