David Closson is Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council. This article appeared in the Standing for Freedom Center on April 8, 2021.
The biblical worldview teaches that all people are made in God’s image and possess inherent value and dignity. Furthermore, Christians are told to do justice (Micah 6:8), love our neighbor (Mark 12:31), and reject partiality (James 2:1). Therefore, Christians should oppose unjust discrimination. But does that mean Christians should support the Equality Act?
In a word, no. Contrary to its name, the Equality Act does not advance equality or stymie unjust discrimination. A careful analysis of the bill’s text reveals that it will accelerate discrimination against tens of millions of Americans whose beliefs about human sexuality and marriage are informed by science and religious convictions. It will mandate conformity to an ideology antithetical to core tenets of the biblical worldview and codify a host of harmful social policies that touch on nearly every facet of life.
The full implications of a bill as expansive as the Equality Act are difficult to predict; however, the most immediate effects are clear. The Equality Act would remove existing religious liberty protections, dramatically expand abortion access, and threaten women’s equality, privacy, and safety.
Persuasion, not coercion, is the means of drawing followers to the Gospel. The Greek word peitho (to persuade, to induce one by words to believe) is used to describe the apostle Paul’s evangelism (Acts 19:8, 28:23; 2 Corinthians 5:11).
By enshrining religious liberty in the First Amendment, the framers of the U.S. Constitution acknowledged that people should be free to believe what they want to in regards to doctrine and to order their lives in accordance with those beliefs. Unfortunately, the Equality Act undermines that freedom by gutting existing religious liberty protections and coercing acceptance of a new orthodoxy.
First, the Equality Act expands the definition of public accommodation to include any organization that provides goods, services, or programs to their communities. This means houses of worship would no longer be allowed to have sex-specific programs or private facilities. Furthermore, churches could be required to hire people for non-ministerial positions who do not agree with the church’s beliefs on marriage and sexuality.
Second, the Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which passed unanimously in the House and 97-3 in the Senate before President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1993. If a religious individual believes the Equality Act has violated their beliefs, RFRA is no longer a claim they can bring in court. If they are sued for non-compliance, RFRA is not a defense they can raise.
Similarly, the Equality Act would threaten the existence of Christian seminaries, universities, and colleges that receive any form of federal financial assistance — potentially including federal loans, which many students rely on to pay tuition. By amending Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a “catch-all” non-discrimination provision on all federal funds, the Equality Act would require schools that receive federal funding to comply with its sexual orientation and gender identity requirements, including admissions and housing standards. The financial impact would be devastating for Christian colleges that refused to comply, and many would be forced to shut down.
Under the Equality Act, sex discrimination would be redefined to incorporate language that courts have previously ruled includes abortion. This redefinition — in conjunction with the bill’s RFRA exemption and expansion of what constitutes a public accommodation — jeopardizes long-standing federal conscience laws that protect medical professionals and taxpayers opposed to abortion. By means of these changes, the Equality Act would effectively create a legislative right to abortion.
Scripture is clear that innocent human life ought to be protected. For example, consider Proverbs 24:11-12:
“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”
Furthermore, Psalm 139 attests to the personhood of the unborn. In verses 13-16, David describes God’s dealings with him in utero:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Elsewhere, the Bible affirms the personhood of the unborn in Luke 1:39-45, Jeremiah 1:4-5, and Exodus 21:22-25.
By expanding abortion access, the Equality Act further entrenches the culture of death that has claimed the lives of 62 million unborn children since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973. In 2019 alone, Planned Parenthood aborted a record-high 354,871 children.
Women’s Equality, Privacy, and Safety
The Equality Act would redefine “sex” to include gender identity. This would prove detrimental to women’s equality, privacy, and safety in a variety of ways. For instance, biological males who identify as female would have to be allowed to compete in women’s sports. Not only is it unsafe for women to compete against biological males in high-contact sports (due to males being faster and stronger on average), but this policy would also unfairly penalize female athletes for their physiological makeup and inhibit their ability to be seen by college recruiters and obtain scholarships.
Furthermore, the Equality Act would sacrifice women’s safety and privacy on the altar of political correctness by requiring the admittance of biological males who identify as female into women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and even battered women’s shelters.
Scripture is clear that God created two sexes:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:17)
God created both men and women to be His image-bearers but also made them distinctly male and female. To deny these distinctions is to reject God’s good and perfect design.
Scripture is clear that it is unjust to show partiality:
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1).
“To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.” (Proverbs 28:21).
However, the Equality Act is not equal nor is it just. It shows partiality towards a radical LGBT agenda and discriminates against millions of Americans. Christians are called to love our neighbors but nowhere in the Bible are we required to compromise the safety and well-being of some of our neighbors to accommodate the desires of a few. We should stand strong against this false representation of equality so that freedom can thrive in our nation.