Should Christians Bake The Cake? Should We Attend The Gay Wedding?
We know Christians have been sued for denying services to gay couples. With or without lawsuits, however, the distress for believers in knowing how to handle things is on the rise. It’s hard because it feels like we are violating God if we do something that seems to promote or validate sin. Believers who deny gays services are convinced that they should not endorse anti-scriptural situations no matter the cost. But let’s examine scripture closely and determine the proper recourse for those times when somebody living outside of faith reaches out to the believer be it a colleague, a friend or one in need of a service.
The Bible is plain in outlining sin, including homosexuality. But when Jesus came along if we closely study how He did things, we see He embraced sinners. We see that He came to save the world, not condemn it. We see that He came to serve. No, for real. These aren’t just nice words. This is what He literally did. In summation, we see that the ministry of Jesus Christ revolved around the fact that the whole world was full of sin. Yet He came down to be AMONG us filthy rug rats… and went around rebuking and taking a stand against everyone for their sins…? Um, no. He went onto the highest mountains, listed all manners of sin and shouted out for all to repent of their wickedness? Again, no. Actually, Jesus did quite the contrary. Yes, Jesus preached repentance to the crowds. But in all personal accounts where Jesus worked directly with someone His approach was acceptance, healing and forgiveness.
Now think about this for a minute. Here was the Messiah, the Living God Who knows all things, every sin we ever committed. Yet, He didn’t treat anyone with distance, keeping sinners at the end of His ten foot pole. He dwelt among us. All of us. All of us sinners. Can you imagine how aware He was of each person’s iniquity as he passed by them or chatted with them at the market? Yet, other than when they asked, there’s not one scripture that says He brought their sin up to tell them how far it was keeping them from the Kingdom of God. In fact, when Jesus approached the man at the pool of Bethesda His first words were, “Do you want to be well?” He healed the guy and took off. Not one word of discussion about the man’s sin. For all we know he could have been a homosexual. Regardless, it wasn’t until later, when they ran into each other again that Jesus said, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen.”
Even when Jesus brought up to the woman at the well that she had been married five times and wasn’t married to the man she was now with, it wasn’t to rebuke, take a stand against or preach at her about it. It was understood that the Messiah’s mission was to call sinners to repentance, of course. But He didn’t show up at the well instructing that the sinful woman first get right in order to QUALIFY for the Living Water He had, did He? No, rather through acceptance and treating her with peculiar, unexpected kindness He told her about the Living Water He would have unconditionally given her had she asked even prior to the disclosure of her sin.
We must grasp the full picture that, yes, God clearly outlines what is and isn’t sin but that when Jesus came to redeem us He didn’t do it by taking a stand against our sins and making sure to never appear to be in approval of the sinner. Instead He drew us with His love, healing and forgiveness. That’s His procedure and should be ours, too. If we think about it we can see it’s rather manipulative to say we can’t honor people’s requests when we don’t agree with their lifestyle. We don’t mean it this way but it’s unwittingly stating to the world that we can only honor the righteous. I don’t think Jesus would do that. In fact, it almost seems like something the Pharisees would do.
Yes, baking a cake for an “unholy matrimony” appears to be blatantly partaking of and approving sin which seems to be quite different from healing a homosexual that comes in to buy cupcakes. But it isn’t. For all we know healing the gay person who purchases the cupcakes could give them the courage to finally propose to their partner because now they feel healthy enough to be a good spouse. In this case, your Christian love helped them along in their sin so should you not have prayed for their healing, then? Our hope is God’s touch would have initiated the contrary, bringing them to their knees in thanksgiving and brokenness before the King and even to repentance. But this is no guarantee. What people do with the love of Jesus is up to them. He’ll contend with them at the Judgment. Meanwhile, loving, accepting and treating sinners with respect and grace is always our mandate whether it seems we’re encouraging them to keep sinning or not. Baking the cake, then, is respecting their wishes despite our disapproval. It’s being like Jesus, showing kindness and acceptance of them. Not of their sin, but of them. We simply must do what Jesus said which is to hate the sin and not the sinner. And isn’t denying someone a type of rejection or intolerance? Doesn’t it seem unkind and even cruel and hateful to only bake cakes for weddings we agree with? In the least, doesn’t it seem judgmental? What if you were denied a service for believing in Christ when they disagreed and felt you were insane? We have to consider the coin has two equal sides.
Now let’s get back to the scriptures to get a solid overview as to exactly how Christ Jesus handled sinners throughout His ministry. Consider the very confrontational Jesus discussed in the Book of John that shows Him slamming (okay, rebuking) people left and right. Who were they? The prostitutes and sexually immoral? The greedy tax collectors? No, it was the Pharisees and the murmuring Jews He demonstrated INTOLERANCE for and RESISTANCE of. And what did He repeatedly rebuke them for? All their sins? Kind of but what was His primary issue with them? One time when a group of Jews were harassing Him He told them unless they ate of His flesh and drank His blood, they were doomed. And when He rebuked the Pharisees, yes, He’d point out their sin of objectifying the law and denying the heart of it. But ultimately, Christ’s primary complaint with these murmuring Jews and hypocritical Pharisees was THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE WHO HE WAS which made them of their father, the devil.
Bottom line was scripture records that those who yielded to Christ, regardless of their sin, were forgiven on the spot without having to confess it or repent first. Their yielded hearts and drawing to Him forbade Christ from taking the rebuke approach. He never responded to those who came to Him with requests saying, “I know of the lifestyle you live and I don’t want you to think I approve so I can’t heal you, cast the demon out of you, forgive you, serve you, befriend you or sup with you.” No, He forgave them, healed them, cast the demon out of them, served them, befriended them and supped with them…first. He honored their requests when they were yet steeped in sin. Likewise, if a gay customer reaches out to a Christian baker, he was drawn there one way or another. Whether he realizes it or not, he is seeking something from a representative of Christ. For all we know, he was drawn to that baker by the Spirit of God Himself – for a reason. How does it make sense, then, if we close the door to them?
And how about this? Did Jesus deny the request to make wine at the wedding where at least a few of the guests could already have been drunk or could have used his upcoming provision to get drunk? Was Jesus endorsing, approving or promoting drunkenness? Not at all. He simply honored a request. Whether the guests abused the service was their business. So where am I going with all this? Well, Jesus is our example. Yet what we see is we Christians have this notion that we must take a stand against sin if we’re to correctly represent our God. Our response to turning the water to wine would be more like, “Oh, no, I can’t provide the wine and endorse or be responsible for people’s sin of drunkenness!” The thing is the only stand the Bible tells us to take is against our own sin and the sin of those who claim to be Christians. We are to judge those inside the church only; God judges those outside the church. 1 Cor 5:1-13. And we are His hands and feet to represent His Kingdom and Light in righteousness, peace and joy to the lost… in humility and love. How, then, if Jesus didn’t resist or scrutinize sinners before accepting or serving them is it scriptural for us to do so? Paul didn’t preach “If you love God you will obey God” to the lost but to believers. So why are we suggesting to those who aren’t yet believers, who don’t know and love God… that the only way we can serve them is if their lifestyle is obedient to God first? That’s backwards. Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the good news that the Kingdom is at hand and then to make disciples of them that believe. He didn’t say go into all the world and take a stand against sin and persuade them to come over to Kingdom of God and its right living. We can’t admonish and disciple the world! We can’t force them to want God’s ways. We must simply introduce them to or be the example of the Kingdom of Light which is love and forgiveness and let them choose it for themselves. When Jesus sat among sinners (in love) He spoke in parables and said for those with ears to hear let them hear. So you see? We’ve been doing it all backwards so drastically that we’re afraid to serve and love those in sin for fear of ‘approving’ sin. What we need to understand is that if they are blind to the reality of their sin and don’t understand our convictions yet they still come to us, it’s our job to seize the opportunity, to be like Jesus, to love, serve and accept them as human beings while we let Jesus draw them unto Himself through us so that Holy Spirit can then do the convicting. We negate Holy Spirit’s opportunity to convict sinners through love because we’re too busy making sure we aren’t endorsing sinful lifestyles. This simply isn’t how Jesus did things.
And consider this. If a gay couple chooses a service provider to perform a service all they know is they expect to be treated with the same respect for their free will as everyone else. Again, it’s not the baker’s responsibility if the customer is going to use the cake in accordance to sin any more than it’s an automobile maker’s responsibility if the owner uses the vehicle for crime. With cake baking it feels more personal because, again, the provider may see their work as an extension of their belief system – and approval of the purpose for which the cake is made. But it feeling personal does not mean it is. The baker is NOT endorsing or approving anything anymore than the auto maker approves of the vehicle being used in a bank heist. He’s a cake maker. End of story.
Now, if the customer claims to be a Christian but is having a gay wedding, the baker has spiritual grounds and obligation to address the heresy since the Bible says we are to watch out for our brothers and sisters in Christ. To even turn them over to Satan if they don’t repent. 1 Cor 5:5. This may even be grounds to deny the service of baking the cake but again, a service provider isn’t in the ‘approval’ business and wouldn’t be sinning by submitting to the request so long as they admonish their Christian brother or sister.
And let’s stretch things and ask what if a customer asks the baker to put arsenic in the cake which would kill people? The baker obviously must refuse because God says thou shalt not kill and the baker would, in effect, become a murderer. So that’s a no-brainer. But if the customer wants a product the same as the provider typically produces for others, it is not the provider’s business what the customer wants it for. I know this is difficult to grasp but it’s factual nonetheless. And this is where the Christian baker must remember and accept that all people have free will. This will help the baker deal with the pain of the task laid before them. The baker (or whoever) who denies a service to customers who don’t do things according to their personal convictions appears to the customer as lack of respect for their free will which is a misrepresentation of Jesus. It would be very appropriate for the baker to say, “You know, this will be awfully difficult for me because God created you both and said man would be joined with woman. I put my heart into making these cakes because I’m so blessed by holy matrimony. But in all honesty this is not a blessing for me; it hurts. I know God loves you and desires His will for you – which isn’t this – and that if you never choose God, He will eternally judge you and I sincerely don’t want that for you. But if God Himself won’t force His will upon you I’m likewise in no position to deny you your will either. So, I will serve you as I do anyone, as unto the Lord. Further, I’m confident that if I would request a service of your business that you would graciously serve me to your fullest potential. Why should I not grant you the same grace?”
So, then… Should we bake the cakes? Should we attend a gay person’s wedding? It truly is up to the believer if they can do it. It might just be all too painful to do so which is understandable. But hopefully we will rely on God’s strength to walk as Christ did with respect that the gay couple was given free will from God above and that it’s not any form of duty to God and His truths to withstand them but to seize every opportunity to love and accept them as we would anyone else. God knows we are not approving of sin. He knows we are simply choosing to love as He did so that hopefully His love will penetrate their hearts and draw them nigh to Him. If we can overcome the challenge of it and let God use us this way, this is a right thing. But if we cannot it is best to communicate lovingly that it’s not that we’re rejecting or coming against them but that it’s simply too difficult a task, asking the couple for mercy and understanding, even forgiveness for our inability to honor their request.