I am starting a new business, and Kim Davis' stance highlights for me the fact that I live in a country where decisions I make on my job can be challenged by the state and declared unconstitutional. So unless I'm spoiling for a fight, I realize that I have to make decisions on how I run my business with that in mind.
The new business is a transcription service. And I realized as I planned the details of running it that I needed to decide who my target market was. This also meant that I had to decide who my target market was not.
Because the area I live in is very politically active (at least the small city 30 miles down the road is, we're pretty quiet here in the country where I live), after living here for a while you naturally get drawn into the constant political discussions. And as a Bible instructor I have had for many years a deep interest in theology. Since these were two areas of interest, I decided to put my focus there.
As a Christian, anything that is a part of my life is affected by my faith in God and my belief in the purpose He has given me. To truly follow Christ, it's not possible to make a division between how I conduct my life in the church building and how I conduct it where the rest of the world is watching. And so, as I watched Mrs. Davis stand up for her faith against a job whose job description changed on her, I took a look at the possible profile of the clients I myself may be accepting.
By helping people get their word out, how much am I supporting their mission? Or am I truly supporting their mission? Oh, sure, it's easy to say... "it's just a job". But if what you do has the ability to affect society's perceptions of anything, then you are having an impact on the world. I knew it was up to me to carefully and prayerfully decide where to place my influence.
I'm a primarily conservative person living in a largely liberal area. And my whole life I have attempted to avoid looking at politics along purely party lines. So it has always been important me to research and consider the message politicians are putting out. Not everyone is totally and irrevocably all the way to the right or to the left.
The question first came up for me in regards to pastoral clients. As a long time student of the Bible and current instructor, what am I to do when it came to theological beliefs that didn't march along with mine? I'm not talking about those debatable matters such as whether the Rapture comes before, during or after the tribulation. I'm talking about basic church doctrine.
When I have a client whose sermons espouse that Jesus is not really the Son of God, I will be faced with the prospect of either outright denying my services to them (politically incorrect and increasingly illegal) or meekly using my skills to help them spread this message because they're paying me to do it.
As a Christian (and that is always the viewpoint I must take) am I participating in presenting a false gospel? Or simply doing my job in a way that doesn't discriminate against the customer? I finally decided that I would be doing both. And because the gospel and how it is presented is so key in what God has called me to do, I could not in good conscience help in the spread of what would be a false gospel.
And to this I remember Paul's strong words in Galatians 1:9-10.
"As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than that what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
To that end, I have decided beforehand to limit my sermon transcription services to mainstream Protestant beliefs, arguing that it is my area of expertise and the one I am most qualified to fulfill all the roles of a sermon transcriptionist, meaning the ability to double check scriptural references within the sermon along the lines of the beliefs being taught. Since there are always debatable matters between denominations, indeed within churches, my concern is largely the Christian churches whose beliefs lean toward the cultish.
But can I apply the same standards to political and community activism? No.
Despite what some may believe, God is not a Republican or Democrat. I don't believe that reformatting speeches and public statements into hardcopy, even when I don't agree with them, sides me against the Word of God. What I do believe is that it is important for any person or organization who seeks to reform or guide society to clearly get their core beliefs before the public.
When I am deciding who to cast my vote for in elections, what I really want to know is what the person or party's stance is on a wide variety of subjects. It is only with this vital information that I feel I can make an informed decision. In fact, I get really irritated with political candidates who won't take a firm stand on an issue. I tend to assume they are for it, whatever it may be, but don't want to admit it; or worse, are at risk of being blown by any political wind of thought that comes their way.
While I realize that I may be transcribing documents arguing points that I really really disagree with (anything from supporting abortion to planting that brand spanking new nuclear plant right in my back yard), people who are being asked to support organizations or parties with these viewpoints need to know what the viewpoints are.
I take no such view of false prophets and false doctrine.
So some very hard decisions have been made. It is not the first time the dictates of my conscience have clashed with the duties of my job. But at least this time I can make the final decision for myself.
For some of you out there, making such decisions won't be easy either. And increasingly we will be forced to make them. In these, the last days, we need to pray for each other's strength in the Lord.