So the Supreme Court of New Mexico has determined that a wedding photographer does not have the right to decline a job shooting a homosexual wedding ceremony. This is obviously a hamfisted jackboot, to coin a phrase, but there are a few nuances that we believers have to work through. Because we have refused to distinguish sins from crimes, we are rapidly coming to the place where it is a criminal offense to act as though there is such a thing as sin at all.
First, the issue is not that Christians are acting like an economic transaction with a homosexual is spiritually defiling. It is not. If I had a hardware store, I would be happy to sell a hammer to a homosexual. I would be happy to sell a hammer to a homosexual couple who were going to use it to hammer up the crepe paper bunting at the reception. I don’t care. They give me ten bucks, I give them the hammer, and I am not contaminated by the exchange. If I sold them some cotter pins, I might feel an urge to explain them, but would be happy to sell them.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it. The apostle Paul teaches us explicitly that we are not entailed in the sin when we live in the same world with unbelievers, rub shoulders with them, and do business with them (1 Cor. 5:10). I think Christians should be happy to do business with homosexuals. No problemo, as we bilingual people say.
But doing business is not the issue here. Christian photographers, florists, caterers, etc. are absolutely right to refuse to do such events. And the reason for this is the reason these professions are being singled out in these court cases in the first place. This is not about economic exchange, but is rather about mandated social approval. The demand is we must all applaud.
And is the reason why photographers and florists are going to be at the center of this next round of fights. The homosexual agenda is not to make us do business with them. The point is to make us approve of them.
You see, a good wedding photographer’s job is to make the event glorious, to make it look good. His job is to make the couple look happy — when his God, his Bible, his church, his wife, and his conscience all tell them that they are unhappy and miserable by definition. When he does his job well, he adorns the event. In order for him to show up and adorn such an event as this, he has to violate his conscience in order to do so. The issue is not the camera, the issue is the celebration.Some Christians think we must be absolutely separate, and think that it would be morally problematic to sell them the hammer — for is that not “enabling” them? Well, yes it is, but the apostle Paul told us not to worry about enabling. He said that we had to draw the line at approving. This is why we must not fellowship with anyone who calls himself a brother and is living immorally (1 Cor. 5:11-13). To do that would communicate approval, Paul says we must not.
Now it also happens that I also believe that a Christian hardware store owner should have the legal right to refuse service to anybody. No shirt, no hammer. No girl, no hammer. If he is being over-scrupulous, as I think he is, I still think that he ought to be allowed to be that way in a free country. Christians could take different approaches on the hammer questions. But I don’t think there really are different approaches for us on the business of celebration.
Certain businesses that surround weddings are celebratory in their very nature, and people who are good at this sort of thing are good at entering into the celebrations of relative strangers who came to them asking them to “do” their event. Christians who are good at celebrating with their customers in this way are being told that it is mandatory for them to celebrate something that God has declared must never be celebrated. And that is why this is an issue.
But conduct a thought experiment. Suppose the photographers in question here lose on appeal (I trust that they will appeal), and they must either get out of photography or do homosexual weddings. Suppose further they figure out a way to do such weddings, do a competent job, while at the same time communicating the fact that they do not approve at all. Suppose that all the CDs of photo thumbnails that they deliver to their homosexual customers contain files of evangelistic tracts written for homosexuals, outlining the way of repentance and the gospel of grace.
Do you think there will be lawsuits designed to make them stop that form of testimony? You bet there will be, because the point is to force us all to approve. This homosexual agenda knows what their end game is. They will not rest until they are surrounded with the sounds of mandatory and universal applause.
A most relevant commentary. But the secular argument can’t be easily challenged because the game is fixed.
At the risk of sounding trite, it’s the three A’s.
Early on, it was about acceptance. Then it was approval. Now it’s applause.
I promise that insofar as I understand my motives, I am not being intentionally obstructionist! But I do struggle with this distinction. How would providing the bunting for the wedding be any different from providing the cake? Both are intended to celebrate the event. Both actions imply a willingness to contribute to a festive occasion. My problem with compelling the disapproving person to do business is that the precedent could come back to bite me. In other words, I might be okay with forcing the bakery to make a gay wedding cake, but I would not be okay with forcing… Read more »
The gray areas are where the Spirit brings wisdom case-by-case. Let the peace of Christ be the umpire.
I like that.
Let the pictures reflect the event: cockeyed.
When the customer expects the product to be customized for them, individually, that’s when the discriminating seller should exercise his prejudices with explanation. Bunting and hammer sellers don’t usually need to know much about whom they serve. Yes, they can hope it’s to a good end, but who knows?
I have a janitorial supervisor friend serving kids and teacher of a public school district. He feels good keeping germs away from them. But he knows they’re getting other cancers in those rooms. But butts are butts.
I think their agenda includes both the forcing of approval and the destruction of the church. The Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church is their great social enemy (certain 2K theories notwithstanding).
“If I sold them some cotter pins, I might feel an urge to explain them, but would be happy to sell them.” I see what you did there.
@Jill – First, no business should be forced to sell their goods against their wishes, even if said wishes are immoral and sinful in nature, since this is a violation of property rights. Second, with regards to photographers and cake makers, there is an artistic expression and personal nature to the service they provide. By providing these services they are approving of these ceremonies. For example, if you saw a minister who was officiating a gay mirage, then you would assume that this minister would approve of such a farce. Why then would you not assume the same for the… Read more »
The cotter pin thing, I get it now. Well played. I also have wondered about what Jill Smith said. What about people who get divorced for unbiblical reasons and remarry?
I had an interesting twitter exchange last night with a female ” LGBT ally” on this very issue. Among her rebuttals, she brought up Jesus hanging out with sinners and divorce.
One of my replies included – I doubt Jesus would photograph a divorce party.
Oh man…cotter-pins…so good. What’s next-a pdf file explaining the proper use of Legos?
So is now the time to create a group, People United to Peacefully Petition Congress to Redress the Grievance that Non-Repenting Homosexuals are Not Executed by Stoning, as We Have Freedom of Speech to Advocate, Freedom of the Press to Publish, Freedom of Uninhibited Exercise of Religion to Preach, and Freedom of Uninhibited Religious Establishments to Establish Establishments for? (Take an extreme but obviously lawful stand to provide cover for moderates.)
Jill, I agree with David. There’s a big difference between simple business transactions of goods and even some services and providing wedding photography. There’s a reason why you need to be careful about who you hire to shoot your wedding. It’s not just about harnessing the capabilities of the camera. It’s about telling the story. A wedding photographer is a salesman for the event. He confirms and markets the spirit of the event to posterity.
Thanks Doug for the helpful distinctions. How about a Christian photographer who celebrates marriage by capturing the ugliness of a homosexual “wedding?” Maybe that’s just a thought experiment because I don’t know enough about wedding photography to know how one would do that, but my guess is that he would get sued for that too. And on the cotter pin thing – I was recently doing some pipefitting a long way from a pipe fitting supply store and ended up with a dearth of err…females. And for the first time that I can remember, I found myself wishing I had… Read more »
Selling bunting vs. selling cake. To Jill– I don’t think it is so much, as you said, “Both are intended to celebrate the event.” The point is not whether the thing you sell is intended by the purchaser to celebrate the event, but rather whether you the seller participate in celebrating the event. The wedding photographer is expected to produce photos that are celebratory, making the photographer involve himself in the celebration itself. So also is even the baker who creates the swastika using his/her skills specifically for the presentation of the swastika. But the generic hammer, bunting, and cake… Read more »
This really sad day for the homosexual community will be when the legal cases are won and approval by the vast majority is achieved. It will be sad because they will realize that the deep sadness and soul trouble experience by many (if not all) in that community is mostly the result of sin, not lack of approval.
I want an 8-bit version of my avatar.
That is all.
I think Drew Taylor nailed it.
I am a wedding musician. I have struggled with this questions, but I have come to the conclusion that for me personally, I will play at a gay wedding if I am asked. I am offering a service. I go and play music at events. I am not going to celebrate with the couple, I am going because they are paying me, as blunt as that sounds. I have played for hundreds of weddings between straight couples where God is dishonored, and I have also played for weddings for the couples have been divorced and are remarrying. I’ve played weddings… Read more »
Businesses that serve the public cannot deny services based on race, religion or gender. You don’t want to photograph gay weddings? Don’t be wedding photographer. That simple.
Nice use of I Corinthians 5:10. Not so good a use of 5:11-13; you are reading something into the text of I Corinthians 5 to find a distinction between “enabling” and “approving,” ie hammers and photographers. Nowhere, from what I can tell, has it been claimed that the homosexual couple asking for the Christian photographer claimed to be born again believers, so Paul’s prohibition in vv. 11-13 doesn’t apply. Of course, I agree that it’s a travesty of individual liberties to force any business owner to serve (or not serve) whom they will, but the badness of the other side… Read more »
Avf, what gender is gay marriage?
Sorry, meany “afv.”
Thank you for this article, Doug. For years I’ve struggled with issues of conscience regarding the weddings I photograph. The distinction between homosexual weddings and other types of God-dishonoring marriages, I think, is quite clear. Still, I struggle with where to draw the line on other forms of sin with regard to re-marriage, pagan marriage, fornication, etc… At times, it’s enough for me to consider quitting this line of business. I don’t know. You’ve done a great job of explaining why it is impossible for a believer to photograph a homosexual wedding in good conscience. To do so is an… Read more »
My wife and I were discussing this last night. All of your other examples are still marriages, whereas the gay “marriage” isn’t.
not sure if that helps you out or not, but I would add that to the bowl of ingredients and see if you can bake something with it.
There is a caveat here. Some Christian photographers may have no problem with gay weddings. They may view it as an opportunity to witness to those involved or may even see their participation as simply a service with no approval attached. They should be free to do as their conviction leads (Romans 14).
I’m not going to re-hash what I’ve said in previous threads on the substance, but I have a couple of practical questions. 1. Any Christian photographer who doesn’t want to do a gay wedding (or, for that matter, any human resources officer who doesn’t want to hire Blacks), can come up with a million reasons not to that won’t get them in legal trouble. How about a simple, “I’m busy that day,” which may even be true? So this isn’t really about a Christian photographer simply not wanting to do gay weddings; this is about a Christian photographer who went… Read more »
What is really sad is how this ruling destroys freedom!
People of certain religions tell people that they will kill them unless they convert. As with that, this court says that the people of New Mexico must basically love sin or stop exercising their right to own their own business, make money, or not make money. Convert or die in other words. It’s disgusting! This better be appealed and overturned!
This is the exchange, via email between the defendant and the plaintiff: Ms. Willock’s Inquiry: We are researching potential photographers for our commitment ceremony on September 15, 2007 in Taos, NM. This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we’d like to receive pricing information. Thanks Ms. Elaine Huguenin’s Response: Hello Vanessa, As a company, we photograph traditional weddings, engagements, seniors, and several other things such as political photographs and singer’s portfolios. -Elaine Ms. Willock’s Follow-on Question: Hi Elaine, ….I’m a bit confused, however, by the wording of your response. Are you saying… Read more »
OK, so Ms. Willock is a bit of a drama queen. That doesn’t change the fact that had Ms. Huguenin’s first email simply stated, “We aren’t available that day,” there would have been no offense given or taken, and no subsequent lawsuit. Further, that would have been a truthful response; if she doesn’t do gay weddings, then she’s not available. Huguenin deserved to lose for sheer stupidity.
This is the distinction about not forcing people to behave in ways that they think are immoral. What many people fail to grasp is that it is wrong to make people behave in a way that they think is immoral, even if they are incorrect about this. You must not force others to blaspheme. // Jehovah’s witnesses are incorrect about blood transfusions, yet it is well recognised that they are free to refuse them, further it is immoral to force them to have them. // Everyone wants to assess whether they think something is immoral and then force others to… Read more »
In a related way, they won’t be targeting doctors for refusing to treat their pneumonia, or heart attack; they will go after those who decline fertility treatment, or sex modifying surgery.
This was good. Starbucks is apparently a tougher one. Should we shun them and get our drinks from a business that does not corporately promote approval of a human behavior for which God promises to destroy a nation? Or is this just “buying a hammer” and not matter?
I think I must be the only person on this board who has no idea what a cotter pin is. I have found people’s comments helpful. Julie, in particular, raised good questions as a wedding singer in that I think that role can be more central to a wedding than that of a photographer. A singer performing religious songs at a wedding seems to me to have a quasi-ministerial role. Even so, I don’t think you can offer yourself as a singer whose services are commercially available in the marketplace if there are legally protected categories for whom you will… Read more »
Jill, This country is built in large part around the idea of allowing freedom, including religious freedom, for everyone. As citizens, therefore, being persecuted for our religious beliefs, it is entirely within our rights, and even our civil duty, to object as strongly and effectually as we know how. As citizens of heaven, any persecution that cannot be rightly avoided should be endured as befits a follower of Christ, but that does not mean we should not attempt to convince people of the sin they are committing, even if they’re committing it to us. (By which I mean primarily the… Read more »
Freedom of religion is not absolute-just ask any person whose religion condones polygamy. As a secular society, we (rightly) draw the line at religious practices that infringe on the rights of others. Claiming that a photographer at a wedding is giving some quasi blessing or endorsement of the couple is absurd. Is there a morality questionnaire that couples fill out so that the photographer ensures that she is not photographing couples who she deems sinners or ungodly? No, of course not…she’s only discriminating against one kind of couple, one kind of sin. Does she photograph atheists? Divorcees? Those who live… Read more »
*In Response to a friend pointing out this article* That’s a very interesting article & it’s something that Kathy & I have spent a lot of time thinking about. I can’t really believe that a couple would want someone to photograph for them if they had to force them to do it from the courts. I thnk the guys a little wacky when he says “no shirt no hammer, no girl no hammer” What does no girl no hammer mean? Does he really believe that in our society he could also keep people of a certain ethnicity out of his… Read more »
@Kim – ” As a secular society, we (rightly) draw the line at religious practices that infringe on the rights of others”
But it is OK to infringe on the rights of others as long as those rights are religiously motivated. You see for the longest time we were told that gay mirage should be supported because it does not infringe on anyone’s rights and we should not be imposing our morality on others. But here it is perfectly OK to impose our morality on others, since it is a morality we are OK with (in this case gay “rights”).
I don’t see how gay people Getting married infringed on anyone’s rights.
Kim, I think the answer would be that although gay marriage in itself might not infringe on anyone’s rights, the demand that Christians with moral scruples against it should nonetheless be made to appear to sanction it does infringe on their religious right to obey the dictates of conscience. I have realized by following this and other discussions that part of my problem understanding these moral scruples is that perhaps because of where I live (Los Angeles), perhaps because of my background (Canadian, Catholic, and pretty far out there on the left), I don’t get why people find SSM so… Read more »
Kim, you said that it is OK to violate the religious liberty of others to the point of taking their property by force if they refuse to abide by your morality.
I really didn’t say that, Dave. I questioned the reasoning behind the Christian argument for denying service to a gay couple. My point is that providing service to other “sinners” while denying service to gay couples is discrimination. If your religion prohibits the provision of services to sinners, then it should apply to all sinners, not just one group of sinners. Hard to argue that you “hate the sin and love the sinner” when it’s only homosexuality that is singled out.
Does anyone here think the Christian wedding photographer shouldn’t be providing her service to a couple if one of them was divorced? Is there anyone who will argue that a person who was previously divorced for reasons other than sexual immorality should not be permitted to be married in the church?
I struggle with understanding why Christians crusade against gay marriage while divorce, sex before marriage and cohabitation before marriage are so prolific. How can the LGBT community (and their allies) see the singling out of one “sin” above all others as anything other than hatred?
Why must my business, as an extension of myself, be forced to provide services for persons or businesses that I would never accept a paid position with? I (my business) has turned down business several times because of my objections to the activities of the requesting company or government entity. When I refused to develop a web-site for an astrologist I was even discriminating based on religious belief. I think it is time we recognize that these situations are revealing the assumptions of many that business (even when only a single worker) is just an extension of the state, and… Read more »
Kim, I understand what you’re saying, and I agree that the LGBT community has reason to perceive this focus on one sin as hateful. I think what I was trying to say in my last post is that many of us have trouble understanding why this sin seems to be so intensely loathsome and abominable to some Christians while other sins are not. Some messages I have read on Christian boards do seem to suggest a belief that God abominates homosexuality more than other sins. I have also read comments that the “ick factor” that people, especially guys, feel about… Read more »
Many people experience an “ick factor” when contemplating an interracial couple. Does that make interracial relationships immoral? i don’t find today’s society’s “ick factors” to be a compelling argument, especially since we know societal practices vary by time and culture. Sociologists point to the viewing of women as “less than” men as the reason for the overreaction some men have to homosexuality between males. Think about it…what is the most insulting thing you can say to a man? That he is feminine, right? Why is it insulting to be feminine? Because women are lower in society’s hierarchy. I find it… Read more »
Kim, a business should be free not to do business with divorced couples or or adulterous couples if it goes against their conscience. They should be free to do that. You want to force them to violate their conscience or pay the consequences. That is the difference.
Jesus didn’t mention lots of things, but the Word of God does. There is no difference between the two. Jesus is the Word made flesh. But even if we do use your standard, would it also be compelling to not that Jesus did not mention pedophilia, incest, or bestiality?
@Jill – “I think gays would be much less likely to target Christian wedding vendors in a gotcha if there was a little more kindness tossed into the mix.”
Did you notice the exchange between the lesbian woman and the Christian vendor that I posted. This was the only interaction between the two and the genesis of the lawsuit. Where in that exchange did the Christian vendor not show kindness? Where was any animus showed toward the lesbian?