By Freddy Davis
When reading this, there will be those who think its purpose is to make a political statement. It is not. The purpose here is to show how a biblical worldview gets expressed in certain laws, as opposed to how they get expressed based on a naturalistic worldview. Those who read this and think it is political will almost always be people who hold a naturalistic worldview, or are at least greatly influenced by the assumptions of Naturalism. The reason for this is that Naturalism presupposes that the natural universe is all that exists; which makes every moral point of view a matter of personal preference. With that as a starting point, EVERY moral expression has a political purpose.
But, based on a biblical worldview, there is an arena that exists beyond the material – one that acknowledges an actual God who has revealed to mankind an objectively real structure to reality, and an objectively real morality. While political implications certainly do emerge from moral expressions, the ultimate purpose of biblical worldview beliefs is not political, but spiritual.
In America, there are several laws that attempt to do away with discrimination in the workplace. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Actprohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, gender, or ethnic origin. Then there is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act that prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years and older. Another law is the Americans with Disabilities Act that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of disabilities. This one also requires that employers reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities who can otherwise perform a job. In recent times, there have been attempts by some groups to add other categories to the law – particularly related to sexual orientation and transgenderism.
So are these laws good and proper? Based on a biblical worldview, should employers be forced to hire people based on these kinds of non-discrimination laws?
From a biblical worldview perspective, there are a couple of issues that need to be taken into account. Unfortunately these issues, in some ways, bump into each other. As such, the answer to the above questions are a little more difficult to answer than it might seem. So rather than try to give a legalistic answer, what we need to do is look at the principles that emerge from a biblical worldview and see how they should be applied to potentially discriminatory behavior.
First, let it be said that, based on a biblical worldview, discrimination against people, in a general sense, is looked upon in a negative way. The Bible teaches that every person is made in the image of God and has high value in his sight. People should not be discriminating based on matters that relate to the essential human condition. As such, it is good that the law recognizes the essential human condition represented by race, color, gender, ethnic origin, age, and disabilities.
Problems, though, begin to emerge when the scope of these laws begins to bleed over into matters that go outside of an acceptance of the basic human condition. While no one should be discriminated against because of race, color, gender, ethnic origin, age, or disabilities, this should also not be used to force employers to hire particular people because of these conditions. This has actually happened in the past, and even today in certain situations, by affirmative action laws that impose quotas. A biblical worldview would advocate for hiring the best person for the job irrespective of any of the anti-discrimination categories. Martin Luther King’s advocacy for a color-blind society is a perfect illustration of this principle.
But there is another problem that exists when trying to actually apply these principles to life. The reason this is causing problems in modern society is because the attempts to expand these laws move beyond matters related to the essential human condition, to those related to the personal preferences and desires of certain individuals and groups. This, in particular, relates to the issues of sexual orientation and transgenderism. With the expansion of these kinds of laws, we have moved into an arena where it is no longer considered that moral beliefs are based upon objective truth, but upon arbitrary beliefs and preferences.
Even here, though, a biblical worldview would not support blatant discrimination against people who consider themselves homosexual or transgender. The principle of the essential dignity of the individual is always in play.
That said, there are other principles that must also be taken into consideration. These other principles become particularly important when dealing with matters that relate to personal preferences rather than the essential human condition. In fact, there are two especially large problems that emerge when creating non-discrimination laws based on personal preferences: 1) They pick certain groups to favor and others to disfavor; arbitrarily picking winners and losers, and 2) they don’t honor freedom of conscience.
Picking Winners and Losers
So, what is meant by picking winners and losers? When you pick one group and say “you must cater to the people in that group,” you, by default, end up discriminating against those who do not fall into that group.
The truth is, it is impossible to not discriminate in some ways. Every choice makes some kind of distinction. With that in mind, it is important to grasp the principles that determine what kind of discrimination is legitimate and what kind is illegitimate.
When it comes to characteristics that involve the essential human condition (such as with race or gender), picking winners and losers is proper because you have a clear biblical moral principle involved. The winners should be people made in the image of God. Discrimination against people based on the fact of their essential human condition is always wrong.
Another kind of legitimate distinction relates to need. If an employer, for example, needs an expert in engineering, it would be wrong to force him or her to hire a lesser talent, or someone who is not qualified, simply to fulfill a quota.
When you begin discriminating based on matters of human choice or preference, however, the discrimination becomes arbitrary and the winners and losers are chosen not based on who they are or actual need, but on what some people prefer. Thus, the losers should be those who discriminate based on personal preference. Declaring one choice right and another wrong based purely on someone’s personal opinion creates a type of discrimination that has no basis in what can be considered objectively real morality. There is no right to discriminate that way.
Violating Freedom of Conscience
Ultimately, though, the picking of winners and losers based on arbitrary preferences has a deeper significance. This is clearly revealed when it comes to matters such as sexual orientation and transgenderism.
Christians should never refuse relationships (regardless of the circumstances of those relationships) with other people based on personal choices or characteristics – and that includes sexual orientation and transgenderism. God loves everyone, regardless of the class of sin they indulge, and does not make his distinctions that way – and neither should we. However, this does not mean that we must accept things as right and moral that are clearly revealed as immoral. Additionally, it does not mean that Christians must participate in activities that celebrate that which is clearly revealed to be immoral. The problem comes when laws are established that make Christians (or any other group, for that matter) violate their conscience by forcing them to do what they consider immoral. For instance, when a Christian florist is forced to create arrangements for a homosexual wedding, they are being forced to participate in that which they consider immoral.
Christian Worldview Beliefs
A Christian worldview approach does not arbitrarily pick winners and losers, and does not violate people’s consciences. At this point, though, some may object by saying that discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgenderism is the same as discrimination based on race or gender, and that it does pick winners and losers. This kind of objection assumes that every kind of discrimination is based on the essential human condition; which is not the case (as we clearly expressed above). While every individual is valuable because they are made in the image of God, not every distinction is based upon essential human characteristics.
It is absolutely legitimate to make distinctions based on what is right and wrong. The real question becomes, then: Who determines what is right and wrong – is it someone’s arbitrary personal choice, or is it an objective revelation from God? Those who choose their moral beliefs based on arbitrary choices, do not get to label as immoral, those who get their moral distinctions from Scripture. The fact is, everyone makes distinctions based on what they consider right and wrong, and they determine that based on their beliefs about the nature of morality. You can’t legitimately defend your right to conscience while denying it to others.
For Christians, it is okay to advocate for what is right based on God’s revelation. Using a biblical worldview, the distinction becomes a judgment of actions and motivations, not one of the value of individuals. Discrimination is only bad when it denigrates humanity, not when it simply makes distinctions between what is good and bad, righteous and evil. The definition for what that might be is to be found in the Bible. A distinction based on naturalistic beliefs is completely arbitrary.
Sometimes non-discrimination laws may become necessary because people are fallen, and society feels it necessary to mitigate the evil tendencies in people’s hearts. But these laws should always be designed to protect individuals based on essential human characteristics, not on personal preference, and should never cross the line to force people to violate their consciences.
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Reprinted from Worldview Made Practical; a free e-zine produced by MarketFaith Ministries featuring practical teaching and life tools to help Christians become more effective in their faith life. Discover MarketFaith Ministries at www.marketfaith.org.