Recently a law was passed in Tennessee that allows mental health counselors to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist’s religious or personal beliefs. Unfortunately, it is just one of many laws, passed or being discussed, that allows the religious to deny service because of their beliefs.
Obviously, as a non-believer, I feel this type of discrimination is wrong-wrong-wrong.
However, since I have a few Christian followers, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you of a story from the bible related to the woman who came to get some water at the community well. As you probably recall, Jesus was there when she arrived and he asked her for a drink of water.
It’s important to remember this woman was a Samaritan, a race of people the Jews utterly despised and regarded as the worst of the human race. In fact, according to John 8:45, they believed the Samaritans were possessed by demons. The woman obviously knew this because when Jesus asked her for a drink, she commented (John 4:9):
How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
There is considerably more to the story (Jesus also discusses the woman’s husbands and a few other things), but the church primarily highlights the moment when Jesus tells the woman he could have given her “living water.” In fact, they use it quite extensively to minister to the “unsaved.”
However, for me, there’s a much deeper message to this story.
Doesn’t Jesus’ ministering to this despised outcast of Jewish society reveal that all people are valuable to God? Doesn’t this indicate that Jesus desires for his followers to demonstrate love to everyone . . . including those who are “different” or who do not share one’s “religious or personal beliefs?”
Hello, Christians. Do you not get the message? In spite of the hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans, this woman was accepted by Jesus. During this brief encounter, he was able to break down barriers between the two groups. And what happened as a result? She hurried back to her village to share her wondrous experience (she even left her water jar!).
Now let’s consider the law passed in Tennessee.
If believers are allowed to deny service to others simply because they don’t share the same beliefs (I don’t think I need to be specific here), isn’t this going against the teachings of Jesus as exemplified in this story?
You may go to church regularly, listen to Christian music, you may even carry a bible around, but if you’re going to proclaim to yourself and those around you that you’re a Christ-follower, how can you legitimately refuse to serve others in your community — whether or not they agree with your religious or personal beliefs?