With some of the recent discussion and debate involving, for example, a bakery refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding I have an interesting scriptural story to throw into the mix for discussion. I want to make it clear that this is not what I am advocating or promoting, but as I have been praying about this particular issue this scripture came to mind.
During a time when many gentiles started joining the early church there were several issues that were discussed concerning what Jewish laws should be followed by those non-Jewish converts. Because of the importance of having no gods before the Almighty God, it was decided that among other rules, the gentile converts were not to eat meat which had been offered to idols. But what was to happen if in the course of buying food at the secular market or eating dinner at the home of an unbeliever you are buying or eating meat from an unknown source? Well, Paul in his instruction to the Corinthians addresses this issue with what could best be described as “don’t ask, don’t tell”. When shopping in the meat market Paul simply instructs them to not ask as to its source and if invited over to dinner by a non-believer, here is what he says (from the Message)
1 Cor. 10:27-29 – If a non believer invites you to dinner and you feel like going, go ahead and enjoy yourself; eat everything placed before you. It would be both bad manners and bad spirituality to cross-examine your host on the ethical purity of each course as it is served. On the other hand, if he goes out of his way to tell you that this or that was sacrificed to god or goddess so-and-so, you should pass. Even though you may be indifferent as to where it came from, he isn’t, and you don’t want to send mixed messages to him about who you are worshiping.
Now clearly you cannot translate this directly to doing business with gays, but I believe there is a suggestion here which may apply in certain cases. Faithful committed Christians conduct commerce and associate with gays all the time with little or no problems or conflicts of conscience as it should be. And if a cake is ordered at the Christian owned bakery and the baker has no idea as to the sexual orientation of the clients’ partner then I suggest that baker is free to bake him a cake as fast as he can. And this could also apply to the gay couple reserving a night at a hotel owned by Christians. But if the client goes out of his way to inform the Christian that he/she is gay and the cake or room is for them as a gay couple then, as much or more so for the gay person’s conscience, it may be better to decline the business. This would serve your conscience and perhaps even more importantly it prevents mixed message to the clients as to your scriptural convictions and what could easily be interpreted as validating or supporting a lifestyle that violates scripture. The reason for this is often lost in our modern society where there is an attempt to remove homosexuality from the category of clearly identified sins listed in scripture and place it in its own category of simply an alternative choice of lifestyle. But in the eyes of the Christian it is still in the column of sins right alongside adultery, murder and many others.
Side tangent – Christians are not above trying to compartmentalize certain sins as well, take gossip, divorce or gluttony for examples. Many Christians place these practices in a special category which is not to be scrutinized in the same way as say pedophilia or fornication. This is because it has become such common practice and there is little interest in “upsetting the apple cart” and offending those who engage in those practices. This in spite of the fact gossip is listed right alongside homosexuality for which a punishment of death is commanded. (Romans 1:26-32)
So here is my suggestion, if a person orders a cake or reserves a hotel room and you don’t ask and they don’t tell then go ahead with the business. But if they make the point of informing you that the cake is for a gay wedding or the room is going to be used by a gay couple then I suggest declining the business is consistent with scripture. It may well be that the gay person is testing your standards and your graciously declining the business will communicate something to him of your commitment to Christ. It may just as likely be that they are testing to see if you decline the business so they can make a big scene and sue you.
You be the judge, is this a fair application of this discussion from 1 Corinthians or does it not apply in this case? I am open to discussing this subject.