Talking about Hobby Lobby and religious freedom with liberal friends

Sometimes you have to make compromises for the sake of the larger society. In adjudicating conflicts of interest, however, reasonable people recognize that certain sorts of compulsion threaten personal integrity far more than others. It’s a drag if you can’t get the sort of dog you want, or can’t paint your house the color you want, or can’t buy a big drink when you’re really thirsty. We should acknowledge the real burdens that those sorts of laws create. Still, that kind of restriction doesn’t generally blight people’s whole lives. Curtailing the practice of their religion might.

If your liberal friends are enraged about the Hobby Lobby decision, ask them: Don’t we want to be the sort of society that respects personal integrity? I find that some people are more sympathetic to this point when I draw an analogy to close personal relationships (which might include same-sex relationships). In a million other contexts, liberals are fine with curtailing personal choice, but when it comes to romantic relationships, they view personal commitments as sacrosanct. Why? Presumably they think (and as far as it goes, I would agree) that a commitment to share a life with another person is defining in a way that most other decisions wouldn’t be. When a commitment of that seriousness is threatened, it represents more than just an attack on our lifestyle preferences. Personal integrity is at stake.