Baking Cakes for Caesar

Why We Need Freedom to Say ‘No’

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Would Jesus bake cakes for same-sex weddings? It’s a good question, but there’s more to this whole issue than just WWJD. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

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John Stonestreet

The call for tolerating same-sex marriage has become a demand for compliance. Cases like Masterpiece Cake Shop in Colorado and Elane Huguenin’s New Mexico photography business have shown us that “tolerance” ends exactly where the right to say “no” begins. And so people, businesses, and non-profits are forced to choose between their livelihoods and their convictions.

Some fellow Christians are giving this new state of affairs a thumbs-up, including Kirsten Powers, whose fearless stand against abortion I admire, and Skye Jethani, a friend I respect greatly.

They argue that Christians who won’t participate in gay “weddings” are “applying Scripture selectively.” If you object to baking a cake, shooting photographs or playing music for a ceremony for two men or two women, they say, you should also object to serving anyone with an unbiblical lifestyle. But since no business owner can do a background check on every client’s personal life, Powers and Jethani conclude that any religious objections to doing business are illegitimate.

Plus, they say, baking a cake or providing floral arrangements doesn’t mean that a Christian is daily_commentary_03_03_14participating in or affirming gay “marriage.” They’re only conducting business.

Now before I reply, it’s important to understand how confused this whole conversation has become, especially with all the noise surrounding the anti-discrimination bills in Kansas and Arizona.

The Kansas bill was very problematic, and unfortunately created enough negative sentiment to defeat the Arizona bill, which did not give anyone the right to refuse to serve gays, members of other faiths or political parties, or even Yankees fans for that matter.

And neither the baker in Denver, nor the photographer in New Mexico, nor the florist in Washington refused to serve customers because they were gay. They refused participation in a same-sex wedding.

Every good baker and photographer I know who take their work seriously see themselves as participating in the ceremonies they service, especially weddings. Their cakes adorn the celebration and their pictures document the story. And that’s why they object to being forced to participate in same-sex weddings. It’s not something they can do in good conscience.

A baker friend of mine told me he turns down cake business all the time because of convictions that have nothing to do with same-sex weddings, like if they’re sexually explicit or crude. He wouldn’t bake a wedding cake if he knew the couple to be abusive. His faith has shaped his business for over 15 years, so why should he be forced to disconnect his faith from his business now?

Again, if he refused to serve a gay person a cupcake, he’s sinning. However, that’s not the same as baking a rainbow cake to celebrate gay marriage. It just isn’t.

Powers and Jethani are right that Jesus would serve, wash the feet of, and have dinner with a gay person. But that’s different than saying that Jesus, the carpenter, would carve an altar for a same-sex wedding with a rainbow on it in place of a cross. He spent time with tax collectors, but He didn’t help them steal more.

Theologian Russell Moore makes a strong case for avoiding any involvement with same-sex “weddings,” which I’ll link to at BreakPoint.org. But I’m with Eric Teetsel, there’s much more to consider about what constitutes involvement and what doesn’t. And there’s also another question.

Even if we assume that Jesus would participate in a gay “wedding,” does that mean Newsletter_Gen_180x180_Bwe should force everyone to do it? Stamping out the freedom of those whose consciences differ is still unthinkable. I’d never want a judge to order a bakery owned by someone who identifies as gay or lesbian to be forced to bake a “God hates gays” cake for Westboro Baptist Church. I would defend that baker’s right to say no every single time.

We can’t shrug off conscientious objections as if religious liberty doesn’t matter. As Os Guinness argues in his book “The Global Public Square,” religious freedom is essential, not only for Christians or for religious people, but in this deeply polarized society, it’s essential for maintaining peace, prosperity, maybe even civilization itself.

Further Reading and Information

BP-Takeaction_030314Baking Cakes for Caesar: Why We Need Freedom to Say ‘No’

As John said, religious freedom is important not just for Christians, but for everyone, and for the health of our society.


Check out the resources below to learn how to speak intelligently and winsomely on this issue.



On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?
Russell D. Moore | blog | February 23, 2014

An Evangelical Case for Gay Wedding Cakes
Skye Jethani | Huffington Post | December 21, 2013

Conservative Christians Selectively Apply Biblical Teachings in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate
Kirsten Powers, Jonathan Merritt | thedailybeast.com | February 23, 2014

Belief Rooted in Love
Eric Teetsel | First Things

Yes, Jesus Would Bake A Cake for a Gay Person
Erick Erickson | February 21, 2014


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You say tomato

You say true Jew
I say ex-Jew
You say ex-Jew
I say true Jew
True Jew, ex-Jew, ex-Jew, true Jew
Let's call the whole thing off!
The Insult of "Gay Is the New Black" Narrative
@Kevin V

You are spot on that it's insulting and insensitive for gay activists to equate disapproval of their sin to Jim Crow. Black Christian rapper Bizzle explained this brilliantly in his song "Same Love (A Response)".

An excerpt:

“Calling it the new black
tell me where they do that?
They hung us like tree ornaments, where were you at?
They burned us for entertainment, you go through that?
Mom’s raped in front of they kids, while they shoot dad
ever been murdered just for trying to learn how to read bro?
A show of hands … I didn’t think so.”

Listen to the rest of the song here:


The "Gay is the New Black" narrative has endured so long because gay activists haven't really been challenged on it. These activists have been aided by a self-serving Black "leadership" (Al Sharpton, NAACP, the Black press, BET, etc.) that demonizes anyone, especially Black, who points out that the narrative is a lie.

Yet, Christians of every race must follow the lead of believers like Bizzle who stand for the truth about homosexuality no matter the insults or even death threats. We aren't doing people any favors by remaining silent or lying to them.
To JW one more time
Okay. So Jews who turn their back on the scriptures and God Himself to become atheists are still Jews, but a Jew who believes in the Messiah of the Jews, the only person in history who could possibly fulfill or have fulfilled the hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Tanakh is an ex-Jew. Makes sense to me. I don't think.

But on top of that, the fact that you seem to think that as a Jew who thinks so little of the New Testament that he calls Jews who believe in it ex-Jews, you are more qualified than a real Christian to interpret New Testament scriptures like Galatians 3:28 is, shall we say, interesting. No offense intended. As for judging John Stonestreet's worldview as being out of Christ, I am not going to touch that one, except to say that I would be very surprised if that was true, but anything is possible. Beyond that, I will leave it to him to reply if he so chooses.

Here is my point of view. The God of the Tanakh and the God of the New Testament are exactly the same God. Many but not all prophecies in the former were fulfilled in the First Century CE and are documented in the latter. Many others are yet to be fulfilled, and Bible believers expect them to be fulfilled around the time the Messiah returns to Earth, and thereafter for about a thousand years. Both testaments describe God as one of love, mercy, and justice. So why did He suddenly change His mind about His chosen people two thousand years ago and replace them with the church? He didn't. Some Jews in the First Century accepted the Messiah at His first coming, and some did not. The former group became the first Christians (Messianic Jews), and the church was 100% Jewish for the first few years. Some of the church leaders didn't even think that it was possible for a gentile to become a Christian, and it took a lot of evidence to convince them otherwise (see Acts 10 and 11). Many of the Rabbinical Jewish leaders (the Pharisees) eventually became Messianic. Others (the Saducees; they were very much like the liberal "Christians" of today, not believing in angels and an afterlife) never did. So the non-believing Jews became the people we know today as Jews; the believing ones, along with their gentile proselytes, became what we know today as the church. Part of the church today consists of Jewish believers like the first Christians, and are called Messianic Jews, including me. From my point of view, we are the true Jews. The non-believing Jews like yourself are not fully Jewish, yet they think that the true Jews are ex-Jews (see Romans 2:28-29).
Fred, I was just thinking about Rand Paul with regard to this issue. I'm not a big fan of the Pauls, but I respected what he had to say about private businesses and what should be their right to discriminate, including his statement that he would never patronize a business that discriminated by race. I'm conflicted on the matter, but his is a perfectly legitimate point of view in a country that ostensibly values freedom. He should be able to express it without being labeled a racist.

Back when the Civil Rights Acts were put in place, that kind of discrimination was part of an overall dehumanization of black people that was unacceptable to any decent person. Plus, in many of the places where blacks couldn't go to lunch counters, etc., there were no alternatives. Today, it's a very different story. Minorities can easily find businesses that are minority owned or at least owned by people who wouldn't think of discriminating against them. Therefore, they can simply take their business elsewhere.

Gay people are not in circumstances even remotely similar to what blacks went through, which is why so many black people are resentful of the comparisons. Even if one can argue that a sexual orientation is as inborn as a skin color, the respective plights of Jim Crow-era blacks and modern gay people are not even close to being the same. Blacks in that day were far from a celebrated people against whom you can't say anything without risking your standing and even livelihood. The comparisons are insulting and insensitive.

Why couldn't the customers in these current disputes simply go to another baker or photographer? The answer is, they could have. But that isn't good enough. They want everyone to get in line with the current orthodoxy, even if by force.
Sorry Fred

Please note that there is a Jew and an ex-Jew commenting on this thread. When we hear that a patron trying to purchase product is called a "threat to religious liberty", we laugh a little bit, and cry a little bit more.
@Kevin V

Funny you should bring up gay business owners discrimination against straight people. On the blog, Gina Dalfanzo posted a story of a hairdresser refusing to serve New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez who is not a diehard supporter of so-called "gay marriage":


I'm with you that business owners should be free to refuse service to whomever they wish. However, as The Bechtloff pointed out, this could ONLY happen with the repeal of the sections of the Civil Rights Act that impacts freedom of association.

Few want to touch this idea. Let's recall the backlash libertarian Rand Paul suffered for supporting the tweak The Bechtloff suggests:


This fear that tweaking the CRA's would lead to the return of Jim Crow causes many conservatives as well as liberals (e.g., Black Christians) to not discuss the idea. Yet, considering the amount of damage being done to religious liberty (see Arizona), I think it's more dangerous NOT to have this discussion.

Just my two cents.
The Civil Rights Act.
Were it up to me I would repeal the parts of the Civil Rights Act that infringe on the freedom of association. In a heartbeat. A man should have the right to decide who he does and does not wish to do business with. The consequences of relinquishing that freedom are now apparent with people unable to even follow their own religion regarding business deals. After all if the government can tell a racist white man he must serve blacks against his will what is to stop them from making you bake that cake for the gay couple? Apparently, not a thing. Surrendering liberty is always a Faustian bargain, and this is a keen example of that.

You either have the right to decide who you do business with or you don't. And if you don't, well then I guess you really shouldn't complain when you are forced to do business against your will. Conservatives can throw as much of a hissy fit about this issue as they want, but they've already lost this fight. They lost it in 1964.

-The Bechtloff
Re: The Bechtloff

Thank you for the long comment and the correction. Yes, I was referring to The Bechtloff.

You're right, I didn't mention Messianic Jews. I would classify a Messianic Jew as an ex-Jew, no offense intended. I think Herman Wouk would agree.

I don't think we agree on what it means to be "In Christ," but can try to bring the question back into this conversation. I think, in the context of this dialogue, Skye Jethani's world view is in Christ, and John Stonestreet's isn't because:

1) John misrepresented Skye and

2) the baker produces a product. He doesn't participate in the wedding ceremony.

John's second assertion is problematic. If selling product is "participation", then the wedding is not the right place to draw the line. If the bakery is a community bakery, then the bakery, like the neighborhood bakeries in my home town, "participate" in the life events of members of the community; birthdays, bar mitzvahs, sabbaths, holidays, weddings, and funerals.
My last comment
I just submitted a (somewhat lengthy) comment addressed to JW. Unfortunately, while I was typing (and proof-reading) it, several more comments got posted, including two more from JW. So I just want to clarify that my last comment was a reply to JW's second comment.

BTW, one of JW's new comments is addressed to me, saying that would require repeal of the Civil Rights Act. I don't think I said anything that would require such repeal. Are you sure you didn't mean to address The Bechtloff? He and I have had debates on that subject in earlier pages of this site!
To JW again
Thank you for your reply, clarifying your beliefs. Now we have more confusion, not only over what 'Christian' means but what 'Jew' means. Before getting into that, let me add that I am a Messianic Jew.

1. The word 'Jew' has two main meanings: ethnic and religious. An ethnic Jew is one who is descended from Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham. A religious Jew is one who believes in Judaism, whether (s)he is ethnically Jewish or gentile, but again there are many branches thereof, and you have named some of them, namely, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Okay. I gather that you meant Jew in the religious sense. I don't know whether you deliberately left out Messianic, or whether you never heard of it. More about that later. The three branches you named are referred to collectively as Rabbinical Judaism, to distinguish them from Messianic Judaism.

2. Basically, a Messianic Jew is a Jew (usually in the ethnic sense, although I suppose a gentile who had been a convert to Rabbinical Judaism, or who was born into a family of believers therein and was a member of a Rabbinical synagogue, been through a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, etc., could be included) who has come to realize that Y'shua (Jesus of Nazareth) is the Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the human race. In other words, (s)he is a Christian Jew. Rabbinical Jews believe in the Old Testament (the Tanakh) and the Talmud as divinely inspired, while Messianic Jews believe in the Bible (the Old and New Testaments).

3. In addition to Rabbinical Jews and Messianic Jews, there are non-believing (ethnic) Jews. Some are atheists or agnostics, some are into Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age beliefs, etc.

4. Some Rabbinical Jews consider all Jews (in every sense of the word), including non-believing Jews, except Messianic Jews, to be Jews. I don't know whether you are in this category or not, since you did not specifically mention Messianic Jews, although you mentioned just about every other kind, including non-believers.

5. To get back to the subject of what 'Christian' means, I was surprised to find Baptist on your list of liberal (non-Bible-believing) denominations that have denied scripture (both testaments) and bless gay marriages. I went to the Wikipedia page you referenced, and did a search on the word Baptist. It's not there!

6. Anyway, to answer your question, I do believe in Galatians 3:28. The problem is, as a (presumably) Rabbinical Jew, you have not been born again and do not believe in the New Testament, so you do not fully understand the meaning of that verse (as it is written in another New Testament verse, 1st Corinthians 2:14, but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned). The key phrase in the verse you quoted is "in Christ Jesus". This means that the verse only applies to true Christians, those who have been born again, because they are the ones who are in Christ Jesus. Those calling themselves Christian but who have denied virtually every fundamental belief taught in the Bible (including some that even Rabbinical Jews believe!), are not.

7. Finally, I am not the least bit surprised that the main stream media acknowledges the liberal so-called Christian denominations you listed (except maybe Baptist) as Christian. Surely you have heard the phrase "liberal press"? That's what they are, in every sense of the word!

P.S. I am not a Baptist. I belong to a predominantly gentile church of another denomination, not a Messianic synagogue, but I acknowledge that there are true Christians and Bible-believing churches in all denominations, including the ones you listed. This does not include cults, like the two I named in my previous comment. There are thousands of others!
Skye Jethani is right
I agree with Sky Jethani 100% in both regards.

1. A product is a product. If the vendor has a store, i.e. a public accommodation, the vendor must sell the product to all customers, even if they are bald, so long as they are wearing a shirt and shoes.

2. If the vendor produces "art" like photography, the vendor has a legitimate right to refuse to produce a certain kind of art, unless the vendor is Michealangelo, but that was then, and this is now.
Public Accommodations and the Civil Rights Act of

Unfortunately, that would require repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Suggest you contact your legislators.

At John Stonestreet's request, I'm posting Skye Jethani's response to this commentary here.

I have a more simple solution that doesn't involve the government, allow people to decide who they do and do not want to do business with. Period. Forcing anyone to engage in a business transaction against their will is a violation of their God given rights. We either have freedom os association or we don't and I would much rather live in a country where we do.

-The Bechtloff
Christian denominations that bless same-sex commit
@Richard L. Enison,

I'm Jewish. We consider all Jews to be Jews, whether they are reform, conservative, or orthodox, whether they believe or practice or not. Don't you follow Galatians 3:28?

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus

I guess you, personally, have different criteria.

The presence of Christian denominations that bless same-sex unions is in the news, on the religion pages, and includes Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, United Church of Christ, ... See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessing_of_same-sex_unions_in_Christian_churches
I don't know what your religious persuasion is. If you are a born-again Bible-believer, you should know better. If not, then that explains why you would say that "Many Christian denominations bless same-sex commitments". The Bible is where the word Christian comes from, so it is not unreasonable that it should be regarded as the authority on what that word means. Lets just say that anyone who does not believe what the Bible teaches is not a Christian. Which means that any "church" or "denomination" that believes in same-sex marriage is not Christian. Lots of non-Christian groups call themselves Christian, like the LDS Cult (Mormonism). The Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses) considers its members Christian and real Christians non-Christian. That last one is a difficult hair to split for non-believers, because both Jehovah's Witnesses and true Christians believe the Bible is true. The problem is that they interpret certain scriptures according to a fourth-century heresy (Arianism), while ignoring other scriptures that make that heresy untenable. But I digress.
There is an answer that doesn't involve government

I grew up in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood where I ran into this all the time. This past fall, I was back home and wanted to pick up a rye bread and corned beef. I went to the closest bakery to my childhood home and it was really crowded, and there was no rye bread. All there was was round Challah. It was erev Rosh Hashanah. The bakery changed its normal operations because, being an orthodox bakery, the only products it baked that day were related to the high holidays. I stupidly walked up to the counter and asked for a rye bread and everybody looked at me like I was crazy. I wasn't discriminated against. I was temporarily ignorant about the bakery's traditions.

No problem, I went across the street to the goyisha bakery and they carried both the round Challah and rye bread. The Orthodox bakery is certified kosher and there are certain expectations about the products. In addition to being kosher, they also change product lines to conform with the Jewish calendar and traditions. There is a public understanding of the bakery's product line. As long as the customer purchases a product that is for sale, and that would include a customer who walks in on Good Friday wearing a "Jews Killed Jesus" T-shirt, that customer will be served.

If Christian businesses believe that some of their potential customers are "unkosher," then the business may legally construct a certification program to distinguish itself from other like businesses. The expectations of customers are set by that certification, and the government won't force the business to violate that certification, unless it's patently discriminatory, i.e. "whites only."

Here, unfortunately, your argument gets into a little bit of trouble. The bakery can easily advertise that it will only cater a wedding that has been certified by clergy. But which clergy? Many Christian denominations bless same-sex commitments. And if clergy doesn't include non-christian faiths, then the language has to explain.

Now, none of this rises to the demand to bake a “God hates gays” cake. As I think about it, that was a pretty unfair statement, that makes an unequal comparison. A gay couple would approach a bakery because they like the product, wouldn't they? It's their wedding. The planning is difficult enough. Why would they "stick it to the Christian baker" and pick a legal fight?

It appears that you want to have it both ways. You want the business to be open to the public, but you want to be able to abide by unwritten purity rules that can be applied arbitrarily. That is unlawful.

There is another issue with your argument. Marriage is celebrated every moment of every day. It is short sighted to confine your opposition only to the wedding. What happens when Adam wants a cake that says "Happy first anniversary Steve, Love Adam!" And then there is the second anniversary, and the third, and birthdays, ... If the objection is to the normalization of the gay family, then the conflict will be ongoing.
Along the lines of The Bechtloff's comment
On a liberal Facebook page, people were going off on this issue. One "progressive" woman said that gay people in Arizona should open restaurants all across the state and discriminate against straight people. I responded that gay people should indeed be able to do that, since it's their property. Nobody responded to that comment. Hopefully, a few people got the message.

Everyone keeps talking about restaurants. I think you'd have to be a complete jerk to want to kick people out of your restaurant just because they're gay. Most decent folks would feel the same way, which is probably why many media outlets continue to focus on the restaurant thing instead of the real area of conflict, which is when you get into violations of conscience, e.g., forced participation in gay weddings. Restaurants make for a better propaganda tool, with the obvious comparisons to Jim Crow-era lunch counters.
Formal and Material Cooperation
Please pardon me, I meant to include this link that explains Formal and Material Cooperation.

Whenever I talk to a liberal on this issue I aks if they think a gay man who owns a Kinkos should be forced to print signs for the West Borrow Baptist Church. That tends to get the point across.

But conservatives miss the point when they try to turn this into a religious freedom issue because it's much more broad than that. This is about the freedom of association. If you own a business you should be allowed to refuse service to anyone for any reason you see fit. No one should be forced to do business with someone against their will.

-The Bechtloff
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