Matt begins by highlighting one of the central questions in the discussion, namely, “What is it to affirm an act?” He then notes that he will offer several reasons against the claim that services rendered in the normal course of business do not affirm an act/action/event. However, of the four reasons offered only the first deals with the central issue Matt raised. The other three deal with the matter more broadly. Therefore, I’ll first respond to the central issue Matt raised and his first reason. Then, I’ll respond to the other three he raised.
Matt’s first reason rests on his resistance to “participating in a celebration of a ‘union’ that God clearly condemns.” So the issue is not whether a service one provides is an affirmation or not, but rather is it active celebratory participation (Matt, would you consider the two synonymous?). I can see where Matt is coming from . . . most businesses in the industrial wedding complex play to the bride/groom’s dreams of a fairytale wedding. Thus, they market their services and goods in the most appealing way. They seek to play to the weakness of one’s dream of a fairytale wedding. But, are we really going to base our reasoning on advertising slogans . . . that by nature are not expressions of truth but rather alluring slogans meant to entice a potential customer to spend their money? I don’t think so. The slogans represent the facade of the matter, in my opinion. If I was a Christian baker and wanted to avoid the association Matt has highlighted, then I would simply change my advertisement slogan so as not to express the active celebratory participation element of which he is afraid.
I would agree with Matt in principle that a Christian should not celebrate in a union between two of the same-sex. I simple don’t see that baking a cake for a wedding is a participation in that act/action/event for several reasons. First, the sell of a service or a good for a wedding, etc. is not an active participation or affirmation in the sense Matt has purposed because of the simple fact that the service or the good is being bought. If I offered to bake a cake for free for a same-sex couple’s wedding then I would concede to Matt that it is an active participation. Second, where does this reasoning stop? Should a Christian tailor or dress shop owner not sell their tuxes or dresses to same-sex couples or their wedding parties? Should a Christian that owns a banquet hall refuse to rent to a same-sex couple? In this last example there is no creative God-given ability involved. Should a Christian caterer refuse to cater a same-sex wedding? Should a Christian owned B&B refuse to rent a room to a same-sex couple for their honeymoon? Even more so, should a Christian employee either at a bakery, catering business, tailor or dress shop, B&B, etc. refuse to work on, during, or in conjunction with a same-sex wedding? Why stop at same-sex weddings? What about unions between heterosexual couples that God may condemn (e.g. a man leaving his wife to marry another woman, etc.)? Is a Christian business man/woman to have a moral questionnaire filled out in order to gage a customer’s eligibility for purchase of his/her services or goods? I digress. Lastly, I'll hold this reason till the end.
I’m glad Matt brought up Jesus eating with sinners because it is a significant example. What made Jesus’ act of breaking bread with the sinning outcast of Jewish society so radical is because the cultural and religious gatekeepers of Judaism saw it as an act of affirmation, even an act that defiled. Breaking bread and eating together was an extremely significant act in Jesus’ time. He ate with those whom others would not because he came into the world for their sake. I find it interesting that Jesus is more concerned with the sinner than maintaining the appearance of purity. Baking a cake for a paying same-sex couple seem less risqué in comparison with Jesus’ act of eating with tax collectors and sinners.
In Matt’s third point, he highlights the supposed slippery slope that will result from baking a cake for a same-sex couple noting that if it was culturally acceptable for a sixty year old to marry a five year old then there would be no reason for someone like myself not to bake a cake for that wedding. Maybe or maybe not? I called this a red herring in a previous interaction and still think that it is. This hypothetical scenario detracts from the current discussion because the two are categorically different. In the case of the same-sex couple both are consenting adults and in the other the five year old is incapable of making such a decision. Thus, I would say the latter is a matter of coercion and domination of a week child. I would not bake a cake for this couple because I believe the sixty year old is imposing his will on another who is incapable of defense whether its culturally acceptable or not. The former is not a matter of coercion or domination because both parties are of an age where they can make a free and informed choice. Do I agree with the choice? No. But, one is not manipulating and imposing his/her will on the other, which is the case with the latter.
In Matt’s last point, we come to the real issue in the conversation that divides our opinions, namely, conscience. All of Matt’s previous reasons are in essence reasons why his conscience will not allow him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. I agree with Matt . . . he should not bake a cake for a same-sex couple if it offends his conscience. This brings me to my third and final point from above. I think we may apply Paul’s teaching concerning meat sacrificed to idols to this situation in a broad and general manner. Paul notes that for those who think that eating meat sacrificed to idols is participation in an idol sacrifice should abstain and for those that know it is not participation in that sacrifice are free to eat; however, in a way that does not offend the conscience of the brothers and sisters who abstain. I ultimately think this is a matter of conscience among Christians. Both Matt and myself believe that a same-sex union is an act of sin and violates God’s creational intention for marriage. We both agree that active celebratory participation in the union of a same-sex couple would be wrong for the Christian. However, we differ on what we consider to be affirmation or active celebratory participation and this is what divides our consciences. I respect Matt’s heart-felt decision and feel he should not offend it by baking the cake. But, I disagree and would conduct my business in a different manner and thus would bake the cake. As Christians, I think we have to respect each other decisions on this matter. We can disagree, express that disagreement, and seek to reason with each others concerning it, but we should refrain from totalizing statements (of which I’m a chief offender).