Moral revolutions require legal revolutions. This is certainly the case with the sexual revolution and its various causes of sexual liberation. A revolution is only complete when the legal structure aligns itself with a new moral understanding. This alignment is exactly what is taking place in American public life on the issue of gay liberation.
Every society has a structure of systems that either influence or coerce behavior. Eventually, societies move to legislate and regulate behavior in order to align the society with what is commonly, or at least largely, considered morally right and wrong. Civilization could not survive without a system of moral controls and influences.
Throughout almost all of Western history, this process has played out in a non-threatening way for the Christian church and Christians in the larger society. So long as the moral judgment of the culture matched the convictions and teachings of the church, the church and culture were not at odds in the courts. Furthermore, under these conditions, to be found on the wrong side of a moral assessment was unlikely for Christians.
All that began to change in the modern age as the culture became more secularized and as Western societies moved more progressively distant from the Christian morality they had embraced in the past. Christians in this generation recognize that we do not represent the same moral framework now pervasively presented in academia, the creative culture, and the arena of law. The secularization of public life and the separation of society from its Christian roots have left many Americans seemingly unaware of the fact that the very beliefs and teachings for which Christians are now criticized were once considered not only mainstream beliefs, but essential to the entire project of society. As the sexual revolution pervades society, and as the issues raised by the efforts of gay liberation and the legalization of same-sex marriage come to the fore, Christians now face an array of religious liberty challenges that were inconceivable in previous generations.
In one of the most important of these cases, a judge found that a wedding photographer broke the law by refusing to serve at a same-sex wedding. In an incredibly revealing decision, the court stated that the religious liberties of the photographer would indeed be violated by coerced participation in a same-sex wedding. Nevertheless, the court found that the new morality trumped concern for religious liberty.
Similarly, we have seen religious institutions, especially colleges and schools, confronted by demands that amount to a surrender to the sexual revolution with regard to nondiscrimination on the basis of sex, sexual behavior, and sexual orientation. In some jurisdictions, lawmakers are contemplating hate crime legislation that would marginalize and criminalize speech that is in conflict with the new moral consensus.