*NOTICE- I REFERENCED WIKIPEDIA IN THE FOLLOWING POST*
Now before I go off spewing my opinions on the recent protest of Chick-fil-a’s stated values concerning same sex marriage, let me first say that while I typically cringe at the thought of Wikipedia.org being a viable source for information, I did find the best summation of two quotes which I would like to share with you. They aren’t properly cited, but I linked to the page on which I found them. They are basically just copied and pasted as follows:
The phrase “[A] hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” was first used by Baptist theologian Roger Williams, the founder of the colony of Rhode Island, in his 1644 book The Bloody Tenent of Persecution. The phrase was later used by Thomas Jefferson as a description of the First Amendment and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists (a religious minority concerned about the dominant position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut):
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
Jefferson’s letter was in reply to a letter that he had received from the Danbury Baptist Association dated October 7, 1801. In an 1808 letter to Virginia Baptists, Jefferson would use the same theme:
We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries. (Wikipedia, Separation of Church and State…)
Now, what Jefferson clearly stated in the quote from his letter in reply to the Danbury Baptist Association was basically that when you allow people to “profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries,” that the people as a whole experience a peace, known as tolerance.
Tolerance is different from acceptance.
tol·er·ance/ˈtälərəns/: (Noun) 1. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily accept as his own.: “religious tolerance”
ac·cept·ance/akˈseptəns/: (Noun) 1. The action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
Do we see the difference? Acceptance means you consent to a particular ideal or behavior. Tolerance is keeping your derogatory comments to yourself out of respect for the feelings of other people, regardless of your own beliefs and opinions; it’s allowing others the freedom to have opinions, ideals, beliefs, and moral values that you may not share with them. For cliché’s sake, If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.
The truth of matter is, the President of Chick-fil-a, Dan Cathy, holds certain beliefs and ideals concerning same-sex marriage which differ greatly from those of much of the liberal community of the United States. The fact that groups would organize and protest this one man’s statement of belief as a blanket belief of the corporation is unfair and is a prime example of the bigotry double standard that is being touted as tolerance today. It’s not tolerance if you only have it for the people to don’t offend you, in fact, that’s kind of the opposite of tolerance.
A lot of you are probably not going to read the rest of this article, but for those who choose to continue reading, let me attempt to clarify and expound upon my point. Under the first amendment, we as Americans are entitled to the freedom of speech. That means, in essence, that you are free to tell me my blog is stupid. And I’m free to tell you that you chose a weak adjective when you said “stupid” and that you may want to be more specific and less rude when leaving comments next time. The point is, with freedom of expression, both positive and negative, the differences in the beliefs of the people are going to become more profound and more openly expressed. When one disagrees with a statement made by another, they have the freedom to express their opposing opinion, although politeness and courtesy are not outlined in the constitution as necessary niceties.
People need to not take every opposing belief and opinion held by others as a personal attack on their character. That makes for one brutally dissatisfied life. I have liberal friends who would shudder if I told them that I believe that same-sex marriage is not biblical, and therefore sinful, and hedonistic in nature. I have conservative friends who would be shocked to learn that when it comes to abortion, I believe that if it comes down to aborting a pregnancy in which the child would die before birth anyway due to lack of physical development, or saving a young mother’s life, I would choose to save the mother’s life, save her from the emotional distress of carrying a deceased child in her womb, and allow her the chance to conceive again and carry a healthy baby to full term. But you’ll notice that I used the word “friend,” meaning these people, despite their opposing beliefs and views are still valuable human beings who are dear to me.
You see, the problem is that government will never be able to adequately legislate morality. Why? For the very same reasons I’m able to hold both conservative and liberal views on the various hot-button subjects: morality is subjective. Government should not (in my OPINION) be allowed to legislate commerce (the establishment of a restaurant in a specific city) based upon the beliefs of the establishment’s president. Instead, let the people decide for themselves where they will or will not choose to give their patronage. Of course, I’m operating on the assumption that the vast majority of individuals have the basic cognitive function of CHOICE, and can so CHOOSE either to walk in to a Chick-fil-a, or to walk past one.
From a Christian standpoint, I believe that if you do not base your beliefs on the Christian faith, and you deny God, (or His existence) you inevitably affirm something else in His place. You may affirm hedonism or the seeking of unadulterated pleasure for its own sake. You may affirm existentialism or the idea that your life experience is what ultimately defines you as a human being. You may choose to affirm any number of other things. I choose to affirm that God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth is the supreme ruler of the earth and of all creation; that His son, Jesus, is the Christ, the Messiah sent to earth in the form of a man to die an innocent death to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, past, present, and future, justifying man’s existence and bridging the gap of sin between man and God, so that we may experience life eternal in the kingdom of heaven; that the Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of God sent to intercede for man, and ultimately convict us of our sins and lead us to the Father through the Son.
I’m free to believe these things. I’m free to tell you I believe these things. You’re free to question my beliefs and my faith and I’m free to offer you a biblical explanation and justification. That is what makes America great; diversity, tolerance.
Out of respect for the feelings of others who hold beliefs different from mine, I have POLITELY stated my opinions. Out of courtesy toward those who may believe differently from me, I have not demeaned, derided, or disrespected you in the voicing of my views. Like I said before, there is a difference between acceptance and tolerance. While I do not accept the views and beliefs of the gay and lesbian community concerning same-sex marriage as my own, I tolerate their right to live in the way they so choose, and to respect their freedom to choose a lifestyle. I’ve chosen a lifestyle of faith. It is not my place to condemn those who haven’t.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “… religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions…”