So last Monday was Gay Wedding Cake Decision Day. Finally! Maybe now we can forget about this stupidest of all ways to spend public time and energy.
You probably know it as the United States Supreme Court decision regarding a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado cake shop owner politely refused to sell based on his religious beliefs and the court essentially agreed that it was within his rights as a private citizen to do so.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that while Colorado law “…can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions that are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”
But there was a large asterisk of sorts added to that ruling. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue respect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,”
Well, I think that is a wise ruling, giving value to both positions and asking for decency and respect in future interactions of this type. Perhaps both sides won.
Now we can relax because it won’t ever be an issue again. Yeah, right…
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So Brian, the good news is that the baker is now able to choose which customers he serves.
Yeah, that makes sense to me; customers can shop someplace else if they choose to. But wait … now that I think about it, why would a business person turn away business?
Well, because of his religious beliefs, Brian – he doesn’t agree with the gay lifestyle.
Did you really just say ‘the gay lifestyle’? Anyway, what is his religion?
He’s a Christian, Brian.
Obviously an isolated, far-right, Bible-belt, evangelical fundamentalist of some sort because most Christians believe that every person bears God’s image and is of equal and immeasurable worth – created, loved, died for and purposed by God. (Yeah that was a bit wordy but I didn’t know how to edit myself.)
Well, the baker is a Christian who doesn’t believe in gay marriage.
Oh I see. Yeah, I understand; that’s a tough discussion for sure, many faces to it. But…
But what, Brian?
But … it’s just that … I dunno … it’s just that it’s ……. well, it’s a cake. We’re talking about a cake here…
Yes, it’s a cake.
Yes, it’s a cake.
Cakes are what this guy does.
Yes, that’s true.
Made out of flour and eggs and icing sugar. He’s a cake artist. It’s a cake!
It sure is a cake.
You mean he wouldn’t build them a cake?
They weren’t really asking him to approve of their lifestyle, they were asking him to bake a cake. A cake.
He was very polite when he refused to do it.
But he still wouldn’t make them a cake.
He believes it is a sin which he can’t support.
But the presenting issue isn’t ‘what is sin?’ the issue is how we treat people.
He is refusing to provide service because of his conscience. Obviously two groom decorations can’t fit comfortably on a cake without, you know, touching.
Good for him, glad to know that. But it sounds like an idol of judging.
It’s not judging, it’s standing for principles.
So what other people does he refuse to do business with based on principles?
Well, I’m not sure – that’s the only issue I’ve heard of, I think.
So his conscience is clear if he serves liars, adulterers, rapist, thieves, drug dealers? How about unmarried, co-habitating gay people? Or divorced people? God hates divorce, you know.
No, don’t be ridiculous, he doesn’t approve of those things but gay marriage is his biggest concern because … well, it would be supporting it right there in plain sight. On the cake.
So the baker doesn’t want to see ‘sins’ but is okay with secret ones because he doesn’t have to look at them.
It’s impossible to know about invisible sins.
That’s probably the safe way to go because then he can judge people but still feel good about himself.
That’s being cynical Brian, you don’t know that.
I think I do but I’m sorry – I know this is a tough topic for lots of people.
That’s right, it’s not popular these days but it’s what he believes.
So now I guess it’s legal for a Christian to refuse to serve a gay married couple in a restaurant or to cut their hair or repair their dishwasher or rent them an apartment?
Well no, because there’s no way of knowing if they’re married.
Oh that’s right – marriage is invisible too.
Don’t forget, it’s his religious right under the Constitution.
So now Christians rely on the U.S. Constitution to determine how we should act?
Well it’s what we rely on to govern with compassion and equality.
Hmm… What about Christians in countries without constitutions?
Unfortunately they have to suffer and make do but we are blessed to live in a Christian nation.
I thought one of the themes of the Bible is that laws aren’t enough – only love expressed with actions like generosity, kindness, forgiveness, hospitality, etc. make a real difference in a broken world.
Well it only makes sense that we have to take a stand for what’s right.
How is refusing to bake a cake more righteous than generosity, kindness and hospitality?
We’re just doing what we hear God telling us to do.
And Jesus who regularly hung out with prostitutes and crooked tax collectors and terrorists and impoverished people wouldn’t make them a cake?
I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t.
Can’t help but think, ‘Let whoever is without sin refuse the first cake order.’
Well Brian, it’s more complicated than that.
It’s a cake.