A Balance Between LGBT Rights and Religious Liberty Misses the Point

This article has been making the social media rounds for the last twenty-four hours. A doctor in Michigan told a lesbian couple she prayed about it, and felt she could not be their infant daughter’s physician.

That is plainly horrible. It is tragic that people still let their discomfort with homosexuality to cloud their moral judgment, and worse still that the worst excuses for doing so continue to be grounded in religion.

I won’t be the first, or last, to link this action to the religious liberty fight promoted by LDS church leaders recently, but I will admit it might not be a wholly fair comparison. Oaks’ examples of religious exemptions for doctors or pharmacists were centered mostly in pro-life territory, whereas this incident looks more like the anti-discriminatory stance the leaders were hoping to convey.

However, these incidents don’t exist in a vacuum. Let’s remember that the church released a follow-up note that sought to refocus the attention from the press conference on the religious liberty aspect, rather than anti-discrimination.

The issue isn’t what constitutes religious liberty and what is just practicing bad medicine—or more accurately, bad humanity—the problem is that spiritual leaders should be pushing an agenda of kindness and decency in all deeds, regardless of ideological squabbles. Instead, the men we look to as beacons of Christianity are more concerned with finding the balance between charity and righteous discrimination. If religious liberty was actually threatened, they might have a point in seeking middle ground. But it isn’t, and the middle ground they seek is somewhere between being a saint and being a jerk. Maybe these are just my radical expectations, but I struggle to find the utility in making a fuss over the boundaries of liberty and discrimination. Perhaps I’m missing something.

To me, there is no balance when it comes to charity. “Charity never faileth” is a pretty absolute claim. If we are truly practicing charity, opportunities to discriminate are going to be few. And that’s only if we believe charity and discrimination are compatible at all.

3 replies »

    • I didn’t really say that, rather that the policies he promotes would fall somewhere in between. But even if I did, a jerk isn’t the worst thing I could call somebody, and I only said he would be halfway a jerk. But also halfway a saint. So I guess we have a glass half dumped out situation.

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