In an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News, Mark Wingfield, associate pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, tells us How to tell the difference between religious persecution and selfishness.
To make his point, Wingfield builds three scenarios. First a Christian couple is told by a Jewish baker, “Sorry, we don’t bake cakes for Christian weddings.” Next, a person in an emergency is told by a doctor, “I’m a Muslim and my faith will not allow me to do the procedure you need to live.” Finally, a manicurist is recommended to a Christian. When she arrives for the manicure she feels out of place because every other client there is lesbian. “The clear but unspoken message is that straight Christian women who don’t condone same-sex relationships are not welcome here.”
By now the author expects he has worked the Christian reader into a frothing fury. (And perhaps some are.) He has illustrated how selfish are Christians who to hope to live out their faith – and what whiners they are if they are not satisfied when they can’t. He has us on the ropes (he thinks) when he asserts “What we expect of others, we must be willing to do ourselves.”
For my part I am quite willing. I am quite willing to expect that the Jewish baker not use his artistic talent to create something for me that offends him. If I know ahead of time, I won’t ask. If I don’t know in time and then find out, I will withdraw. If I am uncomfortable with the clientele of a certain business, I will leave that business alone to do as they please. I will neither assert my rights nor sue them at court (1 Cor. 6:1-6; 8:9). I will apply my “Golden Rule” – knowing I hope to be left alone to pursue my religion and ethics, I will leave them alone as well. Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Wingfield’s application would force the African-American baker to use his creative talents to serve the Ku Klux Klan. Mine says leave him alone.
The third illustration is unlike the other two, and is apparently a gratuitous swipe against doctors who refuse to provide abortions? Yet an emergency room service in which life-saving measures are refused is unlike refusing to take a life via an abortion procedure. Apples and oranges, as they say. If one says, “What about the life of the mother,” I would answer that most doctors will hardly refuse to make a medical decision to save one life when they cannot save two. That is unlike making a moral decision to kill a baby for the purpose of killing a baby.I will not spend time whining about religious persecution, and, as much as in me is, I hope not be so selfish as to bind the consciences of others to force them to serve me.