If there is any group of people who should believe in the dignity of every human because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), it is Christians. Indeed, Bible-believing Christians believe that regardless of any physical, national, or social differences, all people are created equal at birth and should be treated with dignity and respect (Romans 10:12). Furthermore, within the church body, we believe that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. We all come to Christ the same way—through Jesus—and there is no difference in any Christian’s worth to God or inclusion in the church body (Galatians 3:28).
These are the ideas the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights….” But these are not the same ideas behind the Equality Act currently working its way through the U.S. Congress. Seeking to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equality Act makes two serious errors:
First, it makes sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes. The Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” in public accommodations. But the Equality Act changes the meaning of “sex” from its basic biological meaning of male or female and specifically defines it to include:
- a sex stereotype;
- pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition;
- sexual orientation or gender identity; and
- sex characteristics, including intersex traits.
Second, it eliminates use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The RFRA provides protection to religious exercise (already protected under the U.S. Constitution).
The Equality Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 236–173 vote. On May 20, 2019, it was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains at the time of this writing.
Why should Christians be concerned?
It categorizes basic Bible beliefs as discriminatory
Bible-believing Christians have always taught that God created mankind in His image and in only two possible genders—male and female, which are the core of who we are on a created level (Genesis 1:27). God created marriage as a union between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24).
God created sexual intimacy as a beautiful part of marriage but forbids any sexual acts outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and specifically forbids homosexual acts (Romans 1:26–27).
These are convictions that Bible-believing people have held for thousands of years. They are not recently-made up to discriminate against any person or group of people.
But the Equality Act sees any real conviction on these in a way that might impact a person’s conscience or a church or religious group as categorically discriminatory. This could impact churches, Christian colleges, or other Christian organizations’ hiring processes. It could force Christian adoption agencies to place babies in homes with same-sex couples. And this is just the beginning of the far-reaching ramifications when the government takes it upon itself to define basic religious beliefs as bigoted and intolerant.
It endangers children and removes parental protection for minors
The bill specifically states: “an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.’’ One of the reasons we as a society have gender-segregated restrooms is to provide protection and privacy for women and girls. This bill removes that protection allowing a man who identifies as a woman to enter a women’s restroom, locker room, dressing room, or any other shared facility. “Shared facilities” could even include domestic violence shelters.
Even more egregious, because of the broad-sweeping definitions in this bill, it could also limit parental protection for children who are confused regarding their gender identity, literally requiring doctors to give them life-altering medical treatments without their parents’ consent. An article by the Heritage Foundation gave specific incidents in which this is already happening in states that have imposed a similar law. This simply must not be allowed to pass at a federal level.
It suppresses religious liberty
Religious liberty is one of the great gifts of the American Constitution. When that Constitution becomes radically redefined to enforce the subjective identification of a person onto the objective reality of others (such as a man who identifies as a woman into a woman’s restroom), objective personal freedom is left unprotected. When the government takes it upon itself to define basic Bible beliefs as discriminatory, religious liberty is thrown under the bus.
James Dobson called the Equality Act “a thinly veiled attempt to finish off religious liberty in America once and for all, which ought to be plainly obvious based upon a cursory reading of the First Amendment.” In the same article, he further explained, “This decision demonstrates a frightening willingness by those on the left to advance a radical social agenda at a time when our nation already faces so many other divisive challenges. Simply put, by creating a protected class of citizens out of the LGBT community, this bill places Christians who believe in traditional marriage at grave legal and civil jeopardy.”
So while Christians have always believed that every person should be treated with equal dignity as image bearers of God, they should stand in opposition to this misguided bill. The Equality Act does not protect people from discrimination; it suppresses religious liberty, endangers children, and discriminates against basic Bible beliefs. I would encourage you to call your U.S. Senators and pray that this bill is defeated.