One of the things made apparent by the case of Baronelle Stutzman in Washington State is that we are to be allowed our convictions about same-sex mirage, but only if we can find a place to store them. You see all the storage bins have been nationalized and are now public property, and so all the contents have to conform the current policy of these United States, which holds, among other things, that the anus is now a sex organ. It follows from this that if you know it isn’t, having had biology in high school, then these aberrant and blasphemous thoughts of yours must never be expressed or even hinted at within a fifty foot radius of anyone who might be offended. What if you said something about this, and there were a drag queen nearby? Nothing worse than having a drag queen clutch at her pearls.
After you get to Heaven, you can take out these deep religious convictions and show them to God. So sorry. At that time, the public policy of these United States won’t care about any of this anymore because all these homo-regs of ours will at that time be found in a huge column of smoke ascending from Babylon the Great. But we don’t like to think about that too much, so for the time being you Christians had just better shut up.
So the Attorney General of Washington is going after Baronelle Stutzman in order to make an example of her. In the uproar that followed, everything broke down the way you might expect. The people who think that the gummint is just a gaggle of bullies with guns who hate freedom have one more reason for thinking so. And those people who think that the government, correct spelling please, is powered entirely by pure thoughts will continue to think that. Look at them fight for mutual acceptance!
But what about those Christians who ought to know better? The striking thing is that now that we have come to the pressure point, where taking a stand for Christ might actually cost you something, we are seeing a lot of theological ingenuity (of all kinds) being expended by Christians who don’t want to do the obvious thing that must be done. From the kid glove treatment that Tim Keller gives it, to the retreat and surrender option served up by Russell Moore, to the confused muddles of leftist anabaptism (never judge the world outside the church for things like same sex mirage; always judge the world for being chintzy with the EBT cards), to the retreat to commitment orchestrated by First Things, all done to flourishing bugles to make it seem like a cavalry charge, we see the same thing over and over again, which is refusal to engage.
The sophisticati among us almost never engage, which is why some pert Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader is closer to the kingdom than is some gender-sensitive lit prof at Wheaton College. Who is more likely to sign a petition to prevent pervs from being allowed to use the girls’ restroom? Ah.
Don’t ever do anything that might get you sympathetic treatment on Fox News. That would reveal you to be a rube and cornpone, and everybody knows that rubes and cornpones cannot be nuanced theologians. And, by the way, continuing with the point made in the previous paragraph, Fox News, with all its glaring faults and big busty blondes, is still closer to the kingdom than certain theologies that have the word kingdom in their tagline.
Ambrose Bierce, in his Devil’s Dictionary, described a certain kind of valor — the kind we have on tap among smart evangelicals — in this way.
“Why have you halted?” roared the commander of a division at Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; “move forward, sir, at once.”
“General,” said the commander of the delinquent brigade, “I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.”
This is why we see so many of the evangelical intelligentsia (sic) doing what intelligentsioids do best — which is to flake. In the meantime, even though it feels like the Alamo redux, the task of upholding the moral order of Scripture and Christendom falls to bakers, photographers, and arrangers of flowers. This is a true occasion for having mixed emotions — being deeply proud of our ordinary foot soldiers and profoundly ashamed of our leadership.
I wish I could do more, but here are just a few practical theological observations for the ordinary Christian, still at his beleaguered post, wondering why headquarters won’t respond to repeated pleas for air support. Ordinary Christians would be justified in feeling the same way that ordinary Ukrainians do when they pleaded for aid against the Russian invasion, and Obama sent them extra socks to help get them through the winter. Winter wasn’t the problem.
1. One of charges made against you is that you are just one more bigot, trying to resist the march of progress. A generation ago, white restaurants would not seat blacks, and here you are, supposedly playing the same role. But such bigotries back then were a sin, just like sodomy is today. When a Christian merchant today refuses to help celebrate iniquity, he is not a restaurant manager refusing to seat blacks; rather, he is a restaurant manager refusing to seat the Grand Kleegle Wizard of the KKK, just back from a cross burning and feeling a mite peckish. There is no generic sin called “refusal to seat.” Who? Why? These issues cannot be sorted out apart from a fixed standard of right and wrong, and we cannot have that apart from God’s revealed Word in Scripture.
2. The issue is not the sale of goods to sinners, but rather the celebration of sin with sinners. If you were a graphics design guy, and a homosexual came in and asked for an ad for his new restaurant, you should have no problem designing his ad for him. If he wanted you to design the ad for his new bathhouse, you would have a problem. You would have the same issues designing an ad for a heterosexual whorehouse. You do not want your expertise in making things look attractive and winsome to be used in making iniquity look attractive and winsome. The reason these particular professions have become the battleground is that homosexual activists are demanding, not our co-participation in the same economy, but rather our approval. They will not stop until they have that approval, and we should rather die than give it.
3. All societies have unquestioned axioms, certain beliefs held in common. As de Tocqueville put it, without such a common belief a society cannot exist, “for without ideas held in common there is no common action, and without common action there may still be men, but there is no social body” (p. 8). Our ruling elites are in the midst of trying to change a foundational American axiom of liberty to the alternative foundational secularist axiom of universal tolerance. It will do you no good to appeal to the former while they are busy trying to supplant it with the latter. They don’t feel bad denying such appeals; their goal is to deny such appeals. We need to resist them, which is not the same thing as appealing to them. Our appeal is to God.
In addition, the one thing that universal tolerance cannot abide is any denial of universal tolerance, which is why dissenters are put down with such ferocity. But this means the longer you stay on the field, the worse it is for them. So stay on the field, and pray for Baronelle Stutzman.