Keeping Jesus in the Manger

We have government leaders and citizens who think we can only think whatever they want to think in private. Keep your ethical views to yourself and just stay in your prayer “closet,” and everything will be just fine. But come out of the closet and say anything about homosexual intimacy, and we will come after you.

Christmas is the Christian celebration of God’s incarnation, his being born to us in a manger. But we all know Jesus didn’t just stay in the manger. He eventually climbed Golgatha’s hill, where, according to the Bible, he paid the price for our rebellion against God. So it’s ironic that at Christmastime, some government leaders in Nashville would have us keep Jesus in the manger, permanently.

Specifically, the “Scrooges” in this case are some members of the Council for Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County. The recent flap about Belmont University has made it plain that for them a Christian worldview has no place in the public square. In other words, everybody else can come out of the proverbial “closet,” but Jesus needs to stay in his manger.

For those outside the Metro news area, Belmont University, which touts itself as a Christian university, recently parted ways with a women’s soccer coach when her lesbian ways became too hard to hide—she and her partner were having a baby via artificial insemination.

Now, leaving aside whether Belmont and Scripture have anything to say about homosexual intimacy, there is always the issue of the Fifth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.” Either God, at the time of inscribing this commandment, in his foreknowledge as the Alpha and the Omega, didn’t foresee children being conceived and brought into this world without a father, or he mistakenly issued a commandment that children conceived as in this case cannot comply with. But in any event, Belmont apparently decided that at least one biblical ethic is that children ought not to be brought into this world with no intention of them having a mom and a dad. But maybe that’s presuming too much about Belmont’s reading of the Bible.

In any event, when questioned about it, the Chair of Belmont’s Board, Marty Dickens, said that Belmont adhered to Christian ethics and that it would make no apology for doing so. Here is his “inflammatory” statement:

We adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don’t want to make apologies for that.

Even though the President of Belmont, the next day, essentially said Belmont’s Christian ethics did not include any position on the expression of human sexuality and even though Mr. Dickens didn’t say anything about homosexuality per se, Belmont’s actions and Mr. Dickens’ statement were way too much for Councilmen Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson.

These two council members filed a proposed ordinance that would rescind a contractual agreement between Belmont and the City under which Belmont pays to use a certain city park for student recreational activities. In other words, what Belmont did and what its Board Chairman said were so offensive that these council members are willing to give up the $7 million the City gets under the contract. And let’s not even get into the fact that the ordinance, by interfering with existing contractual obligations, is contrary to the state and U.S. Constitutions’ prohibition on “impairment of contracts.” No point letting the constitution stand in the way of punishing a Christian college for a politically incorrect decision.

But punishing Belmont is not enough. These two council members, with the verbal support of Councilwoman Megan Barry, have now filed an ordinance that would prohibit any third party from contracting with the city unless they have a written policy giving special employment rights to those who engage in homosexual activity and want to be treated like (or dress like) a person of a sex other than the one assigned to them at birth (e.g. cross-dressing).

But even this ordinance is not enough. Some even question whether Mr. Dickens should be serving as Chair of the City’s Convention Center Board because his ethical values put a “black eye” on the City. The Tennessee Equality Project has asked for an official examination of this issue.

In fact, a local attorney was quoted in the Nashville City Paper on December 12th as putting the issue this way:

The discriminatory nature of those in using religion to support discrimination is intolerable. As a member of that private institution, he has the right to say what he wants, and they have the right to do what they want. However, he also wears another hat … therefore, any statements that he makes publicly have a direct impact on the reputation of our city and the success of that $600 million capital-plus project right in the middle of town.

Now he has gone public and made it known that he does not feel that everyone is welcome at his university, and it can’t but follow that he does not feel that everyone should be treated equal or should be welcome here.

In other words, we have government leaders and citizens who think Mr. Dickens and his ilk can only think whatever they want to think in private. Keep your ethical views to yourself and just stay in your prayer “closet,” and everything will be just fine. But come out of the closet and say anything about homosexual intimacy, and we will come after you. In other words, just keep your baby Jesus in his manger and everything will be all right.