Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a 6-3decision that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to sexual minorities including gay and transgender people. Predictably, this produced cheers from some and hand-wringing from others. As for me, it provided an occasion to post the following tweet:
Just a reminder to Christians on the frontlines of the culture wars: the Christian creeds take no stand on LGBT issues. You are free to do so, just so long as you don't add your stance to those creeds.
— Tentative Apologist (@RandalRauser) June 16, 2020
My tweet then attracted some replies from people who objected that many things are not in the creeds which are, nonetheless, obligatory for Christians to believe. The most fulsome reply on this score came from Jeff Lowder who replied as follows:
“While the creeds take no stands on those issues, they also do not take stands on any ethical issues, at least not explicitly. Yet the Bible clearly does take stands on many ethical issues. For example, consider adultery. It seems to me it would be very odd for a Christian to say, “The creeds say nothing about adultery. You are free to take a stand against adultery, just so long as you don’t add your stance against adultery to those creeds.” I would think Christians would say, “Correct, the creeds don’t address ethical issues, but it doesn’t follow that the Bible says nothing about those issues or that Christians are free to do whatever they want on those topics.” (Not that you are saying they are.) It just seems odd to me to issue a statement, such as yours, without at the same time clarifying that ethical duties for a Christian are to be found elsewhere (primarily, the Bible) and so the creeds are not the only thing that matters. What have I missed?”
I then replied:
“Ok, but you’re misunderstanding the tweet. It’s aphoristic and simply means that you ought not to add to *mere Christianity* what does not belong. Anyone who thinks a particular stance (yea or nay) on one’s right to discriminate against LGBT people is adding a non-essential.”
I want to conclude this article by highlighting and underscoring the point I’m making. As a Christian, you can have your basic hermeneutical, ethical, social, and political convictions about endless topics: young-earth creationism vs. evolution, the historical nature of the Exodus, the nature of the sacraments, the ethics of just war, elective abortion, or euthanasia, the legitimacy of democracy or constitutional monarchy, capitalism or socialism, and so on… But it is quite another thing to say that your view on this particular issue belongs in “the creed,” i.e. as part of mere Christianity.
The question of whether gay and transgender people should be covered in the US Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an important one. But good grief, don’t add it to the creed and don’t pretend that your view on the issue belongs in mere Christianity.