Updated Gay Cake Article from Hugh
by Hugh Halter on June 27th, 2015

​Would Jesus Bake a Cake for a Gay Wedding?

As many of you know, yesterday marked a watershed day in how marriage will be viewed in the United States of America. Attached to this one very significant issue will be a waterfall of side issues that will affect the church, the church's voice in the culture, and your personal story in your neighborhood. As such, i'm relaunching an article I wrote last year. I've also released a new book that takes the issue of judgment head on. My hope is that this article will lead you to a more thorough discussion in Brimstone...The Art & Act of Holy Non-judgement. 
Here is the reposted article below.

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 Brimstone. http://tinyurl.com/p73othl

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.


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3 Comments

Andrew Hollingsworth - June 30th, 2015 at 1:55 PM
I appreciate and agree with most of your focus. When you take up the case of the cake baker, comparing it to the various other professions, I would say there is one potentially significant distinction. The cake baker unlike the internet repairman likely has to put "congratulations" or something similar on the cake. Should he be loving without the truth that he cannot actually congratulate their union. If he is really good at cake baking, he probably feels a close attachment to his work. In a sense, he goes beyond the Internet repairman in his work by taking a potentially more active role. He can't avoid condoning--there is no middle ground for him necessarily, just like there isn't a middle ground for a clerk who is asked to sign a marriage license.
David C. Johnson - June 30th, 2015 at 10:03 PM
Where to begin...

So your scenario is, a gay couple walks into a bakery and asks for a wedding cake. A few weeks later, the bakery owner and the couple are BFFs. He's invited to the wedding and becomes their caterer and wedding planner. He throws them a shower and is invited to join them for Christmas, birthday parties, and other family celebrations. All this allows him an opening to be a Godly witness.

Nice story, except it's not close to what happened in this instance, or even in most instances. In reality, a gay couple walked into a bakery and asked a baker they'd never met before to make them a cake. When he learns they are gay, he refuses to make the cake, feeling by doing so he would be condoning their sin.

For the sake of argument, let's say he agreed to make the cake. What are the chances the couple and baker ever cross paths again. More than likely, they either never meet again or, at best, say "hi" as they pass on the street.

In this more realistic scenario, consider: Is it possible that God designed a divine appointment between the gay couple and the baker? Suppose God created this encounter so the baker, in love, could explain why he didn't feel right about baking their cake. Maybe they are convicted, repent and get saved. At the very least, a seed has been planted.

It wasn't a choice between condoning or condeming. For the baker, it was a matter of presenting the truth. What's more, he wasn't being judgmental because he didn't assume the couple was gay. They were openly gay, which I assume you would agree is a sin. There's a big difference between being judgmental and calling sin a sin.

Meanwhile, a true friend doesn't sit back and watch his buddy continue to sin. Proverbs 27:6 says "Faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." In other words, a true friend doesn't, as you suggests, remove his judge's hat and go buy a nice rocking chair and sit on the front porch. That's more like the kiss of an enemy who would sit back and watch while someone destroys his life.

As for the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John 8, you left out one little detail. After Jesus condemned the woman's accusers, he told her "go and sin no more." That was the act of a true friend.

Bottom line, you can't always bake a cake and be a witness too.







Deborah Markowitz Solan - July 2nd, 2015 at 6:05 PM
Absolutely awesome. Every word of it!
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