The provocative title is more narrow than this editorial. I’m reading all of the rhetoric about baking cakes and making pizzas, and it occurs to me that some of you, at least, are on an agenda-driven adventure of missing the point. Completely.
There are several issues here. Some are civil. Some are religious.
Civil issue 1) Should a person of faith (or no faith) be required by the state to violate their conscience? I should say not. This is precisely what has been at issue since the Obama administration began to prosecute businesses that object to paying for abortofacients (drugs or other contraceptives that cause de facto abortions to occur). This is what is at issue when a business that bakes wedding cakes, does wedding photography or rents space is required by the government to do so for those who are plainly in violation of every religions traditional view of marriage.
Civil issue 2) Should a business person with any particular viewpoint be forced to trade or service those with whom they disagree. We see signs on restaurants (and similar establishments) that stay: “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone.” Is that acceptable? Not in the broadest interpretation, but it is done all of the time, and we don’t experience a media firestorm over it. That’s because this refusal is typically for an agreed upon good reason. For example, most of us would agree with a restaurant refusing to serve someone not wearing a shirt or shoes. However, there could be a civil rights lawsuit filed if the restaurant refused to serve someone because of their race or religion. This is the generalization that the left is seeking to make concerning issue 1 above. Refusing to serve a homosexual in your restaurant is not the same as refusing to cater their wedding. Anyone may enter a restaurant, order and eat. The restaurant is not perceived as condoning the lifestyle choice of every patron. However, catering a wedding may be perceived as tacitly or actively supporting, if not the couple, homosexual marriage.
Religious issue 1) From a Christian perspective, should I do business with openly gay people, adulterers, spousal or child abusers? I’m sure many will be offended that I’ve bundled these types of people together. For the record, I do not think consensual homosexuality is harmful in the same way as spousal or child abuse. What I want you to understand is, there are some people you don’t want to do business with because of their character or lifestyle. But should you? The argument I’m hearing from a number of Christians is the standard evangelical mantra. We should do it to witness to them. I would agree, if that’s your genuine motive. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, both groups despised by the religious leadership of his day. However, Jesus was never accused of either sinning or extorting money from people (as the tax collectors were accused of doing). The Lord taught the truth and spoke honestly about the need for both the religious and the irreligious to change their thinking and change their ways. Often when a Christian does business or befriends someone who is living a lifestyle that openly defies biblical morality, we just look the other way. And that is why we have a godless nation today. Develop relationships with everyone, even those who don’t think the way you do, even those who oppose Christianity, and then openly share love, grace and truth. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before people in such a way that they see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
Religious issue 2) Should a Christian caterer or photographer (for example) do their work for a homosexual wedding? I’m not asking whether they should have a civil right to refuse, but whether, from a biblical standpoint, this business person should participate in such an event.
No, I do not believe a Christian has any business (pardon the unintended pun) supporting something so obviously against Christian morality and the Bible, and beyond that against the time honored traditions of every civilization and religion for 5,000 years. As a minister, I would go to jail rather than officiate a homosexual wedding. Now, you may think that I shouldn’t be forced to marry a gay/lesbian couple because I am a minister in a church. The case I would make is, every Christian is a representative of Christ and every one of us are ministers. I have done videography. I would refuse to do a gay/lesbian wedding. But let’s say a homosexual couple, “married” or not, approached me to do videography for one of their children’s sporting events or birthday parties. Would I take that job. Absolutely. Look at Religious issue 1 again. If I baked cakes, would I do so for the birthday of a vocal homosexual. Again, yes… unless, they ordered some sort of sexually explicit decoration (which I would refuse to do for a heterosexual as well).
Christian friends, you need to stop allowing the culture to make up your mind about these issues. You must stop being swayed by the opinions of your friends and relatives. As a disciple of Jesus I am shaped by his teaching, the Gospel, the Word of God, which is in the Christian canon of the Bible. Speak the truth in love, and love the people of the world as Christ who died to prove his love for the whole world (Ephesians 4:15, John 3:16).
Would you die on the cross for a homosexual? Jesus did. He also died for the prostitutes and tax collectors, felons hanging on the cross next to him and wonder of wonders, he died for me…something that I often struggle to comprehend. By the way, you know of course he died for you too. We did not earn this forgiveness, it was given freely because of His love for us. If He loved us that much shouldn’t we love others, even those wicked gay folk? Should we refuse service because we deem them sinners? If we refuse to serve sinners we need to stop serving everyone. Religion is full of rules and regulations but Christ taught acceptance; He was a rebel who replaced and fulfilled religion with two concepts. Those were love God and love each other. The only people Christ was intolerant of were the religious leaders. It says that love is patient and kind, doesn’t envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, not irritable or resentful and doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing (mine or others). While we were STILL sinners Christ died for us. We did not need to ask for forgiveness before Christ decided if he was going to serve us, his service was freely given. Jesus didn’t say, “By how well you argue your point, how well you understand the biblical languages, and how well you use proper exegesis in hermenutics will all know you are my followers.” No, it was rather, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” When Jesus served by washing their feet, he didn’t ask questions, he wouldn’t even entertain questions of worthiness, he strapped on his apron and washed their feet. The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept. Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you. Jesus din’t say, “Refuse to serve and explain why you cannot and invite them to church.” No, he said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” As an American, I support the concept of a small business or an individual engaged in business to not have to provide their services in situations where they do not want to. When my husband and I went to New Mexico on our 20th Anniversary to renew our vows in New Mexico, I asked the hot air balloon company, the photographer and the videoographer all if they were alight with the fact this was a gay wedding – because I’m not rude. I would have supported their refusal, so long as they refused upfront and not after I had given them the info and they took my money only to leave me hanging. But on a spiritual level, as a gay man and a follower of Jesus Christ who is my personal Lord and Savior, I feel it is my duty to serve rather than convict or condemn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmG_lbX6jck