Jonathan Merritt writes one of those misguided posts at the Daily Beast arguing that Christians professionals that involve weddings (excluding perhaps ministers) have no right to refuse to participate in same sex marriage:
The backers of these laws claim that a Christian cannot, in good conscience, provide a good or service for a same-sex wedding because it violates the teachings of Christianity…
Strangely, conservative Christians seem to have little interest in this level of analysis and jump right to complaints about their legal and constitutional rights. It’s not that these rights don’t matter. Rather, they should be a secondary issue for Christians. Before considering legal rights, Christians wrestling with this issue must first resolve the primary issue of whether the Bible calls Christians to deny services to people who are engaging in behavior they believe violates the teachings of Christianity regarding marriage. The answer is, it does not.
Nor does the Bible teach that providing such a service should be construed as participation or affirmation. Yet Christian conservatives continue to claim that it does. So it seems that the backers of these bills don’t actually believe what they are saying.
Powers makes a mistake (and perhaps some proponents of the legislation do as well), as saying that providing a cake for a same sex marriage ceremony violates the teaching of Christianity. Such s not the case. Powers is right that the Bible doesn’t specifically address the point.
However, there are a lot of other things the Bible doesn’t specifically addressed in the pages of scriptures. Paul didn’t address Christians hiring out as cake makers for same sex weddings because this really was not an issue in His world and Paul was not in the habit of writing, “And by the way, if in 2000 years they decide to redefine marriage and you live in a democracy with a free enterprise system, whatever that is and you happen to actually be the owner of a business…” Many ceremonies and many marketplaces Christians would be excluded from at the time of Paul because they didn’t sacrifice to pagan gods. Remember, The Bible also doesn’t address what to do if someone comes in and orders a cake with a decoration of someone urinating on a crucifix, that doesn’t mean Christian cakemakers should be required to make them.
It is sophistry to expect the Bible to contain explicit answers to every issue of the twenty-first century world and culture when the last verses were written in the first century. However, the Bible does contain principles and address the issue of conscience as it addresses issues of diet and religious observance as it says in Romans 14:5, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. ” This establishes the principle of conscience. and speaking of this principle, while Paul is clear throughout the entire chapter that for a Christian there was nothing sinful of eating this meat offered to idols in and of itself, but that if a Christian was unsure of whether it was right do this, he was in sin, as Paul writes in Verse 23 of the same chapter, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
Thus if a Christian is genuinely in doubt as to the morality of offering cakes to a same sex wedding, scripture tells them not to violate their conscience. There’s also another aspect here, and that’s concern for others:
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.-Romans 14:14-16
Now, let us suppose that while a Christian has no personal concern about delivering a cake to a wedding as, “a cake’s a cake’s a cake.” but he knows some people in the church who struggle with same sex attraction and she wants to avoid sending a mixed message or presenting a stumbling block, that would be a reasonable grounds to not choose to provide the cake.
As to why Christians would have a conviction against this, the Bible states not only was marriage created by God as an institution for one man and one woman (Genesis 1) but that the very nature of the one man/one woman marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5). Even a flawed male-female wedding carries forth that truth forth and paints that key picture while a same sex wedding defies what scripture has taught on both the nature of marriage and the nature of Christ and the Church. Thus why the rest of Merritt’s argument that cake vendors would have to check on previous divorces, commitment to Christ, etc. is fallacious.
The Christian faith recognizes that even in the absence of explicit teaching, there is a place where conscience comes in and respecting everyone’s right to conscience is what made America great and failing to do that is a dangerous step indeed.
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