It's a long one today as I want to work through something that I've been thinking about recently.
There's been several stories in the news recently about some small businesses refusing to provide services or products for gay couples. One of the stories was about a cake business who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Another was a flower business and I think there was also a photographer who refused to shoot a gay wedding. Last week, a law passed the Kansas House of Representatives which allows businesses to deny services to certain people if those people's sexual or gender choices violates the business owner's religious convictions. I've been thinking about these cases a lot and wondering what I would do if I owned a cake business and a gay couple wanted me to make their wedding cake. What's the right thing to do in that case?
First, let's establish a few things. The Bible lists many sexual sins and homosexuality is one of them. God, who created everything and everyone, has the right to restrict marriage to one man and one woman for a lifetime. Homosexual couples, if they get married, are not married in the eyes of God because it's only a marriage if it is within the boundaries that God established.
Second, I do believe that businesses have a right to refuse services based on religious convictions. One of the fundamental rights that our country was built upon is freedom of religion. If something violates your conscience because of what you believe, you should not have to do it and (within reason) there are laws in place to protect you. So although many people are angry about this law in Kansas, I do believe it's the right law.
But, even if the law is right, should it be used? Should I, as a Christian, refuse to provide a cake for a gay wedding? And much more importantly, would Jesus? Honestly, I don't really know. Is it participating in sin to provide that cake, knowing that that couple is breaking God's laws and that their "marriage" is a sham? Before I attempt to answer that question, let me bring up something else that really needs to be said.
If I, as a cake makin' person, am going to refuse services to a gay couple because it violates my conscience, don't I also have to refuse to make a cake for a couple that's fornicating? Or a couple where one or both are divorced for unbiblical reasons? If I'm so concerned about not providing a cake to someone who's participating in sexual sin, doesn't that have to extend to everyone? And does it (or should it) make a difference if the person claims to be a Christian?
So, given all of the above, I've come to the conclusion that it's not a wise or helpful thing to deny someone a cake. First, although I think I'm standing by my principles, it will only make that couple (and many others, when the story gets out), hate me. We are supposed to love people and be a witness to the world. If we make them that spitting mad, they're going to hate all Christians because they think we hate them for their sexual choices. Second, if I'm going to stand by my principles, I have to deny everyone who is involved in sexual sin. I don't think a person can pick and choose which people are sinful enough to be denied the cake. And THAT will be one awkward conversation after another. Third, although there are exceptions, most gay people do not claim to be Christians. I find it silly and destructive that Christians require nonchristians to live by biblical principles. Now, if that gay couple claims to love Jesus, we might have to have a different conversation. But once again, there are many fornicators and adulterers who claim the name of Jesus. If you deny one, you have to deny all.
But we have to ask the question again... would Jesus deny them a cake? Jesus had a profession. He was a carpenter until He started His ministry at 30. Although I know people will disagree with this, I don't think Jesus refused to make cabinets for people who were sinning sexually. And ya know what? He knew exactly who those people were and what they were doing! Seeing how Jesus treated poeple in the Gospels, I would just find it really hard to believe that He'd refuse to make a cabinet for someone who's sinning.
Just for a moment, let's imagine a different scenario. I make cakes for special celebrations. A lesbian couple comes into my shop and wants me to make a cake for their wedding. I make the best, most beautiful cake I've ever made. They are thrilled. They tell all their friends about the amazing cake. They have me make a cake for their cat's birthday party. They have me make a cake for a friend's surprise party. Suddenly I'm seeing these people on a semi-regular basis. We have conversations and start to become friends. As the friendship grows, I'm given an opportunity to share my faith. Although they may not be saved immediately, they receive what I have to say because they know I genuinely care about them. And someday, maybe I'll see them in the kingdom.
I'm not saying it's bad to have convictions. I'm not even going to say that business owners who deny services based on their religious convictions are wrong. But is it wise or helpful? How are we supposed to love and serve and witness to these people if we just make them hate us? My pastor says something that I love: you need to build a bridge of friendship that will bear the weight of truth. If you just lob truth at someone without having a relationship with that person, all you're really doing is alienating them. Anyway, that's my two cents.