Flowers, and pictures, and cakes — oh my!
American culture, and most of Western culture, is increasingly valuing sexual freedom over religious freedom. This question first came to prominence when some Christian florists, photographers, and bakers refused to provide their services for gay weddings. They believed that rendering their services for a gay wedding would violate their convictions. They agreed with the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is immoral, and they were convinced that providing their services to a gay wedding would be an endorsement of homosexuality. The question is essentially this: Is baking a cake with two grooms at the top an endorsement of gay marriage, or, is it just a cake?
With several recent high profile court cases in the USA, the issue is becoming far more than a spiritual conundrum. Christian florists, photographers, and bakers are being sued for refusing to provide their services for gay weddings. It is one thing for a Christian to have a spiritually-based struggle with the decision. It is another thing entirely for the decision to possibly result in steep fines, the loss of business, and societal persecution. The LGBTQ+ agenda increasingly appears to be for anyone who expresses disagreement or concern with any aspect of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle to be ridiculed, ostracized, and punished.
I personally am very glad that I am not a baker, photographer, or florist. Trust me, you don’t want to eat a cake that I baked. No one has ever asked me for a copy of any of my photos. My wife always rearranges the flowers I buy her (which she is almost always allergic to anyway).
Romans 14:23 says, “...For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” If you are not fully convinced that something is right, you should not do it. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “...do it all for the glory of God.” If you cannot do something for the glory of God, you should not do it. Can you bake cakes, take photographs, and arrange flowers to the glory of God? Absolutely. Can you bake cakes, take photographs, and arrange flowers — for a gay wedding — to the glory of God? Ummm...I’m not sure.
To participate in the celebration of something that God declares to be an immoral and unnatural sin does not glorify God. But, is baking a cake considered participation? Is it different for a baker who bakes a cake, delivers the cake, and then leaves versus a photographer who actually attends the service? Could a baker bake the cake and just not put the gay topper on it?
Further, if Christian bakers, florists, and photographers should not provide their services to gay weddings, should they also not provide their services to heterosexual weddings in which the participants are not biblically qualified to get married? What about unequally yoked couples (one a believer and one an unbeliever, see 2 Corinthians 6:14)? What about a wedding in which a divorced adulterer is marrying his mistress? Should bakers, florists, and photographers hire private investigators to ensure the couple is biblically eligible to marry?
Do we stop at weddings? Should camera stores sell camera equipment to pornographers? Should an auto mechanic fix a car for someone who might be involved in human trafficking? Should a Christian who works for an electric company cut off the electricity to abortion clinics? Should hardware stores sell brooms to witches? You get the point. Christians are often providing services that other people might use for immoral and/or illegal purposes. Where do we draw the line?
And that is where the struggle is. As Christians, we should always stand firm in our convictions. We should be fully convinced in our convictions and then live by those convictions (Romans 14:5). But, being entirely consistent in those convictions can be difficult.
If we run a secular business, do we have to understand and accept the fact that we will occasionally be providing services for someone or something we do not entirely agree with?
I do not think Christian bakers, photographers, and florists should be forced to violate their convictions. At the same time, I think Christian bakers, photographers, and florists should avoid hypocrisy in how they apply those convictions.
Should Christians endorse what God rejects? Absolutely not (Isaiah 5:20). Should Christians participate in something the Bible declares to be immoral? Of course not.
The core question is whether baking a cake, taking photographs, arranging flowers, or providing a venue is participating in and/or endorsing gay marriage. That question is not as black and white as we’d like it to be.
Welcome to living the Christian life in a non-Christian society!
S. Michael Houdmann
Flowers, and pictures, and cakes — oh my!