Thursday, November 09, 2017

Bake the Cake

The US Supreme Court is preparing to take up the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. You may recall this is the case of the bakery (the Christians) refusing to prepare a wedding cake for a same sex couple. 1

I hope the bakery owners (the Christians) lose this case. In a similar vein, I’m usually the wrong person to ask to join in a Christian boycott. When someone asks me, my typical response is: "You are boycotting X? In that case I will go out of my way to direct my business to X. I want the workers of X to see friendly, gracious Christians, not mean-spirited jackasses. And I can do this without compromising the gospel." 2

I really do hate these unnecessary and unbiblical culture-war skirmishes. These mini-theonomic line-in-the-sand little-Napoleonic stands. If you have a business open to the public, then serve the public. Otherwise get out of business.

We are not commanded to prevent unbelievers from sinning, and not charged with maintaining "Christian Values" in America, whatever that means. (It usually means endorsing false-memory nostalgia regarding 1950's lifestyles, as if the thrust of scripture was to produce caricatures of mid 20th century, God-fearing, flag-waving, patriotic, Republican, suburban, anti-communist, American families.) But we are responsible for how we live, not how “Adam and Steve” live.

Here are two reasons I hope the good guys lose. I could come up with more.

Practical Reason: If Christians can discriminate, i.e., refuse to do business with a subgroup, then any subgroup (not just the one Masterpiece Cakeshop is concerned about) should be allowed to discriminate against Christians. Amazon should be allowed to say: we are not going to sell to Christians. 
Biblical Reason, albeit from silence: Almost certainly Paul made tents (or whatever leather-works he manufactured, it may not have been tents) for unbelievers, given the paucity of believers. Unbelief is, in some real sense, the worst possible sin. If Paul can ply his trade for the chiefs-of-sinners then bakeries can make cakes for same-sex couples.

Sometimes we do have to "look ugly" to the world for the sake of the gospel. So be it. But when the gospel is not at stake, and it isn’t here, then it is only counter-productive for us to go out of our way to look ugly. We have no biblical mandate to do so other than the one that the proprietors of Masterpiece Bakeshop cooked up in their heads.

UPDATE: I received an email with a link to an article discussing a similar case in the UK. Here the point is made that the case is about liberty, not discrimination. The liberty issue is concerned with the message on the cake rather than the cake itself. I see the point, and it is not restricted to same-sex marriages. If I go into a "pro-abortion" bakery and demand a cake with the message "All abortion is murder" then I don't think the baker should be required to prepare that message. Similarly there could be some messages on a same-sex cake (To make one up: "Christians are homophobic a**h*les") that I don't think Christian bakers should be required to place on the cake. I understand the law is messy. But the basic cake with the names of two men or two women does not cross the liberty threshold (in my opinion.) Where is the threshold? I don't know. There's a reason I'm a physicist and not a lawyer.

1 Yep, that is a link to the ACLU. I like the ACLU. They are awesome at defending the rights of Christians.

2 Of course you can imagine exceptions to this rebellious stand. But the principle is firm.

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