Conscientious objector

What your workplace does should be in accordance with your belief systems. Buddha speaks about this in his concept of “right livelihood.” It is a smart idea to get a job at a place that does things that are harmonious with what you practice. So what do you do if their policies change and are suddenly opposite to your values? Thus we enter the idea of the “conscientious objector”. You must not do anything that is in violation of your religious beliefs. Sure, you answer to your boss, but more so, you answer to your God.

So what do you do? Do you stay, do you quit, or do you find a middle ground?

There are people who were drafted into the army during the Vietnam War who were pacifists. Because of their religious beliefs, they could not kill anyone. So they trained to do something else other than being a soldier, such as being a medic or a radio technician. They did not apply for that job. They were drafted. So they couldn’t quit, but they found a way that appeased them and their commanding officers. They didn’t attempt to prevent other people from killing. It was simply important that they not kill.

You should never do anything that is against your belief system – but you must remember that others do not share your belief system and thus are not under the same rules you are.

I just read a news report about a mob of a hundred Hindus who killed a Muslim man they accused of eating beef. The man they killed does not share their belief system. He is under no obligation to avoid eating a cow. They accused him of doing something that is against their belief system. The crowd came to his house, broke down his door, and killed him by throwing bricks at him. There is evidence that he was eating mutton, not beef, so it is even more nonsensical. There was no trial, just mob rule.

It is perfectly acceptable to refrain from doing something that is against your beliefs. It is not acceptable at all to expect others to follow your belief system’s rules. They have made no such vows.

The Kentucky marriage license clerk who is in the news is not being asked to marry a woman. She herself will not have to engage in any homosexual acts. If she feels that homosexuality is in opposition to the teachings of Christ, then it is logical that she should not engage in homosexuality. However – there is nothing in those teachings about not allowing other people to be homosexual.

Consider this. There are plenty of Hindu sandwich-store owners who serve beef every day to their non-Hindu customers. There are plenty of people who are opposed to premarital sex for religious reasons who own hotels – yet they don’t check the marriage licenses of each couple that check in.

Your religious practice is yours. Theirs is theirs. You should police yourself, and nobody else. In exactly the same way you don’t want them to force their beliefs on you, you should not force yours on them.

Being a conscientious objector is about you not doing anything against your belief system – you, and only you. It has nothing to do with not allowing others to do things that are against your belief system. Being a conscientious objector does not mean that you have a right to tell other people how to live their lives. It does not mean that you have a right to expect them to live according to your religious beliefs.

Interestingly, according to that clerk’s own belief system, she is a sinner because she has married someone else while her ex-husband is still alive. In the very words of Jesus, this makes her an adulteress, and her current husband is an adulterer.

In the words of Jesus – “I tell you that any man who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And if a person divorces their spouse and marries another person, they commit adultery. Everyone who marries a divorced woman is also guilty of adultery.” LK 16:18, MT 19:9, MK 10:11 (combined)
She is simply not doing the job that she is required to do at this point. If you are paid to do a job, and you do not perform it (for any reason) it is reasonable to expect that you would be fired. Another option is that you can quit and find another job that is in line with your values. But you can’t be expected to continue to be employed if you choose to not do the job you were hired for.

I support the clerks’ right to not be forced to do anything that she thinks is wrong. However, she has taken it too far by expecting other people to follow her beliefs. She should quit and find another job.

What if an Amish person was employed by the DMV? Since he is not allowed to drive, should he have the right to deny other people driver’s licenses? He is not being forced by his job to drive. His beliefs are not being violated.

What if a Seventh-Day-Adventist was working as a waitress and a person ordered an alcoholic beverage? Since she is not allowed by her religion to drink, should she have the right to not serve alcoholic beverages to her customer? She is not being forced by her job to drink. Her beliefs are not being violated.

The only time when a workplace is allowed to tell other people what to do is when it directly affects the health and safety of others, as in the case of smoking or drinking. Secondhand smoke has been proven to be harmful to others, so it is reasonable for a business to not allow smoking in their building. Drunk driving has been proven to kill people, so it is reasonable for a restaurant to stop serving alcohol to someone if they appear inebriated.

But it is not reasonable for a person to deny other people’s legal rights because they feel that that person is going to break a rule that they have not agreed to. It is not the business of religion to police other people. In fact, Jesus says repeatedly that the individual must make sure that s/he is following the rules, and leave out everyone else. Other people’s business is not our business.

Perspective – “Lifestyle choice”

If only the people who are up in arms about homosexuality would get a sense of perspective. How are the actions of two mutually consenting adults affecting them?

If they want to get upset, they should get upset at people who murder or rape or steal. These are “lifestyle choices” that have victims. There is an aggressor and a victim – the action between the participants is not mutual or agreed upon by both of them.

Being a murderer or a rapist or a thief is a choice. People choose to do these things. This is how they live their lives – taking from others, using others. They make themselves feel better by making other people feel worse. It isn’t an accident – it is intentional. Thus, acting like this is indeed a lifestyle choice.

The upset straight people should get upset at them instead of gay people. March against them. Protest against them. Make life harder for them. But they should leave people alone who aren’t harming them or anyone else.

In fact, it is a “lifestyle choice” to harass, belittle, and attack innocent people who are different from you. Don’t complain about gay people’s “lifestyle choice” by using your own.

Straight people have a choice too – to live their own lives in the way that they are led to, either by conviction or the rules of their faith or denomination. This means they must live their own lives, and make their own decisions about their own lives. They don’t get the right to make these decisions for others – for the same reason they don’t want others to make these decisions for them.

Gay people don’t want others to be gay, and don’t want to affect or change their ability to marry. They are not forcing how they live on others – they are not trying to turn others into them. But they also don’t want others to force their lifestyle on them.

They want to live their own lives, the same as anyone. They want to live and love in safety and freedom, the same as anyone.

I knew a guy who complained about gay people being able to marry, saying that “The gay lifestyle is all about whoring around and being promiscuous.” I pointed out that the very fact that so many gay people wanted to get married, to settle down with one partner, is the very opposite of whoring around and being promiscuous. He had no reply to this.

Spouse

I’m proposing a new practice. I’m going to try to remember to start referring to the person I’m married to as my spouse, rather than my husband.

The only thing that separates heterosexual marriage from homosexual marriage is the terminology.

If you have a man married to a woman, she is his wife. But if you have a woman married to a woman, she is also her wife. This marks the woman saying that as “other”. It marks her marriage as different.

You know she is married by the fact that she is wearing a wedding ring. But you don’t know that she is gay until she talks about her wife.

I’m for removing that barrier and that difference.

I propose using gender-neutral terms to indicate the person you are married too. “Spouse” and “partner” both work.

This is my way of indicating solidarity with homosexual couples. We are the same, after all.

Marriage is hard enough without social stigma.

On the Minnesota lawmaker who was “heartbroken” about gay marriage.

A Minnesota representative is heartbroken over the fact that gay people can now marry in her state.

Heartbroken.

I’m sad that she’s sad that other people in her state are now happy that they can marry the person they love.

Representative Peggy Scott said “It’s a divisive issue that divides our state. It’s not what we needed to be doing at this time. We want to come together for the state of Minnesota, we don’t want to divide it.”

But, we are coming together, as a nation. We are opening up the definition of marriage. We are showing people that love is love, regardless of who is doing the loving.

Love between two consenting adults should not be an issue that has to be decided by the courts. I really can’t get why people are opposed to it. This should be a non-issue. So I’m going to try to work out some of the points that I’ve heard brought up.

Why are people so threatened by the idea of gay people getting married? If you don’t want to be married to a gay person, don’t get married to a gay person. That’s easy.

Then there is the idea of marriage being a Christian institution. There are plenty of people who aren’t members of any religious organization who are just as legally married as those who are members. You don’t have to worship God to get married. It is a legal contract between two adults.

So maybe there is a fear issue. How does allowing someone who is gay get married affect you?

Some people who say they are Christian are saying that God will judge America over the fact that we are allowing gay people to get married. If God hasn’t judged America over how we treated the native people who were living here when the Pilgrims came, over the whole slavery issue, over the fact that we put Japanese people in internment camps during World War 2, over how we treat the poor and immigrants today, then I’m pretty sure He’s not going to worry about letting gay people get married.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that God is cool about gay people getting married.

There are certainly those who will quote from the Old Testament book of Leviticus where it says that gay people are an abomination and you shouldn’t allow them to live. And there are those who quote from the letters of the apostle Paul that are equally negative.

Now, my take on being a Christian is that I follow Jesus, not Paul. Jesus threw out a bunch of rules from the Old Testament. This is why it is OK to eat bacon cheeseburgers and wear cloth that is woven with fiber from wool and cotton. He realized that there were so many little rules that were getting in the way of the big rules, the ones that really mattered. He gave us only two that we had to follow. Love God, and love your neighbor.

I know this is hard to handle for most people. I used to think in the same way as those people, because that is what I was taught. But this is a really important point to get.

The whole message from Jesus is about love. Jesus said absolutely nothing about homosexuality, and a whole lot about loving people and not judging them.

I saw a photo recently that said “Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry.” A bigot is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.”

To enact or support laws that prevent gay people from getting married is bigoted. It is a rule directed against another group based simply on an intolerance of their way of life. This is a human rights issue, not a religious issue.

To use your religion, which is for love and against judging others, as an excuse for your bigotry is terrible. It gives a bad face to a good thing. It turns people away from the message of Jesus. It is bad witness.

There are a number of people who say that Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs.

They aren’t.

If someone is being hateful and judgmental about people, then they really haven’t absorbed the message of Jesus yet. So they aren’t really Christian.

I’m not being very nice here. I’m tired of being nice. I’m tired of people using Jesus as an excuse to be hateful. I’m tired of people being spoon-fed what to think by their church. I’m tired of people not reading the Gospels for themselves and using the brain that God gave them to understand there is nothing in there about hate. I’m tired of every week hearing another story about a prominent person who makes it hard for me to publically admit I’m a Christian because of their publically aired intolerant view that uses Christianity as an excuse.

I feel like my belief system has been hijacked.

When people are confronted with their hate, they always insist that they aren’t hate-filled, and they aren’t judgmental, in the same way they say they aren’t racist and they aren’t homophobic. And they are just lying to themselves. It’s understandable. This is a normal human defense mechanism. But it is dangerous to be self-deluded.

I cannot get why “Christians” feel that they are obliged to force their narrow view of what is right on others. To insist that other people follow the rules of your religion even though it is not their religion is exactly what Americans freak out about in regards to the Muslim idea of Sharia law. So why do it here?

Julie Burt, gay marriage opponent who was at the Minnesota Capitol for this vote had her opinions about the legislation. “I feel sorry for our world. But the world has turned,” Burt said. “The world has turned to a place that wants immediate gratification. And it breaks my heart. Breaks my heart for my children and my grandchildren.”

I’m not heartbroken. I’m happy for her children and her grandchildren. Her children and grandchildren are going to grow up in a country that doesn’t discriminate about love.

Because love is what it is all about.