The news and social media sites have been full of stories and arguments and jokes and snide comments about the recent legislation in Arizona that some called a religious freedom bill and some called an anti-gay bill. What you called it depended on your point of view. In the end conservative Republican Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. It was the right decision.
Along with the decision a lot of screaming and hate and misinformation spread across the internet. But what few seemed to realize is that there are indeed two legitimate sides to this issue. Hear me out.
Businesses shouldn’t/can’t discriminate. Customers are customers. For me, the whole wedding cake thing is an economic issue. Why turn down business? I’ve already told you my views regarding same sex marriage. I’d bake the cake. No one would want to eat it or look at it, but I’d bake it.
Not my point.
But where do we draw the line in asking someone to violate their faith? That Scripture says that homosexuality is sin is not debatable. That Christians have for centuries believed that marriage is between one man and one woman is not debatable.
Nothing that activists or even the Supreme Court do or say can change that.
It’s not hate. How we, as Christians, present those views and act towards those who disagree is a different story.
Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can tell people they have to change their beliefs.
It’s like the abortion activists who think that the Catholic Church should lighten up on abortion. Seriously? But that’s another issue.
So let’s stop screaming at each other and talk about where a line of belief can be drawn in civilized society without discrimination or without violating someone’s deeply held faith.
It’s not just about cake. What about the Christian photographer who doesn’t want to photograph a gay wedding? Taking it one step further, I saw an article last week that said a gay couple planned to sue a church because they wanted to get married in the church facility.
That’s a pew too far.
But, what about the Christian baker who happily provides a cake for a “divorce party.” Yes, it’s happened. Or what about the photographer that takes splendid photos at a second or third wedding?
Oh, he went there.
I am not advocating that anyone, regardless of their position, change or compromise their beliefs. That’s another sermon.
But, let’s take a different look at the issue.
These examples are two years old, but relevant to the issue:
In Toronto, there was the case of a lesbian who wanted a barber, not a hair stylist, to cut her hair. So she went to a shop in Toronto where the owner is a Muslim who follows Sharia law. That means they believe their faith says they are not to touch women who are not their own wives. [Toronto Sun]
Never mind what you think of Sharia law. That’s another issue. What I’m talking about here are unintended consequences.
Or, let’s go back to the great Southwest.
Two years ago a gay hair stylist told New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez that she’d have to find a different stylist because Martinez opposes same sex marriage. [NY Daily News]
You can’t argue that a Christian baker MUST bake a cake for a same sex wedding if you agree that a gay stylist can refuse to cut a Christian’s hair.
No. You. Can’t.
Matt Walsh says the solution is to allow businesses to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Walsh writes, “If freedom of association and property rights are to mean anything at all, private enterprises have to retain the right to make those judgment calls.”
I see where he’s going with that, but again where’s the line to be drawn? Taken to the logical extreme, we’re back at the Woolworth’s counter.
I’ll admit being conflicted on this issue. While I think that, yes, it is the right of a Christian business owner to refuse to provide services for someone or an event that violates his faith; I don’t think the refusal is really the Christian response.
Jesus, who was called a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners by his enemies (the religious leaders of the day) said the greatest commandments are:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matthew 22:37-41.
In other words, I think that means get those two right and everything else is going to fall in place.
Besides, who doesn’t love cake?
Both sides need to learn that. If you want to talk about equality and diversity, then you have to accept equality and diversity. Even when it makes you uncomfortable.
But if you don’t agree that coconut cake is the best cake, I do worry about the hate in your heart.