Another Christian has lost his livelihood for good-faith wrongspeak. This time it was for articulating extremely basic Christian truth that it’s sinful to celebrate sexual immorality. Here’s BuzzFeed with the story:
A high-ranking CrossFit employee was fired after tweeting his support for a CrossFit gym’s cancellation of a Pride event, citing his belief that celebrating LGBT pride is a “sin.”
Russell Berger was the mega-successful fitness company’s chief knowledge officer, often de facto spokesperson, and a co-author of the Russells, a blog about scientific misconduct that he maintained with colleague Russell Greene.
But Berger got into hot water Wednesday afternoon when he tweeted about a CrossFit gym in Indianapolis, Indiana, where owners canceled a workout in honor of Pride Month. Many of the coaches and employees quit in protest, according to WTTV TV in Indianapolis. On Wednesday, the gym posted notices that it was shutting down.
So, for those keeping score, that’s a job lost and a gym closed because it’s just intolerable that a Christian either publicly express his moral point of view or that other Christians refuse to host events they find objectionable.
In reading comments and commentary about this latest turn in the culture wars, I’m struck by the extent to which Berger’s views are cast as pure, indefensible bigotry — and that it’s entirely acceptable to not just label his Christian beliefs false but also to believe that they’re actually malicious.
But isn’t that a bigoted view? What qualifies an external critic to define the veracity of a man’s faith or the purity of the thoughts in his heart? There seems to be a mistaken belief by some that sexual orientation is absolutely core to a person’s identity whereas religion is something else entirely — so superficial that any given person is one Vox explainer or Bill Maher monologue away from enlightenment. Yet only a few millennia of human history demonstrates that religion is so core to human identity that countless people have been willing to burn rather than recant their deepest beliefs.
Moreover, isn’t it also bigoted to believe that a person is incapable of expressing disagreement with a person while also treating them with dignity and respect? Time and again, we’ll see stories of Christians cast aside for expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about marriage and the family — in books, speeches, tweets and in political donations — using the justification that this view somehow means that they can’t be trusted to treat colleagues fairly in the workplace. Yet time and again these individuals have long and established track records free of any claims of discrimination or mistreatment. Their actual record is irrelevant compared to hypothetical fears.
Some Christians are bigots. They actually do hate others and harbor malice in their hearts. But actual Christian orthodoxy — including orthodox Christian sexual morality — is anything but hateful. It expresses the beauty and intent of creation, it honors both the marriage vow and the single life, and it creates a framework for having and raising children in loving, stable homes. It recognizes that each and every person must put a restraint on their desires, orienting their lives towards the true “chief end” of man — glorifying God and enjoying him forever.
Moreover, the vast majority of Christians fully understand that they live in the world, but are not of the world. We will spend their entire lives living and working with people who don’t share their faith. Our obligation is clear: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
All across America LGBT Americans live and work alongside Christians who disagree with their actions and beliefs and also treat them with dignity and respect. It’s not hard to do when you love people and seek to imitate Christ. Should these Christians be muzzled while contrary views be given free rein? Or can we actually be tolerant and realize that disagreement is not mistreatment, and love is not hate? If Russell Berger mistreated any person on the job, then he should be fired. If he merely advocated and celebrated the tenets of a faith that seeks to honor and glorify God, then disagree with him all you like, but leave his livelihood alone.