I’ve been blogging quite a bit these past few days on issues around the Berkshire B&B which refused to let a room to a male couple. In the light of all the issues around discrimination on the grounds of orientation/behaviour and the right to freedom of expression, I thought it would be useful if I fully laid out my position. So here goes – what would Chez Ould look like if we turned it into a Christian B&B?
It would be a B&B that had no problem letting rooms to gay couples and straight couples (and anywhere in between) whether they were married, in a civil partnership or otherwise.
There. Did that surprise any of you? Let me explain the thinking behind that sentence. It seems to me that if Christians want to do business in a heathen world then they need to be prepared to do business with heathens. If Christians want to witness to heathens they need to have relationships with them in the first place. That means that we need to meet the unsaved where they are, not where we want them to be.
Now I understand that some Christians have genuine issues with allowing sex between those who are unmarried happening inside their home. I understand that. I agree with them entirely that sex outside of marriage (“fornication” if you want to get technical) is not how God has intended us to express ourselves relationally, but I am also quite aware that despite my views and pontifications on the subject its still going on. It’s going on up and down my street, throughout my town, all over my country. It’s what the heathens do. They don’t know any different because they don’t know God and his Word. While I’ll happily defend Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, and while I’m fascinated by the way that the current discrimination laws are badly worded because they have a hard job delineating what “orientation” actually means, at the end of the day I’m concerned that in our every day lives we are mission focussed.
So let’s say you turn up to Chez Ould. You would get a warm welcome and be taken up to your reasonably appointed room. If you had a little explore you would find a Gideon’s Bible in the draw of the table (with a note telling you that you can take it away if you want) together with a copy of Why Jesus or some other suitable literature. If you decided to go into the lounge you couldn’t help but notice the icon of the Risen Jesus as you came down the stairs (especially if you came down the stairs at the same time as Reuben who always says hello to Jesus as he passes him). Browsing the bookshelves you’d see a good mix of Tom Clancy, Catherine Cookson and some Christian books.
And hopefully it would have twigged – the owners of this B&B are Christians. Frankly it should have twigged when you looked at the website and there was a Bible quote on every page (Hebrews 13:2). And then as a guest you’re left with a choice – do you want to talk about it or not?
Some B&B guests will happily eat their breakfasts, pay their bill, say their thanks and goodbyes and vanish into the new day. Others will want to know more and might ask one or two questions. At this point as a guest you’ll get the answer to the question you asked, not because we rammed it down your throat or because we pre-approved you for the use of our beds, but rather because you want to know the answer. It might even be that there is something (someOne really) nudging you to ask the question.
So we get into a conversation about Jesus. You might ask some very simple questions (“What’s that about?”), you might ask some interesting questions (“If you’re Christians why did you let us two blokes share a bed?”), but they’ll be your questions. All I expect at this point is that you respect my views and life choices as much as I have respected yours. I don’t expect you to ask a provocative question about my views on sexual activity and then claim that my answer created an environment that was demeaning or insulting. I would expect the law at this point to protect me, not condemn me.
Wouldn’t it be an interesting world if Christians decided to love people that they came across in their line of work, regardless of whether we approved of everything they did or not? Wouldn’t it be an interesting world if we simply lived as Christians whose entire being had been changed by God (some of us quite dramatically) and in simply being living sacrifices we provoked the heathens to inquire about what was different in our lives?
Now that would be worthy of the front page of the Daily Mail don’t you think?