Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Is it sinful for a Christian to bake a cake for a gay wedding?

Since homosexual relationships are condemned in Scripture, many Christians have trouble engaging in actions they feel may be supporting, or legitimizing a sinful behavior. The argumentation is usually along the lines of, “homosexual relations are sinful, thus homosexuals should not marry each other, therefore, I cannot do something to promote gay marriage (like bake a cake with two grooms on top)”. 

A similar line of reasoning is often manifested in individuals or groups choosing to boycott a business because of behaviors they find morally repugnant. An environmental advocacy group may choose to not buy goods from a company that has a reputation of harming the environment, pro-life individuals will often choose to not support a business that donates large amounts of money to Planned Parenthood. 

An Ancient Debate Revisited (Meat Sacrificed to Idols)
Although the Bible does not specifically deal with baking cakes for gay weddings or organizing a business boycott, it does deal with the question of can a Christian eat meat that was sacrificed to an idol. 

During the writing of the New Testament there were people who worshipped idols. They would offer meat sacrifices to these idols. This author’s understanding is that leftovers from these sacrifices would also be sold to consumers in the marketplace. Herein is the challenge, idol worship is sinful, but would it be wrong to consume meat that was offered to an idol? Would the funds collected from the transaction support an idol priest? If people saw you eating that meat, would they think you worshipped idols?

Questions like these and others were being asked by Christians in the First Century. Most fell into one of two sides on this issue. Some believed it was always wrong to eat the meat because of where it came from and what it supported. Others took the view that it was just meat, thus it is nothing more than a business transaction and you can eat what you want. 

What is a Christian to do?
Just as there was in the First Century, there are those today who point fingers and condemn those who choose to not participate in a boycott or who would choose to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Those on the other side accuse those boycotting as being silly and not able to understand the difference between business and actually supporting a sinful behavior.
Thankfully, the Bible does speak to this debate (although it may not give the answer you would expect). In (Romans 14:3) the text states:
The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.
The Apostle does not stop with food, he even deals with holidays. In verse 5 he continues:
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. 
Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God (Romans 14:5-6)
From the aforementioned passages it appears that one can make a judgment call when it comes to matters of conscience and opinion. 

  • “If I bake a cake for a gay wedding it make me feel like I am supporting something sinful!” - Don’t bake a cake if it violates your conscience. 
  • “I don’t think it is different than baking a cake for any sinner!” - If you do not feel it is nothing more than a business transaction; go ahead and bake it. 
The Big Idea
In many areas in life there is not clear cut right and wrong answer. Some of my Christian friends do not buy coffee at Starbucks because of their stance on gay marriage. It is ok for them to boycott Starbucks. I, however, still buy coffee from Starbucks, because it tastes good and I do not feel that when I am buying coffee I am actually supporting a false idea.

Where sin comes in, is not whether or not you choose to bake a cake or buy a pound of coffee. Sin occurs when you judge the conscientious decision of another as sinful. God has not legislated on whether or not one should bake a cake or support a certain business, thus, we have no place to condemn. If a Christian baker says they cannot in good conscience bake a cake for a gay wedding… that is fine. On the other hand, if a Christian baker says they are just providing service and not endorsing a behavior, I cannot condemn them either. 

Sin occurs when unwarranted judgment is passed or when one is forced to violate their conscience. Romans 14 goes on to state:
 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:13-17).
If a baker chooses to bake a cake, or where a customer chooses to shop are matters of conscience and not doctrine. Don’t feel pressured either way by opposing sides of a particular opinion, instead, use wisdom and be fully convinced of whatever choice you make. In the conclusion of Romans 14 it reads:
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats [or bakes] , because his eating [or baking] is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin”
By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NAS Bible. Image from TheBlaze