You probably clicked on this link because you thought to yourself, “Gee, I wonder what controversial thing Amy is going to say now? Which side will she take? Is there a chance for me to leave an angry rant in the comments section?”
Well, surprise! Instead of answering the question I posed in the title, I am instead going to…ask more questions!
(What? It’s my blog. I get to do what I want.)
In an effort to offer up the best arguments from both sides, I’m dividing this post into two parts, and most of you only need to read half of it. To know which part you should read, let me introduce you to our special guest…The Great and Powerful Whiteboard of Theology! He’s probably going to show up every now and then when I need to add some badly drawn text and visuals to my blog. Please, click to see the whiteboard in its full glory.
The Issue: Arizona’s governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners to refuse service to gay couples if that service would violate their religious beliefs. A Kansas bill along the same lines focused more specifically on businesses providing services for the wedding ceremony itself (but also included a provision for individuals simply refusing to recognize gay marriages as legitimate).
(I read the actual bills so I would kinda know what I was talking about, but good heavens, so many terms. But here are the Arizona and Kansas bills in case you want some light reading or distrust both my summaries and those of any news outlet.)
The Secular Perspective I Found Most Interesting: This award goes to Conor Friedersdorf in his article in The Atlantic. I don’t agree with everything, but it made me think.
If you think the obvious answer to “Should Christian bakers be allowed to refuse to make a gay wedding cake?” is “No,” here are some things to think about:
- Would you change your answer to this question if the baker in question was a loving, non-angry-fundamentalist guy who was completely open to making a birthday cake for a gay man, just not a cake for a gay wedding service?
- You are now a Christian baker. Let’s further say you are a Christian baker who believes that homosexual marriage is wrong. If you believe that the work you do is for the glory of God, how would you explain your choice to make a cake for a gay wedding?
- Jesus shows up at your door. He wants to know what you think he’d do in this situation if he had been a year 2014 baker instead of a year 30 carpenter. (Also, if you guess wrong, you have to buy dinner.) What would you say, and what evidence would you use to justify your claim?
If you think the obvious answer to “Should Christian bakers be allowed to refuse to make a gay wedding cake?” is “Yes,” here are some things to think about:
- Would you change your answer if the question was about a Christian baker serving a bag of muffins to a gay couple on a normal Tuesday morning? If so, why?
- You are now a Christian baker. (Feel free to bring me cookies anytime.) What if you were asked to make a wedding cake for the mayor, who divorced his wife and married his lover in a nice, dramatic scandal? Would you say yes? If so, what’s different about that situation than making a cake for a gay wedding? If not, would you make a cake for only two Christians getting married?
- Martin Luther King Jr. shows up at your door. He’s heard about these laws and wants you to explain how they’re different from the discrimination he fought against. (He also wants to know what a blog is.) What would you say to him?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t come to a conclusion about this, or that you should change your mind on whatever position you already hold. I just want to point out that this issue is much, much more complicated than a question of baking cakes…and even that is complicated. I think it’s what happens when we take something sacred—marriage—and make it profane.
And here I’m not just talking about laws that allow gay marriage. It’s so much more than that. It’s divorce and abuse and excess…and movies that portray love in the wrong ways, and the lie that we can “marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow,” and every tiny act of petty selfishness that prepares us for treating our husband or wife as a means to one all-important end: our own happiness.
(That last one. That last one was me. Ouch.)
And marriage isn’t the only sacred things we make profane. We do it to music and laughter and entertainment and service and order and justice and every single good thing that has ever existed.
We have broken things, guys. I have a hard time having political opinions because I feel like we’re arguing about whether to use glue or masking tape to put the Titanic back together. So please look at this entire post as a way to start a conversation, not end it with a definitive word of wisdom.
If you want to write out a thought about one of these questions or add another, I’d love to hear it. Of course, if you rather just sit here and be overwhelmed by how complicated things are, that’s fine too. That’s what I’ll be doing for a while until I come to an actual opinion.
Should have put that option on the flow chart.