The recent Supreme Court ruling over Same Sex marriage has sparked heated debate among many Christians. I know through many conversations, I have seen that in so many Christian eyes that they see things only on one end of the pendulum or another. We can either stand for truth or we can show love. One side would say that “we are not really showing love if we don’t tell them the truth.” And the other side would say, “we aren’t speaking the truth if we just accept them the way they are.”
Although both approaches are biblical, they do not have to be mutually exclusive. The problem is that so many Christians can’t see past their own paradigm and they think they are balanced. “I will speak the truth in love. I hate the sin and not the sinner.” Or “God wants us to love the sinner and win them to Him through love and acceptance.” The real problem is that there is truth in both sides. But we often fail to show the whole truth because of our focus. Although many Christians think they speak the truth in love, the only thing that is seen by the lost world is venom and hate. Though we think we are showing God’s love by accepting the sinner, we never stand for truth enough for them to be convicted of their sins and see their need for a Savior.
The other night, I began to pray for wisdom as to how we as Christians should react to the LGBT people we may come in contact with. I am not talking about how we should react to the SCOTUS ruling. If you feel called to fight that ruling based on the United States Constitution then please do. However, the gist of this blog post is about how Christians should react when we talk to our LGBT friends.
While in prayer, God reminded me of the parable of the Good Samaritan and in my mind I immediately began to see a parallel here. So here is my modern day version of that great parable that Jesus told.
A same sex couple entered into a local bakery all happy that they were now legally able to get married. “We want to talk to you about making the wedding cake for our upcoming wedding,” they told the owner of the bakery.
The owner of this bakery, a devout Christian with strong beliefs and an immense hatred of sin, especially this particular one, furrowed his eyebrows as his face glowed red from anger. “I WILL NOT,” he practically shouted, his finger already pointing towards the door. “I don’t care what the Supreme Court ruled, marriage is between a man and a woman, not two men or two women. I do not offer service to such depraved and awful sinners. God will judge you for your evil and despicable ways and I will not take any part of such a sinful practices. May God have mercy on your soul for you are surely going to burn in Hell for all eternity for your actions.”
“But all we want is a cake,” the couple pleaded.
“And all you will get is hell fire and damnation. You will spend eternity in the lake of fire where the worm never dies and there will be forever weeping and nashing of teeth. A punishment that is even too good for the likes of you.”
The couple couldn’t bolt out the door fast enough as they felt the venom of this devout Christian attacking them. “Is this what Christianity is all about?” one asked the other. “I grew up hearing that God is love. But it sure doesn’t sound like it to me. I am glad we aren’t getting married in a church. Christians are evil people.”
“Let’s try the next bakery on our list,” the other suggested. “Hopefully, they will be a little nicer.”
They made their way to the next bakery and noticed the symbol of the fish on their doorway with a sign that said, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” They also noticed that they were closed on Sundays. “It looks like this one might be just like the first one,” the one said. “Let’s not even go here.”
“We are here,” the other responded. “Maybe they aren’t so bad. We can leave right away if they are.”
They held hands as they entered the bakery. The owner of the bakery was standing behind the counter, giving them a glare that could not be interpreted any other way but disgust. “Let’s get out of here,” the one said.
“Not yet,” the other responded. “I heard they make good cakes here at a very good price.” He pointed over to the counter where a teenage girl was taking inventory.
“Dad,” the girl called out. “We need to make some more of those snicker doodle cookies that everyone loves. We are almost out again.”
“I’ll get right to it,” the owner of the bakery responded, his judgmental stare still gazing at the couple standing in his store. “Honey,” the owner spoke to his daughter, his piercing glare never wandering from the customers who stood before him holding hands. “I need you to go in the back right now. Make sure we have a fresh pot of coffee brewing.”
The girl scampered to the back, stopping only for a second to recognize the couple in the store. But in that second, the glare of judgment was evident on her face.
“Can I help you?” the owner addressed the couple.
“Yes,” one spoke, a feeling of relief spreading over his face. Maybe this guy wasn’t so bad after all. “We heard your wedding cakes are really good. We are getting married and would like to talk to you about doing our wedding cake.”
“I’m sorry,” the owner responded. “I cannot participate in such an unholy matrimony. God clearly states that same sex marriage is an abomination to Him and that all gay people are going to Hell.”
“We aren’t asking to join your church,” the other man responded, his frustration starting to grow. “We simply want a wedding cake.”
“Then perhaps you should find one of your gay friends to make you a cake,” the owner responded. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15.”
“That’s nice that you and your house want to serve God,” one of the men responded, “but can’t you serve us, your customers too?”
“No,” the owner responded. “What fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14”
One of them men felt his face flush in frustration and even growing anger. “Are you going to stand there and quote the Bible to us as a reason why you want to violate our civil rights? Doesn’t the Bible say something about “Judge not and love everyone and stuff like that.”
The owner smiled and nodded. “I am not judging you. You are free to live like you want to live. But I am free to refuse to take part in this. My family and my business are under God’s laws, not man’s laws.”
At that moment, the owner’s daughter popped her head through the doorway. “Dad, mom is on the phone. She wants to know if I can stay with her next weekend because she wants to take me shopping. She said I can stay with you this weekend if its okay.”
“That’s fine. Tell your mother, I will call her back later.”
“I take it you are divorced,” one of the men asked the owner.
“Yes, three years now,” the owner answered.
“Doesn’t your Bible that you love to quote say something about God hating divorce?” the other man quickly spoke up.
The owner’s tone rose as he asked the men to leave. He had business to take care of.
“So you are not going to make our wedding cake because we are gay,” one man concluded.
“I am not going to make your wedding cake because your lifestyle is against the Bible and the Holy teachings of God.”
“And your lifestyle of being divorced is not against those so called “holy teachings of God?” the man countered.
“That’s different,” the owner responded. “God may not like divorce, but He has forgiven me for it. Whereas your sin is unnatural and is cursed. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of that very sin.”
“And your sin is okay now because God forgave you?” the man skeptically looked at the owner.
“Yes,” the owner smiled confidently before adding, “I am sorry that you have chosen to live a life of sin that does not honor God. I urge you to reconsider your lifestyle and repent of your sin before it is too late.”
“I know, I know,” the man responded. “God hates me because I am gay and so do you and I am going to go to Hell.”
“I don’t hate you,” the owner responded. “I hate your sin. It is an abomination to God and I cannot have any part in it or God will judge me for not standing for the truth.”
“So you are afraid of God?”
The owner nodded. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10.”
“And what about love?” the man shot back. “How do you explain your lack of love towards people who do not agree with you?”
“I do love all people,” the owner responded. “But because I love people, I am compelled to speak the truth to them. And your life of sin has no part in the Kingdom of God. And you are right. You are going to die and go to Hell because of your sin.”
“Let’s go,” the other man interrupted, “He isn’t going to make our cake. He cares more about making a statement than he does about serving people.”
“I care more about standing for the truth of God’s Word than anything else,” the owner called out to them as the exited his bakery.
“Cross that bigot off our list,” the men grimaced to each other as they looked down their list of other potential bakers.
“Next time we see a sign of a fish or cross or any other religious symbol on their door, let’s not even go in.”
“Agreed,” the other responded. “Christians are the last people who want to help us.”
Several minutes later, the couple arrived at the next bakery. There was no sign of a fish or cross on the door. They entered, hoping that they would find their baker here.
“Can I help you,” the owner called out as the two men entered his bakery. He couldn’t help but notice that they were holding hands. In his mind, he uttered a quick prayer for wisdom. From the moment he heard about the Supreme Court ruling, he knew this day would come. How was he to react? He had wrestled with this thought for days. As a Christian he did not condone their sin, but
“Yes,” one of the men called out. “We are getting married and need someone to bake our wedding cake. So far all we have run into are Christian bigots who refuse to help us.”
“Sit down,” the owner smiled. “Let’s talk.”
The two men gladly sat down to talk to this owner. Because of his genuine smile, they immediately were set at ease.
“I know you two must be excited,” the owner began. “I remember when my wife and I were engaged and trying to iron out all the wedding details. It was exciting, but stressful.” He laughed as he recalled the time. “Finding that perfect wedding cake was especially stressful on my wife.”
The men smiled as one of them responded, “You got that right. It has been especially stressful today because so far no one is willing to make our cake because we are gay. One even just threw out Bible verses to us to explain his reasoning. So hopefully, you can help us.”
“I am sorry that you have received such hostility from other Christians,” the owner shook his head. “I know they are trying to do what they think is right, but they just aren’t coming across the right way.”
“You can say that again,” one of the men laughed. “Why would I even consider becoming a Christian when all Christians do is spew hate and judgment. I mean what does a cake really have to do with their religion anyway?”
“Well I understand what they are thinking,” the owner carefully began to speak. “We Christians are put in a very tough situation here because we do have certain convictions and yet we are also expected to love people – including people who are getting married to the same sex. And it is not our job or responsibility to condemn you for it.”
“Then you will make our cake?” one of the men looked up anxiously.
“I’d love to,” the owner began. “But unfortunately, I can’t. It’s not because I don’t love you and it is not because I don’t want to help you. It has to do with my personal relationship with Christ. Believe me, this is something I have wrestled with for a while. As much as I want to help you, and can tell by talking to you that you are both good people who are wanting nothing more than to find happiness. I am not mad at you for wanting to get married. That is something between you two and God. But as for me, I know this is not something God wants me to be part of. It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with where I am in my relationship with God. It is about me and God. It is not about me and you.”
“I’m not sure I understand what God has to do with this,” one man interjected. “I have Christian friends and they are happy for us and support us.”
The owner thought carefully and offered up a quick prayer before he spoke. “I want nothing more than for you to find the same love, joy, and peace that I have found through Jesus Christ. I am not judging you for the choices you have made. God knows I have made some very bad choices in my life and yet I found God’s love and forgiveness. Yes, I believe that the Bible teaches that same sex marriage is against God’s plan for our lives, but you know so is a lot of other things that we do. That I do. I am not perfect. In fact, I am nowhere near perfect. I am a sinner just like you are and just like everyone else – including the pastors of all the great churches in our city. The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned and we all fall short of God’s standard for us. And as a result of that sin that separates us from God, everyone was destined to spend an eternity in Hell. I was destined for it. You were destined for it. We all were.”
“Well that is one of the big problems I have with Christians,” one of the men interrupted. “You talk about God being love. But nothing about Christianity shows love. The church doesn’t. We aren’t even welcome in many churches. Christian people don’t. We are often shunned by people, looked down upon, made fun of, stared at, and even refused service to. And then you tell me that the God of the Bible, the same one that you say is all about love, just sends people to Hell. No thanks. That is not what I want out of my life.”
“I understand what you are thinking,” the owner replied, his voice softening even more and his eyes searching for a way to be filled with compassion. “I thought that way one time too. God, Christians, love. They just didn’t seem to all fit together. And as a result, for much of my life I was, as the old song lyrics go, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
“What changed your mind?”
The bakery owner smiled. “God did. Believe me, it was not His people. But I finally got to the end of myself. I realized that I could not find that love, joy, and peace that I was looking for in any earthly relationship. And that is when God reached down and changed my heart. He showed me that despite everything that I had thought about Him and His people was from the wrong perspective. Yes, people were dying and going to Hell. And, yes, I was on a collision course to that as my destiny. But I saw that God in His very love, provided a way out of that destiny.”
“And that is when you became religious,” one of the men surmised.
The owner smiled. “No, I am not religious. Not at all. Jesus spoke very directly about religious people. When He walked on earth, that was the one group of people that He wasn’t very nice to. He enjoyed talking with all kinds of sinner. Cheaters, swindlers, liars, even prostitutes. That’s why He came to earth. To touch, love, and offer forgiveness to all the people who knew they needed it.”
“Well, the way I look at it,” one of the men offered. “Christians aren’t being very much like Jesus if they aren’t willing to love us enough to bake a cake.”
The owner folded his hands and leaned forward. This was going to be the difficult part. “I totally understand what you are saying. It is confusing. And I know you have run across many Christians already who seem to have pat answers. They want to stand on the truth of God’s Word. So do I. So Does every Christian who is fully dedicated to Christ. And believe me, this is one of those issues that is very difficult. I believe that the Bible is very clear about same sex marriage. It is something we should not take part in. But it is also very clear that we are to love people.”
“Well all those other bakery owners sure understood that sin part of the Bible,” one of the men interrupted. “But I don’t think they understood that love part. We sure didn’t feel it. We only felt judgment and condemnation.”
“At the very least,” the owner spoke, “I pray that you sensed at least a little bit of God’s love in me.”
“Oh yeah,” the other man smiled. “You are real. You are more like what I expect Christians to be.”
“But that still doesn’t solve our cake issue,” the other man reminded them.
“No it doesn’t,” the owner replied. In his mind, he quickly said a prayer asking God for wisdom as to how to finish off this conversation. He never ceased to be amazed at how quickly God gives wisdom when asked. “And I am truly sorry that I cannot bake your cake. My Christian convictions will not allow me to. But here is what I can do. I have other great baker friends. Let me make a few phone calls and see if they can fit you into their schedule. Once you meet with them, I think you will be happy.”
“And what if they won’t do it either?”
“Then come back to me and we will figure out plan B.”
“Thank you,” one of the men said as they both stood to their feet. “Even though you aren’t going to make our wedding cake, we do appreciate your kindness.”
“And we appreciate the fact that you aren’t looking down on us and passing judgment on us either,” the other man added. “I haven’t met too many Christians like you.”
“And I am truly sorry about that,” the owner stated. “I just try to be like Jesus. John 3:17, the verse that comes right after the famous one John 3:16 that you have probably seen at football games, tells us that Jesus did not come to the world to condemn the world, but He came so the world might be saved through Him.”
“I like that,” one of the men smiled. “Thank you for not condemning us.”
“Remember that life of love, joy, and peace I talked about?” the owner reminded them. Both men nodded. “Jesus offers you that same life.”
From there the owner went on to lay out the plan of Salvation to the men. Both were interested, but neither made a commitment to Christ that day. However, before they left, the owner got their contact information so he could follow up with them later.
Before I ask you, the reader, which of these store owners are you more like, I do want to point out that there are other Christian bakers these men could have visited.
Baker #4 – Two blocks over from this last shop, was the Christian baker who, after spending much time in prayer over this issue, decided that his reaction when faced with this dilemma would be very much like that third baker. But he would take it one step further. He would actually go above and beyond. He decided he would use his bakery as an evangelistic took and after presenting Christ’s message, he would agree to make their cake.
Baker #5 – Though he personally did not agree with the idea of same sex marriage, this Christian baker lived by the motto, “live and let live.” It wasn’t any of his business how other people lived. He wouldn’t ask any questions or make any judgments. He would simply make the cake when asked.
So now I ask you, dear reader, which baker are you most like?
#1 – the one who demonstrated disgust and hatred towards the LGBT
#2 – the one who may say that he loved them, but his attitude of superiority and glares of disgust show what is really in his heart. He loved to throw out Bible verses to support his beliefs, but offered no real attitude of love.
#3 – the one who stepped into the circle with the men, got to know them, talked gently to them, offered them love, joy, and peace as well as Christ’s forgiveness. But could not compromise and make the cake.
#4 – the one who loved them, presented God’s truth to them, and made the cake for them.
#5 – the one who didn’t seem to really care about their salvation nor making a stand for truth.
Examine yourself carefully. Which one are you? And finally, if you were to be honest with yourself and with God, which one or ones do you think most pleases God?