Two days ago, a family-run bakery was found guilty of discrimination in Belfast, Northern Ireland after they refused to make a cake promoting same-sex marriage. While the case was a civil case, and not a criminal one, it’s still considered a landmark judgment.
Some people on Twitter immediately took offense, pointing out that Jews were forced to bake cakes for Nazis, and saying it was similar to asking a gay baker to make an anti-gay marriage cake, or force a Muslim baker to decorate a cake featuring Mohammed. The question was: how far can the law go to force people to do something that goes against their personal beliefs?
The difference, of course, is that while the Nazis are a recognized hate group, gays are simply a group of people who want to receive services like everyone else. The Muslim outcry against depicting Mohammed (which, it should be noted, only certain sects of Muslims believe in) comes from millenia of monotheistic religious teachings against graven images, considering them idols: it has nothing to do with refusing service to people who believe differently.
In the case of an an anti-gay activist William Jack, who requested that Azucar Bakery in Denver, Colorado create for him two Bible-shaped cakes with “God hates sin” and “Homosexuality is a detestable sin” written on them - a judge ruled that the baker did not discriminate for her refusal to write “hateful sayings” on the cakes. The baker, Majorie Silva, said she did not refuse service to the man, offering to make him Bible-shaped cakes, but told him he would have to buy a piping bag and do the writing part himself. It seems important to note that Silva, along with her six employees, all identify as Christians themselves.
Melissa and Aaron Klein were fined $135,000 in 2014 after they refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in Oregon. This isn’t refusing to design or decorate something against your beliefs - this is pure discrimination of actual people based on personal biases of them.
Christian organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom argue that this is a first amendment issue which trumps civil rights, but the courts are starting to rule in favor of the civil rights, not the right to free speech. In either case, the right to free speech isn’t being infringed upon. As a business owner, you exist to serve the public. If you disapprove of someone’s marriage or religious views, do so using words. Denying services based on these opinions is illogical, illegal, and yes, unbiblical.
While anti-gay Christian business owners are quick to point out the clobber verses in which homosexuality is seemingly preached against, they seem just as quick to accept business from couples who have had premarital sex (90% of people, according to one study) or couples who have been divorced and are remarrying or couples of a different or no faith, a rising group of Americans.
This sort of hypocrisy is just a side effect of a larger culture war, which anti-gay Christians fear they are losing, and rightfully so, as a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and religious support continues to rise along with it.
Today’s anti-gay Christians have reduced morality to a handful of specific issues, gleefully ignoring parts of the Bible that mention materialism or greed. They may feel like they are being “forced” to bake cakes supporting marriages they don’t believe in, but in Jesus’ time, Israelites were forced to live under Roman rule. They considered the Romans to be cruel and evil, like they were squashing their rights. Romans were considered enemies of Israelites.
But Jesus declared, in Matthew 5:38-47, that we are not just to love our friends, but also our enemies. The more we exclude people from the table, the more we are directly defying the words of Jesus. So if a Christian is forced to bake a cake for a gay couple, the only logical assumption is that they should do so, and not only that, but take it a step further. Make it the nicest, best cake you can possibly imagine. If you consider yourself a Christian business, you have to start by exemplifying Christ. You can’t do that if you’re spending thousands of dollars tied up in court fighting for the right to discriminate.