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Religious Liberty; what does it mean and why you should care?

December 17, 2013

US SupremeBy: Derrick Dickens These questions are being answered in the court system and most recently in a case decided in the state of Colorado.

In a ruling that will shake many Christian small business owners, a Christian baker was ordered  to  provide his services for a gay marriage reception even if it disagrees with his religious beliefs and even if it disagrees with his state’s Constitution.

Jack Phillips is a Christian baker who often provides his services to a myriad of events including weddings.  The lawsuit began when a homosexual couple wanted to be married but could not in the state of Colorado. Instead, they travelled out of state, married, and returned for a reception.  At this time, they wanted Phillips to provide his baking services for the reception, but Phillips refused.  Citing his religious convictions that marriage is between one man and one woman, he was resolute to maintaining his deeply held convictions.  This decision landed Phillips in court where he lost the first round of this battle.

The court’s ruling is incomprehensible.  While homosexual marriage is illegal in the state of Colorado, the judge ruled that the Phillips’ objection is illegal.  According to the judge:

“Because Respondents’ objection goes beyond just the act of “marriage,” and extends to any union of a same-sex couple, it is apparent that Respondents’ real objection is to the couple’s sexual orientation and not simply their marriage.”

It is important to understand the above quotation. The judge essentially concludes that, since Phillips, and any Christian for that matter, cannot embrace any homosexual union, his belief is unconstitutional.

This is where the judge is partially correct.  Christians have an objection to more than homosexual marriages.  We do not recognize any union that creates a family except that of Biblically defined marriage.  We are against polygamy, polyamory, homosexuality, and other unbiblical unions.

However, the judge sets a new standard.  Essentially, he would allow the baker to object to homosexual marriages on religious grounds only if this baker does not object to some other form of homosexual union.

This is nonsensical.  In fact, it is worse than nonsensical.  It is an outright attack on the Christian view of marriage.  For Phillips to enjoy religious freedom, the judge is saying he must give up his religious view of marriage by giving some form of acceptance to a union that the Bible strictly forbids.

Also, Phillips is not refusing to serve all homosexuals.  Quite openly Phillips says he has and will continue to serve homosexuals who wish to buy his baked goods.  Phillips’ only objection was to participate and thereby support a homosexual marriage.

This lawsuit, or one of several others in the country, will eventually make it to the Supreme Court but with the current makeup of the court, it is an uphill battle.  Religious liberty is giving way to secularization.  Religion is becoming only what you do in a worship service and not how you live your life daily.

Marriage is sacred, and as Christians we are right to refuse to sanction any ceremony that chips away at these foundations.  Given by God, marriage is more than a preference, it is a holy institution.  While Christians are free to engage in commerce with people we disagree with, we are not free to support the redefining of God’s institution.

There is probably no right more foundational to all other freedoms than this one, the freedom of religion. In previous generations, both conservative Christians and liberals agreed to protect religious liberty as foundational to preserving society.  However, in recent years, the left has changed their views believing a new social structure is needed.  This means Christians, who once found allies from the other persuasions, are fighting a lone battle against a judiciary who seems poised to abandon the idea of religious liberty in favor of secularism.


Derick Dickens has an MBA in Leadership, MDiv, and MA in Religion.  He speaks regularly on topics ranging from Christian Worldview issues to business leadership, and he is an Professor of Business and Human Resources.  Married for 15 years to his wife Lacie, they have three children and live in Lynchburg Virginia.  You can follow Derick on Twitte

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