The apostle Paul writes, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2a). This is a time for us as a congregation to be in prayer for those in authority – specifically, for those in authority on our San Antonio City Council.
San Antonio’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance
Our City Council is currently considering amending its anti-discrimination ordinance to include a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of, among other things, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The ordinance defines discrimination as demonstrating “a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group of persons, or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability.” Many Jews, Muslims, and Christians have long considered homosexual activity, same-sex marriage, and transgender lifestyles to be “sinful.” Such a designation may now be considered discriminatory according to the definition of bias given in this ordinance. Thus, an ordinance meant to prohibit discrimination may set up a de facto form of discrimination against some people of faith because it may preclude people with certain religious beliefs from serving the City.
How Will This Ordinance Affect You?
- Bias: Pastors or other people of faith who discuss whether or not certain behaviors are “sinful” may be considered to be engaging in discrimination according to the definition of “bias” given in this ordinance. Such accusations of discrimination may affect both our ability to speak God’s truth in love and our freedoms of speech, religion, and association.
- Public Accommodations: If you are a business owner who has rental property, restaurants, hotels, or theatres, you may be compelled by this ordinance to violate your conscience and not operate the business according to your religious convictions.
- Appointments and Contracts with the City: A person may not be appointed to a position with the City if he or she is perceived to have a bias against those of a homosexual or transgender orientation and can be removed from office even if previously appointed. A person may also be precluded from contracting with the City if that person is perceived to have a bias against any group named in the ordinance.
Actions to Consider
- Pray for our City Council and consider what your response might be.
- Several local faith-based organizations have expressed concerns about the amended ordinance. You can read their concerns at sahumanrightscoalition.com.
- If you would like to learn more about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, read “A Pastoral Statement on President Obama’s Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage.”
- If you would like to contact your Council member or Mayor, go to sanantonio.gov for a list of districts, Council members, and contact information.
Finally, I encourage you to remember how Paul concludes his statement to Timothy on praying for those in authority: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Paul’s call to prayer is meant not only to affect our City officials; it is meant to affect us. It is meant to move us toward peace in times of tribulation and form in us a humble godliness, shaped by love, as a holy witness to a world filled with sin. It is meant, in a phrase, to lead us to “shine like stars.” May we, at Concordia, be people who do exactly this.