Thursday, 8 July 2010

Campers too Camp for Christian Camp

On the problem of pluralism and morality, today's story is about a campground run by Christians and a homosexual camping group who tried to make a booking there.
"MARK COLVIN: Can a corporation have religious beliefs? Is there a Christian doctrine against homosexuality? And can a commercial operation be exempt from discrimination laws?

Those are just some of the questions being raised in a discrimination case being brought against a camping group run by the Christian Brethren. It refused to take a booking from a group called Way Out, which was set up to tackle homophobia."
PM - Rejected campers file gay discrimination case 07/07/2010

This will be interesting to watch. From what can be read in the ABC report, most of the right questions will be asked. Admittedly, they'll be from the point of view of civil liberties and not theology, but in a secular system of law with legislation about discrimination, that line of questioning makes a lot of sense. I expect that a key issue will be whether the campsite a business or a religious organisation, and whether it's necessary to enforce that distinction. The second issue will be how religions treat people who intentionally break the moral tenets of that religion. Unfortunately, it might just turn out to be a repeat of previous arguments with nothing new added to the debate.

The problem is about judgements and authority, though. Do the campground owners have authority to refuse service to people who contravene a particular sexual ethic? If they do, I wonder whether they would refuse a booking from the Sweatshop Owners Association (James 5:1-6), or the Debt Collectors Society (Luke 6:30-35). The Christian bible has more to say on both those issues than it does on homosexuality.

Regardless of how the courts decide, the constant association of Christianity with the policing of sexual activity is wearisome.


Iceman said...

I agree with you. It's unfortunate that in much of modern Christianity the central character is not Jesus, but Sin. Christianity then becomes a way of managing or dealing with Sin. In other words how to stay holy instead of the Gospel.

Andrew Smith said...

I'm not so convinced that those two things are different. The gospel is holiness, but it requires that we see holiness as different from "not sin."

It was clear that the old concept of holiness was one that could be contaminated by uncleanness. All the cleanliness laws were designed to deal with this model, a kind of "sin as contagious." But Jesus showed that the contagion works the other way around; that holiness contaminates sinfulness. The gospels are full of stories where holiness cleans the sinner, and that the sin does not affect the holiness. Staying holy is the gospel.

Iceman said...

Yes I remember Scott saying the exact same thing :)

When I said holy I was referring to an Old Testament sort of a holy. Seperation and Cleanliness. I didn't mean to say that Christianity has abandoned the notion of Holy.

Andrew Smith said...

Clever Scott!

It's a travesty that the older notion of holiness is the dominant notion.