I can remember sitting in Bible class as a teenager, and half-listening to my teachers talk about standing up for Jesus in times of religious persecution. But, to me, persecution was an abstract concept that only happened outside of my little world. It happened in other places, but not my place. I always thought that standing up for Jesus would mean…deciding not to indulge in gossip or saying no to drugs and being made fun of. I could never have imagined that in my lifetime, no – even worse – in my twenties, I’d see Christians punished by the government for living out their faith.

In the last few months, we’ve seen state and federal law enforcement exalt “gay rights” above religious rights – making Christian business owners choose between living out their faith or living by the law of the land.

Here are a few recent instances of Christian businesses and business owners who have gone out of business, been investigated, or been fined for running their business in a way that aligns with their religion:

    Sweet Cakes By Melissa – This family-owned bakery, run by Christians, just went out of business, all because they declined making a wedding cake for a gay couple. The lesbian couple filed discrimination and the LGBT community boycotted the company and threatened other companies to keep them from doing business with Sweet Cakes. The owner claims LGBT boycotters made threats to her family and children, as well.
    – Who can forget the Christian photographers that the New Mexico Supreme Court decided “violated the state’s Human Right’s Act” by not shooting a gay wedding?
    – A florist in Washington faced his second lawsuit, in April, for refusing to cater gay weddings.
    Jack Phillips is a baker in Denver who wouldn’t bake a gay wedding cake. He is facing possible jail time.
    – A cookie shop in Indianapolis is under a discrimination investigation because they wouldn’t bake rainbow cookies for National Coming Out Day.
    – A T-shirt company in Lexington is caught in a Human Rights Commission Investigation for, of course, not making T-shirts for a gay organization.
    – In Canada, a Bed & Breakfast refusing to allow a gay couple to stay, was fined $4500.

Imagine if the tables were turned. What if a gay cookie shop owner was told by the authorities that he had to bake Christian, pro-traditional marriage cookies or else he would be fined…or go out of business…or face jail time. Could you imagine the outrage that would cause?

This is not progression. This is regression. Pilgrims came to this country to detach themselves from the Church of England and have the freedom to worship as they chose.

Christians are dubbed “intolerant,” but we are the only group in this country that isn’t shown that “tolerance” that liberals and LGBT activists claim they want for all.

I recently had a conversation with a pro-gay family member of mine who I love dearly. He told me that it was mean and bigoted for a Christian pastor to refuse marrying a gay couple. “Who are they to say who can love and who can’t?”

What I told my family member was that this isn’t about a pastor’s opinion on morality. It’s about God’s opinion. Non-Christians often point out the flaws of people in the Christian community and say “Look at that! That there! That’s un-Christian.” I think they do this because they don’t understand that Christianity isn’t for perfect people – it’s for sinners who need God’s grace and mercy to cover their sin. That being said, Christians who don’t support gay marriage aren’t doing it out of judgement or disdain toward another person. They are simply choosing to align their beliefs with the Bible.

Christians who are being led by the Holy Spirit look at a gay couple the same way they’d look at anyone else – even themselves. I’m a Christian and I wouldn’t even have to think about it if you asked me about my flaws and my sin. I’m riddled with sin! That’s why I need a Savior. I don’t look at a gay person and say, “Ew! Look at that sinner!” I look at them the same way I look at myself, thinking, “Man, we (all) really need a Savior.”

I told said-family member last week that I don’t oppose gay marriage to hurt or judge anyone. What I want for the LGBT community is to experience the same freedom and forgiveness that I’ve experienced in my own life. That’s all. That’s all I want for them – joy and happiness and contentment that I only found in Jesus.

It breaks my heart that this community has so much anger for people like me who would love nothing more than to see them happy and fulfilled. I don’t delight in their LGBT victories because of what I see happening to my brothers and sisters who run Christian businesses. I dread the day when we gather for church with the anticipation of authorities coming to take our pastors for simply stating the truth of what God says in His Word.

How do you defend your traditional values when confronted by someone who disagrees?