The Sacred and the Secular

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ legislature recently amended its anti-discrimination law to include gender identity. The new law will become effective October 1, 2016. The problem with anti-discrimination laws is they always discriminate against someone.

A guide to gender identity practices has been published by The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination charged with enforcing the new law. It is an interesting read.

The guide says the law is legally incumbent on “agents of public accommodation.” Those are “any place…which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.” This has been general defined as hotels, restaurants, theaters, etc. But churches are open to the public and are tasked by the Scriptures to share the Gospel that may be considered as soliciting.

Any such place of public accommodation is required if it “ lawfully separates access to a place or any portion thereof based on a person’s sex, shall grant admission to that place, and the full enjoyment of that place or portion thereof, consistent with the person’s gender identity.”

The guide further says “even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”

A good working definition of the word “sacred” is that which is devoted to the service of God. Using this definition some would say the office of a pastor is a “sacred” profession. In contradistinction, a good working definition of the word “secular” is that which is not devoted to a spiritual or religious purpose. Using this definition being an accountant would be considered a “secular” profession.

This was especially true prior to the Reformation when the work of the clergy was considered sacred, heavenly and eternal, and the work of the laity was considered secular, worldly and temporal. But after the Reformation the doctrine of labor underwent a reformation as well.

Paul admonished, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31, and “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” Colossians 3:17. Peter echoes this sentiment in his first letter, 4:11.

Christianity teaches whatever honest labor the believer engages in if done for Christ and God’s glory is sacred. The farmer plowing in the field is as honorable and his labor just as sacred as the pastor preaching in the pulpit. Thus the labor of every man is ennobled. For the believer there is no dichotomy between sacred and secular.

Using the commission’s example of a spaghetti supper, if hosted to bond with and serve the community, and the church hopes to build relationships to create a positive atmosphere to share the Gospel that is inherently sacred.

It seems those sympathetic to the LGBT cause want to limit the outreach of the church and force it into the same closet they came out of. Freedom of religion is lost when government dictates what is sacred and what is secular.

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