The New Prejudice
These moves have been so successful that now the crowd cannot see the irony. If you oppose gay marriage, you must be a bigot. There is no way to think otherwise since the discussion has been framed in terms of equality, instead of in terms of the redefinition of an established social institution. The prejudice is now on the other foot. Without even considering arguments to the contrary, people will form negative conclusions about others because of an alternate opinion. That is prejudice.
Ironically, those who say that Christians are bigots are in fact engaging in bigoted behavior. And not just against Christians, but against anyone who holds reservations about “marriage equality.” You do not need to be a Christian to recognize the problems with it. Remember that a bigot is “a person who has very strong, unreasonable beliefs or opinions … who will not listen to or accept the opinions of anyone who disagrees.” Society will now not even listen to alternate points of view on the issue. And therein lies the irony.
The Old Prejudice
Christians facing prejudice is nothing new. The first Christians faced it head-on in the Roman Empire. The apostle Peter encouraged his readers to conduct themselves honorably among the pagans so that “when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glory God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). Notice Peter’s phrase “when they speak against you as evildoers.” How could genuine Christians be thought of as evildoers?
The Romans thought that Christians hated the human race (so recorded the historian Tacitus), that they engaged in incest because they were married to their “brothers and sisters,” and were cannibals because they ate the body and blood of Christ. All of these were obviously grave misunderstandings. But Peter’s exhortation is, in effect, let them get to know you. The only real solution to prejudice is knowledge. As a friend of mine once said, “It’s hard to demonize someone when you get to know them.”
We are now the targets of an irrational prejudice. But we should not pout, despair or withdraw. Unjust opposition is nothing new for followers of the crucified Christ. We are called to suffer it well, following his example (1 Peter 2:21–25). So far as we are able, let’s allow those who vilify us to get to know us. If we are truly following Christ, knowing who we really are will go a long way to dispel prejudice.