Biblical Standards of Sexual Morality and Employment

The article, “Faith Groups Seek Exclusion from Bias Rule” New York Times, 9 July 2014), strikes me as illustrating how difficult it is for religious groups to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, which Jesus condemned more frequently  and vociferously than he did adultery. Claiming exemption from President Obama’s proposed executive order banning discrimination against gays and lesbians by religious organizations and businesses whose work is supported by government subsidies, such groups make the case that they should be exempt from such laws because they consider any sex outside of marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual, a sin. But such groups must surely acknowledge that, by biblical standards, sexual sin includes not just adultery but also fornication (and, for some, even masturbation). And what of those who commit adultery in their hearts (Matt. 5:27-28)? Are these groups willing to have a single standard of sexual morality for all their employees based on New Testament teachings, or are they singling out homosexual sex? I would guess that many of these organizations employ people who, by the standard they set for homosexuals, are violating these organizations’ explicit moral standards. It is unlikely that questions of sexual activity are required on their applications for employment. The irony, of course, is that these same groups deny the possibility of marriage (and even civil unions) to gays and lesbians, thereby giving them only the choice of celibacy (or heterosexual marriage) to qualify as worthy of employment. Further, how do they know who among their employees are faithful to their marriage covenants and which single heterosexuals or homosexuals are being sexually abstinent? My guess is that if they were truthful they would acknowledge that some among their employees would be disqualified by the standards they require of gays and lesbians. If they were further truthful, they likely would admit to not employing a gay or lesbian who is legally and lawfully married and who is faithful to his or her marriage covenants—or even a known gay or lesbian who was celibate.

Religious organizations have the right to establish whatever standards for employment their moral principles dictate, but they should not expect their activities to be subsidized by tax dollars paid by all citizens, including gays and lesbians who are disqualified from employment in their organizations. In his book, If the Church [meaning all Christian churches] Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus (2010), Philip Gulley argues that any Church claiming to followthe teachings of Jesus “would care more about love and less about sex.” Since sex and love are an inextricable part of our human identity, we should care about both, but we shouldn’t care about one at the expense of the other.


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