In a recent column for USA Today, Fox News contributor (and confessing Christian) Kirsten Powers waded into the debateover Arizona SB 1062. The bill, vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer on February 26, would have allowed religious freedom as a defense against discrimination lawsuits—for example, in the case of an owner of a flower shop, bakery, or photography business who does not want to be a part of a “gay wedding.”
Powers says that because Jesus served and died for all, Christians should serve all, even when they disagree with the recipients’ underlying morality. “Christians backing this bill are essentially arguing for homosexual Jim Crow laws,” Powers writes. “Maybe they should just ask themselves, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I think he'd bake the cake.”
Would He? The fact is, Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, had a unique calling, culminating in His death and resurrection for our sins. True, He spent the decades before His public ministry as a basically anonymous son of His parents, a brother of His siblings, and (likely) a worker in stone and wood, like His earthly father. He probably faced many decisions related to his work.
But it is an unwarranted leap to suggest that Jesus, if He were a baker instead of a carpenter, would have made a wedding cake for homosexuals. I have a hard time seeing that—not because Jesus doesn’t love homosexuals, but because He does.
Perhaps it’s time to stop asking what Jesus would do in every situation, anyway. Many of us think we have Jesus pegged—what kind of car He’d drive, what kind of political party He’d join, and so on. But the fact is, we really don’t know what He’d do in this or many other situations. He had a habit of overturning people’s expectations—and tables.
Yet I will go out on a theological limb here and say there is ample reason to suspect that Jesus would not be nearly as compliant as Powers suggests. Here’s why.
Jesus was very jealous for His Father’s reputation. When the Temple departed from its original purpose of being a house of prayer for all nations and instead became a den of robbers, Jesus was outraged. It wasn’t because He had scruples against money but because this sinful system was obscuring God’s holy character. The Father’s name, rather than being hallowed, was being profaned. Jesus didn’t meekly go along with this sacrilege. He overturned the tables.
Jesus, of course, defined marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman, “from the beginning.” He performed his first miracle, turning water into wine at Cana in Galilee, at a wedding.
There was no moral question mark attached to this event, because marriage is good in itself—good for the man and woman who become “one flesh,” good for the children who are expected as a matter of course to result from this union, and good because of the picture it provides of the relationship between Christ and His church. Homosexual unions, even those called marriages, provide none of these benefits and in fact would obscure them, keeping people from seeing God’s best. Homosexual unions given state sanction certainly don’t strengthen marriage.
Jesus strongly opposed anything that would undermine marriage—that is, the union of one man and one woman. He disallowed divorce except for marital unfaithfulness. Though He was extremely gentle with sexual sinners such as the Samaritan woman and the woman caught in adultery, Jesus was clear that such behavior was unacceptable, telling the latter, “Go, and sin no more.”
And we cannot forget that, now that Governor Brewer has refused to sign SB 1062, Jesus’ “decision” about whether to bake a wedding cake for homosexuals would be, as a practical matter, negated, by the prospect of legal coercion. Now that individuals in Arizona have been barred from using religious liberty as a defense against lawsuits (whether we agree with their actions or not), there really is no choice.
Brewer’s veto tells business owners, “Comply, be sued, or get out of the wedding business.” Jesus was utterly free to do His Father’s will and never did anything under compulsion. Can you picture the Judge of all mankind being bound by a measly state’s rule? Jesus died to do what is right, in defiance of the state authorities. Do you really think Jesus would be a party to sinful state coercion? Or do you think he would be on the side of those persecuted for the sake of righteousness?
Yes, Jesus did say, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” But what belongs to Caesar when it comes to SB 1062? Blind obedience to the law? If so, then why did Peter tell the authorities, “We must obey God rather than men”? When is God’s call higher than man’s? Brewer’s decision gives human law preeminence.
Jesus said something else that is germane. “No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve God and money.” Brewer no doubt was influenced to weaken religious liberty rights by the numerous boycott threats from business leaders, as well as the possibility that the National Football League might pull next year’s Super Bowl.
We may never know whether the possible economic damage to Arizona was determinative to the governor, but many observers believed it played a role. So in this case of God vs. Mammon, Mammon clearly won.
I sincerely doubt that Jesus would have gone along with that.
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