Est. May 2008

29 July, 2015

Neutral Activities?

Can a Christian small-business owner or clerk provide a service for same-sex 'marriage' and not sin?  That's the question dealt with in the following article, which is actually two articles in one. 

Both articles answer the question, 'yes'; both suggest what I can only call 'deception' – self-deception.


The first article says it's okay to provide a service for something you consider immoral so long as you provide a disclaimer:
'If you make your views and the company’s views clear, you can feel free to make that cake. If they want it to say “Congratulations Angela and Norma!” you may feel morally free to do as they wish. As long as they know that you are merely serving their own self-congratulations and are not participating in congratulating, your conscience can be clear. (emphases mine).
But you are participating in congratulating, simply by providing the service.  If you bake the cake, or take the pictures, or provide the flowers, or sign the license, you are implicitly saying to all and sundry, 'I agree with what they're doing', and trying to tell yourself or others that you're really working against your moral judgment is nothing but a cop-out.

And that's the problem: participation in something you consider immoral. 

The author chooses two Scripture passages to support his argument.  The first is 1 Corinthians 1:25-57 (he only quotes verses 25-27 in the article, though.  This is what he writes (with the 'missing portion emphasized):
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.”  If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience – I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
Obviously, Paul didn't consider eating meat sacrificed to idols as participation in idolatry, most likely because it was unlike the typical Israelite practice of sacrifice and feasting – you ate the meat given as a sacrifice directly, and not through an intermediary meat-seller.

But the fact is, this is a poor comparison to our current discussion, because Paul's' talking about buying, not selling; we're talking about selling something – a service which celebrates something immoral and blasphemous.  I don't think Paul would have said that was okay.  Buying meat that had been sacrificed was okay; selling the lambs and goats to be sacrifices at the pagan temple, though?  Doubtful, as that would have been participating in idolatry.

His second Scripture portion is 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
And his argument is that Christians are being judgmental when we refuse to provide services for things we've been told by God are immoral. But are Christians really being judgmental in this case, or are they unwilling to participate in sin, thereby 'giv[ing] approval to those who practice them'? We are also called to be salt and light in this world, something we can hardly do by giving a disclaimer and then participating in the celebration of sinful acts.

The second article's self-deception is seen here:
The easy way out is to simply stop doing weddings. But I think you can probably be a bit more subtle than that. The problem is that you believe it is wrong for you to participate in a same-sex wedding. Here’s an alternative to getting out of the wedding business. If you are a baker, no longer offer “wedding” cakes. It doesn’t mean you won’t make cakes that are suitable for weddings, but to you it will just be a cake and the client can use it in any way he or she likes. Since you are not offering it as a wedding cake, you can say with integrity that you are not selling a “wedding” cake for a same-sex ceremony. The same logic applies with regard to florists and photographers. Just stop marketing packages as wedding packages or offering wedding arrangements.
Imagine this exchange, if you please.

'Do you do cakes?"

"Finest cakes in town."

'Do you decorate them?'

"Yep."

'Do you do writing on them?'

"Yep."

'Then I'd like a cake with, "Congratulations Norma and Ann on your Wedding".

"Um..."


You may not be offering it as a wedding cake, but it can very easily be turned into a wedding cake, can't it?  And then you're stuck.

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