Progressive. Webster’s 1828 defines it as, “Moving forward; proceeding onward; advancing; as progressive motion or course; opposed to retrograde.” But it’s hard to see how that definition applies to today’s secular progressive movement.
Barronelle Stutzman’s courageous stand for the truth about marriage has stirred the hearts of Christians across the country. Barronelle is the Washington-state florist punished in February for declining to provide her artistic services as a florist for a same-sex union ceremony. She has gladly served LGBT customers for years, but drew a line when it came to being asked to participate in the celebration of a union that she believes is immoral and a violation of God’s clear design for marriage.
We wrote about Barronelle recently. This follow-up is offered to add some further perspective.
The Washington Supreme Court 9-0 ruling against Barronelle has generated lots of analysis and comment. The discussion is enhancing clarity about a sobering reality, i.e. the US is now divided into (at least) two nations with two worldviews: the Judeo-Christian (which founded the US) and the secular progressive.
The central issue could be stated as religious freedom vs. SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) policy. Jake Meador makes the case for seeing this argument in terms of the above-mentioned worldview contrast.
We increasingly live in a country that has multiple nations within it. The idea of a cultural consensus that exists across most of the population is increasingly foreign and even non-sensical. Americans increasingly do not simply have disagreements on select matters of public policy; they have disagreements about what goods public policy ought to be oriented toward and even about the basic nature of reality itself.
Meador points out that if our starting point is the Judeo-Christian worldview as it relates to public policy …
Someone like Stutzman should be protected under the law because social acceptance of same-sex unions can be achieved without requiring individual business owners to violate their consciences, particularly since other business owners in the same industries exist that will provide the desired service.
On the other hand, Stutzman’s critics would argue [based on their worldview starting point] that a commitment to pluralism means a commitment to non-discrimination and to a fully open public square, otherwise it isn’t actually pluralism. If you wish to participate as a business owner in the public square, you must be willing to behave in that arena as someone committed to inclusion and affirmation, even if it violates your private religious belief.
Rod Dreher got to the root of this worldview conflict.
Over the past six centuries, Western man has come to reject the idea that there is intrinsic purpose built into Creation, and instead come to see meaning as something extrinsic — that is, imposed from outside. We put ourselves in the place of God, assigning meaning to our bodies, our acts, and the things of Creation, instead of receiving them from Him.
Meador writes about “inclusion” and “affirmation.” These are perhaps the highest social values of the secular progressive worldview. We cannot stand in moral judgment of someone’s behavior based on any “intrinsic purpose built into Creation” because, according to those who hold to the secular progressive worldview, no such purpose exists.
The Washington State Supreme Court takes this as a given. Everyone is free to assign meaning to their bodies, their acts, etc. If this is your worldview starting point, then the public duty of every American is to positively affirm everyone’s beliefs and acts no matter how outrageous.
Of course, the exception to this rule is the belief system orthodox Christians and Jews hold about God, human nature and creation. These beliefs cannot be affirmed because they run completely counter to and are fundamentally incompatible with the secular progressive worldview.
Practically, what this means is that Christians are now legally obligated to bake cakes, serve as photographers, arrange flowers, or be called on in other ways to join in gay union ceremonies, or be fined out of business.
On this point, Dreher writes:
From my perspective, our opponents don’t come at this from the point of view of advancing pluralism, and figuring out how we can live together in a kind of peace, despite our radically different [world]views, but rather treat it like the Inquisition, determined to stamp out heresy, and to promote tolerance by crushing dissent.
Yes. The sexual revolutionaries demand complete obedience to their agenda and won’t accept half-measures or compromise.
Consider, for example, the insistence of some that everybody else has to fall in line with the gender dysphoria of a few: “It’s not enough that I can switch my sexual identity; you must be required to refer to me as ze.” As one writer points out, “Imagine if someone with crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder about germs could impose his beliefs. We’d be obligated to all carry gloves and wear face masks.”
How should we then live as followers of Jesus Christ? More than ever, we need to live and speak the truth—that contra the spirit if the age, we are creatures, living in a creation. God exists, and I am not Him. He assigns the meaning and purpose to creation. He determines what is good, true and beautiful, not me.
If we do this boldly and consistently in this cultural climate, we become the “impossible people” that Os Guinness challenges us to be. Barronelle Stutzman has done us all a great service by showing us in the flesh what an impossible person looks like. She is being salt and light, and we all need to follow her example, and as she has done, be willing to joyfully pay the cost of discipleship.
- Scott Allen