Religious Liberty vs Erotic Liberty
That is not a title I made up; I actually got it from this article written by Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the article he writes about Atlanta’s fire chief who was fired “for his views on homosexuality.” Dr. Mohler says he was fired “after the city’s mayor, Kasim Reed, determined that the chief could not effectively manage the department after he had written a book in which he cited Scripture in defining homosexuality as a sin.” I think the article represents the core concern I have with the culture war.
Was the chief fired because of his views on homosexuality? No. Was he fired because he had written a book calling homosexuality a sin? No. He was fired because he gave copies of that book, and shared his opinions with people in the workplace who did not want it and had not asked him. Mohler’s inability to understand the significant difference between the liberty to have an opinion and ability to share that opinion in any setting you choose is dismaying. Courts have long held that employers can set terms for what non-work activities are allowed, including religious activities. In the case of the fire chief, when a man in a position of authority, the boss, shares with subordinates it is particularly concerning as the power is uneven.
I find the term “erotic liberty” to be an interesting recent development. Mohler points out that this liberty is not assured in the constitution. It is nice of him to share that breaking news. I’ve done a little research on the term and it appears that it was probably coined, and is presently being pushed, by Mohler and other conservative culture warriors. I’m guessing he is trying to make us choose between the two liberties, confident he can rally Christians to pick religious liberty. The trouble is that this is not an either/or choice. This is in addition to the problem that, when you coin a new phrase, nobody is sure what you mean but it anyway. He is just hoping that we are all going to think that erotic liberty sounds icky.
This is yet another example of confusing the concept of denial of “rights” with the requirement to share the stage with others who differ. Religious liberty is not in jeopardy when we need to share that liberty with other faiths, or non-faiths, equally. Do you think Mohler would be equally outraged if the chief had been fired for sharing Islamic beliefs? Atheistic beliefs? I don’t. It is far more likely that he’d be on the opposite side, demanding that these not be shared and those sharing them punished.
The age of Christian privilege in America is over. We can no longer assume that society and all its institutions will, openly or subtly, favor our faith. Let’s stop confusing loss of privilege with loss of freedom. Even more, let’s stop calling loss of privilege persecution. Let’s remember that our faith took root in a culture where they were as far from privileged as it is possible to be. Let’s stop drowning out our liberating message of the gospel with incessant complaints that we are being picked on.