Rights for gays only?

Published 12:01 am Saturday, September 27, 2014

By Chris Surber

Liberty Ridge Farm in New York was recently fined $13,000 for refusing to allow a same-sex wedding at its wedding venue. The court order gave owners the choice either to allow gay weddings or to allow no weddings at their property. They chose the latter.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford say they’ll continue to host wedding receptions, but they will not allow any weddings in order to comply with their religious convictions.

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What’s striking about this court decision is that in an effort to afford rights to homosexual couples, the court has ignored the rights of conscience of the Liberty Ridge Farm owners.

If we are indeed a nation founded upon the principles of individual conscience and personal liberty, should not the owners of the wedding venue and homosexual couples have the right to individual liberty? I find it terribly difficult to believe that this is the only wedding venue in the state of New York.

Proponents of gay rights have time and again called such sentiments bigoted and antithetical to civil rights. What of the civil rights of the owners of the farm? Individual property rights are at the very heart of the United States Constitution and our way of life.

The specific protection of religious liberties is foundational to the protection of civil liberties in general. Thomas Jefferson said it this way: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Today, we demand civil liberties but have no respect for the authority whence they came. Individual liberties are the gift of God. Freedom of the mind and personal conscience is the gift of the One who created mankind.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.” (Psalms 19:7-9 ESV)

I don’t expect those who reject the truth of God’s Word to be sympathetic to this argument. But what I do expect is that those who demand individual liberties would not be so callous and hypocritical so as to strip others of their individual liberties and of the freedom of their conscience.

I would never seek a law requiring anyone to go to church or to affirm a certain religion or lack of religion.

If we are a land founded upon the right of the individual conscience and personal liberty, should there not be a wealth of liberty afforded to all people? Should I not have the right to decline to affirm homosexuality in the same way a gay man has the right to reject the form of my religion?

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.