As you will see, I am neither a writer nor a scholar. I am just a Christian guy who is trying to think as biblically as possible regarding the times I find myself living in. I am writing in regards to my thoughts on the same sex marriage debate, and how Christians should interact and orient themselves amidst these difficult, sensitive, and important issues. I am also writing in response to, and by the request of my good friend (I’m truly honored to be called his friend) Benji. Yet, though friends, I find myself in disagreement on certain issues with him in regards to this discussion. Because so much has already been written, I won’t try and rehash and restate what has previously been said so well. My goal is simply to give my thoughts as to why I cannot, “Bake the cake”.
In all that I have read, one specific question is overlooked, or at least assumed without really dissecting, that is the question, “What does it mean to affirm an act?” If you think that there is no service that can be provided to someone, within a business owner’s realm of services offered, that doesn’t affirm an act/action/event, then I invite you to consider my reasoning. I am going to give several reasons why I think this is not the case and that there are certain services that do in fact affirm/support an act. As one who is navigating these waters and praying for God’s guidance, I welcome all interaction. If I am to believe the opposite, I invite any detractors to counter my points and then to provide sound, systematic arguments in defense of their case.
First, I cannot bake the wedding cake because I believe it means I would be entering into and participating in the celebration of a “union” that God clearly condemns. The active participation in this event is what I believe affirms it. If a same sex couple came into my store and asked me to specifically bake them a cake that celebrates their marriage, I could not in good conscious use my creative, God given abilities to present this union in a celebratory light, or to affirm their union as something that God says it is not. Kristen Powers says, “Nor does the Bible call service to another an affirmation.” But we must keep in mind, we are not merely talking about a “service” to another, we are talking about a service to celebrate. The act requires the baker to provide his service in a way that express as best he can the celebratory nature of the event -- that is, to paint it in the best light, to present it in a way that is favorable. Not only that, but culture at large considers this a celebratory/affirming act, otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This is not to say that culture determines what is right and wrong, but at what point is one considered to be partaking in the event itself? The same is true of the florist who defers to develop a creative color scheme and decorative atmosphere for a same sex wedding. I would say culture understands participation of this nature to be in fact taking part in the event itself. I did a quick Google search of bakery advertisements, and it seemed clear that cake companies, using their own words, “look forward to helping celebrate all of life’s big events.” Another baker enjoys, “Invoking her knowledge of visual arts, literature, and music, she helps our brides realize their fantasy by producing a magnificent cake to serve as the centerpiece to their fairytale weddings.” This is the norm. This is how a private business owner seems to view and advertise their services.
Second, I keep hearing people talk about this being a “loving” act, or as Scalia puts it, “walking along a road for two miles with someone who “presses you into service” for one.” As I understand it, love always seeks the good of the beloved. Love “rejoices in the truth,” as 1 Corinthians tells us. Jesus loved sinners, and we too should love sinners. Jesus ate with, befriended and healed sinners. However, he never loved them to the point of participating/aiding sinfulness. In fact, he spoke very directly when it came to issues of sin. He didn’t provide the adulteress and her lovers’ a bed to sin in, in order to hopefully strike up a conversation. He rescued her from the hands of those who wanted to kill her, and told her, “Go and sin no more.” Someone may object and say that baking a cake is not participating in/aiding sinfulness, but again I haven’t seen anyone write clearly on why it is not, other than simply saying, “It isn’t.”
Third, if the only standard is that something has to be socially, culturally, and legally accepted in order for a Christian to be compelled to provide a service for it, then I don’t see how this same logic couldn’t be applied across the board. This has been called a, “red herring” or a “straw man”, but again it would seem that avoiding this question is the real red herring. The same logic must apply to all such situations if what is stated above is our standard. No matter the seeming absurdity of the hypothetical situation might be, the same rationale must apply. Should a Christian gladly and creatively serve the person who wants a cake celebrating the marriage of a sixty year old and a five year old, if there is a time when pedophilia is culturally and legally acceptable? Should he bake the cake to celebrate a divorce party? What if a woman comes in asking for a cake to celebrate her relief in the aftermath of an abortion she just had and, in celebration, wants a dismembered child depicted on the cake? Before you get all upset and say that I am just using those examples for shock effect, or that those aren’t even realistic situations, you need to remember that it doesn’t matter. If whatever is socially, culturally and legally accepted is our only standard for service, these are valid scenarios that require us to ask the same questions. If you are a T-shirt maker and you are asked to create a shirt depicting the bestiality convention happening in the most graphic of ways, do you make it? I wouldn’t because I couldn’t participate in that way in such an event. I could, however, invite the man to my home for a meal, work out with him at the gym, or make him a T-shirt for his family reunion, but I could not, in good conscience, fulfill his request.
Finally, I can’t bake the cake at this point because my conscience won’t allow me to. I have not read or seen anything biblically, or otherwise, that has swayed my conscience. I would be in the wrong biblically to go against my conscience in this area. Nor does the government have the right to press me into something that violates my conscience.
I am not a homophobe, dealing with any sort of “yuck” factor, or have any other disposition that sees homosexuality as any more worthy of God’s wrath than the sin I battle on a daily basis. It’s my hope that God would use me to love and share his gospel of grace with my homosexual friends, but not at the cost of celebrating the very event that God is storing up wrath against. I refuse to celebrate the spiritual death of those whom God gave his Son for.