Gays, Lesbians, and Christian Entrepreneurs

by Brad Harmon on January 25, 2010 in Entrepreneurs

Gays, Lesbians, and Christian Entrepreneurs | marketplace christianity

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Never one to shy away from controversial topics, I thought we’d look at how Christian entrepreneurs should approach gay or lesbian employees in the workplace.

The homosexual agenda has been aggressively promoted through movies, television, the media, and political activism.  Some would say that because the efforts are so militant they feel that the cause has been pushed upon them and they’re labeled a homophobe if they dares disagree with it.

It’s hard to tell exactly what percentage of the population is gay or lesbian, but chances are good that as your small business grows you will employ someone who is.  The question then is how will you, as a Christian entrepreneur, handle this situation?

Homosexuality and the Bible

May I make a confession?  There are passages in the Bible that I do not like and that I wish I could rip out.  The problem is that once one starts down this path it destroys the basis for any other tenets of one’s faith.  It’s an all or nothing proposition.

I believe that the Bible is clear that homosexual acts are a sin.  I understand the sincere desire of those who want to find evidence in the pages of the Bible supporting their homosexuality; however, there simply isn’t any merit to the argument based on Scripture.

If you completely disagree with me on this issue the rest of this post is not for you. If, however, you agree then homosexuality poses a challenge in the workplace.

Are Christians Homophobes?

I’m not sure whether homosexuality is due to genetic predisposition, environmental factors, or a combination of both.  It isn’t the attraction to the same sex that is a sin though, it’s acting upon that attraction in thought or deed that is the sin.

In many ways, homosexual acts are the same as adultery.  Adultery is mentioned much more in the Bible, and it’s more prevalent in our society, so why aren’t Christians in an uproar about it instead?

First, it hits much closer to home. It’s human nature to point the finger at someone else’s behavior to distract from your own, or one you can imagine.

Second, other sins like adultery do not stand up and demand to be recognized and legitimized.  There’s not an adultery movement demanding rights.

It’s interesting that in both Old and New Testament times either sin would have brought down the wrath of the Law on the offenders.  Unfortunately, adultery has become so ubiquitous in our society today that it seldom raises an eyebrow anymore.

Should Christian Entrepreneurs Hire Homosexuals?

You may not legally have a choice depending on the location of your business, the size of your business, or with whom you do business.  While I firmly believe that what is morally right will always trump what is legally right, does that really apply to our hiring decisions?

I can empathize with those Christian entrepreneurs that will argue that hiring homosexuals will hurt their “Christian Owned Business” branding.  Even with a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, sometimes there’s no need to ask.  Often though, you’d never know.

If a person adheres to your dress code, does not actively promote their agenda, and does good work for you then I don’t see how their sexual orientation should come into the hiring decision – even if you believe it to be a sin.

The bigger problem is what does that mean once they become your employee?

Should Christian Entrepreneurs Offer Same Sex Benefits?

I think most Christian entrepreneurs are probably thinking that this is where they get off the train.  It’s the crux of the homosexual agenda – to be recognized equally with heterosexual couples.  It’s hard not to see the merit from their side.

Christian entrepreneurs should have the richest benefit plans that they can afford to give their employees, but what if having such a plan “legitimizes” this sin?  Should you discriminate against homosexuals because of it?

How will such a decision impact your health insurance plans, life insurance policies, retirement plans, bereavement pay, adoption benefits, or a myriad of other fringe benefits?

Just like with employment, you may not legally have a choice whether to extend coverage.  In these cases, the only way not to legally extend the benefits would be to offer none to all employees.

Should Christian Entrepreneurs Make Work Gay Friendly?

What type of culture will you create for homosexual employees?  The implications can quickly become far reaching.

Will they be able to bring their “husband” or “wife” to the company picnics or Christmas party?  Will you allow their “spouse’s” picture to be displayed on their desks?

What about baby or wedding showers at the workplace for gay couples?  Will you allow public displays of affection in the workplace?

You see how quickly this starts affecting the entire company culture?  Legal issues abound in the culture of the company.

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

I’m really torn when it comes to this issue.  In the end it seems to come down to three alternatives: offer no benefits, discriminate against homosexuals with your benefits, or offer the same benefits to everyone.

I can’t say in this matter what every Christian entrepreneur should do.  For me, I would offer the same benefits to everyone hoping that my compassion and love would cover any sin committed by legitimizing homosexual relationships.

As far as company culture is concerned, I would allow significant others for company events and allow pictures on desks.  I would not allow any baby or wedding showers on-site or public displays of affection regardless of sexual orientation.

Please Sound Off

I’m interested in what you have to say on this topic.  What decisions would you make as a Christian entrepreneur?  Does extending benefit coverage to same sex relationships really legitimize the relationship?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Ms. Freeman January 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm

That's a good topic and you are a brave one to post about it. I for one would hire the best people to do the best job and if my company that they have helped to build can afford insurance for its employees then all of my employees will be covered equally. Whether it is a sin or not is an individual opinion, but none of us are permitted to pass judgment on another person. That too is written in the bible.

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Alison Moore Smith January 25, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Christian entrepreneurs should have the richest benefit plans that they can afford to give their employees…

I realize this isn't the actual crux of your post, but when I read this statement, I have to ask how many employees you have. To me — and as an employer — that is a nonsensical position to for an employer to take. In fact, I think it's utterly backward to have most benefits tied to employment at all.

As to your actual questions, I don't have any hard answers. As someone who has some homosexual friends and who still believes homosexual behavior is a sin, I do find difficulty in the knowing that, without question, treating homosexual relationships on par with heterosexual ones does legitimize sin in our culture.

I was also interested in the implication you give that doing something good "covers" doing something bad. I'd l like to hear more of what you mean, but generally speaking, I think the only thing that covers our sin is the grace of God through the atonement by repentance.

Always good stuff, Brad. 🙂
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Brad Harmon January 25, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Alison,

I will be doing a series on employer benefits soon after I wrap up some of my overdue commitments from December, but I will be providing examples from small businesses with 5 to 10 employees all the way through companies with 10,000+ employees. It's very interesting when looking at the cost benefit analysis of taking this approach, plus I believe it is taught in the Bible through numerous examples. Stay tuned. 🙂

1 Pet 4:8 (NIV) says "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." I'm not sure that providing these benefits actually legitimizes their sin. For me, I would rather error on loving my neighbor through my actions than withholding my love for fear that some may feel my actions are an approval of their lifestyle and my compassion a sin.

Another way of thinking about it is in marriage we forgive the faults of our partners when they unintentionally hurt us because they are covered over by the love they have shown us. It is not a statement on the remission of our sins towards God, nor is it an excuse to do something bad in the name of love. When in doubt though, go with love.

Brad

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Brad Harmon January 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I'm not sure that you are saying this, but I want to add my thoughts to your comments at the end.

1) There are some sins that are clearly listed in the Bible which are not subject to opinion, but there are also some areas that can be left open to the interpretation of the reader as lead by the Holy Spirit. These require discernment; however, I think too many Christians confuse this with judgment.

2) There are pretty strict rules on how one is to sit in judgment over another. Rarely are they followed. Christ gives us more of a warning than a command when it comes to passing judgment on others.

In Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV) He says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

It is not surprising to see so many who have attacked the homosexual community have the skeletons in their own closets revealed when that same scrutiny is pointed back on them. It's sad to see how often truth is spoken without love.

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Brandon Cox January 26, 2010 at 2:50 am

Wow Brad – you have taken a rather giant leap here when it comes to engaging controversial subjects! From a Pastor's perspective, I hear and respect your heart. I identify with everything you're saying. Homosexuality is, according to Scripture, sin. But homosexuals are clearly and deeply loved by God and should be by His people as well.

I also agree on the difference between judgment and discernment. I'm in no place to pronounce condemnation on someone, nor am I in any position to make assessments about the good or evil of a person's heart. God alone knows these things.

I struggle to know whether I agree with your ultimate conclusion about offering the benefits as a business owner, but I know I'm at least 90% with you, and maybe more. Very thorough and balanced treatment of a very tricky subject!

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Brad Harmon January 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV), "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. "

As I have gone through this process in my own life I am beginning to see the arrogance (one of my personality flaws) in holding steadfast to dogma over showing Christ's love to others. I think it is easy to confuse sound doctrine with a dogmatic adherence to a set of rules that we, as man, have created.

When we look at the example set by Christ, we see that He broke the Sabbath to heal, He refused to carry out the sentence that the adulterous woman deserved under the law, He ate with the publicans and sinners, and on and on. Each time this put the religious establishment up in arms; however, each time it resulted in sinners coming to Him.

His actions could certainly be mistaken as legitimizing these sins, but He chose to express His love. For me (again this is ME working out MY salvation), it is an example that I think applies to this topic. As an employer, extending fringe benefits to cover a person's same sex partner is an example of loving my neighbor as myself. Would Christ have refused to heal a homosexual's lover? I think no.

Let nobody be confused – sin is sin. Homosexual acts are most definitely sin. I am not advocating advertising as a "Gay Friendly Workplace," but I do believe we should provide a work environment that is friendly for all of our employees. By doing such, I think we better show the example of Christ's love.

It's time that Christians become dogmatic about loving people. God showed His love towards us while we were yet sinners, while we were yet without strength, and while we were enemies to Him. I would rather error on the side of trying to show His love on this topic.

Like you, I am not 100% sure my conclusion is correct; however, having held the view for more than 20 years that it is better not to give the appearance of legitimizing the sin has not led to a single person coming to know Christ's love and forgiveness.

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MikeHolmes January 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

You know what…I used to thing I was a troublemaker…but that new crown goes to….

Brad, I think it would be wrong NOT to offer benefits on the basis of someone's sexual preference. Biblically, homosexuality is a sin–point blank.

But you said it best : we should "become dogmatic about loving people." You cant lend people a hand if you're too busy point a finger.

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MikeHolmes January 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm

This is the statement I agree with: "For me, I would offer the same benefits to everyone hoping that my compassion and love would cover any sin committed by legitimizing homosexual relationships."

Should I NOT offer benefits to someone just because of their preferences. Heck, I might as well start offering to them based on their race or gender.

That's what I mean

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Brad Harmon January 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm

If it will shake Christians loose from their God-ordained spots on the pews and into the day-to-day meeting of people's needs in meaningful ways showing the love of Christ, then I will gladly accept your crown. It's time that Christians started looking a little more like Christ! Beginning with me.

As Christian entrepreneurs, we have to come up with workplace policies that impact topics like these. There needs to be more forums where we can openly and honestly discuss these issues without the judgmental attitudes and labeling from all sides of the discussion.

I'm a little confused by your comment. Are you saying that it is wrong to extend benefits to someone's same sex life partner (i.e. a civil union)? It appears that way given the context, but I could also read it another way.

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Brad Harmon January 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Thanks for clearing that up. I like the point you make and it takes me down another road of thought.

A whole chain of questions beg to be answered if you decide to exclude same sex coverage. Race and gender are not sins, but there was a time when many Christians would have said they were – or at least treated them like they were. It would open the door on questions like an employee's gay child, wives of polygamists, gluttony, drunkenness, murderers, etc.

Where do we draw that line? How far do we extend it? As I pointed out, I'm not 100% sure that my answer is the right one.

It is not my intention to say that those who believe this is a matter of conscious not to extend benefits are evil or wrong. One could choose not to provide benefits, but then show Christ's love through volunteering in the gay community with causes such as aids, domestic violence, or hate crime prevention. As a whole, Christians have only paid lip service to "love the sinner, hate the sin" when it comes to this topic. So much more could be done.

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