I was recently asked how the radical ethic taught by Jesus — if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two — relates to baking a wedding cake for a same sex mirage ceremony. And then shortly after that, I saw the meme off to the right floating around somewhere, and thought that it was perhaps time to shine my little flashlight, one of those two battery jobs, on this particular exegetical funny business.
The first thing to deal with is the very glib equation of floral arrangements, wedding cake baking, and photography with carrying a Roman soldier’s bag two miles instead of one. Back in the day, everyone who saw that civilian carrying the bag would know that the civilian had been pressed into service, and further, there is no sin involved in carrying a bag. The law allowed the Roman soldier to make someone carry his pack for a mile, no more. When the follower of Christ went the second mile, this was a means of assuming the center, taking control of the situation.
When Jesus healed the ear of Malchus, He was doing precisely this sort of thing. This armed entourage came out to arrest Him, and Jesus quietly assumed command of it. What Jesus was teaching His disciples was a way — everything else being equal — of assuming the center. When Jesus stood before Pilate, bound and beaten, He was in control of the situation, and Pilate was not. Pilate was the one who got scared.
But nobody thinks that this teaching of Christ means that there is never a point of simple resistance. For example, Jesus simply refused to answer Herod at all. Herod wanted Jesus to do a trick. Why didn’t Jesus apply His own teaching here and do two tricks?
Before counting how many, one or two, we need to reflect for a moment on the nature of the thing being demanded.
If someone demands that you deny Christ, your duty is not to deny the Lord twice. By this reasoning, Peter would have been an exceptional disciple the night of Christ’s betrayal. He denied Him three times! No one believes that if Roman law required a pinch of incense be offered to the genius of the emperor then your religious duty before God would be to offer two pinches, or better yet, a fistful. And who thinks that when the sackbut sounded in ancient Babylon, the duty of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was to starting bobbing up and down like crazy, falling down before the great image more than anyone else there.
Who would pay any attention to a meme that showed a young Quaker walking into boot camp? “And if they conscript you for four years, sign up for an extra four-year hitch.”
As I have already written, this issue is entirely and completely over a demand for approval. The homo-jihad is not demanding that we agree to function in the same economy together with them. We are more than willing to do that. Rather, they are demanding — not suggesting — that identification of their perversion with sin be made against the law. This includes everyone, everywhere, and it includes pulpits. So when when they say “that would never happen,” it should be pointed out that Christians are starting to get smart. We don’t believe anything you say anymore.
So they are demanding that on such occasions where our participation in this same economy becomes tantamount to approval of the sin, and consequently a violation of our conscience, that we be required to violate our conscience. Their lusts trump our conscience.
They have already decided what the public conscience must be like, and they are prepared to enforce it. So take this sentence for a prime example:
“When the society at large has determined that ______________ is a violation of the community standard, then a private citizen may not violate that standard by __________________.”
Now do you agree with that sentiment? Notice — before you agree — that I conveniently put in blank spots so that you couldn’t get your partisan frenzy on prematurely. You don’t know what phrases I am going to put in there. If you agree with it in order to justify the current homo-frenzy, the current two-minute homo-hate, then what shall you do when I then say, “No, actually I was talking about ‘race-mixing’ and ‘opening up his private restaurants to whites and blacks together'”?
When we preach the gospel, if we are to preach it the way it was preached by the apostles, our message will be “repent and believe.” But these are verbs that require a direct object in order to make any sense at all. Repent of what? Believe in what? The message of the Christian faith is incoherent unless it is repent of your sins, which includes homosexual sins, and believe in Jesus, who summons you to a life of discipleship, which includes sexual discipleship. You cannot outlaw a message of “repent and believe” without outlawing biblical Christianity, which our tolerance cops are well on the way toward doing.
This is why the professions that glorify an event — that make it look good and seem like a real celebration — are in the forefront of this battle. We are talking about glory, and since same sex unions are lame, they need everyone to applaud enthusiastically. This is the only way to compensate for being so lame. Just one dissenter wrecks the effect, and so the kind of effect they want is the kind you can see in the stands at North Korean missile parades. I have never seen any protesters at those. Such unanimity! Like oil in Aaron’s beard.
This entire sexual fracas is a three-dimensional, real time instance of God’s reductio ad absurdum, one that He is running on secularism. The reason is straightforward. Secularism is incoherent, like a plane made up of spherical cubes. What has our tolerant state done? Well, they have outlawed discrimination. They are intolerant of intolerance, which means in effect the only intolerance they will tolerate is their own, and this on the condition that nobody ever admits out loud what they are actually doing. They have outlawed discrimination, period. The only problem is that law is instantiated discrimination. Law is essentially discriminatory, and is that which defines which group is in and which group is out. The only question is which group will be in and which out. There is no possibility of having a law against discrimination that does not itself discriminate.
The old Jim Crow laws discriminated against blacks, but at least everybody recognized what they were doing. If confronted about it, they would acknowledge that this was in fact the point. Our new laws are a toxic mixture of this same despotic impulse along with high levels of epistemic confusion. They must discriminate, but refuse to ever admit that this is what they are doing. But because laws are discriminatory, this is why the foundation of our nation’s laws must be the laws of God. And by “God” I mean the Father of the Lord Jesus.
This is the first stone of that theocratic libertarianism I mentioned in a previous post. Jesus is Lord is the fundamental Christian confession, and this means Lord of Heaven and earth. His realm extends far beyond the confines our hearts. We need salvation, desperately, and if we yearn for salvation without a Savior, then we are wanting something that never has been and can never be.
And so we have gotten to the point where the few remaining sincere liberals have to be deeply humiliated by the behavior of their homo-homies. They have become what they have always professed to detest, and this is a cause of some consternation to the sincere liberals I mentioned a moment ago, all eight of them. But I bet a clever graphic design guy could make an exclamation point for those COEXIST bumper stickers out of some lynched evangelical florist. That should fix everything. And if the clever graphic design guy didn’t want to design something like that . . . well, let’s just make him, shall we?
I’ve read nothing better on this subject. Thanks.
Thank you Pastor.
Prior to your teaching, I would have been left defenseless against that ‘argument by verse’ and been left with a vague determination that things where very wrong with no way to respond in a way that clearly showed Christian doctrine applied to real-time social arguments.
God Bless you.
Nicely reasoned argument, but what is a same sex mirage ceremony? ;)
Genius. Pure Genius
Great stuff, this. I understand how the evangelical can easily feel guilted into the “two cakes” conclusion, but it doesn’t hold water against clear exegesis.
This is the struggle coming at us, the next great persecution.
And here I thought that Jesus didn’t ever mention homosexuality because it just wasn’t important to him. Who knew it was there in Matthew the whole time?
Aaron, Jesus didn’t have to mention homosexuality. If you will recall, Jesus and God are one and the same and God made the laws regarding homosexuality. Jesus never mentioned pedophilia either – or bigamy but I’ll just bet you aren’t in favor of those things (but then again…). However, if you are looking for God’s blessing on homosexuality, I’m sure that you will find it in your own mind.
Jesus said quite a lot about homosexuality to Moses.
Hey there, Melody. We’re actually playing on the same team here. I was merely marking the inconsistency of a movement that has for years insisted that Jesus has nothing to say concerning homosexuality that is all of a sudden finding wedding cakes for gays in the Gospels. To maintain both of these positions is quite a hermeneutical trick, but it is unadvised as it tends toward destroying souls.
Absolutely love this piece. Thanks for the edification.
Melody: I think Aaron is being sarcastic :-) He is commenting that it’s often said that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, except when someone discovers something he said which promotes their point of view, when suddenly… he did!
@melody, Thanks for that. I encounter the “Jesus never mentioned homosexuality” argument quite a bit. These bits of wisdom are important. The intent of the two-cakes meme is not to engage in a search for the truth, but to shut up Christians by disarming them using their own Bible. The tactic has worked (popularly) for too long. I am sure God has some artists who can do work in countering and disarming this stuff via the visual arts and advance the gospel as a side-effect of deepening Scriptural principles. When we run into their work, it is incumbent upon us… Read more »
Using the word lynch so liberally considerably detracts from your point and suggests you don’t really understand what you’re talking about.
Aaron, please forgive me for misinterpreting your comments. Thanks all for your graciousness.
Unfortunately, your exegesis of Matthew 5 doesn’t hold water either. There is a blatant difference between something that is clearly taught by Scripture to be wrong — denying Christ – and something that is NEVER taught to be wrong in Scripture — performing an act of kindness or entering into a business transaction with someone with whom you disagree. You’re making a false analogy and as a result adding to the Scripture. You also add to Scripture by basically declaring your own interpretations as factual. Where does the Scripture explain that Jesus was commanding people to take control of the… Read more »
Although I could have done without what to me sounds like a harsh, condescending tone in places, I appreciate the argument presented here and how it’s helping me think through this difficult subject. Nevertheless, I can’t help but read pieces like this and sometimes feel like I just conveniently found a loophole to get out of obeying Jesus’ outrageous commands.
Yeah, like when Jesus extremely lovingly says to the woman caught in adultery, “I disapprove of adultery, but since you don’t agree, I’ll get you two a room so you don’t get caught next time.” At least I think that’s what He said. Or something like that.
@Dan We need to be concerned about our ability to witness to those who aren’t Christians. How far do we take this sort of quasi-biblical thinking? Do I stand by as people slaughter babies and stay quiet in fear of hurting my witness? Do I stand by in silence as pro-gay activists threaten and promote burning down a pizza place for a perceived thought crime? Or how about when my fellow brothers and sisters have their businesses and livelihoods destroyed by activists, because they refuse to go across the street? I don’t want to hurt my witness, so go ahead… Read more »
Ree, your comment is what is known as a non-sequitur. In the example you give, if you read the whole story, Jesus appears to cause some introspection on the part of the folks that wanted to stone her to death for her sin, which causes them to leave. Then Jesus asks her “Doesn’t anyone condemn you?” — addressing the fact that her condemners all had departed. She replies that no one does. Jesus then says “Neither do I” before telling her to go and stop sinning. So we see Jesus apparently condemn hypocrisy, show compassion to the woman, state that… Read more »
It’s not obvious that carrying a soldier’s bag is not a sin. It depends on what’s in the bag and what the soldier intends to use it for. If he’s carrying lashes to whip him some slaves, then you probably shouldn’t aid that activity. For that matter, it’s not obvious that baking a wedding cake for a sinful wedding is a sin. If it is, then Christians must refuse to bake cakes for all sinful weddings, such as remarriages after illegitimate divorces. You’ve never actually articulated the line between where participation in a sin becomes a sin itself, and you… Read more »
Jesus was also God in the flesh. So I will give Him some leeway I won’t take for myself.
Furthermore, Jesus spoke those words to the religious leaders — not non-believers. That’s a big difference.
And be concerned about one’s witness isn’t quasi-biblical thinking. We are commanded to be aware of how are actions influence our witness.
The issue isn’t people “with whom we disagree,” as though it’s a debate club and we don’t want to share our sandwich with the other team.
The issue is people actively engaging in a specific sinful behavior at the precise point at which they’re requesting our help, and our unwillingness to facilitate that. Knowingly facilitating another’s sin is not specifically the same thing as explicitly denying Christ, but it is equally wrong, and therefore equally logically abusive to suggest that it’s the equivalent of walking an extra mile.
If someone forces you to murder or rape someone, then do it twice. If some one forces you to celebrate a murder or rape fest by baking a cake for it, then bake two. If someone forces you to sin, even by having you participate in the celebration of sin (e.g. with baking a cake), then you must obey Christ the word Incarnate and in your sin disobey God’s word twice. If someone forces you to not worry about believing an interpreting that twists God’s word so that it is self contradictory, then you must be concerned and simultaneously not… Read more »
This would be better if I had time to edit it. I’m having to cut it short and run so apologies in advance for what’s left unclear. The only problem is that law is instantiated discrimination. Law is essentially discriminatory, and is that which defines which group is in and which group is out. The only question is which group will be in and which out. There is no possibility of having a law against discrimination that does not itself discriminate. Just for the record, this is exactly how my constitutional law class began when we came to equal protection… Read more »
And Matt, the issue isn’t a sinful wedding, it’s lying about whether a wedding is taking place, and being complicit in that lie. You might not consider that distinction significant, but at the very least it is significant in the conscience of the person in question. I’m not sure your opinion on whether something is a big enough moral deal to care about, entirely satisfies the issues surrounding someone else acting against his own conscience. Carrying a soldier’s bag when the soldier may or may not be intending to do something sinful after he gets to his destination is significantly… Read more »
Dan, There was a link posted in the comments here about a florist in Washington who refused to provide flowers for a “gay wedding” ceremony. One of the men involved had been a regular customer of hers for years and the florist knew throughout the time she served him as a customer of his sexual proclivities. She was non-discriminatory toward him as a person, regardless of her disapproval of his behavior. He says he considered her a friend, so clearly he had been the recipient of her kindness and compassion. But when she refused his business on this occasion, he… Read more »
It is quasi-biblical. The bible commands us not to sin, not worry about our witness. If we avoid sin, we glorify God. If we merely worry about what the secularists think about us, we end up doing stupid things.
As to Jesus addressing the religious leaders, so is Doug. But if your insinuation is that Jesus would have tolerated the same behavior from someone merely because they are non-believers, you are fooling yourself.
But you did not answer the questions. How far do we take this thinking?
And to add to what BJ just said, when the Bible does command us to be concerned about our witness, it’s in the context of telling us to avoid even the appearance of sin. Refusing to participate in or, as Pastor Wilson has been saying, to “glorify” sin, is not compromising our witness. In fact, it’s exactly the contrary.
Brian, et al… I find it interesting that people are responding simply with their deep-seated passion to be allowed to discriminate and not to what I originally posted. I’ve never actually said where I stand on the “cake” issue. What I originally posted was a criticism of the author’s flawed exegesis and his sarcastic tone. Ironically, no one has addressed those items. The debate about whether or not a baker should bake a cake is an entirely separate debate that cannot be argued on the basis of the original article because it is so flawed. Furthermore, that debate is a… Read more »
Truth in love [does not equal] Truth with niceness. In articles like this one, Doug functions as a surgeon, causing great pain in order to try and save the life of the patient. Then people like Dan come along and ask, “did you have to cut so deep? couldn’t you have left more of the _________, the cancer was barely touching that part? wasn’t there a non-invasive way to get at the disease? your bedside manner is lacking, the patient won’t like you if you aren’t nicer about the way you treat them…”. What gets lost here isn’t just the… Read more »
@Brian Brown Actually, HOW we live good lives is part of our witness. Peter said to be ready to give an answer for our faith with gentleness and respect. He said to live such good lives that people glorify God. Same concept from Jesus — let your light shine. There’s a “how” to that as well — one that goes beyond self-righteousness. Jesus also told His followers to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves when He sent them out. If you ask me, the way Christians have handled this issue has been anything but wise and… Read more »
@ Moor, Sorry, but “homo-homies” and “homo-jihads” — that’s not love and that’s not surgical. Painful truth can be spoken in a careful and loving manner. Been there, done that. And what I tell people is this: if you enjoy speaking painful truth — which Doug very much seems to — you aren’t speaking in love. It’s painful to the speaker who loves is they have to deliver painful truth. Have you ever thought of the pain of calling a gay person to celibate lifestyle? What you’re asking them to give up? A lifelong partner. Children. To grow old and… Read more »
Dan, You wrote Brian on the last post, but I think you were addressing my response. Perhaps I am wrong, so let me know if so. You criticize our response, but you still have not answered my questions. I’ll repost. Do I stand by as people slaughter babies and stay quiet in fear of hurting my witness? Do I stand by in silence as pro-gay activists threaten and promote burning down a pizza place for a perceived thought crime? Or how about when my fellow brothers and sisters have their businesses and livelihoods destroyed by activists, because they refuse to… Read more »
Dan, You said, I find it interesting that people are responding simply with their deep-seated passion to be allowed to discriminate and not to what I originally posted. I’ve never actually said where I stand on the “cake” issue. What I originally posted was a criticism of the author’s flawed exegesis and his sarcastic tone. Ironically, no one has addressed those items. But your original post said, “There is a blatant difference between something that is clearly taught by Scripture to be wrong — denying Christ – and something that is NEVER taught to be wrong in Scripture — performing… Read more »
Doug, Any comment on D G Harts recent comments on this?
” What you’re asking them to give up? A lifelong partner. Children. To grow old and die alone.” Actually this is the opposite of what many in the Christian community are saying. We are saying that you do not have to be enslaved to sin. That there is deliverance and redemption. That you can have a lifelong partner of the opposite sex, and children, and to grow old with someone who complements you in every way. To live how God intended you to live. The ones who are unloving are the ones who claim that they have no choice but… Read more »
If you want to see why Christians lost this little piece of the culture war, My retrograde old ass. This party is just getting started. The U.S. (and Christendom) has divided into two cultures–one as old as Babylon, the other Christian. We are not the same people and events are making it clear that neither will abide the other.The Lord will make the differences greater and He will drive home the point Your pablum and pandering in the face of blatant sin is a large reason why it has gained such a foothold in our land. To continue your kowtowing… Read more »
Dan, I don’t have the consistency issue since I discussed sinful or lawless behaviors (e.g. murder and rape). Suggest you try a reread and try to consider more carefully what has already been said. Also recommend you think about implication through good and necessary consequence regarding behavior that knowingly participates in celebrating bad behavior of homosex, rape/murder that would occur at homosex weddings or rape/murder fests. Besides the epistemics of logical implication when applying Scripture, of course philosophy inseparably is involved since we are speaking about ethics and the metaphysics of the nature of sinful behavior sex and marriage etc.… Read more »
@Dan: Quite to the contrary, labels like “homo-jihad” are indeed very surgical. What they are not is “small”, but it is entirely possible to strike surgically at a large area. What Doug does, as best I can tell, is take aim at accommodating Christians (who fail to understand how their friendly-fire often serves to wound allies while ignoring the enemy) along with the apostles of the world. In doing so, he is often accused of wounding refugees, but I have yet to see the evidence. What I have seen instead is a lot of the kind of finger-wagging that Christians… Read more »
And Matt, the issue isn’t a sinful wedding, it’s lying about whether a wedding is taking place, and being complicit in that lie. No, the issue was entirely about participating in sin, from the original post. For that matter, cakes don’t carry messages in and of themselves. A wedding cake is just a cake at a wedding, and there’s no reason you can’t use one you bought from Wal-Mart the day of. The idea that the baker of a cake is complicit in a ceremony is the one that needs to be proven, not just asserted. And if it is… Read more »
Having helped make cakes for weddings, transport them, and set them up at receptions, I can’t imagine how a person in a small shop could do all this without being involved in the celebratory nature of the event. Pretty painful if the nature of the event (not the persons) clearly violate God’s Law and their conscience. Why would this not matter? What is the compelling argument that justifies the state requiring a person to practice their vocation in a way that causes them harm?
Matt, ‘And if it is true, then you need to figure out where that ends,…’ Why? What assumptions lead to the state needing to mediate, or at least reserve the right to mediate, all the details of life? Where is that in our federal or state constitutions? The first amendment placed the burden on the state to allow religious freedom except when there was a compelling argument to limit it. Now you would place the burden on the people to prove their need for the freedom. Today in the marketplace, tomorrow in the church, next week in the home, and… Read more »
Quoting Moor: What Doug does, as best I can tell, is take aim at accommodating Christians (who fail to understand how their friendly-fire often serves to wound allies while ignoring the enemy) along with the apostles of the world. In doing so, he is often accused of wounding refugees, but I have yet to see the evidence. What I have seen instead is a lot of the kind of finger-wagging that Christians use to try and internally police a brand of niceness that undermines the prophetic voice and downplays the Holiness of God. I accuse you openly of neither, and… Read more »
Dan, I am willing to bet the farm that gay, celibate Christ glorifying believers would be welcomed with loving arms to anyone’s church on this blog and I am very certain into Doug’s. You are the one being judgmental, now. Watch that witness. Since you have refused to answer my questions I will just take it to assume that your words were meant to be critical of Doug and not thoughtful. Otherwise you would have worked through the implications of your position. Just saying that we need to worry about the opinions of others towards us without any limit seems… Read more »
@Dan The “group” here, by which we might both call some of the regular posters, is not light on love. They are perhaps light on some of the rhetoric you would like to see in order to validate their sensitivity, but I can assure you (to the extent that’s meaningful given the fact that I don’t know any of them personally, and only know what I’ve seen them write over my time here) that most/many of them are both aware of the things you’ve mentioned (the cost of discipleship as it relates to SSA) and tender-hearted toward the refugees of… Read more »
Very well said!
I am willing to bet the farm that gay, celibate Christ glorifying believers would be welcomed with loving arms to anyone’s church on this blog and I am very certain into Doug’s. You are the one being judgmental, now. Watch that witness. Since you have refused to answer my questions I will just take it to assume that your words were meant to be critical of Doug and not thoughtful. Otherwise you would have worked through the implications of your position. Just saying that we need to worry about the opinions of others towards us without any limit seems to… Read more »
Give to the one who ASKS — there is no force involved there. No judgement involved Dan? Will you give $20.00 to the crack-whore who needs her next fix? Of course not. Its bad for her and to give her that money would be to help her to sin. Here, you (I hope) concede the importance of judgment in the application of a maxim from Mathew 5. By what principle is Pastor Wilson’s urging that we apply similar judgment when confronting this evil generation? Will you preside over the ‘wedding’? Will you say a ‘nice’ benediction ? Will you send… Read more »
How does one get from The Sermon on the Mount to St. Aquinas Just War Theory?