Is Discrimination a Bad Word?
Well, is it?
There’s been a lot talk about Indiana as of late, which I’m sure you’ve heard about, unless of course you’re a hermit; which if that is the case, you probably aren’t reading this post.
Either way, let me ask the question again. Is discrimination a bad word?
It depends, doesn’t it?
Let’s say that I’m a photographer. And into my shop walks:
A) A heterosexual couple
B) A grandmother looking to marry her sixteen year old grandson
C) A brother and sister in their early twenties wanting to get married
D) Two men and a woman wanting to get married
E) A man and four women wanting to get married
F) An older gentlemen wanting to marry his dog
G) Two women wanting to get married
H) Two men wanting to get married
Which of these, and upon what basis, do you happily agree to shoot (with a camera!), utilizing all the skills in your repertoire to capture their joy with both professional quality and artistic flare?
If the photographer is a Christian, he or she may want to decline the job. Why? The Christian views marriage as a holy covenant and holy institution established by God. Not only is it limited by the Creator of the universe, being designed for specific purposes, but it also pictures a number of holy realities that ought not be tampered with (Ephesians 5). Capturing the ceremony and the celebration to follow will more than likely bother the conscience of the Christian. It strikes against deeply held beliefs.
Now let’s suppose the photographer is a secular humanist, thoroughly liberal in bent. Will they decline to shoot any of the above weddings? I suspect so. But why?
The most obvious answer would probably be the law. Many of the above are illegal. So that could serve as a reason. But that just pushes the discrimination question back a step. What right does the government have to say such and such is bad, so far as weddings are concerned? As Big Brother, it is, quite naturally, within their right. But what makes their particular judgment correct? What makes it right-right?
Supposing for a moment that it were entirely up to the secularist, would he or she decline to shoot some of the above weddings? If so, why?
The answer here rests almost entirely upon the person’s worldview and understanding of marriage. If the photographer holds to the views of, say, Alex Rosenberg, they may very well shrug their shoulders and go along with it. But if not (if they feel compelled by some inner conviction or law to refrain) would their refusal be discriminatory in nature?
Yes, of course. That’s what the word means... kind of.
Consider three definitions by Webster:
- The act of discriminating, or distinguishing differences
- The ability to make or perceive distinctions; perception; discernment
- Partiality, or bias, in the treatment of a person or group, which is unfair, illegal, etc.
There is a kind of discrimination that is unavoidable and fine, but there is also a kind of discrimination that can be bigoted and unjust. The question before us here is whether or not it would be unfair for any of us to refrain from shooting a wedding ceremony (and the celebration to follow).
The rightness or wrongness of the discrimination, I would urge, turns on a very simple point. It all comes down to truth. What is the true state of affairs? Are some of the above examples perverted? If so, what are they perverting from? What is the standard or norm from which they are deviating?
You can see where I’m going.
At the end of the day, there is a tremendous amount of chatter surrounding this issue, which is fine and good. But I would like to see more of my secular friends (and Christian friends!) move beyond the emotional element and center more on the underlying issues- the fundamental questions.
What is marriage? Is it divinely instituted? Or is it merely a human convention? What are the implications of each? Moreover, why does it matter what we do with our bodies, sexually speaking?
I’d love to hear more frank discussions about these questions.