Sunday, August 16, 2015

Christians and Gay Cakes

Where do you draw the line? In recent months, we’ve heard stories of business owners with homosexual customers. They served them like they would any other customer, but then they came in and said, “We would like a cake for our wedding.” The business owners replied, “Gay marriage is against our beliefs, so we can’t do that.” Rather than just going down the street (or I should say, in addition to going down the street) to find someone who would supply the cake, the homosexual customers got mad and sued the business owners. Regardless of where the chips settle in court, where do we Christians draw the line on this?

Let’s suppose we design a cake. It is seven layers with white frosting. We put it in the window of the shop and a customer walks in and says, “I want a cake just like that.” Even though we intended it to be a wedding cake, we don’t know what they’re going to use it for, unless they tell us. It’s a little different if the cake has a man and a woman on top and they say, “I want a cake like that, but I want two men on top.” But is that enough for us to draw the line there? Is there a biblical principle that we would violate by putting two men on top of a wedding cake?

There’s an interesting scene in the Bible. Of course, we know that God hates idolatry and has killed people for worshiping idols. That’s what makes this scene so interesting. You recall the story of Naaman, who was a leper. After much persuasion, he bathed in the Jordon River and was healed. Most people begin to lose interest in the story at that point, but they might remember that Elisha’s servant tried to make a little money on the side of what the Lord had done and ended up with the leprosy. But in the midst of this, Naamon, who is now a believer speaks to Elisha in 2 Kings 5:17-19 and makes a vow to not worship gods other than the Lord, but he asks to be pardoned, because his duties to the king of Syria require him to go with the king to the house of Rimmon and bow before the idol. Elisha’s response: “Go in peace.”

It’s not the response we would expect. Elisha is the heir of the great prophet Elijah and we kind of want him to say, “You tell that king of yours that you aren’t doing that anymore and if he doesn’t like that, I’ll call down fire from heaven to destroy him.” Elisha is the guy for whom a bear killed children who cursed him. Instead, he says, “yalak shalowm”, go in peace. How very different that seems from what we see with Daniel and the three Hebrew children. The king said to bow, and they did not. When a law was passed to prevent Daniel from praying, he opened his window and prayed anyway.

How do we resolve the different ways these men of God reacted? At the heart of it is the gospel. The gospel message was not harmed by Naamon visiting the house of Rimmon with the king. If anything, because Naamon would have the opportunity to tell the king and those around him what had happened when he went to see the prophet of the Lord, people would not think that Naamon worshiped Rimmon. But if Daniel had stopped praying, he would have been sending the message that the king was more important than his God.

So, what of cakes, and floral arrangements? Let’s not go legalistic on this. There may be times when the best option is to refuse, but that may be a missed opportunity to share the gospel. Think about it. A couple comes into the shop for a wedding cake. Whether they are homo or hetero, that is an opportunity to begin talking to them about marriage and how the Lord views marriage. They may not have a different opinion of marriage when they leave and you may not have scared them into finding a different baker, but no homosexual couple should ever leave a Christian baker’s shop without knowing that the baker believes the Lord frowns on the choices they are making in life. But neither should they leave without knowing that Jesus died for their sins.