To Bake or Not to Bake: Thoughts On Gay Marriage, Religious Liberty, and Independence Day

In the flotsam and jetsam that surrounds our country in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex “marriage” there has been much celebrating by the political left while there has been a lot of consternation on the political right. We have seen many ludicrous statements made from the “Love is love” argument to the extremely bigoted response of the political left claiming that anyone who disagrees with their opinion on same sex marriage is a bigot because they say so.

We have seen some call for the end of tax exemptions for all churches who dare to disagree with 5 of the 4 Supreme Court Justices. It is amazing that in some people’s minds, it is wrong to “discriminate” against someone based on their sexual orientation by withholding the tax benefits of marriage; however, it is not discrimination to take away tax benefits from institutions based on their religious beliefs. It is a strange world we live in.

We have also seen, as predicted, the call for legalizing of polygamy. None of this should surprise us as I touched on in my sermon this last week, the Church should expect persecution. This is nothing new in world history; it is only taking a new form in our country.

What I want to cover in this blog is the difference between endorsing a same-sex “marriage” by participating in it and not serving gay couples in other capacities such as at a restaurant or a hardware store. You may have heard of the Baptist minister who also owns a hardware store who put up a sign saying, “No Gays Allowed,” this minister has since removed that sign. Predictably, the media has seen fit to shower this story with attention as the case and point of how intolerant Christians are. As a Christian, I do not endorse this man’s actions.

Also this week, we have seen a Christian lady from St. Louis resign her post as county clerk because she could not in good conscience sign marriage certificates of gay couples. Another County Clerk in Kentucky is now refusing to issue any marriage licenses because he does not want to violate his religious beliefs. Their actions I wholeheartedly support.

Also, the Texas Attorney General told his county clerks they did not have to issue marriage certificates to gay couples if they thought it violated their religious beliefs. Such reactions were predicted by the dissenting Supreme Court Justices because of the Court’s disrespect for the democratic process and the US Constitution. When you act poorly you can expect backlash from the people.

Here is the point, while the left and media try to equate the actions of the hardware store owner, and the actions of Christian bakers, photographers, and County Clerks there is a clear difference that is important to recognize. I support wholeheartedly the actions of anyone who believes participating in a gay “wedding” ceremony would violate their Christian conscience to not do so. Moreover, the Constitution protects that right. But, as a Christian I would not advise anyone to refuse service to a gay individual (or couple) in the context of a hardware store, restaurant, or any other service outside of endorsing or partaking in a Gay “wedding”.

What’s the difference? Well the difference is an important one and it is an easy one to make despite the fact that our opponents cannot recognize it. Here is the difference—if my actions are in any way going to endorse or place my seal of approval on an action I believe to be immoral and wrong, then as a Christian I cannot not partake in it. Why? Because to do so would be tantamount to calling evil “good.” Yes a wedding service and ceremony is a celebration, and to force anyone by government fiat to partake in a celebration of what they believe to be morally reprehensible is nothing more than political tyranny.

Should a Jewish baker be forced to make a cake for a neo-Nazis party in the shape of Swastika? Should an African American baker be forced to serve at a White-Supremacist gathering? No. To force someone to act against their conscience is not befitting of a free people; rather, it is the practice of despots and dictators.

Likewise, a county clerk who signs a marriage certificate is using his/her power to recognize a marriage. If as a Christian, you cannot recognize such a union as a marriage, no one should be able to compel anyone to act against your deepest held beliefs. The same can be said for bakers, photographers, and wedding singers. The idea that the government can and should coerce its citizens into acting against their God is not equality. It is not love. It is not tolerance. And it is not freedom.

Yet, I cannot endorse the actions of a hardware store or restaurant owner refusing service to a gay individual. Serving someone a meal at a restaurant does not force you to partake in a celebration of their wicked deeds. Allowing someone to purchase tools does not put you in the place of endorsing or celebrating that which is wrong. No one thinks eating is wrong, no one thinks owning a hammer is wrong. As such, Christian bakers have and should continue to serve gay clients, but they must never be forced to endorse that which they believe is morally evil by being forced to join a celebration which they view as inherently evil.

As we approach this Fourth of July holiday may we remember that freedom, especially religious freedom, is a costly thing which few people throughout world history have been able to enjoy. It would be a travesty of history if the American people forget that. The First Amendment does not only protect freedom of belief and worship, as the left often suggests, but it protects the “free exercise thereof” of religion. For a Christian, our religious beliefs are to inform everything we do from the moment we wake till the moment we fall asleep each day. This means, the free exercise of our religion includes how we work and the businesses we may own or operate. Paul on many occasions appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen for protection. It is high time we use that tactic as well.

Some closing thoughts for you and your family as you prepare to celebrate this momentous day, from the Declaration of Independence & U.S. Constitution:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”