Thursday, September 5, 2013
Christians Serving Gay Couples – Is it Biblical?
A Renewed and Candid Reconsideration
Before I get into the meat of this blog I want to make sure you understand what it is I am getting at. First, I am not placing any obligations on Christian business to engage in practices they deem unrighteous. I am not really suggesting that you take any action at all regarding the matter that has recently exploded on the scene in American culture as it relates to the specific issue of how Christian should relate to gay couples. What I am suggesting is that we think through our actions to make sure that our thinking and behavior are in fact clearly supported by Scripture. I have written a lot about the homosexual movement serving as the greatest threat to religious freedom in American culture and I still think that is true. However, I am afraid that I may have contributed to fuzzy thinking on the issue and I want to set the matter straight, at least where I am concerned.
The burning question: Is it unrighteous, ungodly, or unbiblical for a Christian to do business with homosexuals when that activity leads to the ungodly practice of gay marriage? This is a very important question and one that, if answered incorrectly, could lead to unnecessary pain and suffering on the part of Christian business people.
The New Mexico Story
In 2006, Elaine and Jonathon Huguenin refused to take photos of a gay celebration ceremony because it violated their Christian belief. The Huguenins believed that doing business with the gay couple would be participating in the celebration or in some way construed as an endorsement of the lifestyle. This is a slippery slope that we walk so we must use wisdom in how we answer the question. How does taking pictures of a gay celebration endorse the gay lifestyle? I cannot see how taking the photos of the ceremony could be ipso facto viewed as an endorsement. Should the Huguenin’s be allowed to do business with whomever they wish and refuse to do business with whomever they wish? That is a good question. I am not a legal expert and so I cannot say for sure. I can say that permitting businesses to discriminate based on whatever criteria they desire is probably not the best way to maintain fairness and justice in a society.
The Oregon Story
More recently, an Oregon bakery known as Sweet Cakes by Melissa has closed its doors for similar reasons. The bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple and the backlash has been nothing short of ludicrous. The bakery has since been forced to close due to the constant angry protests and threats organized by the homosexual community. The owners even said that some threats were aimed at their children, hoping they would die. Indeed, this is not the America in which I was raised. But was this episode really necessary? Did the Christian owners have to refuse to bake a cake for the lesbian couple in order to remain faithful to biblical Christianity? If the answer to this question is no, then indeed it is a pity that one could lose their business on what could possibly be misplaced convictions. I am not suggest that is the case, but I am saying we have to ask the hard question if it might be the case. What we need in the current environment is sound, godly, healthy leadership with the ability to think through the issues and properly apply biblical principles that Christians are thinking correctly about these issues.
The Wedding at Cana
Enter a wealthy wedding a Cana. I understand the purpose of the sign at the wedding as to point to Christ as Messiah. Nevertheless, Jesus never sinned in performing His miracles and He did not sin here either. We have a wedding celebration full of drunk guests when Jesus gets the request from His mother to provide more wine to people who are already sinfully drunk. Can Jesus honor His mother’s request? Could He be accused of endorsing drunkenness and sin by honoring that request? I think He could. But Jesus honored the request anyways. After all, it is one thing to be accused of endorsing sinful behavior and quite another to be guilty of it. Jesus Himself was accused of being a drunk and a glutton even though He was neither. Jesus was able to provide wine for people at a wedding for people who were clearly engaged in violating His principles of behavior for alcohol consumption. This is an event that we must consider when we work through this gay marriage issue. Are there limitations? Of course there are. A preacher could never unite gay people in marriage without sinning because that is serving as a key figure in bringing together an unholy union. But that is a religious matter, or ritual, not a matter of business.
A Different and Interesting Perspective
If we cannot bake a cake for a gay couple because God does not honor their union, must we also turn away the believer-unbeliever unions? I think we must. In addition, what about the owner of a hotel who rents rooms to people who are going to commit sexual sin? What about the Christian hotel owner who knows a gay couple have leased a room for their honeymoon? What about the tuxedo shop owner? And the Limo service? Where do we draw the line? If we object to the gay couple, can we object to the couple that divorced on unbiblical grounds, and are getting remarried?
What if we took a different position than what we have seen so far. What if there is a better way for us to deal with this gay marriage, Christian business issue? What if the bakery responds to the gay couple by saying, sure, I will bake your cake but, you must understand that I am a Christian, and as such I do not believe that God sanctions your behavior. What if, at that point, while serving them as a business, the Christian takes this opportunity to give them the gospel of Christ and issues the message of repentance? Would the couple still want to use the Christian business? Maybe, but maybe not. The more important thing is that the Christian business is in the wonderful position of giving the gospel.
I am not saying my mind is settled on this issue. What I am saying is that I am having to take a harder look at it because I think I may be guilty of being inconsistent and thinking poorly about it. If we know as Christians that if we make the decision to enter business in American culture, then we must understand that we will be required by law to do certain things. As Christians, we do not have “rights” if you will to change the law to be in our favor. Those days are gone. Does religious liberty require that business law bend to Christian morality? I cannot say. What I can say is there are wiser ways to navigate this issue than the ones I am seeing so far. And it is in our best interest to start thinking differently when it comes to the gay marriage laws and how Christian business is to react to them. I see it as an opportunity to get the gospel out there and let these people know right up front what you position is and why. Give them the truth: the gospel truth. A for the rest of the issue, the best I can say is that I am still thinking about it.