The title of this post may startle some readers. The question was created by simply reversing the way secularists ask this question almost daily. They ask, what gives Christans the right to impose religious values on secularists, because they are offended when a Christian acts on Christian principles. The question is intended to imply that when a Christian acts on Christian principles, other people are compelled to agree with Christian principles whether they like it or not. It further implies that Christian principles are abnormal while everybody just naturally and automatically agrees with secular ideas.
This is not true, of course. The ideas one secular thinker likes will not necessarily appeal even to another secular thinker, let alone to someone who knows God and chooses to obey him. Secular thinkers have the mistaken idea that an idea with no relationship to God must be a universal idea for all humans. They further suggest that the moral standards a secularist invents without reference to any religious authority are more valid than moral standards that originate in revelation from God.
The truth is that moral ideas with no source of authority have no validity whatsoever. Christians accept God’s authority as the origin of their teaching that murder is wrong. God’s authority gives logical validity to a law that prohibits and punishes murder.
However, if secularists say that there is no God and people exist because of a mathematical probability, then by what authority do they consider the Holocaust evil? How could Hitler be considered evil if there is no God? If people deny God yet consider Hitler evil, what makes them think they have a right to judge Hitler? If there is no external authority that has standing to judge the morality of human acts, then each human is his own law. If there is no moral authority over human beings, why do some humans believe that their own moral perceptions have any more authority over others than the Bible has? As Dostoevsky asked in The Brothers Karamazov, if there is no God, doesn’t that make everything lawful?
I ask, “What gives secularists the right to impose their beliefs on Christians?”
The men who wrote the Constitution of the United States of America asked questions like this. They were very concerned about fundamental human rights and the conflicts that occasionally arise when a compelling interest of government conflicts with the dictates of private conscience. The First Amendment explicitly protects the right of citizens to act on, that is to “exercise,” the dictates of a conscience shaped by religious authority in moral matters
Currently in the US, many business owners are being hauled into court over their unwillingness to participate in ceremonies that purport to establish a marriage between two people of the same gender. Their unwillingness of someone to participate in an action that that person considers to be sin is being called discrimination. The defendants in these cases are accused of trying to impose Christian values on non-Christian people when they refuse to participate in immoral acts. This is ridiculous.
Think back to your childhood. Remember a time when someone asked you a question such as, “Wanta play dominoes?” and you said, “No.” When you declined to participate in the game, you were not imposing your will on the other person; you were acting on your own choice for the way to use your own time. Your friend could always ask other people to play. Your unwillingness to play did not prevent your friend from playing dominoes. Your response simply meant that you chose not to play. You were not imposing your choice not to play on someone who wanted to play.
Likewise, when a florist refuses to provide flowers for a ceremony that pretends there can be a marriage between two people of the same gender, the florist is declining to be a party to immoral behavior. The florist is not, however, preventing the people who want to act this way from going ahead with their plans. All the florist does is to refuse to participate.
If a court rules that the florist must participate, then the court is imposing secular values on a Christian person. If it is wrong for a Christian to impose religious values on a secular person, then it must necessarily be wrong for a secular person to impose secular values on a Christian person.
This is the place where our country has arrived, and it is all because there appear to be a number of judges who do not understand the First Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment protects the “free exercise” of religion, which includes the right to refuse to participate in behavior that flouts the moral code by which one lives. The framers of the Constitution did not intend for secularists to be able to impose secular values on Christian people.
Question: What gives secularists the right to impose their beliefs on Christians?