No Cake for You?

Question
What is the biblical perspective on the recent cake, flower, and photo shop episodes and serving homosexuals?
Answer

One may well remember the Soup Nazi in the 116th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld airing in the U.S. on November 2, 1995. In that episode, the Soup Nazi was offended concerning comments concerning his soup and said to the offender, "No Soup For You." The scene was hilarious.

But we have come a long way from Soup Nazi's comical "No Soup For You," in television to a very serious "No Cake For You" in our culture today. This is no joking matter. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver refused to make a cake for a homosexual wedding. Albuquerque photographers Elaine and Jonathan Hugueni declined to photograph a lesbian couple's 2006 commitment ceremony. Grandmother and Southern Baptist Barronelle Stutzman in Washington State is out of business because she refused to do a floral arrangement for a homosexual friend.

These appear to be respectable Christians each conducting a honest business. They made decisions based upon their freedom of religion and conscience. They each believed they were doing the right thing - the only thing based upon their faith, as interpreted in the moment.

But as one may see there is a lot of controversy at the present time regarding Christians making cakes, flower arrangements, and photos for homosexuals. Some assert that one's freedom of religion is encroaching upon another person's perceived freedoms. Around the world this causes questions, concerns, and controversy.

Of course, the cake doesn't always cut both ways. Shoebat.com called 13 gay bakers asking each to bake a cake with "Gay marriage is wrong," for him. He was told "No Cake For You" 13 times.

What is the biblical perspective? Is there more than one perspective? As one will see below, my answer to this question, is filled other questions.

Homosexuality is a Sin, Among Other Sins:

Homosexuality is a sin (Gen 19:1-13; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26-27). There is no doubt here. See "Same-Sex Love" below. Romans 1:26-32 says homosexuality is not only a sin, but a judgment from God. It deserves death. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

As one can see above, Paul included homosexuality among numerous other sins: (1) sexually immoral (2) adultery, (3) idolatry, (4) homosexuality, (5) thieves, (6) the greedy, (7) drunkards, (8) revivers, and (9) swindlers. However, note that homosexuality is not at the top of the list; as matter a fact it is the last listed sexual sin in Paul's list. Is it a heinous sin - "Yes," but no more heinous than sexual immorality and adultery which are both condemned by God (Gen 19:24-25; note that Sodom's destruction was not merely for homosexuality, but for other sins to, Gen 19:8; Ezek 16:49-50). But everyone of these sins is worthy of death (Rom 6:23).

However, this is not the question before us today. The question is since homosexuality is a sin, what actions should we as a Christian take when confronted by a homosexual when we are conducting a business model based upon Christian principles? How then should we live? How then should we conduct our businesses?

Some other fair questions in this context are: (1) Are Christian bakeries also refusing to service other sin groups? (2) What about a known adulteress coming into the shop? (3) What about the obese man that comes in and attempts to order a cake? Isn't it discrimination (sin) to select one sin and refuse service to this one sin group and not the others?

Are were going to conduct interviews and interrogations before selling a flower arrangement? As a former police detective, I already legally know a lot of information about a lot of people. I think my cake shop might open and close the same day if I took the interrogation approach. Perhaps I should run a shop, putting aside what I know about my customers? After all, I know a lot about myself ("a chief of sinners") as well.

Jesus Ate with Sinners:

Before getting to our text, it is noteworthy to mention that Jesus was invited to and attended a wedding (John 2:1-12). He brought a gift; he did his first miracle turning water into wine (John 2:9). Did anyone at that feast question if the people attending were qualified to drink Jesus's gift? Did Jesus preach a message entitled, "No Wine For You?" No, he just produced a miracle of the best wine for everyone who was there. Jesus provided wine for everyone, without question.

Please look with me at Mark 2:13-17. The main point in this section is that Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. Where did Jesus eat this meal mentioned in Mark? At Christian Levi's house (Mark 2:15). Did Levi instruct those who served "the sinners" at his house to ask, "Are you an adulterer, or a glutton, or . . .?" Well he did not have to as the text plainly states that a good number of "known sinners" were eating food, prepared in a Christian's home, with Jesus.

This text reveals several things that are worthy of noting:

(1) "Known sinners" went to a Christian home.

(2) "Known sinners" were served food in a Christian home.

(3) Jesus did not rebuke the action of serving "known sinners."

(4) Jesus ate with "known sinners."

(5) Mark photographed this moment in time with words, as his Polaroid was not yet made.

(6) Jesus' goal was the gospel.

(7) Jesus cannot sin, so while he acted in this manner he was not condoning the sin of sinners, but understanding that while they were yet sinners, and desiring to spread the gospel, he could accept them where they were at in the moment (Rom 5:8).

Part of the solution to the conscience problem is properly informing our consciences!

Evangelism:

How far should we go in our evangelism to win someone to Christ? Paul taught is Jewish temples. He had Timothy circumcised so he could more effectively minister to the Jews (Acts 16:1-3). Do Christian parents who have an unmarried daughter help their daughter through a pregnancy and support her to some extent later? Why? For the sake of Christ! They are loving their daughter in spite of her sin.

Should we go as far as making a cake, a flower arrangement, or photos for a homosexual union for the sake of evangelism - for Christ? How far should we go in loving another through and in spite of their sin? The answer is important. Clint Eastwood might put it this way, 'A Christian has gotta to know his limitations.'

Talking about the worst of sins, we see Jesus eating with Judas (John 13:18), who betrayed him (Luke 22:47-48). Judas's sin was unrecoverable (John 17:12). Note, that Judas and Jesus were served at the same table in a home (Matt 26:18). I believe we may safely say a Christian home (some believe it was Mark's or Marks' father's home).

Condoning and Enabling Sin:

Let us say I own a firearms store. Someone walks in and says, "I need to go shoot XYX." If I sell him a gun then I am facilitating and enabling the sin of murder. If I sell him a gun knowing what he will do with it then I am guilty of murder. My action of selling a gun to a confessed would be killer is not only illegal in the U.S., but biblically immoral as well.

However, does making a cake (w/o gay sayings, symbols, rainbow themes, etc.), supplying flowers, or taking photos facilitate or condone a homosexual union to this same level? If someone is paying for a service - but not providing the tool to actually sin with - then the person being paid is not necessary condoning the sin associated with said service. In the case of the flowers, cake, and photos, the union may take place without them - they are not a gun per se. The gun at the union would be the one doing the service - a Christian pastor, or a Christian clerk issuing a marriage certificate, etc. Without them there is no ceremony. Without them there is no union.

Providing a service for someone, does not necessary mean one condones everything one does with your services. One cannot police everything that is done with their cakes, flowers, and photos! As matter a fact, the shop owners can't even control every aspect of where they obtain all their resources to conduct their businesses. Are they tracing every resource to insure that there are only Christian connections? How do they know whether or not a professing Christian is actually a Christian?

What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13?

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked person from among you."

Paul is speaking of not associating with alleged Christians sinning here. However, he also shows us that we should not shut off communication and dealings with others outside the church walls (i.e. the world), based upon certain sins.

Conscience:

What about one's conscience? Part of the solution to the conscience problem is properly informing our consciences! We are all at different levels of growth here, aren't we? I may be convicted about things differently (because of certain studies I have done, etc.) than the readers of this Q&A are. It is a matter of growth in the Spirit. We are all still learning - and at times that is a difficult course.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XX, Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience, sections I and II state:

II. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

III. They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.

Conscience is very important. What Dry Cleaners would desire to clean the white sheets of a KKK member used in their next activity? Most, as a matter of conscience, wouldn't desire to touch them - much less clean them.

Marriage is a covenant relationship before God. Biblically and by definition a real marriage may only be between a male and female (Gen 2:15-25). God does not approve of same-sex "unions." These are not considered true 'marriages' (union is the correct term) before God. These unions are sin before God. These unions bring God's judgment upon its same-sex members (Gen 19:24-25).

Christians are commanded to hate what God hates (Psa 97:10; Prov 8:13; Rom 12:9). And, God hates worse sins more than lesser sins, so maybe we should too? Scripture even has a few references to hating others (Psa. 26:5; 31:6; 119:113; 139:22, plus see "Imprecatory Psalms" below). Therefore, it is completely understandable why Christians hate the sin of homosexuality. I do to! Christians should hate all sin - especially their own! (Luke 6:42; cf. Psa 139:23-24).

But does hating the sin mean hating all people? Remember, Jesus communed and ate with Judas for three years. Later Judas would betray Jesus. The Christian needs to be very careful here - as we are to love the enemies of the Cross as much as we can. See "God hates ..." below.

I might add that I don't think this situation is necessarily about people, but the type of service. In properly informing our consciences, I think a reasonable argument can be made that it is the nature of the work and not the nature of the customer that is the problem. Bakers will sell birthday cakes to gay people, and will not sell gay wedding cakes to straight people. In other words, they aren't discriminating against people; they are simply not offering the product these people want.

So, this issue must first be studied in light of Scripture. It should be a matter of prayer and fasting. It should be a matter of the Spirit's conviction. If after the sincerity of all this (and it should be ongoing), the serving a homosexual violates your conscience, in regards to making floral arrangements, cakes, or photos for a wedding, then indeed you should not do it. Hopefully, all sin violates our consciences? On the other hand, if you can consider this as associating with publicans and sinners for the sake of the spread of the gospel, as Jesus did, then make the cake.

Some Options:

There a lot of things to think and pray about before opening or continuing to operate a Christian business. Please understand that nothing I suggest as an option below should be considered legal advice. For that matter, nothing on the IIIM website should be considered as legal advice. These are merely options. A merchant, pastor, or Church should consult a qualified attorney before taking any action.

Options for Merchants:

(1) Merchant: Church Contracts

Flower, cake, and photography merchant can provide all services as usual, but protect the free practice of their faith by "contracting exclusively and specifically" with Churches to provide wedding services for their members only. In other words, all marriage type services are done only on a contract basis exclusively with particular Churches. They can require a letter from respective Churches and even provide a list of locations (specific Churches) they do wedding at. Be sure to consult an attorney before taking any action.

(2) Merchant: Civil Disobedience

The law in the U.S. at present is very specific; one cannot refuse to serve a homosexual if they operate a public business. While I disagree with the law, as it punishes one for their faith, it is none-the-less the law at present. But, the law needs to be changed. A Christian should not be forced to violate their Christian ethics in order to do business; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." They should be free to conduct business with whom they desire.

Some will chose to make a stand on this principle. However, in so doing they must (and should) be willing to endure the consequences of their actions when doing so. This will take faith and prayer. I would suggest consulting Romans 13:1-8 prior to embarking upon this method of dealing with this situation. See "Christians and Civil Government: Should I Obey the Government?" below. Be sure to consult an attorney before taking any action.

(3) Merchants: Going the Extra Mile

Though I am not finished exploring this topic, I personally do not think one is necessarily - in every situation - condoning a gay union when they provide services for them (such as flowers, cakes (w/o gay sayings, symbols, rainbow themes, etc.), and photos). While a true Christian should never perform such services for a "professing" Christian who is a homosexual (1 Cor 6:6-9) IMO, one may simply be showing a homosexual, not professing Christianity, God's love by going the extra mile (Matt 5:41). Christ loved us when we were yet in our sin. Should not we love others in the same way? (Rom 5:8). I believe this is an opportunity to show grace to one's enemy in true ministry. As Jesus taught in Matthew 5:42-48:

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

How could I do this? How could I love another like this? My full service shop (of cakes (w/o gay sayings, symbols, rainbow themes, etc.), flowers, and photos) comes with theological comments, before, during, and after the event. It's not an option, it's just me. It's part of my personality. I have GIGO syndrome; "Gospel In, Gospel Out." I would in some manner (depending upon the audiences' personalities) attempt to communicate the following 'over a period of time' to the homosexual couple:

Jesus came "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). In doing so, he was not always accepted by the religious elite. He was accused by the legalists of being "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Luke 7:34). There may be repercussions for me from my Church and such for what I am about to do. However, in spite of what they may think of me, I will joyfully provide the services you requested! I may even consider a discount, so I could open the doors for even more evangelistic opportunities.

Then I would tactfully look for a way of highlighting Mark 2:13-17 (see exposition above) and applying it to this situation to show them how I arrived at such a difficult decision. Some thoughts:

(1) Despite what the Christian elite may think, homosexuals are overwhelmingly welcome into my business anytime (1 Cor 5:9-13). Everyone is welcome.

(2) I would serve them food at my business while we were talking, and in their home (or my home) or event. It was Jesus's idea (John 6:5) to serve the 5000 (John 6:1-19) and he knew everyone of their hearts (Matt 9:4; Mark 2:8).

(3) Eat with them (Mark 2:16; Luke 15:2).

(4) Photograph the event; since Mark gave us a Polaroid of it in Scripture giving us his written account in Mark 2:13-17. But tactfully explain that these photographs capture a sin in action; as God only blesses a marriage made after his design. So, the pictures of the wedding serve as part of the evidence against them for their sin!

(5) Provide flower arrangements for the union. God created this beauty (Gen. 1:1-2:4). The Garden before the Fall must have been beautiful. However, I would also share that God also created the beauty of whom a true marriage is actually between - a man and a woman (Gen 1:26-27; 2:15-25; Rom 1:26-27). This was also at creation! So, every time they see their flower arrangements in a picture they will be reminded that they are walking outside of God's perfect created order - expelled from his beautiful paradise (Gen 3:24). So, ultimately their union is missing the blessings of God's perfect design.

(6) While not condoning the sin of homosexuality, but understanding that while they are yet sinners, I would accept them in a Christian manner where they are at in the moment (Rom 5:8).

(7) My goal would be the gospel of sharing the truth of Christ.

These points should be shared as a genuine concern, not in condemnation. My theological flower shop may or may not do well. However, the point is I would attempt to spread the gospel in simple terms. Be sure to consult an attorney before taking any action.

Options for Churches/Pastors:

(1) Elder / Pastor: Ordination Vows

Pastors can be made to have ordination vows to perform only "covenant ceremonies before God only"; marriages between one Christian man and one Christian woman and only to conduct marriages between Church members. A pastor's ordination vows would NOT allow other type marriages or unions. This may be done at the denominational and Church level.

According to Scripture, Christian pastors should not conduct same-sex unions of homosexuals as they do not meet God's requirements for such - "man and woman shall become one flesh," not man and man . . . or woman and woman (Gen 1:26-27; 2:15-25; Rom 1:26-27).

Marriage is a "creation ordinance." It was designed by God, not the Church. The Church, pastor, congregation, or the couples involved, do not have the authority to change the sex of the couples involved (Matt 19:4-6). To conduct such a marriage would be a violation of the covenant agreement between God and his people; including his pastors, elders, etc. Such a violation would justly bringing the covenant curses of God upon the pastor and his Church conducting such a ceremony (Deut 28:15-68, et. al.). Be sure to consult an attorney before taking any action.

(2) Church: Statement of Faith

Churches should update their Statement of Faith on the issues of marriage, human sexuality, and gender to be consistent with Scripture. They should state that they will allow only wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman as biologically designed by birth. In general, a Statement of Faith (re-worded according to your attorney's advice) could include something to the extent of:

We believe that marriage unites one man and one woman in a lifetime covenant commitment to each other (Gen 2:23-24; Matt 19:4-6). Marriage provides for intimate companionship, pure sexual expression (Gen 2:25; Eph 5:31-33), procreation (Gen 4:1, 2, 17; Matt 1:1-17, etc.), and reflects the relationship of Christ and his Church (Gen 1:28; Prov 5:15-19; 1 Cor 7:1-5; Eph 5:25-33).

We believe that any form of pre-martial sex, adultery, incest, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, fornication, oral sex, transvestism, and pornography, etc. are sinful perversions before God and his Church. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one's gender by surgery or appearance (Gen 2:24; 19:5, 13; 26:8-9; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom 1:26-29; 1 Cor 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thess 4:1-8; Heb 13:4).

We believe our Church is under obligation to discipline (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:1-5, etc.) any professing Church member that engages in any pattern of sexual behavior that it deems inconsistent with the Word of God. Discipline not only includes counseling, but if the sins addressed are not fully repented of and totally forsaken, excommunication from the Church (Matt 18:15-20). We believe that any sinful sexual pattern, if not repented and shown true over a period of time (a time to be determined by the elders on a case by case basis), are barriers to Church membership, employment, leadership, and marriage ceremonies, etc.

We allow our pastors, elders, etc. to only marry Church members that are in "good standing" with the Church. The Church elders, and pastors are the final determiners of what "good standing" scripturally means, but at the very least one may not be engaged in any type of sexual perversion as briefly outlined above.

Be sure to consult an attorney before taking any action.

(3) Church: Facility Management

Churches should ensure their facilities usage policies are revised to allow only uses consistent with the Church's religious beliefs. Again consulting an attorney would be wise. Homosexual marriages on Church property (the Garden was the first Church, see "The Old/New Testament Church" below) are unbiblical because they violate God's sanctuary requirements of purity and holiness (Exod 25-40; Hab 1:13; cf. Heb 9:7; 13:4). God takes defiling his sanctuary with any type of sin seriously (Gen 3:23-24; Lev 15:31; 20:1-3; Num 19:20; Ezek 22:26; Matt 18:15-20; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Tim 5:19-20; Tit 1:15-16, etc.). Be sure to consult an attorney before taking any action.

A Closing Thought:

Unlike Hillary Clinton who maintains, "religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed" (2015, Women in the World Summit on 04/23/2015) the Church must stand and not change their beliefs or they will no longer be the Church. If they change, they will be incapable of any longer worshipping God in "spirit and truth" (John 4:24).

Related Links:

Were Ruth and Naomi Lesbians?
Same-Sex Love?
Antinomianism and Homosexuality?
Is Passive Homosexuality Permitted in Scripture? - 1 Corinthians 6:9
The Queen James Bible?
Homosexuality and the Centurion's Servant?
Practicing Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven?
Was David a Homosexual? - 1 Samuel 18:1-4
Homosexuality or Inhospitality? - Genesis 19:5
Isaiah and Homosexuals? - Isaiah 56:3
God Hates...
Imprecatory Psalms
The Old/New Testament Church
Christians and Civil Government: Should I Obey the Government?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).