April 9, 2015
Christians opposed to gay weddings should remember Jesus said to not only follow the law, but to rise to a higher standard of love.
Thank you for sharing this! Such a beautiful, thoughtful perspective.
Although beautifully written, I am surprised that Think Christian reposted this article. It's not that I am opposed to hearing an alternative view than my own (I love hearing alternative views). The problem is that I don't think the article accurately represents the position that it's seeking to correct.
Jesus most definitely told us to go the extra mile, give our cloak and mantle, etc. We are completely in agreement and should all seek to do more than expected for those who ask. He didn't ask us to design uniforms for companies that oppress underpaid workers, nor did he ask us to do theatrical set design for pornographic artists. You have to understand that these examples are more closely akin to how we view baking a cake for a gay wedding. We see the act of baking a cake for a gay wedding asking us to use our artistic abilities to endorse something that we do not believe promotes human flourishing.
Would we bake a cake for our gay friends birthday? Of course! Would we bake a cake for our lesbian friends dinner party? Without issue...we might even bake two. With that said, we cannot bake a cake for a wedding (legal or not) that we think counteracts God's plan for human flourishing through marriage. We may totally disagree on whether or not gay marriage leads to human flourishing, has biblical basis, etc., but we are simply asking that people respect our desire to abstain.
Thanks for trying to hear our side more clearly, because I think the dialogue will only contribute to our future understanding of each other. Blessings.
Judea in the 1st Century under Roman rule did not have a Constitution that deemed freedom of religious conviction a foundational legal right. This issue is about balancing two different rights that are both upheld in our society (right of religious freedom and civil rights of consumers). This post implies that those seeking to live peacefully according to their faith are in the same position as those living under military occupation by a foreign dictator.
A much better parallel to the current situation would come, not from pre-Resurrection Jesus' message to his fellow Judeans, but rather from post-Resurrection Jesus to his churches throughout the rest of the Roman Empire who would face a choice between offering a pinch of incense to Caesar or remaining true to their faith; fashioning an idol for the local Ephesian clientelle or choosing not to because of their conscience; making tents for use in sexual celebration of Aphrodite, or sending such business to others who don't have the same qualms against it that they had.
A fellow GCTS alum,
ps: Here is a video in which I put forth what I believe is the true crux of the issue Christians currently face and offer a proposed solution that could uphold the rights of the most people equally, regardless of their personal views on same-sex marriage: http://jmsmith.org/blog/discrimination
This is a difficult subject indeed -- Jesus loved and certainly called us to love; however he never sinned. Jesus was the perfect embodiment of the Invitation/Challenge paradigm. He met people where they were (addicted to porn/alcoholic/addicted to hetero or homo sex/theft/etc.). He loved them where they were (invitation) and told them how valuable that they were. He invited them to leave their place and to follow Him and leave their old lives behind (challenge). Jesus didn't walk the woman at the well to her next "job". He told her in love that she needed to change. He met at the tax collectors house but didn't help him balance the books to steal from the next person. The collector changed his ways and gave back to those he stole from previously.
My point is that there is a very fine line between "loving" (which we must do) and sinning with the person. To act like Jesus is to enter relationship and then, over time, confront our loved ones with truths to sharpen them like iron. Hopefully others are in our lives doing the same to us. This is crazy because we must be open and inviting those into our lives that should make us uncomfortable in accountability in order to grow spiritually.
I also think that Jesus was teaching a more focused idea about the state of the listener's heart, rather than "just carry the equipment". What's wrong with my heart that won't let me carry it? What's wrong with my heart that won't let me offer the other cheek? I presume most people wouldn't do these things because of pride; an "I deserve to be treated better" mentality (a sister to the entitlement mentality). Instead, Jesus taught that we should "wash each others feet, regardless of stature", etc.
So, would Jesus bake the cake? I personally do not know. However, I do know that if my decision is to sin myself, or if it is to harbor pride or some other emotion that is a pathway to sinning myself, then Jesus would not be in favor of it. I think what it really boils down to is, what does "love" look like? Does "love" have to be smashed into a cake or two? Or, can "love" be, let's go get a cup of coffee and chat for a bit?
If my willingness to "love" is being limited by my own pride or other emotion, then I should love and push that emotion aside...and love x2. If I define my "love" by not making the cake because I fear that I am being forced to sin or take part in sin, then why is that not ok?
It's a fine line. Lastly, the settings are important too. Jesus talked about these sins in an intimate setting. A social/business setting is a different setting all together. Me going for a cup of coffee is intimate and discussing intimate issues would be more fitting. But to take such an intimate notion and jam it into a social/business setting is not going to bring about a fair result.
Good article. Good work. Thanks.
In Reply to Kyle Essary (comment #27030)
Kyle, my own sentiments are in concert with yours on this matter (and others, such as limitations of Christian speech rights, etc.).
What I might add for consideration, in discussing the particular perspective Jessica is bringing to this issue, is that the situation might soon become different after the Supreme Court's ruling this year on certain matters. If indeed it becomes the "law of the land" that sexual orientation is a protected class and that businesses are thereby required to protect consumers' rights by NOT refusing service to members of a protected class, then I think Jessica's vantage is helpful indeed. Where the law of the land permits us the freedom to conscientiously refuse service for a religiously-based moral judgment, I share your perspective that this seems to be the more accurate application of the NT passage in question. However...if and when the law of the land requires us to act against conscience, then I think Jessica's argument is the more accurate application. The passage says "if you are constrained to walk a mile," not "if someone requests (but does not require) that you walk a mile," right? A Roman citizen didn't have the right to refuse conscription to walk a mile; we do, in this case. But should the Supreme Court remove that right, and we do indeed find ourselves "constrained," then I think the Christian thing to do is to submit and to do so joyfully--not for the sake of approving the status quo, but for the sake of witnessing to a Lord who submitted to injustice for the sake of redeeming it in the end. Jessica, thanks for sharing your work with us. :-)
Does Jesus want us to celebrate making unholy things holy as a sign of our love for people?
Amen! Jesus said that we should be known as Christians for our LOVE. May it be so.
The analogy the author draws between carrying a Roman soldier's load the extra mile and participating in the celebration of a gay "wedding" by baking the cake breaks down immediately.
There is no affirmation of sin involved in carrying a load or suffering persecution for the Name of Christ.
But participation in a gay "marriage" involves just that. As Kevin Deyoung points out:
"there has long been an understanding that those present at a marriage ceremony are not just casual observers, but are witnesses granting their approval and support for the vows that are to be made... It is a divine event in which those gathered celebrate and honor the “solemnization of matrimony.” Which is why... I cannot help with my cake, with my flowers, or with my presence to solemnize what is not holy."
But this author has autonomously declared that same-sex "marriages" are not immoral - in other words, they are holy.
Scripture, however, in no uncertain terms, Old Testament and New, condemns homosexual acts (a central feature of homosexual "marriage"), while affirming heterosexual monogamous Marriage as "undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4) "Our Jesus" hearkened back to Creation itself to affirm God's original very good design for Marriage. Jesus' question to the Pharisees could be asked of this author: "Have you not read?" (Matt 19).
When she says "If you believe gay marriage is immoral (I don’t, myself) ", it could be translated:
"If you believe the Word of God regarding human sexuality (I don't, myself)".
She concludes with a fallacious appeal to emotion, pointing out how hurt people are by Christians who refuse to participate in their gay "wedding", and how people will be driven away from Christ because of it. (An aside: Is it not human nature that when we are deeply invested in and identified with our sin, any opposition to or lack of affirmation of that sin from others feels hurtful - like a personal attack? But this could be part of the Holy Spirit's work, convicting of sin - John 16:8...)
This raises the question of the nature of love. For her, it seems "love" involves blessing sin in the name of "wild, all-inclusive"-ness.
"Our Jesus", on the contrary, would have none of this. He never failed to call sin "sin". But He did it in love and offered the solution: His own blood shed for our forgiveness. If we are truly His, we must do the same. It is hatred, not love, to withhold the truth from those who are snared in sin (any sin - not just the sin of homosexuality). To participate in the celebration of sin, giving "hearty approval" to it (Rom 1:32), is not the place of a Christian.
Like Christ, we are to instead call people to "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." (Matt 4:17)
In Reply to Kyle Essary (comment #27030)
Hi Kyle, thanks for your comment. I can definitely understand your viewpoint, and I know that many genuine, loving people feel that way. I guess for me it is a question of weighing the benefits vs the damage done, for both baking the cake and not baking it.
If you bake the cake, you feel you are endorsing something you don't believe in, I hear that. But what exactly would the repercussions of that be? I can see that the couple and the other guests at the wedding might think that since a Christian is participating in their celebration that therefore Christianity and God do not consider there to be anything wrong with gay marriage. But I am pretty certain that the couple already knows that many Christians don't approve of them. They have probably each had to struggle with this throughout their lives individually and as a couple.
And I can also see that it would be a concern to you that other Christians might see you baking the cake and think that Christians and God do not consider there to be anything wrong with gay marriage. I think Paul's discussion in 1 Corinthians of meat sacrificed to idols is relevant to this discussion in many ways. If eating meat sacrificed to idols is okay for Christians because "an idol is nothing at all in the world" and "there is no God but one," then surely cake eaten at a gay wedding is okay if you believe that the wedding is nothing since marriage is only between a man and a woman. There are hundreds more prohibitions in the Bible against false idols than against homosexuality. But I can also see that you might feel that, as Paul says, you should not by your actions become a stumbling block to your weaker brother. I hear that. I would just say that if we continue to cater our actions to the "weaker brothers" in the church, then they will never grow stronger. One example of this in my own experience was a church board who voted against an after school outreach to teens because some older folks in the church were afraid of what it would look like to the community to see teens hanging around the church. Instead of focusing on outreach and the teens who were young Christians or not yet Christians, the church gave in to the "weaker brothers" on the board who were concerned about appearances.
And what will happen if you don't bake the cake? It's going to be made anyway, by someone else, and the couple is going to get married anyway. I think it would be a very rare occasion in which your refusal, even if it was loving and gentle, caused them to rethink their decision to marry. But if you do bake it, you create opportunities for more discussion, within the context of love and respect. And you create the possibility for a long term relationship and friendship, which is the best context for conversations about Christianity and morality.
Thanks again for reading and for sharing your thoughts!
In Reply to 2cortenfour (comment #27038)
Hi 2cortenfour, thanks for your comment. Just to clarify, I'm not comparing carrying equipment to participating in a gay wedding. I'm comparing carrying equipment to baking a cake -- both morally neutral actions -- and I'm comparing the Roman occupation of God's chosen nation and people to a wedding between two people of the same gender -- both things that a Christian might have a moral objection to. Just as a Christian in modern day America might fear that participating in a gay wedding would show support for something they did not believe in, so Jesus' followers back then might have feared that carrying a Roman soldier's equipment would show support for a regime that went against God's plan for his people.
With regard to the woman caught in adultery, I think it’s significant that Jesus told the her, “Go and sin no more,” only after he had asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” It was only when she answered, “No one, sir,” that Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Both his forgiveness and his exhortation to stop sinning were based on the non-condemnation of the people who brought her to him.
Jesus was the one who told her not to sin. The role of the other people in the story was to realize their hypocrisy and change their mind about condemning her. Then, when she and Jesus were alone, he spoke to her heart.
As Billy Graham said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” It is our job to love people and, through that love, to introduce them to Jesus. We can share our views on sin, certainly, but we have to trust that God will speak to their hearts and guide them towards truth.
Everyone tends to interpret the bible as they see fit. I will not put my morals aside and bow to the standards of an immoral society. God made Adam and Eve to marry and procreate not Adam and Steve to marry a adopt.
Thanks for the clarification.
So if I'm understanding your argument correctly, baking the wedding cake (going the extra mile) only *appears* to be supportive of the gay "wedding" (the Roman regime), but in reality it is not. Instead it is a "morally neutral" act of love designed to draw people to Christ.
I must disagree here. Quoting Kevin Deyoung again:
" It would be difficult, if not impossible, to attend a wedding (let alone cater it or provide the culinary centerpiece) without your presence communicating celebration and support for what is taking place."
So it is not false but genuine support for sexual immorality which is communicated.
And then gay people (the woman caught in adultery) suffer condemnation from those (the crowd of hypocrites) who refuse to provide products and services for their "marriage" ceremonies. If Christians would stop opposing gay "marriage" through acts of civil disobedience (refusal of service) - thereby condemning gay people - then perhaps homosexuals would be open to receiving forgiveness and "leave [their] life of sin".
Of course it is not our place to condemn and judge people. God and His Word judge, and the Holy Spirit convicts. I agree with Billy.
But does refusal to provide goods and services to a gay "wedding" constitute condemnation?
I don't think so. Gay people may *feel* hurt or condemned, but here is where a false perception comes into it. It is not the person who is being opposed, but the "marriage" itself.
"...as painful as it may be for us and for those we love, celebrating and supporting homosexual unions is not something God or His Word will allow us to do."
As I mentioned previously, whenever we are intimately identified with our sin, any opposition to the sin itself feels like a personal attack.
Ultimately, the question is this:
Are gay "marriages" moral or immoral ? Logic dictates that they must be one or the other.
If they are immoral, no Christian should ever even appear to support them.
If they are not immoral, as you hold, all Christians should immediately embrace them. (Is this what you would like to see?)
But is there really any debate from a biblical perspective?
1. Homosexual acts are sinful
2. Homosexual acts are a central feature of gay "marriages"
3. Therefore, gay "marriages" are sinful
Again, it is not loving to put God's stamp of approval on sin by our overt or tacit support of it. Rather than capitulate to the spirit of the age, we must stand upon the truth of God's Word, which is the "imperishable seed" by which lost sinners will be born again into His family.
Hi 2courtenfour, I think the analogy still holds. Carrying the equipment of a Roman soldier could in fact be aiding him in carrying out the evils of the regime. In fact, it was under that same law that Simon of Cyrene was made to carry Jesus' cross for him, thus participating in the execution of an innocent man -- the only truly innocent man in all of history. It's incredibly profound to me to think that Jesus knew, when he was preaching the Sermon on the Mount, that the law he was telling his followers to obey would come to play in his own suffering and death.
Structure and direction are two different things. Structure is built into the fabric of human experience and provides a context for human flourishing. Direction has to do with the way said structure is developed. Structure is neutral. It just is what it is. Direction is where the rubber hits the road. Is the way a structure is developed in accord with biblical norms or does this “way” openly subvert them? If the biblically-normed operational reality of a structure is violated then that structure is being wrongfully directed, no matter if pre-existing the state (marriage) or a product of cultural development and differentiation. You can't be quiet about that, nor can you sacrifice principle. But you can be pragmatically principled. In a world of misdirected structure you can seek to make laws that do justice to differing perspectives by working to push legislative compromise in a direction that gives functioning room to your principles. So legalize gay marriage so it can be regulated by law and make room for other faith-based directions to, in structures of various kinds, live out of their distinctives without being penalized for doing so.
The “rights” orientation of individualism and the artifical community of common values religion's privatization permits in our culture is a big contributor to the mistreatment of value communities that stand outside human autonomy and thus, by nature, challenge its reigning assumptions about life. That is, in effect, the version of Roman occupation we have to navigate with wisdom and creativity. Resistance to evil, making every thought captive to Christ who has redeemed the direction of the self (structure) and through it all of life and then working to incarnate glimpses (however incomplete) of the Kingdom of God (Christ's rule over all things) is the task at hand.
I fail to see anywhere in the Bible that Jesus condoned the promotion of sin - I see where Christians are to allow others to persecute (sin against) us, and that we are not to persecute (sin against) therm. There is a world of difference between choosing to persecute them and not assisting them in committing a sin.
Carrying weapons for a Roman soldier was not a sin - could be very inconvenient, even dangerous - but it was not a sin. Your example is logically equivalent to saying that if an adulterer asks you to assist / condone his adultery, you must do so and do so out of Love. The only reason that it feels different is the constant bombardment by the secular media that homosexuality is to be as accepted as heterosexual relationships. You have bought into this argument and accepted it as 'non-sinful'.
Then there is your definition of Love. Love is not having so open a mind that you must accept everything about someone. Here again you fall into the trap of defining Love in a secular way - Love is defined very well for us in 1 Cor 13 - no where do I see condoning sinful actions of someone as 'Love'.
Nor is Love to be All Inclusive - who loved greater than the Father? It is shown to us in John 3:16 - the verse almost everyone can quote christian or no. But everyone seems to stop at 16, and not continue on 17 thru the end of the chapter. Why? Because it is not 'PC' to believe that some are saved and some are not and it is Gods actions. Here's those words:
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Pretty clear that those who turn from Christ and directly to Sin are under judgement - they have chosen the Sin.
You post indicates that you have forgotten the basic message of the Gospel - God sent his Son to die for us, not so that we can continue in Sin, but that we can begin a work of sanctification with His help.
Thank you all for good dialogue. I'd like to insert another thought.
When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount examples he placed them in the context of an oppressor forcing another to do a job against their will. According to Jesus, the response we should give under an oppressor is less of a matter of condoning than it is of shaming. These examples, "go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and give them your cloak" are intended to point out the evil in forced labor, violence in striking another, and greed.
Jesus is telling Christians how to help others recognize their sinful action through self denial and suffering. No one would imagine turning the other cheek as condoning violence. But it is a method of helping others recognize their shame and sin. There may even be hyperbole working here as well. In the same manner, it is the suffering and death of Jesus that helps Peter recognize his denial and love for the resurrected Lord. Jesus went the extra mile with the cross so that our shame would be revealed by truth and hence, healed by his love. In Peter's sermon on Pentecost, he responded to Jesus’ sacirifce by proclaiming, "you killed the righteous one" and the people were "cut to the heart".
Therefore, if we use the Sermon on the Mount examples with the same intention for today, baking two cakes would be less an act of condoning, and more an act of shaming. So what are we trying to communicate in this action?
An alternative is the example of Naaman in 2kings 5. After he was healed he went into the pagan world with a disclaimer. He left the Jordan with a donkey full of Israel's soil, and a faith in God. Then he went back to his job at the side of the king of Assyria in the temple of Rimmon. He asked God's pardon for whenever he helped the king to bow in the pagan temple. Elisha said to his disclaimer, go in peace.
So bake two of your best cakes for free if you like, but with a disclaimer before God. As you deliver the blessing, let the couple know that you cannot condone their reason for ordering the cake. That would be a cross bearing sacrifice. Your business probably will suffer for the all the extra cakes you will have to make. But how do we stand in between not condemning and not condoning without suffering? How else can we speak truth in love?
What of money? Romans didn't pay for carrying their equipment. So baking cake out of love should be without taking money. Getting paid makes it totally different issue? Asking, cause I wanted to clarify.
Best comment, very helpful!
In Reply to Kyle Essary (comment #27030)
False equivalency there. Now, if you asked a Christian pastor to perform the ceremony and they objected I would agree. However, they are baking a cake. Whether it is for the gay people's birthday, father's day, mother's day, halloween, OR WEDDING should not make a difference. The cake is not being baked any differently than any other cake because it is a gay person's wedding. The bakers aren't forced to attend the wedding. Heck, the actual cake itself really has absolutely NOTHING to do with the actual wedding. The wedding will go forward whether the cake is baked or not. More than likely, the wedding won't even actually be at the wedding, but will instead be eaten, just like any other "wedding cake" by patrons.
It the actual cake was essential to the couple becoming married I could see how the baker could rightfully object on religious grounds. Here, the bakers are just misguided and misinterpreting Jesus's teachings.
In Reply to 2cortenfour (comment #27038)
well said. It is about being able to follow one's convictions (which are brought by the HOLY Spirit) and do so in love, not in a haughty attitude. Politely, respectfully decline. That is called standing for righteousness, not bowing to political correctness.
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