Dear River City Family,
The San Antonio City Council is considering an amendment to its anti-discrimination ordinance. The proposed changes would have serious implications for anyone who takes seriously the scripture’s position on marriage and human sexuality.
As a fellowship, we have made a point to avoid political grandstanding and to show love to all people regardless of whether they agree with us or not. However, this proposed ordinance deserves our attention and prayerful engagement. In 1Timothy 2:1-2, the apostle Paul writes “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority.” We need to pray for San Antonio’s City Council!
San Antonio’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance
The proposed amendment would expand San Antonio’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of, among other things, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The ordinance defines discrimination as demonstrating “a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group of persons, or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability.” As Christians we, along with many Jews, and Muslims, do not see homosexuality as a predetermined genetic inevitability. We do not see sexual inclinations and choices as the equivalent of nationality and race. We believe that we can choose our sexual behavior while we cannot choose our race. We see homosexual activity, same-sex marriage, and transgender lifestyles to be contrary to scripture and, as such, sin. Such a designation may now be considered discriminatory according to the definition of bias given in this ordinance. Under the ordinance, people of faith, who speak their conviction, could be barred or removed from city office. Others could face legal penalties for running their personal business according to their belief. Thus, an ordinance meant to prohibit discrimination may set up a de facto form of discrimination against many people of faith.
How Will This Ordinance Affect You?
Pastors or other people of faith who discuss whether or not certain behaviors are “sinful” may be considered to be engaging in discrimination according to the definition of “bias” given in this ordinance. Such accusations of discrimination may affect both our ability to speak God’s truth in love and our freedom of speech, religion, and association.
If you are a business owner who has rental property, restaurants, hotels, or theatres, you may be compelled by this ordinance to violate your conscience and not operate the business according to your religious convictions.
Appointments and Contracts with the City:
A person may not be appointed to a position with the City if he or she is perceived to have a bias against those of a homosexual or transgender orientation and can be removed from office even if previously appointed. A person may also be precluded from contracting with the City if that person is perceived to have a bias against any group named in the ordinance.
Actions to Consider:
- Pray for our City Council, and pray according to Jesus’ instruction, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
- Several local faith-based organizations have expressed concerns about the amended ordinance. You can read their concerns at sahumanrightscoalition.com.
- For some thoughts and perspective for those who consider the biblical view of marriage and human sexuality to be hateful and bigoted, check out this link: Here we go again-We're not hateful, we just disagree.
- If you would like to contact your city council member or the mayor go to sanantonio.gov for a list of districts, Council members, and contact information.
Finally, I encourage you to remember Paul’s exhortation to “Speak the truth in love.” How we conduct ourselves in matters like these is of critical importance. It would be wrong to stay silent and it would be wrong to be arrogant and adversarial. Remember, we are all sinners who have had grace extended to us by a loving God. There is no “us and them”…it’s just us.
Also, remember Paul’s encouragement to Christians in Philippi: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” - Phil 2:5-8
Speak the truth with love and humility, in the service of those to whom you are speaking, and let the Lord do the rest.
*Thanks to Pastor Bill Tucker, of Concordia Lutheran Church for the heads up and helpful description of the impact of this city ordinance, some of which I used in this post.