The Cake Fray and Hypocrisy

There’s been a lot of discussion on the internet about the recent story concerning a bakery refusing to provide the wedding cake at a ‘gay’ wedding. I chose not to blog about it for frankly, I thought it wasn’t worth the time or effort. People are dying every minute of every day, going out into eternity lost, and whether to bake a cake (or not) is a topic I couldn’t care less about. I noticed even Christianity Today weighed into the “cake-fray” with an article titled, “Would Jesus Bake a Cake for a Gay Wedding in Arizona?”.   We Christians here in the west do an awful lot of majoring-on-minors’, in my opinion.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be bringing it up now but for something brought out in a post by Benjamin Corey, at Formally Fundie blog.

Kristen Powers and Jonathan Merritt had a great article the other day pointing out the hypocritical nature of these new “religious freedom” laws that are cropping up in many states. Such laws are clothed in terms of freedom for Christians, while being incredibly un-Christian at the core. In short, these laws are designed to give Christian business owners the right to decline providing products or services for weddings that don’t meet their stamp of approval– namely, same gendered weddings. The problem that Powers and Merritt point out, is how a refusal to provide products or services for a same sex wedding typically require an incredible amount of biblical picking and choosing, combined with a healthy dose of hypocrisy. And, the reasons they give are completely correct– I discovered this truth not from their article, but because I once was that conservative Christian wedding vendor.

I got through seminary as a professional photographer shooting domestic and international weddings, and still take on a few clients a year though I’ve significantly limited my schedule so that I can focus on writing books. When I was full-steam-ahead in the wedding industry, I secretly dreaded the day a same-sex couple called me, because I had no idea what I’d say.

Would shooting the wedding be an endorsement of the marriage? Would it be a sin for me to be a part of their day? Lots of questions swirled around in my mind, and there were no easy answers. I sought out counsel of Christians I admired (even had a class discussion on it in my Christian Ethics class), but even for them, answers didn’t come easily. However, it was actually a “Christian” wedding that ultimately helped me decide how I would navigate this issue when the time came.

It was a beautiful day when two believing Christians married before God by a member of their clergy, surrounded by their family and friends. Everything met the Christian stamp of approval… until the reception.

As I looked throughout the room at the drunken debauchery taking place on the dance floor, I turned to my assistant (also a Christian) and said:

“Here I am, taking photos of a bunch of drunk people like I do every wedding. If I turn down a same sex wedding because it somehow ‘conflicts’ with my Christian standards, I’ll be the biggest hypocrite ever.”

Looking back, it wasn’t just drunkenness that made me realize I was at risk of hypocrisy, there were plenty of other weddings I photographed that did not jive with my belief system. Most notably, there was the time mystics prayed to “the mediators” (really did not sit right with me) or even Roman Catholic weddings that prayed to Mary (something that still makes me uncomfortable). Truth be told, very few weddings lined up with my personal expression of faith, but I served all clients equally because I was a private citizen conducting business in the public sphere. In the end, I was having a hard time justifying same sex couples as being the only group of people I wouldn’t serve…

More here

He does raise an excellent question: are we not discriminating and showing our naked hypocrisy in front of the world, as Christians, when (using this instance of a stupid cake) we’re fine with certain sinful actions but not with others?  It’s something to think about, is it not?

(While I may not agree with all of B. Corey’s beliefs, in this instance, I find that I do.)



20 comments on “The Cake Fray and Hypocrisy

  1. It’s totally hypocrisy to make homosexuality the worst sin. I’ve been saying that for a long time now. I’m so tired of this stone throwing era we’re living in. Jesus was crucified for the WHOLE world not just straight folks. Every time we point out the sin in someone else we’re missing the big fat planks in our own eyes! And if a gay couple wants to be married and they don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, aren’t they just doing what the world does? They’re lost. They don’t know that what they’re doing is what the Lord says shouldn’t be done anymore than other folks who don’t know Jesus when they do stuff that is sinful.

    To cry sinner or unclean as the Pharisees would cry is to be that person who crosses the street for fear of becoming unclean. I don’t want to be THAT person. I want people to know Jesus Christ. I don’t care if they are black, white, purple, green, gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, or general confused. God sent His only begotten son for us all that if we believe on Him we will be saved!

    God is the One who transforms us after that. I trust Him to be the righteous Judge He very clearly tells me NOT to be. I think Jesus said it very well when he said Let him who has NO sin cast the first stone.

    • We do have a way of ‘grading sins’, don’t we Micey. I don’t understand it either.

      Think the church (at least in the west) has a mentality which requires a boogyman (or is it bogyman?) at all times: right now the only sinful ‘monsters’ the church sees, are homosexuals and liberals.

    • Yup. Sadly though this is occurring in Uganda too where the church of the west has infiltrated to teach all kinds of hypocrisy including the prosperity gospel.

    • Amen Micey. I just read this week of the new law passed in Uganda. Regrettably many of those who influenced the Ugandan government in this direction, are members of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation). They have been sending their members to Uganda for years in order to meet with government officials.

      This story appeared at CNN just a few hours ago.

      (CNN) — A day after Uganda passed harsh anti-gay laws, a tabloid newspaper came out with a list of what it called the country’s top homosexuals.

      The cover of the Red Pepper newspaper read, “EXPOSED! Uganda’s 200 Top Homos Named,” with several photographs next to the headline.

      The story was not available on their online edition.

      On Monday, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that made some homosexual acts punishable by life in prison.

      You can read the rest of the story here

    • It’s terribly sickening and sad.

  2. OUR consciences are supposed to be sensitive to OUR OWN sins, not the sins of others. How people can have THEIR consciences bothered by the ACTIONS of OTHERS simply escapes me. I tend to sympathize with them to a degree because their concerns impress me as being very genuine. But, biblically, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

    The whole wedding cake fiasco is a perfect example. How on earth would I be sinning by baking a couple of gays a wedding cake? After all, I am sure I would not be required to sign a notarized oath swearing to my approval of the marriage. And, if anything, my refusal to bake a cake for them would only make them more determined to commit their sin. What if it were a heterosexual couple, the man having been known for mistreating his wife and now, immediately following a messy divorce, is marrying his sweet young secretary from the office. Would that bother the conscience? Or would it just be followed up by some tongue wagging? What if I worked in a gift shop? Should I be worried about somebody buying an ashtray from me … or a wine glass? Where does it all end? Why is it the same conscience seems to not be so bothered about forwarding defamatory emails filled with unsubstantiated but scandalous accusations? Or sharing the same sort of things on facebook or other social networking sites? I know people who commit these sorts of sins with great passion while worrying themselves to insanity over such things a cakes for gays or condoms for fornicators. Something is indeed seriously unbalanced with all of this.

    • After all, I am sure I would not be required to sign a notarized oath swearing to my approval of the marriage.

      Ahaha! Think im getting so sleepy im slap-happy George, that had me laughing out-loud.

      But seriously, you’re right.

  3. I may be off topic and not understanding the issue, but I did not see this as a minor. I think that there is a bigger picture to this.. To me it plays into the eventual muzzling of Christians here in America — in that if you say anything regarding the truth of the word of God, or, express concern or outrage at what is becoming permissible in society, or even offer the message of salvation, you will be shut down — it will be against the law. The fact that there was this attempt to make a law in this instance will not be forgotten. If the world can make you appear to be a lunatic or prejudice for being offended at sin that has become acceptable, what then? We will be seeing much worse as time goes on and you will be offended and concerned for your children, other family members and friends — the “cake-gate” will be child’s play in the very near future. These are the last days.

    • Rob, squabbling about a wedding cake, is a minor. Or at least it should be to any right-thinking Christian when compared to the millions of lost people in this world who need the Gospel and ultimately need Jesus Christ.

      Take the Gospel to the lost and lead them to Christ–for if you do that, the inside of the cup will be cleansed, and the outside of the same cup will automatically be taken care of.

      If we as Christians worked in this manner, instead of always trying (and failing) to change people from the outside, we’d cease majoring on the minors and get back to the work which really matters–souls.

    • We have to be very worried about laws that 1) compel us to commit a sinful act and laws that 2) compel us to commit a sinful omission. The non-discrimination law does neither. There ARE laws that DO deserve a response. Like zoning laws that forbid home gatherings of Christians, school regulations that prohibit prayer and other Christian activity (I am not referring to CLASSROOM prayer), international treaties that would restrict the ability of parents to raise their children in harmony with scripture, etc. I also would suggest that the whole transexual school bathroom issue is a very real issue that Christians SHOULD BE concerned about. These are all laws that affect how Christians practice their faith. No where in the bible are we prohibited from baking cakes for gays or taking pictures of their “weddings”. Certainly these affairs have a certain repugnance for a believer, but God has put us in this world and when it comes to work, we have little choice as to who we will rub shoulders with. Once people are allowed to pick and choose who they will serve simply on a basis of personal conviction, we end up back in the days of the old South. And we could VERY easily end up with a situation where key businesses could decide they would rather not do business with Christians. Then WE would end up on the other end of the stick. I think we really need to see the difference between, for example, serving as a photographer at a gay wedding and serving as a photographer at a heterosexual topless club. I would have no problem with the gay wedding, because that would not cause ME to sin. But the topless club would and I think most civil authorities would understand that difference. We need to pick our fights very carefully and pray to the Lord for wisdom lest we burn up all our precious ammo tilting at windmills and make a lot of unnecessary enemies along the way.

    • George, your comment is excellent, and right on target. Don’t want to copy your entire comment but will pull out a few things in particular,

      No where in the bible are we prohibited from baking cakes for gays or taking pictures of their “weddings”. Certainly these affairs have a certain repugnance for a believer, but God has put us in this world and when it comes to work, we have little choice as to who we will rub shoulders with.

      Amen. we’re in the world but not of the world. When we start with baking or not baking a cake, where would it end? I believe God understands that (as you pointed out) being in this world there is no way we can help but (to) interact in the work place or in fact, in the world; for instance, grocery shopping–are we to only shop at grocery chains which employ only christians?….taking it further, what about where that grocery store purchases it’s items…are the farmers who grow our fruit etc, sinners or christians.

      I also don’t recall Jesus, when sending out the disciples to purchase food, telling them to only purchase it from certain types of people, do you? Neither did Jesus inquire about the sins in the lives of the 5,000 he fed, because he perceived they were hungry. May have been a few homosexuals in the crowd for all we know.

      I think we really need to see the difference between, for example, serving as a photographer at a gay wedding and serving as a photographer at a heterosexual topless club. I would have no problem with the gay wedding, because that would not cause ME to sin. But the topless club would and I think most civil authorities would understand that difference. We need to pick our fights very carefully and pray to the Lord for wisdom lest we burn up all our precious ammo tilting at windmills

      Amen. couldn’t agree more.

      And i also agree with the examples you pointed out (zoning laws that forbid home gatherings of Christians, etc etc). These affect our freedom to practice our faith. But denying service, as in this instance of baking a cake? No. As you wrote, this type of discrimination can lead back to the days when people could legally discriminate based on the color of someone’s skin, and has nothing whatsoever to do with religious freedom.

      Thank you for a great post George.

  4. What we do as Christians must be seasoned with love. However, I would not give a prostitute cab fare, or give her a ride to her “working corner” as an example. I will not participate in any way, to the best of my ability, in any thing that legitimizes, sanctions or enables that sin — or any thing that is against the word of God. I believe that many of these people who do not want to “bake cakes” for gay wedding’s honestly feel that way — that they do not wish to participate in any way in someone else’s sin nor promote it or make it ok.

    • You and i see things differently Rob.

      Your comment caused me to recall an incident which occurred over 30 years ago. I had been a believer for a fairly short time–maybe 5-6 years (i was in my 30’s when i came to Christ–today im 66). Guess you could say this old man who approached me was a ‘bum’. I was walking home from work when he came up to me asking for a dollar. I turned him down, saying ‘soory, no’, and walked on. A block or two further and the heaviest conviction came upon me. I knew i had done wrong by refusing him money. At the time i had refused him my thinking was “he’ll just use it to buy liquor’…cause i had smelled it on him when he’d approached me. As conviction continued to plague me, a small voice said ‘it’s not for you to decide who is worthy to give to”. I turned around and walked back searching for that man. I couldn’t find him, but if i had i would have given him that dollar he asked for, regardless of what he would have done with it.

      I’ve never forgotten that incident, because somehow i believe an opportunity was missed there. What i wished i’d done was given it to him, in the name of the Lord. And taken a moment to tell him it was being given to him because Jesus Christ loved him, and wanted him to have it.

      So what if he had listened, taken the buck and headed for the nearest store to buy beer? A seed would have been planted! Maybe that old guy would have remembered that incident later, and someone else might have come along later and ‘watered’ that seed, and a life could have eventually been re-born.

      We’re not called to be moral policemen Rob. For who are you (or i) to “police” anyone else morally? We are only sinners saved through grace. If you’re a born again Christian (which im assuming you are) i don’t know what type of sinful life you lived before coming to Jesus–and you don’t know mine. But whatever kind of sinful life we lived, it was no better or worse then the prostitute’s you mentioned, nor the homosexuals who wanted to purchase a cake.

      Sure thankful to God i never came across any “moral policemen” before i found Jesus–instead, Jesus sent someone who told me how Jesus died for me, because he loved me. Someone who never asked what kind of sins i was committing then, but just told me about Jesus.

  5. 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[c] 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.

    1 Corinthians 5: 9-12

    • This scripture is just really key to the whole discussion. When we worry about being guilty of “facilitating someone’s sinful behavior”, I think we are totally missing the fact that the sin that is going to send them to hell is their rejection of Jesus. If we worried more about how our actions serve to facilitate THAT sin, we would end up being a lot more effective as messengers of the gospel. And that is just another facet of the tilting at windmills. We are wasting our ammo on the wrong targets.

      For sure I have some of the EXACT SAME concerns that Rob does and I generally try to avoid in any way “funding” people’s vices. There are, however, as you have suggested, creative ways to use these situations to actually attempt to minister to people. I was once approached by someone claiming to be desperately in need of bus fare. I immediately gave them a bus token and wished them well. This person then burst into a rage and threw the token back in my face and stomped away. Guess I didn’t get the cue. Not a witness for Jesus, of course, but for sure I forced them for a moment to look at themselves in the mirror. But there is a real difference between “giving a prostitute cab fare” and transporting a paying prostitute in your cab IF you are the cab driver. In the same way, there is a difference between BUYING a wedding cake for a gay couple and simply baking the cake that they are paying for to do whatever with. If you fund the sin indiscreetly, you may indeed be implicated in it. But to provide a service for a fee is simply part of the normal process of interacting with the fallen world as outlined in 1 Cor 5 quoted above.

      Also, a bit off topic, the Gov Brewer furor in Arizona: It really seems that Janet Brewer has actually blown it again. SB 1062 was actually not such a bad law. It merely stated that religious conviction could be used a defense in any situation which would come before the court. Federal law has long allowed religious conviction to be used as a defense in federal cases, SB 1062 would have simply granted the same thing under state law. Of course the gay community pounced on this legislation and demonized it by associating it with the cake fiasco. In reality the proposed law would not have bound a judge to rule for a defendant in such a case, it would only allow the defendant to use religious conviction as part of their defense. There are certainly other sorts of cases where this law could have been helpful in protecting believers from bonafide secular persecution. She should have signed it but she wimped out in the face of gay outrage.

    • After my last comment and the scripture posted George, i received a note from Rob stating he would no longer be coming here to the blog. My hope is i didn’t offend him but was only trying (probably not very well) to point out, as you were, that there are very real issues that should be addressed, and that the cake issue was not actually concerning a Christian’s religious freedom.

      For me personally it boils down to what we see as more important: reaching the lost or arguing over if it’s “Christian” to sell someone something, (if we’re in the business of providing services), to known sinners. For me, the answer is obvious, but i do understand how it wouldn’t be for others living in the ‘Christian atmosphere’ here in America today. For that atmosphere has been polluted by many voices who differentiate sins: seeing one sin as ok, or at least acceptable (as the author of the article pointed out by using the example of drunkenness), and another sin as something far worse. We’ve also watched as many so-called Christians have exhibited attitudes which strongly suggest they have no interest (in the least) in reaching the lost, only in degrading (them) and calling them filthy names. Granted, these are the far-right extremists, but they seem to always be the only so-called Christians quoted within articles.

      As you pointed out, Paul’s words here are the key–the fact that we cannot help but interact with those in the world while we’re in the world ourselves, and that our role as Christians is not to judge them, but to judge those within the church. In other words, keep our judging for those within the ‘family’.

      As for Brewer…i need to catch up on all that came out today. I haven’t had the opportunity to read all the news stories since she vetoed the bill. We’ve been a little concerned here (my family) because little Ethen (my newest great grand-baby) is still in the hospital. He’s had a few small problems and hasn’t been released yet. We’re praying he’ll get to come home tomorrow. Prayer would be MUCH appreciated George (and from all who see this).

    • So sorry to hear the news about Ethen, we will indeed be praying for that need and for you to get the rest you need as well in the midst of it all.

    • thanks George, i greatly appreciate the prayer…

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