As a regular contributor to the Opinion column of CharismaNews.com, I was surprised to read Os Hillman’s article, “Why Oregon Bakers Should Have Sold Wedding Cake to Gay Couple.” Now, to be clear, I wasn’t surprised to see the article posted on the website, since it’s a forum for discussion among Christians and not all opinion columnists will agree. No problem there!
But, with all respect to Mr. Hillman, who is president of Marketplace Leaders, I was surprised by the arguments he used, which completely missed the point of why Melissa and Aaron Klein declined to bake a cake for a lesbian “wedding” ceremony. (For my take on the situation, see my article, “The Gay Bullies Strike Again.”)
He writes, “From where I sit, it seems pretty clear to me that the couple should have provided service to the gay couple. . . . If you are operating a public business, discriminating against a group of people by refusing to sell a product to them for whatever reason seems to simply feed the gay movement with more ammunition to accuse Christians of bigotry. Chick-fil-A would never think of not selling their chicken to a gay person. That does not mean they cannot hold a personal or corporate view about a social issue. That is freedom of speech.”
But the Kleins had no problem selling their products to gay people, and so Hillman’s comparison with Chick-fil-A is irrelevant. The issue was baking a wedding cake for two lesbians, in direct violation of the Klein’s Christian convictions — and to violate their consciences would be to sin against God (see Romans 14:23). How can this be God’s will?
Hillman argues, “If this gay couple walked into Jesus’ carpentry shop to buy a table, I cannot imagine He would not sell them a table. I believe He would view that couple with compassion, realizing that something is amiss in their need for love and intimacy that led them to make such a choice. He would build a bridge into their lives, much like He did with the Samaritan woman, in order to demonstrate God’s love to them in hopes they might open their hearts to another way. However, He would leave that choice to them as He does with all of us.”
Once again, though, Hillman misses the point. If two out and proud lesbians simply walked into the Klein’s store and said, “We’d like buy one of your cakes,” then they would have been served, like everyone else, without discrimination and without faultfinding, and just as Jesus would have theoretically sold a table to a gay couple. But do you believe Jesus would have sold crossbeams to the Romans to use when they crucified innocent Jews? (I’m NOT comparing a lesbian “wedding” ceremony to crucifying Jews; I’m simply illustrating a point.)
And doesn’t Paul address a similar principle in 1 Corinthians 8 in the context of eating food that was sacrificed to an idol? To give the background, in cities like Corinth, many of the meats hanging in the marketplace came from animals that had been sacrificed to idols, but there was no way of knowing what was what, and the meat itself couldn’t defile our spirits. But what if you went to someone’s house for a meal and he announced to you that the meat was sacrificed to an idol before serving it? In that case, Paul says, don’t eat the meat for that person’s sake, let you seem complicit in eating food sacrificed to an idol. The case with the Klein’s was actually more pronounced than this.
I do appreciate Hillman’s desire to build bridges into the homosexual community and not to give them further cause to call us bigots, but what he fails to realize (naively so?) is that unless we affirm their homosexuality, we will be classified as judgmental and bigoted. More importantly, he fails to see the gay activist elephant in the room, one that has become the principle threat to freedoms of speech, conscience and religion in America. Thus, he fails to see the much larger implications of cases like this which are springing up across the country at a frightening rate and which will ultimately challenge the rights of churches and individuals to hold to their religious convictions.
But following Hillman’s counsel, Christian parents shouldn’t speak out when gay activist curricula are forced on their elementary school kids, since that might offend and turn off the gay administrators and teachers — just to give one example of many. Is that a biblical stance?
Hillman writes, “Many Christians have a difficult time loving those in the gay community because they think that if they do, they are condoning the homosexual lifestyle,” but once more, he seriously misses the point.
Most Christians I know have no problem loving people in the gay community. In fact, many of my friends and colleagues have an especially strong sense of compassion for those who identify as LGBT. But either way, this was not the issue with Aaron and Melissa Klein. They were specifically asked to participate in a ceremony they felt was displeasing to God, and for them, it was no different than being asked to bake cakes for an illegal activity. To do so would be to sin against God.
I absolutely concur with Os Hillman when he writes that when interacting with those who identify as gay, we should “consider how Jesus might relate to the person, and become Jesus to them.” In fact, this is how we should act towards all people. But there’s not an example anywhere in the New Testament of Jesus actively participating in a sinful activity — or condoning it. Instead, he reached out to the hurting and lost and transformed them by his love, setting an example for all of us.
So yes, by all means, let’s build bridges of love, compassion, and kindness wherever and whenever possible. But let’s hold our ground for righteousness at the same time. Otherwise, as I have warned repeatedly over the years, if we don’t stand up for what is right today, we’ll have to apologize to our kids and grandkids tomorrow.