You may have heard by now the tale of Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin. Well, I wish it was tale. Instead it’s tragically true. Just in case you don’t know their story…
The Huguenins own their own photography business in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in 2006 they were asked by Vanessa Willock to take pictures at a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” The Huguenins, Christians, declined the job, saying their beliefs conflicted with the message the ceremony. Willock first did what anyone would do. She went and found someone else to do the job. At a cheaper rate, too!
But then she did something else. She filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, alleging that the Huguenins discriminated against her on the basis of her sexual orientation. The Commission then found their company guilty and fined them thousands of dollars.
The case made its way to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which this week handed down a unanimous decision upholding the fines against the Huguenins. In the decision, written by Justice Richard Bosson, the court ruled that “The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of their sexual orientation — photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony — than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.”
The ramifications of such a decision are far reaching, for they strike at the very heart of religious liberty. Bosson agrees with words that should cause every Christian to wince. He said,
“[The Huguenins are] compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. . . . At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. . . . The Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.”
Busson and the Court’s opinion are a blow against anyone who dares to hold to a firm conviction not shared by the prevailing winds of the culture, and in particular real Christians who have built their house upon the rock of Christ, and not on shifting sand (Matt 7:24-27). If the Huguenins don’t have the freedom to operate their own business according to their own consciences, then those who have placed their faith in Jesus better watch out, because at least in the opinion of the New Mexico Supreme Court, you do not have the freedom to live your life in accordance with what God has ordained in His word.
It’s easy for Bullock, Bosson, the Commission, and the Court to throw around words like “discrimination” and enflame the jury pool of citizens, but in reality we all make discriminating judgments every day. We discriminate against those Muslims who think it’s alright to behead another in the name of Allah. We discriminate against those of the Mormon faith who would like to have more than one spouse at a time. We discriminate against vile men and women who prey upon children to satisfy their sexual desires.
The objection to the Huguenins is not that they discriminate, it’s the foundation upon which they judge which things they will discriminate against. The world hates God, hates His Son, hates His word, and hates His church. The Court has unwittingly discriminated against the Huguenins, and thus Moses, the Prophets, the apostles, and most importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The Court could have saved a lot of finger pokes on the keyboard if they had just boiled down their decision to a simple summary statement, as James White puts it,
The cost of citizenship in post-revolutionary, post-Christian, post-constitutional America? Bow to Caesar. Say Caesar is Lord rather than Jesus is Lord. Celebrate evil with us, or pay the price.
Celebrate evil with the world, or pay the price. That is indeed the choice Christians are facing. The question we face is this: Who will we worship when the threat of liberty becomes personal to us? Caesar? Or Jesus?
Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My father who is in heaven. . . . He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Matt 10:32-33, 37-38)
– Christian photogs must compromise beliefs (Baptist Press)
– Christians: You Must Deny the Lordship of Christ. It is the Price of Citizenship in this Secular Nation. (James White)
– The Cost of Being a Christian (Alliance Defending Freedom)