A Theology of Resistance for Florists

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.

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Barnabas
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Barnabas

We have established means of dealing with bigots in this country which are accepted and enforced by the Church. These include seizing property, social ostracism and refusal of employment, refusal to debate (we don’t debate with bigots), and above all educate their children so that they are raised to think differently than their parents. But wait, you’re not a bigot, you are a good Christian. Your ancestors thought that they were good Christians but we now know that they were hypocrites at best and moral monsters at worst. I’ll expand upon that later if I get a free moment. In… Read more »

Bro. Steve
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Bro. Steve

You’re right that the fundamental idea behind “American” is “liberty.” Liberty isn’t a bad thing at all. I vote for it every chance I get. But liberty has proven to be a pretty sandy foundation, if you ask me. We needed something to liberty to anchor to, and it seems our Founders, great men though they were, overlooked the need to establish that.

Christopher Waugh
Guest
Christopher Waugh

Don’t forget the lit professor at Liberty University, who also shares a tremendous empathy for confusion, bathrooms, girls, boys and public sharing– while writing for Christianity Today & The Atlantic under the noses of her evangelical authority figures.

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

I don’t mind someone having secular ideas as long as they don’t practice them in public.

See how dumb it sounds.

Rob Slane
Guest

Doug, Great article in general, but spoilt by the reference to Ukraine. Do you really not know that the chaos there is the result of a US-orchestrated coup in February last year? Are you really not aware that most of those killed have been Russian speaking civilians in the South East of the country, shelled repeatedly and mercilessly by the Kiev regime simply because they refused to recognise the legitimacy of a “government” that took power in a coup? Do you really not know that the Kiev government has been using openly neo-Nazi battalions to fight for them? As for… Read more »

Ben Bowman
Guest

Loving your enemies does not mean giving them what they want.

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

Rob Slane –
When Charles Krauthammer repeats a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

John W.
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John W.

We can learn from Puzzle and Shift in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle: “But—but,” said Puzzle, “wouldn’t it be better if you went in? Because, you see it’s you who want to know what it is, and I don’t much. And you’ve got hands, you see. You’re as good as a Man or a Dwarf when it comes to catching hold of things. I’ve only got hoofs.” “Really, Puzzle,” said Shift, “I didn’t think you’d ever say a thing like that. I didn’t think it of you, really.” “Why, what have I said wrong?” said the Ass, speaking in rather… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

A theology of non-interventionism and non-entanglement in foreign affairs would be good.

It would be, but you’ll never get that from latter-20th-century right wing evangelical christianity. It’s the cold war forever for them.

luken Pride
Guest

I’ve never struggles with how the world is messed up. I’ve always struggled when Christian leaders give into it. And I don’t get why some Christian leaders want to treat poverty issues with fierce hell fire sermons but relent from saying anything on moral issues in the culture without tremendous pleasentries and nuances to try and convince the world that they want to be accepted by both the church and the world in their stance.

William wilcox
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William wilcox

Yes, we should be proud of our footsoldiers. We should stay on the field and we should pray. We should also actively support our footsoldiers with the means to continue their witness. What Christian organizations, churches or ministries have committed to supporting or coordinating suppport for Baronelle (and the many others now and to come) if she loses her business and her home? I suggest a national Christian organization (similar to the ADF) is needed to collect offerings from other Christian ministries, individuals and organizations and to coordinate the distribution of aid to the Stutzmans, Klein’s, Cochran’s etc. It seems… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

The Liberty University professor referenced by Christopher Waugh in this comment thread is none other than Dr. Karen Prior, an English professor at LU who is propped up and promoted by the administration as a faculty member who engages with the culture from a Christian worldview. Riiiiiight. This woman attended and was a featured speaker at a “gay Christian” film festival in New York City last year. Good grief! She recently wrote a review of “ethicist” Glenn Stanton’s newest book. The book is called Loving Our LGBT Neighbors and her review is very sympathetic to the book’s pro-homosexual tendencies. For… Read more »

paulm01
Member

Brilliant…

David Trounce
Guest
David Trounce

Doug (or anyone else listening). You made reference to Tim Keller and also First Things. It would be good to see a reference by way of example. It would help those of us who have just walked in.

Mitch Turner
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Mitch Turner

David Trounce, I second your motion. Refs for Keller, et al.?

BJ
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BJ

As much as I am disappointed by the failure of leadership to stand up to the ridiculousness of this culture’s moral decline, it really is like God to use senior citizen florist types to shame the powerful secular elites. I suppose when a small town baker who stands for God’s truth overcomes by the Spirit the current cultural stench, God will get the glory. After all, they did not have the money and influence of the Christian power brokers to back them, just the power of God. Then the Christian power brokers will have to repent and learn that they… Read more »

BJ
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BJ

Let’s try that last sentence again:

“Praise God for His continued use of the weak to display His glory!”

timothy
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timothy

Thank you for this story and your example.

I have prayed for and will continue to pray for Baronelle Stutzman.

timothy
Guest
timothy

@BJ

Amen.

Drew
Guest
Drew

I have to come to Rob Slane’s defense here. As he said, this was a great post with the exception of Doug’s comment on Ukraine. I believe Doug should explain his position on this more because as evil as gay mirage and abortion are, so is unjustifiable war.

Drew
Guest
Drew

and to be fair to Doug, perhaps Obama should have done more, but I’m not convinced yet.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Amen, Doug! (Except for the part about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. You do know that everyone has admitted that there was no invasion, right?)

RFB
Guest
RFB

Drew, Without defending “unjustifiable war”, that is a more difficult and debatable circumstance than the things that are “bright lines” in the Word of God. Again, without contention, and fraternally, there are things that God has made very clear, and these things are usually the fodder for scriptural gnat stranglers looking to justify said behavior. On the other hand, just war theory (and speaking as a participant in a past war), while not “arcane”, is something not defined as clearly. All those in Adam die, so even in a less than absolutely just war, nothing changes but the timing of… Read more »

katie
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katie

Puzzles! I hope this euphemism catches on.

John
Guest
John

Regarding those who want a Tim Keller reference –just do a search on YouTube for Tim Keller veritas forum or any of the other hundred keller videos. As awesome as Keller is( and I do think he is eXceptionally gifted) he has a habit of not addressing the sinful – ness of homosexuality. He likes to use the phrase “not good for human flourishing” . I know he thinks it’s a sin , but he is very nuanced in his responses .

John
Guest
John

For those who want a specific reference to the Tim Keller comments .. I found this online. Anything by Robert Gagnon regarding homosexuality is gold. Hope this clarifies . http://www.robgagnon.net/TimKellerHomosexuality.htm

kathy
Guest

This from Baronelle’s website:

“There have been many requests asking how to contribute to our defense fund. We have set up a PayPal account for those who wish to support us.” (Paypal button at http://www.arlenesflowers.com)

“You can also go into any Key Bank and make a donation or mail your donation directly to Arlene’s Flowers Defense Fund, 1177 Lee Blvd., Richland, WA 99352”

“Thank you, you are greatly appreciated.”

Andrew Lohr
Member

Ya don’t have to pledge allegiance to the flag of the whole country, but ya gotta pledge allegiance to–not just tolerate–the sins of a minority. You can burn the flag. Can you burn the cake, the flowers…?

timothy
Guest
timothy

A baker, a florist a duck-whistle maker, ain’t that just like our God.

Barry
Guest
Barry

Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners (prostitutes). Is it morally significant that he didn’t prepare the meal? What does it mean to “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you” and “if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matt. 5:44, 47. Refusing service to homosexuals may be easier that befriending them, but that’s not what the gospel is about. Evangelism begins by building bridges of friendship with unbelievers. Jesus understood that. I’m not sure we do. Winning court cases and legislative battles seldom results in… Read more »

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

I’ve often wondered what would happen if a anti-death penalty pharmacist was ordered by the state to dispense lethal injection drugs.

Mike Mann
Guest
Mike Mann

Thank you Doug for mirroring my concerns but writing them so much more eloquently than I could. I have preached against the error of “tolerance” for decades. The practitioners of this evil tolerate anything but intolerance. Now that you mention it, I think Jesus specifically warned us of this.

BJ
Guest
BJ
BJ
Guest
BJ

@Barry You have this wrong on soooo many levels. First of all, this elderly florist was great friends with this customer and served them numerous times before the refusal to do the wedding. So yes befriend, but celebrate sin, never! Jesus never did and never would. Maybe read some of the other things Jesus said and did regarding sin. Perhaps He should have befriended the money leeches at the temple instead of beating them. It would have been more Christ-like. Secondly, Jesus was friends with the folks who were ostracized by the community. He did not try to befriend those… Read more »

BJ
Guest
BJ

@Barry

My apologies, one portion of my post disappeared.

Thirdly, you are correct that winning court battles does not change the heart of a person, but in this case the court battle is being pursued by the homosexuals, not the Christian florist. Perhaps you should lecture them about “Jesus’s example has something to teach us.”

Job
Guest
Job

Barry,

In order to be a homosexual’s friend one must refuse him service (in relation to participation in or acknowledgement of his fake marriage).

Also, when referring to our enemies, why add the scare quotes?

Zachary Skrip
Member

for those looking for refs re Keller, just go to baylyblog.com and search for Tim Keller. You’ll find everything you need. About to take off and can’t do the footwork for you.

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

When you do get around to posting on Ukraine I hope you show more than your sympathies since sympathies are easily manipulated. I hope you show an awareness of the historical and strategic significance of Crimea and particularly Sevastopol to the Russian people, of the role of the US has played in the color revolutions around the world and in the Ukraine, of the provocative nature of a NATO puppet state installed on the Russian border, and of the danger involved in destabilizing a nuclear power.

Pastor Mike Harding
Guest

Thank you Doug. Powerful! I stood on the steps of our state government a few months ago with 50 other pastors defending our recent constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Most of these men were ordinary pastors of small to medium size churches. One black pastor who stood next to me said something profound, “Don’t compare your sin to my skin.” The legitimate quest for civil rights among the black community should not be compared to the gay agenda. It’s like comparing apples with bowling balls. Again, thank you! May we all be so courageous as bakers, florists, and photographers!

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

When every situation is a Marxist struggle of oppressor/oppressed then oppressed status is the coin of the realm. A progressive might easily mistake that pastor’s statement as a cynical defense of his political resources, having witnessed such turf wars on a regular basis. If that pastor considers himself oppressed in 21st century America then the progressive would be correct.

David Trounce
Guest
David Trounce

John, and others. Thanks for the Keller background. Here is the worrying thing in the way Keller speaks: Keller himself isn’t present. He talks about the churches position and what the bible says, but that is a very different – and guarded – thing. He puts the statements of others up for discussion which any athiest Prof. might also do without actually getting Keller on the table for discussion. Guarded, clever, perhaps unconscious, but also disappointing.

RFB
Guest
RFB

Meanwhile, the academy is busy churning out additional “Disciples”…their word, not mine.

If you call LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM a word.

If you were writing satire you could not do better than this.

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

“Islamic imams make headlines for proclaiming what they believe. Christian theologians and pastors make headlines for announcing what they doubt or no longer believe. …

In Europe, Islam comes across as streetwise and assertive. Mosques are full and thriving, the anchors of growing communities. Churches are wan, empty, scandal-ridden, and irresolute.”

http://theweek.com/articles/540727/next-religious-revival-west-islamic

Frances McGlone
Guest
Frances McGlone

I would consider everyone as one.considering . We all love as one.

Jim Kerr
Guest

“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.”

Exactly so. And refusing to serve a Grand Kleegle of the KKK is illegal; just as refusing to “celebrate iniquity” is–if by “celebrating iniquity” you mean refusing your public service to the gay public.

RFB
Guest
RFB

Mr. Kerr,

The question is not a matter of legality, but something much more fundamental: “a fixed standard of right and wrong…[according to]…God’s revealed Word in Scripture”.

Refusing to “celebrate iniquity” is better understood as speaking of those who have been given over to a “…debased mind to do what ought not to be done…they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

God says:

1. Its wrong.

2. Do not approve of it.

Being forced to says its good is wrong, regardless of its legality.

Rex Lex is an important principle in understanding legalities.

Justin
Guest
Justin

Thanks Doug. First time reader of your blog. Thanks for articulating what I probably couldn’t…but pray I can as I learn about how to speak on this issue in a Biblical and winsome way. I want to stay on the field even if they try to kick me off…