Friday, June 5, 2015

Same-Sex vs the Bible - Part II - What Would Jesus do About the Cake?

(Read the first post in this series here.)

A gay couple walks into a local bakery and wants to buy a cake for their upcoming nuptials. You are the owner and a Christian. What would you do?

This scene has played out across the U.S. at least a few times over recent years, as a reality in our 21st Century post-marriage culture.

That I know of, these few incidents involved Christian business-owners who objected, for reasons of moral conscience, to doing business with the couple. At least one at a heavy price to their business

In a free nation, no one should be compelled against their will to provide services to others, especially by the government. "Free enterprise" should include the freedom to choose with whom we do business. It should not cost an owner their livelihood to decline business they have a religious objection to. It may tag them a racist or bigot to do so but that is their right too. Hopefully, very few business-owners fit those categories and shame on those who do. 

The above is just my opinion, not any legal advice, so if you are in business you should check the State laws in which you operate. Many have anti-discrimination laws now and as Christians we’re required to follow the law of the land (Romans 13:1), right?

And, things are changing rapidly as the U.S. Supreme Court renders what looks to be an historic decision on same-sex marriage this month. How do we live in response to this decision and the cultural changes shaping our nation? In this post, let's talk about the cake, in the next we'll talk about the marriage itself.

For Living Sent Today this is not a matter of sexual-orientation, SCOTUS decision or business practice. Rather, is it a matter of Christ-like witness that is of first importance, especially for any business representing itself as a “Christian business.”

It's really as simple as this, if you are a Christian business-owner, God has placed you there to be a witness first. By refusing to bake the cake, Christian business-owners place their own moral convictions above their first call to be a good witness. Biblically, it matters little what our personal convictions might tell us__ Jonah found that out the hard way. What matters is what we place as our first priority when we represent ourselves as Christ followers, so I am asking, "What would Jesus do about the cake?"


 Recently, I posted the following on Facebook…

Note: Andy is Andy Stanley.

How could I make such a statement as, " Jesus would bake the cake as an unselfish act of love and a witness to who who he is"?  Obviously, we cannot really know what Jesus would do in our 21st Century context but we do need to consider his example. Let me suggest some reasons Jesus would bake the cake. Please consider:

1)  Jesus understood his mission priority
John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus’ mission was clear and his priority was single-minded. He came to tear down barriers that kept people from God, not erect them. He did not come to condemn but to connect God with people and people with God. Jesus came as a witness, and set the example by his sacrificial life. His first priority was to "save the world" which informed how he lived to serve others. 

2)  Jesus did not come for the moral  

Mark 2:17: “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" Jesus understood all too well the immoral condition of the human heart. It was the very reason he came into the world, to reach the me. As a doctor would not place obstacles to healing before the sick, Jesus would not place obstacles to coming to him, especially before those living less than morally righteous lives...and aren’t we glad?

3) Jesus crossed cultural lines without hesitation

John 4:10: “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ Jesus crossed beyond the socially acceptable, religiously imposed, norms of his time to minister to those in need. In this account, Jesus conducted “business” with an adulterous woman who was scorned by her community, embarrassed by her lifestyle, and forced to come to the well at the hottest part of the day. The reaction of even his disciples tell us the distance Jesus traveled to connect with those in need of his gift. He did not hesitate to engage the lost world knowing what he had come to do.

4)    Jesus was known to enjoy the company of sinners

Luke 7:34: The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' Jesus was unconcerned with what others thought of his associations with sinners. Rather, he was deliberate in his efforts to connect with the broken, outcast and marginalized, seeking relationships that would lead them to discover who he was for them. Immediately following this statement, Jesus goes to Simon's house and does the unthinkable and blesses a sinful woman. 

5)      Jesus did not condemn the immoral for their lifestyle
John 8:11: "’No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’Jesus came to set people free from the bondage of sin, he did not condemn the human condition - even the worst harlot in town. Rather, he purposed to make a way for all humanity to experience a life free to worship God. Where the religious leaders wanted to condemn the human condition, Jesus say “go now” and live an abundant Him. While Jesus preached repentance it was for the purpose of entering into the fullness of life he wants for each of us. 

6)      Jesus was opposed to the moral opinions of the religious right

Matthew 23:13: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it__ in himself. His opposition to the teaching of the Pharisees was not a correction of the law but the religious leaders interpretation of it. He was zealously opposed to shutting the door to his Kingdom life, to anyone for any reason, based on human understanding. He made a matchless effort to assure anyone, even a condemned sinner, could enter the Kingdom by removing religiously imposed constraints.

7)      Jesus offered his life for all

John 10:18: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." Jesus freely gave his life so that all who would believe would experience the fullness of life he proposes. That is not a life without struggles and hardship, but a life of forgiveness and acceptance. If he was so willing, joyfully, to endure the worst human torture ever conceived, to think he would not bake a simple cake for a gay couple brings his unconditional love, and God's grace, into question.


I asked a Facebook friend, who took exception to my FB post above, on what biblical basis would Jesus not bake the cake? No real answer was offered. Before you start throwing stones, verbally or otherwise, I ask you to consider the same question. If you cannot articulate a clearly biblical rationale for your position, then may I encourage you to do some rethinking about it. Knowing my own human frailty, I am always willing to rethink my own ideas but I do look to the Bible for answers. 

Now some might argue, “By baking the cake we would be blessing a same-sex marriage” and Jesus would never do that! Really? An eighth and maybe the most compelling reason Jesus would bake the cake is because he commanded us to bless our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Crazy, I know. But Jesus removed any socially imposed limitation on whom we, as Christ-followers, are to 'bless' and to whom we should show his love.

Turning away a gay couple because of a disagreement with their lifestyle  closes any opportunity for the business-owner to be used by God as a witness. Baking the cake does not bring us into agreement with their behavior but it does bring us into obedience with Jesus’ example and mission. What if by doing so it opens a door to a relationship that demonstrates his love and kindness, which leads to repentance (Romans 2:4)?

You should have the freedom to do what your conscience dictates. You should have the freedom to not bake the cake. Just please do not use Jesus as an excuse not to be Christ-like when such an opportunity presents itself.

This will be a developing series on one of the most important cultural challenges of Living Sent Today. Like us on Facebook at -  Living Sent Today - to follow the series. 

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