“Would Jesus bake a cake for a gay wedding?“
“Should a photographer be forced to violate their conscience and have to offer services for an event they are morally opposed to?“
These, amoung others, are some of the questions being batted around cyberspace and spilling much e-ink these days. And, at the risk of getting a few punches myself, i thought i’d throw my own hat in the ring and offer a few thoughts of my own to consider.
To begin, as a friend of mine said earlier today regarding all this, i too feel sympathy for those who feel they are being forced to act against their consciences and make themselves complicit (in their view) with acts they deem to be morally wrong. It doesn’t seem fair after all. Why can’t these patrons just find another cake baker or picture taker? Why make it a big legal battle and, potentially, ruin a hard-earned business for someone acting sincerely according to their conscience?
One particular article/post responding to all the hurly-burly caught my attention. As i interacted with the author in the comment area, one point he made in particular was very clarifying for my own thinking on the issue.
I had stated that in his article, he seemed to be attaching a moral character to cakes and flowers that simply did not exist by stating that creating either one of those things for a same-sex union made the maker of that cake, or arranger of those flowers, complicit somehow in the union they felt morally in conflict with. In his response he replied,
“If it was just about cakes and flowers, I would agree. But it’s about the use of gifts and talents to create special works of art for purposes that we deem to be immoral.”
Now, applying biblical logic to that argument, would that not, necessarily, make God Himself complicit in acts He says are against His revealed will in the bible? For has God not also used His own creative powers to create (and sustain!) creatures of whom He surely knows (infinitely) will be used (or use themselves) for sinful purposes/ends? Therefore, looking at it this way, this also removes, i think, the argument that it is more knowledge of how a creation is to be used that is the real issue of conscience in these widely publicized legal battles.
In the end, i don’t think i know what the right answer is. No one will stand before me at the end of time and give any account for anything. But i offer two ideas of my own in closing for consideration:
1. In Matthew 5:43-48 we read,
““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In the example of Christ while He lived on earth, “loving your enemies” certainly was never about winking at sin or lowering the bar of holiness. But what it was (to a large degree) was about serving, and entering into people’s lives where they were at (surely, with the purpose of not leaving them there), and (ultimately) laying down His life for those who were His “enemies” (cf. Rom. 5:10) to ransom them for God (Rev. 5:9).
So, given that, what then does loving your enemies/those who hate you and persecute you look like for a Christian baker, for example, in a secular, fallen world?
2. In an interview at the Veritas forum, Tim Keller said something very insightful that i think would also apply to these type of situations. He said something to the effect of, [my paraphrase] “Yes, the bible says homosexuality is a sin. But the bible also says to love your neighbour. And there are some Christians who take the biblical imperatives to love your neighbour very seriously, but they ignore what the bible says about the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour. And there are also others who take the moral imperatives against homosexuality very seriously, but who also ignore the command to love their neighbours. And both are wrong in the end”
So, when faced with these very real moral and ethical dilemmas in life, and for the Christian in particular, i think we would do well to ask ourselves:
1. What would loving my enemies look like in this situation?
2. Does loving my enemies mean surrendering my own moral/ethical beliefs about any given subject? Did it mean that for Jesus?