Hugh Bakes a Cake. (Would Jesus Bake a Cake for a Gay Wedding?)
by Hugh Halter on August 8th, 2012

Would Jesus Bake a Cake for a Gay Wedding?

Last week, the national news posted a story about a bakery owner who chose not to bake a cake for a wedding between two gay men.  It probably got some attention because it appeared to be similar to the well-publicized Chick-fil-a story.  The stories were quite different in nuance, but nonetheless brought up very serious and real questions every Christ follower should take seriously. 

I posted this question above and had over 3500 onlookers and a truckload of great responses within a few hours.  I’ve tried to synthesize many of the responses down to a few simple thoughts that I hope will be helpful for those serious about incarnating their lives into the real world around us.

First, thanks for your respectful tone.  Even though the Christian responses were a 50/50 split on the question, there were some great perspectives on both sides and I hope we all learned a few things.

Second, I know that many who read this will not be Christian in orientation.  So forgive the “internal doc” tone.  I am trying to speak to our own Christian tribe about how we view sin and people in the world.  In Jesus’ time and obviously now, people often use the word, “sinner” in a derogatory way to label people that weren’t “in the know” or who didn’t live based on the same set of religious/moral/theological convictions that the establishment did.  In Jesus’s time it was the Jewish religious system based on the Law of Moses, and today, it continues in many tribes of Christianity.  For the sake of the argument, I’ll keep using the word “sinner” as it has been incorrectly applied, in hopes that we can at least agree that we all share the same problem.  We’re all jacked by sin!

I must also be honest with you and say that I, have to submit my wisdom under the wisdom of the revealed scripture in regards to all facets of life.  I don’t understand everything, like everything, and will have a long list of questions to reel off when I see God, but I believe that He did design sexuality to be blessed within the bonds of heterosexual marriage. 

However…

This article isn’t about trying to convince people of my view on this.  This article is to address how any of us, of any persuasion sexually, theologically, or religiously, should treat each other.  Especially how Christians should treat people that don’t believe what they believe.  I will submit that anything that doesn’t reflect the original design of God is sin and that list is long. And if we for sake of argument can say that homosexuality is a sin, I believe how Christians have treated the gay and lesbian community, in God’s eyes, may literally be of equal and maybe even greater offense to God. 

The question of whether or not Jesus (The corner bakery owner) would bake a cake for a gay wedding?  is posed so that we can finally talk about the dignity of each person’s story and how the love of God can break into all of our brokenness so that his revealed will and blessing can touch us all.


For dealing with the cake situation or other “grey zones,” here are a few anchors I try to keep in mind.

1) We don’t have to Condone or Condemn.  In so many situations we often think that we have to pick either a stance of condoning (which we assume happens if we fail to confront or form real friendships) or condemning (which we assume is a necessary response if we simply speak the truth and call people to account for their behavior. ) Some think you should just “LOVE” without truth, and some think you should just “TRUTH” em’ regardless of love.  What you’ll find in the life of Jesus is that he doesn’t pick one or the other.  He did neither.

In John 1:14 it says that Jesus came into the world in the form of a man and helped us to see the glory of God because he was full of Grace and Truth. As an example of what he hoped every Christian would be, he showed how grace (non-judgment) and healing, restorative words of truth can go together like peanut butter and jelly.  He was the most non-judgmental person you would have ever met, yet people wanted to hear what he had to say about their broken lives and when he spoke, people did change and turn from sin.  Jesus even said that he “did not come into the world to condemn but to save.” And he did exactly that. People around him didn’t feel condemned but they responded to his truth. 

He regularly ate with the worst of the worst.  Clearly, many would have pulled him aside and said, “Jesus, by eating with them, you realize that you are causing them to feel a false sense of acceptance by you, don’t you think it more wise to avoid letting them feel accepted so that they might come to their senses and stop doing what they are doing?”

In one such dialogue, he said, “I didn’t come for the healthy but the sick.”  In that statement, he was saying, “to help the sick you have to be with the sick and by being with them in their sickness, I’m not actually making them more sick, but creating a pathway to pull help them out.” 

In other words, being present with people in the mess of their lives, being true friends, fully accepting, is the way of Jesus. It is neither condemning nor condoning to make a cake or be at a wedding of people that don’t believe what we believe… It  is simply being a friend. 

To those who say that baking a cake communicates support for a non-biblical defilement of the institution of marriage, I’d suggest that we defile the institution of marriage all the time.  50% of the heterosexual Christian marriages end by defiling the institution through divorce.  And good percentages of those who don’t divorce defile the marriage daily as men cheat on their wives through pornography.  None of it is God’s intended design!  In Matthew 5:28 Jesus went further, “You who lust in your heart after a woman have committed adultery!”  In other words, don’t think just because you were married in a traditional heterosexual union, that you’ve done the institution justice and have the right to judge the next wave of people who will fail my design.”

In line with Jesus argument with the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11, Jesus would say to the non cake bakers, “You who have modeled a perfect marriage, go ahead and withhold the cake, but if you have ever sinned against my design of marriage, you better start whipping up some frosting!”

Look, God doesn’t need us to stick up for his created order of heterosexual marriage.  The institution of marriage is set not because we do it correctly. It’s set because God created it and marriage will always be his idea.  If we don’t stick up for the sanctity of life, life is still sacred because God says so.   He’s a big boy and knows that this beautiful union that he intended between men and woman is going to be fraught with brokenness in almost every situation and so baking a cake is not the issue, but not baking the cake would most certainly create an impossible space of tension between Jesus and the people he would hope to influence.

Jesus must have known that advocating for ‘sinner’s doesn’t make them feel better about their sin. It actually opens their heart to someday turn from their sin!

2) There is no sliding scale of sin

When I picture this bakery owner trying to decide whether or not he should bake a  cake for a gay wedding, I have to ask, what his reasoning or motives are based on.  In other words, why did he say NO?  I can only think of three reasons.

First, he could have thought that by baking the cake, these men would be pulled deeper into sin so if he made a cake he would be contributing to their ungodly union and sinful lifestyle.  Clearly this isn’t the issue and if he baked the cake, these two men would not be more gay or do more gay things?  The cake is just a cake! So that can’t be it.

So maybe, as a Christian business owner, he believes that he should represent God in who and how he gives his services away?  He might think that since God is clearly against homosexuality, I must display God’s view of sin and never give my services or products to people who are sinning in this way.  But consider the hypocrisy if he really sticks to this consistently.

Since gluttony is listed as a sin twice as many times as homosexuality is listed, then he would have to deny giving a scrumptious buttery croissant to anyone that looks to be overweight. And pastors who buy this guy’s donuts should therefore also not serve donuts every week at church, or create two lines and force the more sturdy lot into the glutton free, fat free line.  To not do this would be to help people sin, right?

And since lusting after a person sexually is a sin, and the most harmful environment for lust, pornography, and explicit viewing is on the internet, it would follow that anyone who helps build, fix, create software, or sells computers should probably shut their business down immediately as well.  For helping the computers work will be making it easier for people to sin.

And even if we aren’t business owners and just consumers, if we operate based on this line of thinking, before we purchase anything, we should make sure that whatever we buy is not the product of any Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, Mormon, or Muslim, liberal, or fans of The View! For if we help them even gain a dollar, we would not be representing God. 
 
You can see that this probably isn’t a practical solution.

So the third and only other option is that this baker believes that some sins are just so bad that he doesn’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole.  That’s what we called the subtle “sliding scale of sin” argument.  In other words, there are just some sins or ways of living that transcend normal logic and we should just make a stand against it!  I think this is honestly where most of us go when we chose to bless or help a non-Christian or not...

So just a few thoughts on judging levels of sin:
First, what is worse, doing something you don’t know is wrong or doing something you know is wrong?  You’re right if you guessed the latter. Clearly, when people do things that they don’t feel any conviction against or don’t know are against God’s intended design, we would call them blind, or lost, but certainly not bad or evil.  But what about people that know what is right and wrong, good or bad and continue to do or not do what they should?  Well, yes, that would seem to be worse because at least they understand.  So disobedience is worse than ignorance.  Do you agree?

People that have not yielded their lives to Christ didn’t get the memo we might have gotten about God’s design.  Romans says that every person will still be held accountable to some knowledge that there is a God by simply looking out the window and seeing that something has ordered the universe, but they do not have a context for their brokenness.   But a Spirit-enlightened believer; A Christian glutton who keeps chowing down on buffalo wings; a man who will not face his pornography addiction, a pastor who fudges on his taxes, a Christian man who lies on occasion to save face, the Christian soccer mom who leaves her weekly bible study and heads to the mall and keeps running up the visa tab to buy whatever her Oprah magazine tempts her with... they all know that they are being disobedient to God, but they still do it!  As a  Christian pastor, that is my story! That was the testimony of our greatest new testament leaders. Paul said, “I delight in the law of the Lord the idea of Godliness, the hope of living better, but dang it!!!! My flesh just keeps failing and am a wretched man!” 

Christians!!! Please…finally…take a sharpie and write this on the inside of your eyelids. “YOUR SINS OF DISOBEDIENCE ARE JUST AS BAD AS THEIR SINS OF INGORANCE!”  There is no sliding scale of sins and if you’re going to withhold baking a cake for a gay man, you better shut down the whole dang bakery because no one is really worthy of your red velvet!
Look, if I sound ticked remember, this exact same situation came up in Matthew 23:27 and Jesus called them out, “"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs--beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity.”

Okay, no more name calling. What about the good side of our desire to see people find God and his ways?  You’re not a good parent, a good friend, or even a good citizen if you don’t have a desire to help people find God and his design for areas of their lives.  So is there a way forward?
Yes, there is, but you have to change your practical theology.  You must…

3) Change from the old covenant of the law of Moses to the New Covenant and remove your judges hat and go buy a nice rocking chair and wait on your front porch.

Let me explain.  The Old Law told us to go judge people’s sin, discipline or kill them and for sure reject them until they cry “uncle.”  The New Covenant of Grace now requires that you become like the Father in Luke 15:11ish who bakes the cake, gives it to his son, let’s his son go off and make a mess of things, and then waits for the natural story of free will to run it’s course. He knows that if he gives him the money, gives him the car keys, he’s going to jet. The Father is broken hearted, and deeply sad, but he knows that if he doesn’t give the son these gifts, he’s leaving anyway. 
Why didn’t the father say, “Son, I know you’re going to leave and go sin your face off and I won’t stop you, but I’m not going to help you either. I will not give you my inheritance or my blessing?”  He didn’t take this route because he knew that someday, the son would remember how he blessed him even though he didn’t agree and it would allow a space for redemption.  He didn’t like it, but he knew that at all costs, keep the relationship open!

This is why Hugh Halter bakes the cake, and shows up to be a friend at their wedding.  I don’t like a lot of things either, but one thing I do want is that they know I really do love them and I want the relationship to stay open.  I’ve not condoned or condemned. I’ve not led them into sin, or helped them sin more. I’ve not misrepresented my God, or become a self-righteous jackwagon.  I’ve just been a friend of sinners like Jesus or like the old man waiting on the porch for his son to return home.

Befriending sinners is better than belittling sinners…better to be on the porch waiting for a struggling friend to return than on the side of a relational grand canyon you’ll never be able to cross.  People almost always in times of great personal need, return to those who have dignified their personal journey and given them space to learn for themselves.

4) Incarnation must precede proclamation: In other words, Grace must precede truth if we are to model our lives after John 1:14 and be incarnational in the way of Jesus.

We know it’s true, whenever we share our opinion about someone else’s lives without significant trust or relational bandwidth, it comes across as condemnation. Since Jesus didn’t come to condemn but to save, we must learn the skill and patience of winning the trust of those we hope to influence.   In baking the cake, what I’m hoping will happen is that someone at the wedding does ask, “Wow, great cake, who made it?”  And then to have someone say, “That guy over there... I think his name is Hugh, he runs a bakery. I heard he was a Christian too…Sort of weird he’s here but he seems different than the other Christians I’ve run across, he’s actually been here all day helping us set up.” 

This type of scenario has happened a lot to me and it often leads to the non-Christian friend pursuing relationship, dialogue, conversation and a discipleship relationship.  As I always say, when relationship is closed off, nothing will ever move spiritually, but if we gain trust through blessing and presence in the lives of people, then hope is always one conversation away.

If you become of friend of someone, you’ll know their true story, and if you know their true story, you’ll understand their sin, and when you understand their sin, you’ll know how to pray, and when you know how to pray, God will show you your own sin and how to love, and when you love, and keep loving, and keep loving, they will want to know what you think, and then you will speak truth, and they will want to hear, and they will want to know your God, and God will change their heart, and then He will help them change the way they live.  (Hugh’s paraphrase of Grace and Truth)

Your other option is to be a self-righteous jackwagon and you will never see them again.  Your choice!


As I write this, I feel an incredible sense of humility hoping that my struggle through these issues encourage you to keep struggling yourself.  Thanks for engaging this question.

Here’s a link to another great article I just read here, and if you want to dive deeper into incarnational dilemmas like this, I dealt with the theology of engagement much deeper in SACRILEGE.

Please pass this along to any friends, consider using this topic and content in your small groups, churches, and for sure, apologize to anyone you may not have treated in the way of Jesus.


Posted in not categorized    Tagged with homosexuality, missional, Hugh Halter, Incarnational Community, sin, Leadership, church, church function, sinner, grace, wedding cakes, relationship, prodigal son, john 1:14, truth, bakery, New Covenant, legalism, Disobedience, Godliness, Pastor, Christian Pastor, Gluttony, Brokeness, Conviction, Pornography, Marriage


38 Comments

Laura Gallagher - August 8th, 2012 at 10:52 PM
This is brilliant. I'm looking forward to seeing your church when I visit Denver Seminary in September. Keep writing. Keep being bold. Keeping being you.
Ingrid's roommate, Jordan - August 8th, 2012 at 11:14 PM
This is why I like you.


Blake - August 9th, 2012 at 12:21 AM
You, sir, are making the Kingdom tangible.
Jeff Butler - August 9th, 2012 at 7:13 AM
Thanks for the response and explanation. As a result of reading it, I had a couple of questions.



Would you bake a cake for Abortion Providers Appreciation Day? There is such a thing.



Would you bake a cake for a North American Man/Boy Love Association event? For those that might not know, NAMBLA is a pedophile and pederasty advocacy organization in the United States that works to abolish age of consent laws.



Would you bake a cake for a Neo-Nazi group’s celebration of Hitler’s birthday? Yes, they do celebrate it.



Based on what you have written to support baking a cake for a gay wedding, I would think you would say “Yes.”



You don’t have to Condone or Condemn it. There is no sliding scale of sin. You have removed your judge’s hat and are enjoying your porch. Incarnation must precede proclamation.



Is there an event that you would not bake a cake for?
Hugh Halter - August 9th, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Hi Jeff, good and fair question. No I would not bake a cake for any of these because each one represents supporting ideals that are clearly evil and about destroying life instead of celebrating life, hating people instead of loving people, etc. In the case of homosexual unions, at least they are making movement toward redemptive ideals of love, commitment, monogamy, etc. Here's another real life situation. A gay man starts a small nonprofit business and drives around inner city Detroit fixing bicycle tires and bikes for impoverished children. Do I support his business? YES, because he is doing good will and that is a kingdom venture regardless of the man's sexual orientation. Thus I can celebrate anything that has a true Kingdom purpose. Unbelievers do incredibly godly things all the time and it gives us a chance to encourage them instead of disregarding their efforts. I often tell non believers, "thanks for doing things that matter to God." The response is always positive.

Thanks for your question.

hugh
Jason B. - August 9th, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Hugh, great article. You really explore a few levels deeper than the articles I've read recently about how Christians should love gay people. I was really encouraged by all of this.

I found your response to Jeff's question inconsistent though. And I continue the conversation not to antagonize at all, but just for clarity and for the sake of you having a cohesive thought (and to help me process haha).

Why wouldn't you bake a cake for the 3 groups mentioned above? Aren't they struggling with some sort of sin like our gay friends? I was surprised by your response to Jeff. Aren't we stigmatizing 3 other groups of people who are simply struggling with thinking that is very backwards from our own. Couldn't we show them the same love? I know pedophilia is a very frightening thing that I don't claim to understand, but I can't help but think that if that was the thorn in my side I hope somebody would come into my story and breath truth into my life. Maybe that first interaction would be with a baker who loved like a Jesus who touched bloody women and talked to whores. I guess I wanted your reason for not baking them a cake to be something other than "they're clearly evil," since homosexuality is in a sense "evil" (against Gods plan).

I don't think this dismisses your amazing piece. And you truly have given me a great tool to dialogue with people and love my gay friends well. I just wanted clarity.

I'm 21, I struggle with homosexuality, and I love this Jesus who makes my burden barable and the struggles worth something. Proud to call you a brother
Jeff Butler - August 9th, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Hugh,

I am not wanting to be argumentative but your reply seems to me to be acknowledging a sliding scale of sin. The homosexual marriage has some good in it so you will bake the cake while the others have no good so you won't. (Some might argue that those groups have some good in that they provide community a sense of belonging, and support to their members.) Am I missing what you mean by a sliding scale of sin?

I agree about gay man's bicycle business but I don't see it as equivalent. There is not a clear connection between supporting his bike business and condoning homosexual acts or homosexual marriage.
Hugh Halter - August 9th, 2012 at 1:23 PM
Hey Jeff, the sliding scale of sin argument was simply about not judging to the point of withholding a silly cake. The groups you mentioned above are all groups that in many cases should be incarcerated or at least strongly opposed because of how their viewpoints or sin actually bring hurt and harm to individuals. The gay community and their sexual orientations very rarely have the intentions to harm others. It's is simply their private sexual orientation. I think you may be looking for an absolutely perfect scenario which there isn't. Remember, this is about a piece of cake and being nice to people who are different than us. The examples you brought up are different!
Hugh Halter - August 9th, 2012 at 1:23 PM
Hey Jeff, the sliding scale of sin argument was simply about not judging to the point of withholding a silly cake. The groups you mentioned above are all groups that in many cases should be incarcerated or at least strongly opposed because of how their viewpoints or sin actually bring hurt and harm to individuals. The gay community and their sexual orientations very rarely have the intentions to harm others. It's is simply their private sexual orientation. I think you may be looking for an absolutely perfect scenario which there isn't. Remember, this is about a piece of cake and being nice to people who are different than us. The examples you brought up are different!
Drew H. - August 9th, 2012 at 3:32 PM
I think your response to the more extreme scenarios are pretty much right on, but just wanted to put the nuances presented in a missional light. The practicalities of being missional and incarnational requires understanding your cultural at large. The American culture of unbelievers largely supports gay marriage and abortion. Thus, to be incarnational in our culture requires that we learn to show love to and befriend people with these views. For this reason, if I had bakery business, I might decide to bake a stinkin' cake for the abortion providers appreciation day in addition to the gay wedding.
However, the NAMBLA and neo-Nazi groups are clearly groups that both unbelievers and believers stand against. Standing against these hate
Cory - August 10th, 2012 at 10:44 AM
I think the bigger problem with these examples is that while a wedding is a celebration of 2 individuals who have to share their life together, the events for the organizations listed above are direct celebration of the organizations' ideals. It's not an exact comparison. It would be more accurate to compare baking a cake for a homosexual friend's wedding with baking a cake for a friend's wedding when they happen to be a Nazi sympathizer. We can show compassion to others who we clearly disagree with without compromising our convictions about their actions. In contrast, if a bakery owner were asked to bake a cake for a gay pride event, I think that is a situation much more comparable to the situations described above. In those cases, the baker is not associating with an individual but an entire group and the ideals that guide them. The baker is then directly deciding whether or not to support the ideal with their business.

It is an incorrect and dangerous assumption to believe that two homosexuals being united in marriage are in some way thinking that their union will convince others to be homosexual and help that behavior to take over our society. That's paranoia and anxiety. Rather, like any other married couple, I'm willing to bet they're thinking about each other and the life they plan to share. In that case, regardless of the orientation of the couple, the baker is choosing whether or not to bless the individuals and their family with their business. They are completely within their rights to deny business to whomever they please, but it would definitely be "jackwagon-ish" to judge individuals based on the social group(s) /ideals they are affiliated with.
Jeff Butler - August 9th, 2012 at 6:54 PM
Fair enough. I will leave it there. You might have missed Jason B's comment above. It might be worth a reply, maybe directly if not on the blog.
Jason R. - August 9th, 2012 at 9:48 PM
Hugh, I really think that Jesus *would* bake the cake for the hate groups mentioned. I say this because of your argument. Baking the cake is not condoning the activities of the group. It is treating others with love and respect in the hopes that they will return to God. Jesus taught to love your enemies and give to those who ask and followed that up by dying for all sinners. I don't think he would refuse to love and give to those in hate groups.

But even though I believe that Jesus would serve all sinners no matter how depraved, I do not think that he would go as a guest to a gay wedding. The wedding is a celebration. If you believe that homosexual activity is a sin and that marriage is God-ordained between a man and woman, then that means that the gay wedding would be a celebration of a sinful union. I see Jesus as being upset by this in the same way he was upset at divorce (not what God intended). Yes, Jesus ate with Tax collectors, but I don't think he would have gone to a celebration of how much money the tax collectors had extorted from the people. I totally believe that Jesus would treat gay couples with love, respect, compassion, and that he would eat meals with them and long for them to know the God that made them. But I don't think he would go to the wedding as a supportive friend.
Broc - April 1st, 2013 at 9:38 AM
Jason: Though you bring up the point that you are in essence celebrating something that is not condoned within the construct of God's design. I would like to ask if you then do not attend weddings in which one or both have been involved in pre-marital sex? Though we cannot always be sure if this is the case or not, I'm fairly certain that many couples getting married these days are not virgins. There is data to prove this statistic yet I do not have the time to sift through and find it for you.

I bring this up to say that most people getting married in a broken world are already partaking in un-godly acts prior to their union, and are most likely continuing their unhealthy acts to some degree after the union. Though a homosexual wedding is a fairly public definition that the couple is not following the original design of marriage as defined by God, I would say that the private follies within marriage are just as big of a deal.

We will all be judged by the righteous judge someday. Until then I will continue to go to my friends weddings who I know do not have the right model of a relationship. I will continue to work on my relationship with my wife as I know that we are not exceptions to the issue. And I will pray that my wife and I, as well as those around me who have sin in our relationship, (even in the small ways we treat each other when stressed) will be covered by the grace of Jesus through His saving Grace. I pray that those that I know and Love will get serious about Loving Jesus and find a fullness in life that only He can provide. I pray that my life would be enough of an example of that, that it will have the power to shift the perspective of the "lost" and always remember that we are just mere beggars trying to show other beggars where to find food.

Lyndsey - August 9th, 2012 at 9:16 PM
Jeff,

I just stumbled upon this post, and have never frequented Hugh's site before, but I wanted to comment on this because I feel that you've brought up valid points that I've discussed before with others. While Hugh's response is similar to mine, here is what I've said in response to the same questions that you've asked:

To me, consent is a huge factor. It is THE factor for me when I am struggling with a moral dilemma. If I acted on behalf of someone else, maybe shared a bit of information and then stop to wonder if I shouldn't have, I think about the other person directly involved: would he/she have approved of my behavior? Would they have given me consent to say whatever it was that I shared? If the answer is no, or even probably not, then I know that I wronged them.

Is the 5 or 6 or 10 year old boy in question, in a consenting, committed, and loving relationship with this 30 or 40 or 50 year old man? Is that child fully aware of what is being asked of him? Is he mature and intelligent enough to make that decision? The answer is (almost always) no, therefore, appropriate consent cannot be given and the action is wrong.

Is the Neo-Nazi group concerned about the feelings or well-being of the person on the receiving end of their actions? Would that person give their consent to be treated in such a way? The answer is no.

In a homosexual relationship, it is almost always between two consenting adults.

To me, the consent is key.
Paul Miller - August 9th, 2012 at 10:29 AM


I like your heart, but as a fellow pastor I kept waiting for your to cut to the chase. All pastors either have, or soon will have, to decide how they handle the phone call inquiry about officiating a wedding for 2 men or 2 women. Baking a cake for the event is one thing, but giving the event, and the relationship, the blessing of God is quite another. Refusing to do so with truth and grace, as defined in your article, would be very difficult, if not impossible.
Hugh Halter - August 9th, 2012 at 10:43 AM
I have also been asked if I would officiate a gay wedding. I have been asked a handful of times and my response has been something like this, "Joe, you know I love you, we've been friends a long time and you know that I have never judged you as a person. I do however, based on my calling, have to remain true to what I believe God says about marriage. I believe it is only for a man and a woman and thus, I will be at your wedding as a friend, but I cannot "sanction" your wedding. I hope you'll see the difference in my love for you but also my love and commitment to Christ and my conscience regarding this issue. As I've loved and respected you as a person, I'd ask you to love and respect me on my convictions."



Because I've said this to my "friends," I've always had a positive reaction and it came down to two friends, agreeing to disagree on the content of marriage. But love, friendship, and respect remain.



Hope that helps a little.

Hugh
Emily Sledge - August 9th, 2012 at 6:54 PM
Hey Hugh! I loved your article - this is exactly what my husband, Ben Sledge, and I are teaching in our young adult ministry. It isn't about someone's actions or choices in the first place - it's about their hearts, and doing all we know to do to show them grace, love, and hope. We just want people to know the Savior, and we trust Him to do the rest in their hearts. If we were focusing on their behavior instead of their relationship with God, it would be about morality and "fixing" ourselves - not the gospel.

In this comment specifically, I totally agree with how you respond to people. I once had a friend ask me to go with her to get an abortion, as she was only 16. I said I could not go with her and be a part of that choice to end a life. But I promised that if she went through with it, I would be there every step of the way in trying to find healing. She ended up changing her mind, praise God, but that has always been how I've responded to this kind of situation.

Thanks for speaking in truth and love!
Brett Allen - August 9th, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Hugh... thanks for the insightful commentary. I get what you are saying about gays who are lost, but what about those who profess Christ? My sister will marry her significant other this month. They both claim to be Christian. I'm uneasy about congratulating or appearing to support them in this life event. What are your thoughts?
Heather - August 9th, 2012 at 12:04 PM
I loved this! Finally an exhortation to live in the spirit of Christ--a much higher order of behavior than the screeching harpy role!
Sollice - August 9th, 2012 at 3:31 PM
Baking a cake is fine, Jesus made wine for a party and I am positive everyone there had issues b/c they were human. The thing we cannot do is fund monetarily or SUPPORT the 'sin' issue! Celebrating with people as human being (and we all eat) is only showing
Frank Spence - August 11th, 2012 at 11:29 AM
This sort of situation is why I am so pleased to be a Salvationist. Our Founder William Booth told us we should love the sinner and hate the sin, that means we should love ALL sinners and that includes Homosexuals, what we should NOT do is persecute them and make ther lives unbearable.
betty - August 12th, 2012 at 8:24 AM
Would Paul have made a tent for a gay couple?

A wedding cake is key in the CELEBRATION of an event.

It sends the message that this Christian baker celebrates the occasion.

I guarantee you Jesus would not show up to a gay wedding with a cake.

Does anyone here remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Just wondering.

I'm not saying don't love. I'm saying don't celebrate.
Hugh Halter - August 13th, 2012 at 9:43 AM
Betty, do you remember the cross? Last time I checked, God told us that he would never sodom and Gomorrah us again! I also haven't seen anyone standing on the corner stuck in a pillar of salt. Come on Betty, get out of the Old Testament. Jesus did! Be biblical. You are forgetting the new covenant and this is why Jesus did make wine at a wedding for drunk people. Your argument fails simply in this one story. Marriage and the ceremony is important so wouldn't you think Jesus would get a little ticked if there were drunk people? He must have had another agenda. Consider my post to Ron in this thread.
BrentGudgel - August 12th, 2012 at 9:33 AM
Hugh, this is fantastic.
Eric - August 12th, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Ok, really struggled through this post. For me it's not about condoning nor consent but about enabling. We cannot find where Jesus enabled an ongoing lifestyles of disobedience to His Holy standard. Rather, we see Jesus from a holy position and in relational proximity through truth confront sinners toward a true life. We do see Jesus hanging out with sinners but He never enables them toward continual disobedience. I always get nervous when we use a broad spectrum strategy in interpretive applications of site specific examples. This leads us to potentially become accidental pharisees and/or legalists. Can you be Jesus incarnationally in this specific context and decide not to bake the cake? Yes! Truth is, these type of situations are always best handled in the moment by a believer waking in the Spirit, submitted to God's leading and compelled by love living as a Kingdom citizen. On the other side of this scenario, you can find love in the refusal to bake a cake. Maybe there is enough love that I am willing to discuss truth and stand up for a true life that is available to these two men. Maybe my Love for the glory of God can also be displayed in such a way that is attractive to those separated from Him. My neighbors are Muslim. I love and care for them very much. In a few days, they will break from fasting and celebrate by sacrificing a lamb. I will not provide them a lamb (if I had one) as this enables a continuation of their false belief but at the same time I sure plan to hang out with them and have deep truthful conversations!
Ron Saunoris - August 13th, 2012 at 9:05 AM
I do not think Jesus would bake the cake. But let's look from a different point of view. Instead of a cake company lets say a delivery company. Would jesus take a contract to distribute pornography. When it comes down to it. It's not a question of weather Jesus wouldn't want ot offend someone or not show them love. Because it is true he dose love all and dose not judge. It is a question of would Jesus enable or do something that would make his brother stumble and fall. Jesus ate with sinners spent time with them and showed them love. But where in the bible did he help the sinners to sin. I know the first thing that comes to mind is Jesus made the wine, but drunkenness is a sin not wine. Otherwise Jesus would not have multiple the bread or fish because gluttony is a sin. Would Jesus give a prostitute a ride to her customers house if he drove a taxi? Would it be showing her love to drop her off at the front door with a big smile saying "have fun". Bottom line is Jesus would not bake a cake for a gay wedding and enable them to destroy the sanctity of marriage. But Jesus would bake a gay couple a cake for no reason but to show the love of God and give him the opertunity to share his love.
Hugh Halter - August 13th, 2012 at 9:34 AM
Ron, I think you keep getting hung up on the wrong agenda. As I stated, I don't think Jesus' was concerned with either condoning or condemning or enabling or resisting. He knew people were going to do what they wanted regardless. Yes, as you rightly stated, Jesus made wine (enabling) that could have led people into greater sin. For sure! Thus making a cake, could be construed the same. But Jesus didn't care about how it was viewed. He knew that people would sin if they want to . That the wine or cake, or whatever is a non issue and that the responsibility lies with each person and the decisions they make. His hope was to get to the heart of the matter and the heart of the person. Here's an equation I use.
Incarnation (living among) leads to Reputation(he loves us and accepts us) which leads to CONVERSATION (where we can talk openly as friends, which leads to confrontation( where truth is considered), which leads to transformation (change in mind, soul, heart, behavior) which leads to exaltation (God getting the glory). With so many of the comments, I still feel that we are missing the crux of the matter. IF YOU DON'T GET TO A CONVERSATION, NOTHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN. We must get past the micromanaging of sin, condoning, condemning, enabling, etc.
Abby - August 13th, 2012 at 9:30 AM
I loved this. As a saved-from-the-cradle 35-year-old Christian, my dilemma is the debate within our own Christian tribe; trying to handle these questions with compassion AND conviction. My question was going to be along the lines of loving vs condoning when it comes to fellow believers, but somehow typing out the question, "should I show the same grace to a fellow believer as I do an unbeliever?" seemed a little weird. So I'll just say that I thought this whole piece was great and I especially loved your tags at the end. They are practically a sermon unto themselves.
Name - August 13th, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Are you condoning their actions if you bake them a cake, then don't bake one. Are you being unloving if you don't bake them a cake, then bake one.
Cynthia - August 13th, 2012 at 12:54 PM
How about this scenario for each of us to consider, as long as we’re engaging in hypotheticals:



You bake a cake. And not just any cake, mind you. A wedding cake to CELEBRATE and HONOR the union of two homosexuals. These are your friends. You have broken bread with them, laughed with them. Cried with them. You love them, no question. You've demonstrated that time and again. Therefore when their relationship has now gone to the next level of deception and they are ready to take actual wedding vows to consummate their union, you tell yourself,



“I’m going to do what Jesus would do, and bygum, I’m going to bake them a wedding cake, because I’m not like all those other Christians who won’t come alongside these two homosexuals on their wedding day. All those others are self-righteous haters. They aren’t willing to go the full distance with these two right up to the finish line. But I’m a lover, not a hater. God doesn’t need me to hold up the standard of marriage. God's a big God, He can handle it on His own.”



You bake the cake. The wedding happens. You are there in support of them, true to form, being the “friend” that you are. You smile at the ceremony, hug them, tell them you love them. My, what a reflection of Jesus, right?



Then they die. These two homosexual friends of yours.



They stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And the Lord says to them, with tears in His eyes, “Depart from Me, into everlasting damnation. For no sodomites can enter in to heaven."



They are shocked. They say:



“But You came to my wedding, Jesus!! You stood by us as we took our vows! You smiled at us at the ceremony, You hugged us -- my goodness, You even baked us a cake – a WEDDING cake! If You really loved us, Jesus, how could You EVER celebrate a union that You KNEW would lead us to eternal torment and damnation? How could You do that?! Why didn’t You stop us? Why didn't You warn us about this place of torment? Why didn’t You love us enough to tell us the truth, the whole truth right then and there…that this union was an abomination to You, and that it would send us to everlasting damnation? WHY INSTEAD DID YOU BAKE US A WEDDING CAKE?”



And Jesus will answer, and say…..what?






Katie - August 13th, 2012 at 6:25 PM
What a fantastic post, thank you!
Wes - August 17th, 2012 at 8:51 PM
Hey Hugh,



Good words. I'm curious what you would say to a gay couple who asked you to marry them?



Wes
Hugh Halter - August 25th, 2012 at 1:14 AM
Good Question. I posted this up there in a thread in the comments somewhere...


dell - August 23rd, 2012 at 8:18 PM


Thank you for being a gentle,e honest voice of truth and for articulating the "hate the sin- love the sinner" concept, that as followers of Christ we are all charged with.

I agree 100% with every point you make as a fellow Christian.

However, I am wondering what your 'political' stance on the issue is.

Do you believe government shouldn't have the right to insist the baker sell to everyone who asks? If so, then what about when customers are refused based on their race, creed or gender? Is this a situation where you would want the government to step in and make the call ?

I ask this because I am not sure myself. My desire for small gov. says "no- keep out of it Uncle Sam", but then as a Christian, I wonder if it would be sinful for me to vote against gov. interference if the business owner were denying people simply based on who they are?

For instance, if a car dealer won't sell to Catholics, because they have some personal issue with their religious beliefs, and as a Christian I know that is wrong, then wouldn't I be guilty under GOD's words... New American Standard Bible (©1995)

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin".

if I DIDN'T support the government's interference in situations like that?

If this is too off topic, or not a direction you'd like the conversation to go in, no worries, just thought I'd ask your opinion in case you felt like sharing it :)



God Bless and may thanks again for the great article




Dennis Gulley - August 30th, 2012 at 3:56 PM
Thanks Hugh,

I have appreciated your insight and heart on this issue. You always have such good ways of addressing these things. I have found this a valuable interaction. I especially appreciate how you address gay friends that ask you to marry them. Your words are always peppered with love and grace.

Thanks!


Shane Cooper - September 29th, 2012 at 7:29 AM
As a remodeler i have done countless hours of work for homosexual couples. All very nice guys. i always tried to treat them with respect, even having to go so far as to apologize for a helper's random and not-to-well-thought-out colorful metaphor. They are people.

i have to disagree with your sliding scale though. The Bible is pretty clear that those who know better are held to a higher standard. So actually, MY sin is greater than theirs. This frees me up to be a more loving christian in the world. i still struggle with the concept of Freedom first, then the Law. Grace first, then Truth when and as they can understand it. Milk before meat but i'm learning.

All that said, i would have no problem doing work or baking a cake for a homosexual couple right up until you ask me to participate in their ceremony. My own conscience has to draw the line there. As Paul says, we can eat meat sacrificed to idols until they make the point of telling us or asking us to enter into the ceremony. Gay wedding is the ceremony in my mind. It's the worship of their ideal. The celebration of their rebellion. It's not just an event where sin might happen. Sin happens whenever a human is involved. It's quite a bit different than just being asked to dinner.

This is an issue i have to struggle with every day as my father has become a transgender.

Good, thoughtful article.
Cassie Hale - September 29th, 2012 at 9:59 AM
Thank you for writing this. I have struggled within myself as to what a proper response is, and when I think about what Jesus would have done, I can think of nothing less than treating a fellow human being with compassion and love. Thanks again for sharing your heart!
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