A "Public Christian"

Rod Dreher laments after Iowa:

The lawyer said that as soon as homosexuality receives constitutionally protected status equivalent to race, then "it will be very hard to be a public Christian." By which he meant to voice support, no matter how muted, for traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality and marriage. To do so would be to set yourself up for hostile work environment challenges, including dismissal from your job, and generally all the legal sanctions that now apply to people who openly express racist views.

Anonymous Liberal makes the rather obvious comparison:

I realize its often hard to appreciate how your words will come across to those who don't share your beliefs, but good grief, is it possible to be more oblivious? ... eah, it's pretty rough being a Christian in America. Maybe Dreher should try being a "public homosexual" for a while and compare the experience. If I had a Quantum Leap machine, I'd be tempted to zap Dreher into the life of a gay high school student or maybe a gay man in a small Southern town and see how easy he finds it to publicly be himself.

One imagines how the early Christians might have responded to this threat: by embracing their marginalization and seeing discrimination against them as a sign of their righteousness. Today's Christianists, in contrast, need the government to enforce their religious doctrines, for fear that without government, these convictions could falter. It says a lot about the comparative strength of their faith and their paranoia.

But if Rod does actually believe that those who want to publicly express Biblical injunctions against their gay fellow citizens will be subject to active discrimination, then what he needs to do is not prevent gay people from civil equality but work tirelessly to protect free speech. As Rod knows, I'm a big opponent of hate crimes laws, of abuse of sexual harassment laws, p.c. speech codes and any infringement on religious or irreligious speech. Such infringements of freedom from the left are just as noxious as those from the right. I'll happily join him in opposing any attempt by the state to coerce or chill free speech.

But it must and can be perfectly possible for public orthodox Christians to live side by side with politically equal homosexuals. Just as it is perfectly possible for devout Catholics to live and work alongside divorced co-workers, even if they feel the need constantly to profess the impermissibility of divorce. This is not and need not be a binary choice. We can live together as equals. And when we do, we may find the conversation we can have that much more interesting.