I recently read about a Business that was fined a whopping $135,000 due to be paid to a lesbian couple as compensation, for the alleged trauma that they experienced at the hands of 2 Business owners, who refused to bake a cake for their wedding. The owners of the Business who were husband and wife, stated that their reason for refusing to serve the couple’s wedding was that they are Christian and do not want to partake in the sin of homosexuality. You can read about the story in a link that they posted on their Facebook page, here.
My first and sustained reaction to this was/is that there is a growing persecution of Christians all over the world; so much so that even in places where Christianity is the dominating confessed religion, the holding of Christian values is becoming increasingly punishable.
Due to the ramifications of the incident once it had become more widely known, the couple decided to close their shop and operate their Business from their home. Many companies have also cut ties with them.
To financially support the family, someone set up a campaign on GoFundMe and in a very short space of time $109,000 was raised. However, somebody else complained to GoFundMe, stating that it was allowing funds to be raised where a conviction had already been given and as a result, GoFundMe closed the campaign. Read more about that here. The Business is now using other websites to raise money from the public and you can find the links for those on their Facebook page.
I Understand the Charge Given
The law in the USA as well as many other countries in the world, is not tailored to Christians and that’s why things that oppose our faith are legal. The same goes for other religions and that is to be expected. Though the law is influenced by religion, in most cases it isn’t solely based on any one religion. With this in mind I don’t think that the judge was unlawful in his or her decision to charge the couple, as they were abiding by the law put in place to protect the rights of all people in the state and country. The judge deemed the refusal of service as discrimination and therefore issued a charge. That was the right thing to do according to the law of the land and all judges are responsible for upholding the law.
Having said that, I do not agree with the law. I simply understand why according to it, the couple were found guilty.
According to the law of the land discrimination is illegal and according to the Bible, discrimination is sin; because we’re called to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), irrespective of who they are. Christians are also called to obey the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7). However, where the law opposes the Christian faith, we’re called to obey God over this law (Acts 5:29). This is where Christians and those who aren’t Christian come to a fork in the road in many cases; one of which being whether something is discrimination or not.
Equality is of God. However, the Christian faith doesn’t teach equality in the same way as the world does and so it doesn’t define discrimination in the same way that the world does. Equality, from a Biblical perspective is done in the context of God’s order. For example, both husband and wife are fully equal in value and so are both equally deserving of respect and love. However according to God’s order, the husband is the head of the marriage and the wife is to submit to him (Ephesians 5:22-23). So, as the husband treats his wife as his equal, he’s to do so from the position of headship, just as the wife is to treat the husband as her equal from the position of submission. The cruelty of humans has largely tainted what ‘headship’ and ‘submission’ are perceived as in society; however the truth of what they are remains the same. Even if perceptions have shifted. From a Biblical perspective it’s not discrimination against the wife, if the husband is the head of the household; simply because he is the male in the marriage. However, from the world’s perspective, this set-up may well be discrimination, because the world often teaches that equality is to have everyone do whatever they want as far as it doesn’t hurt another person. To a Christian that isn’t equality but recklessness and a dismissal of God. As followers of Christ, Christians do things to glorify God and not only to prevent hurt or offence to others. In doing this Christians sometimes endure hurt and offence to give way for God way’s and Name to be magnified.
So the Christian faith does not teach discrimination against homosexuals. As imperfect beings, humans who happen to be Christian may well discriminate against homosexuals, but in doing so they are not representing what it means to be Christian.
God’s Order and God’s Ways
To reject God’s ways is to reject God. Many people claim to be Christian yet they refuse to embrace God’s order of doing things. Embracing God’s order doesn’t mean that you will never sin and that’s something that Christians are often accused of thinking: that they’re sinless and perfect. Christians aren’t sinless.
Christians view sin as something that grieves the God whom they want to serve and as a result they struggle against it; but not in an effort to earn salvation. Christians struggle against sin in order to glorify God. We believe that our salvation has already been given through faith in Jesus Christ and we now live to glorify God with our lives. This involves rejecting sin, fighting against it, falling and getting back up again; refusing to live in sin anymore.
When these Business owners decided to not bake the cake for a homosexual wedding it wasn’t because they hated the couple or even that they were expressing disgust towards them. It was because they did not want to knowingly endorse the sinful act of homosexuality by providing a cake for the celebration of the union. By this they were trying to glorify God because the Bible teaches that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman and any other set-up is sin.
“Who would have known the cake was even from them?”
From the videos released, the couple don’t state what was going through their minds when they made the decision to not bake cakes for homosexual weddings. All they explained was that they’re trying to walk out their faith. One could say that they could have baked the cake and no one would have known it was from them, however as the couple stated, “they’re trying to walk out their faith” and such a thing is done both in private and in public. So, whether people were going to know or not wasn’t the point. The point was that they knew and therefore they would have privately celebrated something which was against God’s order. Something against the faith that they are trying to live.
“I’m sure they don’t ask for event details for every occasion that they bake a cake for. They singled out homosexuals!”
Most likely, the coupe don’t request a document explaining the religious details of the event where every cake they bake will be served or video evidence to prove that nothing opposed their faith at the event. So it is indeed likely that the couple at some point, unknowingly baked a cake for some sort of event or gathering where Christian values were not upheld. That’s the key component in all of this however: the not knowing.
The Apostle Paul was a tent maker (Acts 18:13). I don’t think that Paul asked for a written explanation of what every tent that he made was going to be used for, as well as testimonies from witnesses to prove it. He would probably have just made the tent. However, if Paul were asked to make a tent for a temple of another god and he made it, that would have been a different matter entirely. When you are made aware that your product or service is going to be used to help a cause that goes against your faith, then you are knowingly supporting sin and that in and of itself is sin. It’s something to look at on a case by case basis, but the point remains, that Christians have a responsibility across the entire spectrum of their lives, to glorify God. Many times Christians fail at this and walk in hypocrisy. Many times. However, that’s why, Christians look to Jesus Christ for salvation and not their own works, because our works our imperfect at best. We taint even good things, with bad thoughts and so can never boast in anything that we do. However, it’s our duty to continue to strive, covered by the grace of God and the Blood of Jesus; confident that no condemnation can be brought against those who have faith in Christ, because He paid the penalty for us.
“What if my beliefs teach that I can’t serve black people? Or Jews? Or disabled people? Where do we draw the line at the freedom that people are allowed to have in the name of their religion and beliefs?
Such a great question!! We can expound further on that and ask: How do we govern what people can do according to their religion and what happens when different beliefs have different views? What do we do when one person believes that homosexual marriage is right and another believes that it is wrong??
The law cannot and will not please all people groups. It’s impossible; not only because it’s impossible to please opposing views at the same time, but also because the law makers themselves have a belief system whether it’s based on God or not. As Christians, we have to live our lives in submission to the government as the Bible teaches, so far as does not oppose our faith. Where our faith is opposed to what the law of the land is, we stand for our faith and take the consequences that the government issues, counting Christ as worthy of the suffering because we will not deny our Lord. This is what we call persecution. It’s guaranteed to happen because of the fallen world that we live in and we as Christians are readied for it through the Word of God.
So, to the question, if someone else’s beliefs teach them not to serve people because of race, religion, ability or even sexual preference, then as Christians we will oppose that. If the couple had refused to serve the couple because they were lesbian, they would have been walking in sin. That would have been wrongly judging the couple as being unworthy of cake because of their sexual preference. However, that’s not what they did and infact, the couple stated that they had served the person in the past. They didn’t want to bake the cake for the wedding because the wedding was a homosexual one and therefore something they couldn’t celebrate without embracing sin. It was about the event, not the people. As Christians, we’re called to love our neighbors. However, we’re not called to love everything our neighbor does. This couple did not want to celebrate what their neighbor was doing, but they still wanted to love their neighbor. The world and the law looked on them as people who hated their neighbor and charged them with discrimination. According to the law this was right, but the law is flawed. I understand the judgement, but I do not agree with the law in this area.
If a person’s beliefs teach them that they shouldn’t serve a group of people, or that that are group of people are inferior then as Christians, again, we will oppose that behavior. Even if that group of people dislike Christians. Again, this is because we’re called to love people, God’s way.
So are you saying they’ve never sinned before?
That couple along with every other Christian has sinned countless times! There is no Christian who can perfectly walk with God and this is what we need Jesus. However, falling doesn’t give you reason to give up and it therefore doesn’t justify onlookers to count you out. Just because the couple have sinned in other areas of life and have sinned since then; just because they probably even sinned in this very circumstance with the cake, somehow along the way whether in action, word or thought, doesn’t mean that they should just give up on trying to glorify God. So no, them making this stand to not sin doesn’t mean that they’ve never sinned before and them having sinned before is besides the point.
Hypocrisy is to the false appearance of one thing at one time, and then doing something completely opposite at another time. It’s often accompanied by deception to cover up one’s true character. Sometimes, Christians do do hypocritical things. However, because of the work of Christ in their hearts, they repent from this sin and try to glorify God with holy living. Christians do not knowingly live in a continual state hypocrisy. Trying to desperately find some sort of flaw to throw up against this couple as proof that they are hypocrites, is however, unhealthy zeal to drag someone down, simply because they have decided to stand for their faith. That is discrimination.