The hunter, the photographer and the ‘non-discrimination’ argument

Beliefs in the firing line.
Beliefs in the firing line.

 

Freedom to hold to convictions must be defended

By Andrew Selley — Orignally published in the FOR SA blog

Would it be right for the government to force a photographer who is an animal rights activist to, against her moral conscience and will, create a video promoting hunting? This question may seem ridiculous, and indeed it is!

Hunting in South Africa is legal. The law has recognised it as reasonable and established its place within society. Thus the hunter must be allowed to hunt without fear or prosecution or punishment by the State. The law also does not forbid hunting to be photographed, and the hunter must therefore be allowed to have such a video made – even if others do not like it, or feel it to be morally wrong.

Likewise, the photographer has opened a business where, in a free market, she offers her services as a photographer to all. The question is: does she have the right to discriminate, or decide which jobs she wants to take, based upon her value system, her conscience and her beliefs? Now I use the word “discriminate” which to many is a very bad word, but we must be careful that we do not make words mean what they do not mean. For the photographer to discriminate, means simply that she decides or makes a judgement within herself as to whether she believes that hunting is good or bad. Based upon her belief system, she believes that to kill an animal is bad. The problem for her is that the law has already passed judgement that hunting is legal.

Now we must ask the question: Is the photographer right? Or is the hunter right? Surely within a democracy tolerance means that society will respect that both the hunter and the photographer are right and that their beliefs should be protected?

The hunter is right to hunt and the law should protect him in this. At the same time, the photographer is also right to decide (discriminate) that for her to be involved in photographing the hunt, is wrong. The law should never force her to go against her will in this and to do otherwise, would be abhorrent. Now the hunter may scream that he feels marginalsed, judged by her refusal to photograph what he loves doing, call her bigoted because she strongly dislikes the idea of a hunt, and cry out for the law to make an example of the photographer because she has discriminated against him. He may demand a public apology from her, or that she pays damages to an international hunting society. He may demand that the law declares that she may never be allowed to discriminate against hunters again, and bemoan how deeply his feelings have been wounded by her bigotry because his right to hunt is protected by law. Who is she after all to decide that what he is doing is wrong?

But most people would disagree and respond with a resounding, “No! She must not be forced to photograph the hunt if this is how she feels!” We would cry out that the hunter should find another photographer, one who has no moral qualms with his hunt. Why? Because to force the photographer against her will, would damage her rights and emotions, and violate her integrity and conscience.

My question is this then: Why can a photographer refuse to photograph a hunt, but a Christian cannot refuse to photograph a homosexual marriage (as recently decided by the New Mexico Supreme Court in the case of Elane Photography v Willcock. The US Supreme Court has since declined to hear an appeal by the photographer.) While the law may give a homosexual couple the right to marry, surely the law must also protect the right of the Christian photographer who believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that it is morally wrong for him/her to participate in a ‘marriage’ that contradicts his/her Biblical understanding of marriage?

Unless we in our modern society learn to protect the rights of the photographer to, based upon her convictions, discern within herself which work she wants to do, society itself will become a totalitarian dictatorship that forces people to do what they cannot in good conscience do – because the Law deems so.

Failure to distinguish and protect the rights of any Christian, Muslim, atheist or person practicing homosexuality, to choose what business she/he wants to do and with whomsoever he/she chooses, moves our society from a free one to a suppressive one. It destroys a society of tolerance and pluralism and forces all into one mould – even if that mould seems oppressive and impossible to follow because of belief, value system or conscience. If history teaches us anything, it is that totalitarian rule cannot work as people will ultimately be unable to obey the rule of law. As intolerance towards Christians grows, it is time for us to think these matters through very carefully or find ourselves involved in a society that no longer protects individuality, free speech, free thought and which has become morally repressive.

I am not sure about you, but I for one am becoming increasingly concerned at both the thinking of our society, as well as our judiciary in these matters. I am concerned that our society is moving to a place where one cannot hold to one’s own beliefs without persecution and intolerance by those who believe differently. To quote John F. Kennedy: “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

Andrew Selley is the CEO and Founder of FOR SA

21 Comments

  1. Well it has been a while since I read such utter tripe. How you compare the shooting of animals for fun, with how you treat your fellow human beings is beyond.

    Actually it is very telling of your nature Mr Selley.

    Your silly argument fails in your case to justify your bigotry towards other human beings. The law is rather clear Mr Selley – you cannot discriminate and affect a persons dignity based on their sexual orientation. Your insistence that homosexuality is a choice or your despicable demands homosexual are not allowed to love and be intimate is irrelevant.

    And no, decent people in a decent society will not ever again give you the right to treat other humans being in the way you want.

    • David, from the anger expresses in your comment I must assume that you are homosexual. That is your right. However, in a free economy any one should be free to offer or decline services to anyone else as they please. If one person declines a job there are plenty more who would be only too happy to do it.
      The issue is not homosexuality but freedom of choice.I don’t force you to give up your homosexuality so why do you wish to force me to photograph you when there are many others who will do so with pleasure?

  2. A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices – Mr Selley, guess what word this description defines.

  3. David, In comparing Andrew’s article and your comment, your comment is laced with a great deal of hatred and bigotry itself.

    I’m not a fan of Andrew’s recent political work, but your comment is ridiculous.

  4. In a free market all enterprises have a right to do business or turn business away, to decide not to go into certain ventures if there is risk to their reputation, or to refuse deals that do not fit in with their overall strategy.

  5. Wow, what a vitriolic reaction from David ! I believe that one should be able to decide who one does business with and I for one do not understand why I should have to compromise my particular value system so that someone else’s can take preference. Surely if I am prepared to turn business away I should be allowed to do so. Perhaps the problem lies in the way this is interpreted and publicised.

  6. Wow, what a vitriolic reaction from David ! Surely one should be able to decide who one does business with and I for one do not understand why I should have to compromise my particular value system so that someone else’s can take preference. Surely if I am prepared to turn business away I should be allowed to do so. Perhaps the problem lies in the way this is interpreted and publicised.

  7. To give an observers response to David, I don’t believe for one second that the writer of the article equates hunting animals with sexual orientation nor do I think an objective reading of the article suggests that. If we are totally honest, we know that’s not the point he’s making and I think you know it too. He is making the observation that you should not be forced to do ANYTHING against your conscience, especially in the case of offering services which plenty of other people would willingly fulfil. Society should not be able to force someone to provide services in a manner which is against their personal convictions, whether it’s because of their conscience around animal rights, their religious convictions around the nature of marriage or any other reason. Of course, the service provider should be civil and courteous in declining any such work, but there are other laws that already cover such things adequately. If you are objecting to this article, then you are actually saying that society should be allowed to choose what people are forced to do, despite their personal beliefs. Our freedom is tramped underfoot by – at best – a consensus of society or – at worst – by a vocal minority and silent majority.

    Of course, the fact that you objected in such a strong manner and the statements you made suggest that you would probably have no qualms about forcing someone to do something against their will. I do wonder what would happen if someone ever tried for force you to do something against your will though. Would you willingly accept it, simply because society tells you that you must?

  8. The difference is the hunting scenario doesn’t discriminate in a way that affects human rights. Following your logic it must be ok to also use belief based racism to excuse denying services to black people… pretty much the arguments the apartheid government put forward.

  9. actually D Thomas-there is no link between racism & choosing to practise homosexuality.one is based upon who you are(You are born caucasian/chinese etc. & cannot change this)-the other something you choose(I know hundreds of ex practising homosexuals).
    The U.S Supreme has declined to subject classifications based on “sexual orientation” to the “strict scrutiny” legal standard that applies to race.You are thus attempting to use flawed inflammatory logic to enflame non-thinkers.Nice try…

  10. John Smid writes: I was a well known leader within the ExGay movement spending the majority of my vocational ministry working to try to help gay men and lesbian women live lives in celibacy, or mixed orientation marriages. After 22 years of disheartening ministry due to failure to accomplish the goals of our ministries I resigned. The destruction and mental anguish I saw in the lives of these men and women trying to live outside of their intimate desires led many to serious addiction, psychological illness, and damaging isolation. The traditional view of all homosexual relationships being sinful led to separation from families leaving them without that kind of intimate support and there were virtually no churches that would welcome them to join them in full relationship so they most often felt the shame of being the person outside the camp of God.

    In light of many, many years and hundreds of men and women under my pastoral care I look to scripture and find that the ambiguity of what is truly said about same sex romantic / sexual relationships is unyielding to sort through. Theologians from all denominations and persuasions interpret the bible on these matters differently. Clearly, this is a disputable matter that cannot be defined through the dot and tittle of the verses in the bible. For several decades now (the time frame that the church as attempted to solve this matter with dialogue) church leaders have argued the rights and wrongs, the sin vs. affirmation to no avail.

    The arguments on this issue are now dividing congregations, Pastors, church leaders, and families are being ostracized from their fellowships. Gay men and Lesbian women are doing all they can to explore the best and most healthy way to live within their faith and relationship with God. Gay marriage is now becoming an acceptable way tot them to live out spiritual convictions of monogamy and faithfulness.

    As I have now been away from ExGay ministry for six years I am involved in reconciliation with numerous LBGT folks who have spent a lifetime trying to not be gay. Of the majority these folks have found their way to accept their homosexuality and attempt to rid themselves of the shame they’ve experienced from being something they could not change, nor did they choose but have experienced tremendous rejection over.

    As they have accepted themselves, some have also trusted in the grace of God more than they ever had to find He is present, loving, and accepting of them as people and for some, also in authentic relationship with someone that is truly an “acceptable help mate” to have in their lives. As they have accepted this reality, many have found freedom from addictions and unhealthy living. They have found fellowship of encouragement within a fellowship of Christians who no longer call them unrepentant of their homosexuality. Their faith has grown, their spirituality deepened, and interestingly they are also ambassadors for the grace of God for many who have been marginalized within the faith community.

    I am one of those people. I am 59 years old. I have been there and at this time, I am just now finding my faith, spirituality, and relationship with God is the most authentic it has ever been. I believe the true reading of Scripture cannot be done with black and white, but with humanity in mind. Isn’t that one of the things Jesus came to do? To set us free from the letter of the law into the grace of His glorious wonder?

  11. Dear Lance.This blog is about Christians being discriminated against & punished for their beliefs- by activists & those promoting the practise of homosexuality.
    a counsellor who has an opinion that differs from what is clear in “black & white” & by the Spirit is sad, but was prophesied by Jesus, so will not change the bible facts. I know that some battle to leave their life of sin & I wish the Lord would make it easier for all people from every sin often, but God told us He would be with us as we fight to be free, & also that He would never test us beyond what we can endure. I have so many friends who have successfully turned away from every conceivable sin-including those who used to practise homosexuality- To say otherwise makes Christ out to be powerless. In our church alone we have over 20 people who have left homosexual practices behind them in repentance. Many are now happily married with children, and have been set entirely free. We cannot twist the Scriptures to make them say what we want them to.. “If we once get above our Bibles, and cease making the written word of God sole rule both as to faith and practice, we shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion, and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith.'” – George Whitefield.

  12. Thanks for the reply, Andrew, appreciated. I liked the blog article and found it a worthwhile read. I am a supporter of Christians having their rights protected. I am also aware that Christians themselves hold very diverse views on these issues and it is wonderful when they can agree to disagree and remain respectful and maintain fellowship with one another (rather than only with those who agree on every jot and tittle). I guess this is a sign of general (and spiritual) maturity. It is really great that you have so many friends who have sorted out their sexual confusion and are happy now. Do you also have friends who have tried to but remain predominantly attracted to the opposite sex? (research and reports from ex-gay ministries in the US seem to strongly suggest that this would be the case for most of those who find themselves with homosexual orientations). I also wonder if you have any friends who are happily gay and married to others of the same sex and who may actually still consider themselves Christians? I suspect that the one thing they would really want to know is how what they are doing could possibly be wrong. What makes it wrong. Sure the Bible says its wrong (some do dispute this but for argument’s sake let’s say I don’t) … but WHY does the Bible say its wrong? Murder has a victim and harm. Adultery has a victim and harm. Theft has a victim and harm. Divorce has victims and harm. But where is the harm in Gay Marriages? Who is hurt and how are they hurt? (Now the temptation here is to beg the question and use circular logic … the gay individuals are hurt because they are disobeying the Word … but that really missed the point because with all other sins mentioned even unbelievers can see the harm … the corpse, the empty purse, the betrayed spouse’s hurt heart, the kids in a broken home etc. It would be really great if you could explain who is harmed by Gay Marriage. Or is this sin rather unique?

    • Lance, thanks for sharing your perspectives and for the respectful way in which you do so. Please note our COMMENTS GUIDELINES — this is not a debating forum for your pressing issues. The topic of the blog is the right to hold views — not gay marriage. You have been alerted in love! (EDITOR)

      • Point taken, Andre, thanks. I also wonder if contemplating the underlying issues which result in conflicts over these rights might not lead to more respect of these rights?

    • Lance, most of our people who have left a gay lifestyle has become attracted to people of the opposite sex. Some have struggled ongoingly with same sex attraction, but, like most people with sexual attraction they have found a measure of victory in curbing these lusts. Most people have problems with sexual attraction(Gay or straight) but learn to put the “misdeeds of the body” to death, and find in Christ that they are able to overcome. The onset as to why practicing homosexuality is wrong-who does it harm? The most important answer-is God! The creator of the universe and rightful ruler of all things has spoken on the subject and told us how he wants his world to work. Whenever men stepped outside of his will we see rebellion. In any kingdom we see rules that have been set up by the authority. Those who break the rules are guilty and are punished under the law. God has set the rules of the universe in place and has clearly stated that he does not want people to practice homosexuality. Those who willingly rebel and openly defy God are thus guilty of sedetion, as they take God from his throne and set themselves up as rulers-in open defiance of his will. To answer your question from a worldly point of view, without God in as a consideration. The society itself will suffer. Already Christians are being persecuted, free speech curbed, people being marginalised by a society that calls what is wrong- right. When the building blocks of what is true is removed from a society-it decays from within, and ultimately collapses.Already we are seeing early warnings to the shift surfacing-Sexual disease amongst men who practise homosexual sex-http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2005/feb/05021709.
      Children suffer as they are caught in the “culture war”-A Married Mom and Dad Really Do Matter: New Evidence from Canada http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/10/10996/
      http://www.angelfire.com/vt/dbaet/sciencemythsparenting.htm
      Not all children raised by gay parents support gay marriage: I should know, I’m one of them http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/not-all-children-raised-by-gay-parents-support-gay-marriage-i-should-know-i/
      Again-these things must be dealt with in love-God loves those who practise homosexuality. He disapproves of what they do. He has provided forgiveness & salvation for all, & wants all to be saved!. Thus we must speak the truth.The great John Piper has said that to endorse a homosexual marriage “would be hateful.”

      “It would be hateful for me to do it, because it would be confirming a life and a lifestyle that will lead to hell,” Piper said. “The apostle Paul said: ‘Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral or idolaters or adulterers or men who practice homosexuality or thieves or greedy or drunkards or revilers or swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.’ They won’t. So to celebrate this lifestyle is to celebrate the destruction of human beings, and that is hateful. It would be like gathering to celebrate theft, gathering to celebrate drunkenness, gathering to celebrate swindling.”

      • sorry-the answer, not onset in line6

        • Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer, Andrew. Having grown up in a home where my parents were involved in full-time ministry I can appreciate how many demands are placed on one’s time and therefore how precious such time is. I think the thing I appreciate the most though is that you are not at all judgemental unlike so many Christians out there re this issue. Even though I don’t totally agree with you I do see where you are coming from. This is actually a very complex and complicated issue. I’m not an expert in many areas (don’t ask me to change a tyre or boil an egg!) but in this area I know quite a bit: having grown up in a Christian home and having been in church leadership positions for years myself, having studied sexual orientation up to a PhD level in psychology, and being gay myself. I’ve also studied Biblical Studies at university, at His People Bible School and daily my whole life. I’ve been particularly impacted by the Vineyard Church movement … and in your humble approach you remind me a lot of the late John Wimber who emphasized that he was just a sinner saved by grace (whenever people tried to adulate him). A senior Vineyard pastor, Ken Wilson, has recently proposed a “Third Approach” for churches to deal with this issue … if you get the time to check it out: http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/03/31/what-c-s-lewis-marriage-can-tell-us-about-the-gay-marriage-controversy/31512 .

          There is much to learn in this area … and some of it can only be learnt by listening to gay people out there to see where they are coming from. I think this is what Jesus, the friend of sinners, would do. They ask some really tough questions like: Can you imagine trying to stop being straight? etc etc… which make for interesting, stimulating brain work ;)

          • hey Lance-so sorry my replies are so slow-too busy. I have spent hours praying for you now & spent tears aching for you to see the Truth on the matters you mention. The answers you seek will need to be shown you by revelation, as I fear your natural mind has reasoned its conclusions.I will continue to pray & if you really want to talk will do my utmost to be available to you, because now I feel a little bit of Gods heart for you & it has moved me with much compassion.I will continue to pray…

  13. PS – obviously in line 7 above “opposite” should read “same” … :)

    • I sense your compassion and heart, Andrew, and appreciate the heartfelt prayers. I remain open to God’s continued guidance on this issue as always. Would my friends who are married lesbians with two beautiful little girls they adopted 5 years ago be welcomed as members at JoshGen?