I’d Bake Them a Cake, and Eat Some Too: Religious Freedom, Gay Rights, and the Man in the Middle

635635829040203317-2-ReligiousFreedomThere’s been a lot of fuss surrounding Indiana’s recent enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Following the legislation, liberals and progressives came out of the woodworks to go toe-to-toe with conservatives—especially conservative evangelicals. Rallying around the call for tolerance—which is a two-way street, by the way—liberals cite Christians as supporting such laws for the sole purpose of combating the LGBT community and same-sex marriage initiative. My first reaction was that of a man caught in the middle; compelled by love, but captive to the inspired and authoritative word of God.

To set the record straight, I am convinced that homosexuality is a sin, and separates us from God, much like any other sin, including that of pride, adultery, idolatry, and gossip. Sin is sin, and ultimately results in eternal separation from the God who created us to know Him and to be known by Him (Isa. 59:2, Rom. 5:12; 6:23). We are created in His image (Gen. 1:26-28), and marriage, according to His image, is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:23-25). Clearly, the language of God’s Word provides gender distinctiveness to highlight the very uniqueness of God’s image. Any relational union apart from God’s intended design is a deviation from His creative purposes and, ergo, a distorted and disorderly representation of God Himself (Rom. 1:22-23; 3:23). Furthermore, over 2,000 years of church history affirms our contemporary understanding that homosexuality is a sin that has never been acceptable among believers (and, more often than not, most cultures).

Since we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me go on to say that I believe that evangelicals do tend to place an unhealthy emphasis on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, without reiterating the detriment of other sinful behaviors as well. True, the reason that homosexuality is often pointed out is because it seems to be one of the only sins that has been popularized as “normal” and “okay,” while other sins are clearly condemned by believers and unbelievers alike. Even among gay couples, adultery and lying and murder are all considered to be wrong, while, homosexuality, is not. This is why Paul pinpoints homosexuality—commonly referred to as “unnatural”—as the supreme example of self-worship and godlessness (Rom. 1:18-32). Homosexuality represents the epitome of distorted and disorderly worship. Nevertheless, the more we impress upon others the weight of sin, without following up with the hope of Christ, we start to look more like the Pharisees and Sadducees whom Jesus condemned, rather than the Christ Himself who came in grace and truth. Sure, my evangelical friends are right in their assertions, but we must not allow ourselves to live by the letter of the law, while neglecting the spirit of the law—namely, the law of Christ.

This past Thanksgiving, my wife and I had an opportunity to make (courtesy of Kroger) and share a meal with our neighbors. The gay couple downstairs—who are well aware of our conservative beliefs—came over and we talked, and laughed, and got to know one another, over some good ‘ole Cajun-infused turkey. We seized the moment to love people, and have table fellowship (a very intimate occasion in biblical times) with those who are very different from us, but, then again, maybe not so different. Sure, they are living in sin—but so were we (and yet, even still, sin abounds).

One of the most beautiful conjunctions in the Bible is the word “but.” In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul names off a laundry list of sins, including homosexuality, following up with an emphatic “and such were some of you!” “But,” Paul says, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This, my friends, ought to be the chief-motivation behind every Christian endeavor: that we were sinners, and Christ saved us! We did not pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, no, but rather, Christ Himself snatched us from the grip of death and breathed life into our sinful souls, covering us with His everlasting love and mercy.

Therefore, we must make every effort to show the same grace, and speak the same truth, in love, to those who—though may look and believe different from us—suffer from the same sinful condition that we do.

So, though I would not preside over a gay wedding, much like I would not preside over an unbeliever’s wedding (without being honest, in love, of course), I would bake them a cake. In fact, not only would I bake them a cake, but I’d stop by and share a slice with them as well. That’s my religious liberty. After all, you never know when you may have, not only an opportunity to reflect the love of Christ, but to share the love of Christ as well. And how did Jesus share His love for sinners? He ate with them, He healed them, He protected them and gave to them—He gave Himself, for them and for us. But Jesus also left us sinners with a solemn warning that we must heed: “[Now that you know the truth,] go, and sin no more” (John 5:1-15, 8:3-11).