Recently, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill (SB 1062) that would essentially allow private businesses the ability to refrain from serving people who hold different moral views than them, based on those views. Specifically, allowing businesses to turn away service from gay or lesbian patrons. Governor Brewer's reasoning, in a word, was discrimination. In her words, "Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else." Discrimination. That word alone gives me pause. It's a dirty word in our society - more so than a lot of words we once held to be vulgar. In truth, I think that everyone discriminates, in the true sense of the word, every day. We all make personal judgments and decisions based on the discernible facts at our disposal. Not saying that's always a good thing, just saying it is common and unavoidable. But maybe I digress... The responses to Brewer's decision have been all over the place. A lot of the responses, I would say, are fairly typical. The GLBT community and supporters are celebrating. The offended business owners cry foul. What I find disconcerting in all of this is the Christian community's response - or more accurately, responses. We, as the bride of Christ, seem to be rather schizophrenic on this issue. Within my own Facebook feed, separated by only a couple of posts, I saw one Christian friend of mine post an article with the header "Perhaps Love Bakes a Cake." It's generally the idea that love trumps everything else. Another Christian friend posted an article entitled "Would Jesus Bake a Cake..." Its general assertion is that Jesus would not have anything to do with gay marriage. I encourage you to read both of these articles for yourself. I think they both stray beyond and fall short of scripture's teaching. In the first article, the writer asserts that the loving thing to do would be to go ahead and serve those who are different from us, who do not hold the same beliefs. Okay. But as reasoning, the writer cites compelling examples of how Christians seem to only have a problem with certain sins while basically condoning others. For example, to be unsupportive of gay marriage, yet celebrate the marriage of a couple who are admittedly engaging in premarital sex. It does seem pretty hypocritical. But is this line of thought really reason enough for baking the cake? Is the author's description of love reason enough? In the other post, the author asks "should a Jewish baker should be forced to make a cake for a group that wants to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler?" And "Was it wrong for a supermarket in New Jersey to refuse to write the name of a couple’s 3-year-old son in frosting on a birthday cake? The child's name is Adolf Hitler Campbell." There is another kind of hypocrisy exposed here. What's the proper response? Is it wrong for the government to force someone who holds a particular stance because of moral conviction to serve someone who does not hold that same stance? Yes, I think so. But maybe the better question to ask is this: Would it be wrong for that person to be "bigger than the issue" and go ahead and serve them anyway? Absolutely not. In fact, I think that's how Jesus would respond.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. ~Isaiah 53:7-9 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. ~1 Peter 2:20-23
Would Jesus bake a cake for a gay couple?
Unlike the author of Would Jesus Bake a Cake... I think He might. He was called the friend of sinners. He shared meals with prostitutes, tax collectors and people clearly labeled by the church of that day as “sinners.” I think He would just as readily share a meal with gay sinners as straight sinners. Even His own disciples were perplexed by the "bad company" He seemed intent upon keeping. But the thought comes to me: Could it be that shop owners and photographers are just scared of being labeled as "gay friendly"? But would that really be so bad, if those same shop owners used that influence to share the hope that they have, the love that Christ has given them, and the truth of God's Word? Would Jesus attend a gay wedding? Or would He give the couple a wedding gift - maybe a toaster or a couple of nice crystal glasses with their names engraved? I don't think so. There is a line somewhere between baking a cake – serving and spending time with sinful people - and conducting one’s behavior in ways that would signify celebrating their sin. Jesus would have a different approach.
Jesus would speak truth.
He would not be swayed or sidetracked. He would speak nothing but truth, out of nothing but love. Look at how He interacted with the Samaritan woman at the well. He knew the depth of her depravity, even when asking her for a drink of water, yet the words He spoke brought about a new understanding of her sinful condition, which resulted in an abrupt change in her behavior and nothing short of a transformation - not just for her but for all those around her. When Jesus ate with Zacchaeus, the response was not only repentance for sin, but restitution. And when Jesus look on with love at the rich young man who had apparently lived about as close to a righteous life in his own power as anyone ever has, Christ's loving response was truth - to expose the one area of sin that kept the young man from having fellowship with Christ - the one area that really kept him from being a true follower. Being gay, as far as I’m concerned, is no more sinful than any other sin. I do not desire to single out any one area as beyond Christ’s redemption, but in this case I do desire to share a biblical, loving, truth-clad response due to the exposure that this particular area - gay marriage - is continually receiving. I understand that in order to agree with me on this point of speaking truth into sin, you must view being gay as a sin. Scripture has plenty to say about that. I find debate about this issue to be worse than useless, but to remain scripturally sound I'll mention that in Ephesians 5 there is a list of behaviors that do not characterize the life of a Christ-follower. The English phrase "sexual immorality," also translated fornication, is among them. The original word, pornea, is used many places in scripture and carries with it a universal meaning that includes adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, and even bestiality. Scripture is abundantly clear that these are not acceptable behaviors for those who desire to follow Christ.
And ultimately, marriage, as portrayed multiple, multiple times in scripture, is intended to mirror the relationship that Christ Himself has with His bride – the church (universal). Scripture never refers to Christ’s bride in any other way except, well His (male) bride (female). You can twist scripture if you want - as some have done. But even with scripture aside (which I would never prescribe) it does not take a scientist, scholar, or theologian to understand that men and women were designed considerably different and for specific functions within the greater scheme of life. No gay couple will ever be able to naturally reproduce children, because that is outside of God's design. So the only way for them to have children is actually to take children who have been produced, in some manner, by a heterosexual union (even if in a test tube). No gay couple will ever be able to have natural sexual relations where the designed intent of the sexual organs is completely fulfilled. Male & female are designed with certain intended functions. I do not say this to condemn - that's not my place, but rather to point out truth. There is an order to God's design. We can overlook or disregard His order, but that does not change His design. And my, admittedly simplified, understanding is that sin occurs when God's design is disregarded. Some would say that gay people have no choice in the matter. It’s just who they are. Yet I have a friend who has gay tendencies – and says it’s been that way for as long as he can remember - yet believes scripture and chooses not to gratify his desires but instead submits to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He says that for him it’s no different than a straight man choosing fidelity rather than giving in to his tendency toward seeking pornography. It’s all about obedience and faith. But what if it's really personal? What if it's not a gay wedding? Would I participate in the wedding of my straight child, even if they're marrying someone of the opposite gender whom I do not approve? This is a question I've been asked more than once, in some variation.
Truth in Love
I think so. Because 1) I love my children unconditionally. 2) I want to be available to help them and their new spouse, and will continue to point them to God and His blueprint for their lives and marriage as long as they allow me to do so. Which brings me to 3) and the reason I cannot not support gay marriage. It's not God's blueprint. It's like saying I support a round square. There is no such thing. Gay marriage is not marriage at all, but some other thing dressed up to appear like marriage. If it were my child, I would share the truth of God's Word with them - even at the very real risk of offending them - not out of condemnation but out of love for them. I would also express my availability to them and desire to continue being part of their life. Disagreeing with them does not mean the end of the relationship. Would our fellowship suffer? Yes, I would expect it might. 2 Corinthians 6 addresses this very thing. This unequal yoking is something I do not believe the Holy Spirit would ever lead me to do. He would lead me to love in truth. And that's where I think we, as self-proclaimed Christ Followers fall short too many times. We won't even call sin for what it is. We don't speak truth, or we do it in a way that is not loving. Jesus says we are salt and light. Salt adds flavor, preserves. Light gives sight and warmth. But how can salt be useful unless it is mixed in with other ingredients not like itself? Where does light shine most brightly if not in darkness? Truth in love is the answer.
Jesus was cursed for OUR transgressions, and He said "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." ~Matthew 5:10-12.
But let's face it. Forget being persecuted, we just want to be exempt. We want a "pass" when it comes to doing the right thing - whether that means serving someone whom we disagree with or speaking truth even when that could result in difficulty for us. The deal is, as I see it, we probably wouldn't face near as much difficulty or persecution as we think if we would just follow our Savior's example and the leading of the Holy Spirit who is more than able to guide us. And Jesus assures us that even if we do face persecution – or worse, we'll be rewarded in Heaven. That's not so bad, is it? Okay, maybe you’re thinking "but you still didn’t answer if it’s right for the government to force people to do things against their moral convictions." Jesus answered that one for us as well.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. ~John 10:17-18
No one (not even the government) can take from us what we willingly, and out of obedience, give up - for the love of the Father and so that others may come to know Christ and make Him known. And for me, that takes the cake.
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