Kim Davis is no longer in jail, but she’s still fighting for the right to use her county clerk position as a platform to proclaim that same-sex marriage is wrong. The Kleins have fought the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, but as of right now they are still on the hook to pay a hefty fine for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. In Ohio, Chris Routson has been fired for recommending the Christian film Audacity to a lesbian co-worker, even though he did so via Facebook outside of work hours.
Christians are learning the hard lesson that in our “enlightened” society, your beliefs about LGBT issues are unwelcome in the workplace. Unless, of course, they’re in support of same-sex marriage and so on; so far we haven’t heard any stories of someone being in trouble for endorsing it. If it has happened, it hasn’t made headlines.
Most would probably say that when it comes to your job, you keep your personal beliefs to yourself. But many Christians are starting to argue that not only should the First Amendment protect us in expressing these beliefs, we have a responsibility to say what God says about these issues, even in our workplace. Are those Christians correct?
Much could be said about this – indeed, much already has been said – but it seems like most of the arguments fall either to the side that the workplace is most definitely a platform for speaking the truth of God’s Word, or that the Christian’s professional life and faith life have nothing to do with each other. Both of these viewpoints fall flat.
Our purpose as Christians is to be Jesus’ witnesses. Jesus says as much in Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses…” he says. This isn’t optional. It’s a statement of fact. But the manner in which we witness is contextual – which is why we don’t all just stand up on the street corners shouting Bible verses at people.
When speaking to a close friend who doesn’t know Jesus, my witness is to share what matters most to me, and maybe even confront them about something I think is a problem in his life. But when I’m at work (well, the hypothetical me that doesn’t work for a church), my witness is to do my job faithfully, be respectful of my coworkers, and work for the best of my company. If my boss asks me to do something that goes against my conscience, I have the right to respectfully refuse to do it, but then I also have to accept the consequences of that action. Maybe I just have to resign, if there’s no simple resolution to the issue.
What about sharing my beliefs with coworkers or people I come into contact with through my work? Should I keep silent? Not necessarily. But it’s my employer who sets the terms on that, not me. If they say that such sharing will not be tolerated, I can choose to still share my beliefs – but then I must accept the consequences of that action as well. Maybe it’s worth it, because maybe I’ll reach someone with the Gospel. But maybe it’s not the hill to die on, and my witness will be more effective by respecting my employer’s rules.
I don’t have the right to declare that my position is a pulpit given me by God to hold the torch for the truth. Kim Davis recently did this, when challenged with why she won’t just resign, she stated that if she does she loses her voice to speak out for God’s Law. But her government position is not there to force people to obey God’s Law, and she hasn’t been put there to make people holy.
I also don’t have the right to claim persecution if I choose to violate my employer’s policies on personal faith sharing. If I get fired because I crossed that line, I can hold my head up high and say that I shared the Gospel. But I can’t claim I was mistreated; I knew I was taking a risk, and I need to accept the results.
If I’m working faithfully, as God has called me to do, chances are good that I’m going to see doors open to sharing my faith with people in ways that don’t bring any consequences. A life lived to the Lord has a way of catching people’s attention. Rather than being aggressive about it, I need to be winsome, and pray for the open doors.
In all of this, I need to remember this very important thing: It is the Gospel that changes hearts. We’re in a season right now where far too many Christians are trying to “stand up for the truth” by standing in opposition to same-sex marriage, as though getting people to follow God’s Law is the goal. It’s not. The goal is to introduce them to Jesus. Let your life be a testament to what he has done for you, and how much you love him, and let that be what brings people to him.