In late 2008, a California ballot proposition, known as Proposition 8, was passed in the November 2008 state elections. Passed by 52% of Californian voters, the proposition sought to identify marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The proposition was appealed, and the US Supreme Court ultimately ruled—on 26 June 2013—that the amendment was unconstitutional.
Mozilla announced the resignation on its blog, and the move was welcomed by many members of the LGBT as a victory for gay rights. Other gay rights proponents have found it disgusting and very unfortunate and worrying. Matt Galligan, CEO of news startup Circa, who personally disagrees with Eich’s stance on marriage, nevertheless tweeted, “The mob got their man.” There now seems to be two distinct groups within the pro-gay camp: those who are tolerant of opponents and those who are distinctly less so.
Of course, this should strike us as strange. The LGBT community has long complained that opponents of gay marriage are intolerant and bigoted, but in a delicious irony many of them have shown themselves to be exactly what they profess to hate.
The simple fact is, Eich’s views on gay marriage were personal views (though presumably driven by religious convictions), which had no real bearing on his qualifications as a corporate CEO. In fact, “while he was being portrayed as an opponent of gay people, Mr. Eich said he believed in inclusiveness within Mozilla and had never discriminated. A different issue was at stake, he said—the right not to be judged for one’s private beliefs.” But evidently personal views are no longer tolerated by a large segment of the LGBT community. Despite the fact that supporters of Proposition 8 ultimately lost, Debra Saunders correctly notes that “winning has made some advocates … less tolerant, not more so. It’s not enough that they won, they have to make opponents grovel in penance.”
Another story that recently broke in the US again highlights the irony of the LGBT position. In Portland, Oregon, controversy has erupted over a soon-to-open fresh meat and vegetable store called Moreland Farmers Pantry. The owner of the business is opposed to gay marriage, and residents who were once excited about the new store have now come out in opposition of it. One business owner said, “They’re choosing to open a business in a very open-minded neighborhood. I think their personal views are going to hurt.” Evidently, this “very open-minded neighborhood” is only open-minded enough to tolerate those whose views are not opposed to their own. That, it seems, is the very definition of closed-minded.
While these stories both occurred in an American context, South Africa is never far behind the controversies that erupt there, and indeed the battle has already begun to be waged on our shores. Just last month an investigation was launched “into alleged discrimination against a gay couple by the Kilcairn Farm wedding venue.” The owner refused a lesbian couple use of the venue because she is opposed to gay marriage. As in the other cases, an opposing view has not been tolerated, but supporters of gay rights have reacted angrily and hatefully. Evidently, it is only the opponents of gay marriage who are expected to be tolerant.
Supporters of same sex marriage often complain that Christians are bigoted. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “bigotry” as “intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.” Notice that the bigot is not intolerant toward different opinions but toward the person or persons who hold those different opinions. It is not bigoted to disagree with someone’s position on same sex marriage; it is bigoted to attack the person with whom you disagree. It is quite possible to be tolerant toward a person while at the same time being intolerant toward his beliefs.
Sadly, many in the LGBT community seem to have conflated beliefs and persons. The respect a person, they think, you must respect everything that person believes. Conversely, to oppose a person’s beliefs is to somehow attack their person. This new definition of intolerance is the new unforgivable sin. But those who hold to this new tolerance are often guilty of the very intolerance that they vilify. They often behave very much like those who stoned Stephen: When they hear something they do not like, they cry with a loud voice, cover their ears, and angrily rush toward the person with whom they disagree with the intent to do harm (Acts 7:57–59).
Biblical Christianity often requires that Christians be naysayers: that we resolutely declare God’s opposition to the sins of men. But even as we do so, we pray for those with whom we disagree and lovingly hope that God will grant them the ability to see and submit to his truth.