Why Refusing to Serve A Gay Wedding Isn’t Necessarily Discrimination

Originally published July 1, 2015

Wow. The Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States ignited a firestorm of conflict, even between people who normally wouldn’t be up-in-arms over anything. And for good reason! Pro-same-sex marriage people are giddy, while most conservatives are worried that their conscience rights will soon be stripped down to even barer bones than they are now. The arguments are loud, and often angry, from both sides. Most Facebook posts have a new profile image that looks like it could have come straight from an episode of “My Little Pony”–paired with text that definitely could not.

I get it. It’s sort of like a really big, reeeeaaally important football game that’s tied in overtime. Each push forward gets one side closer to victory, and each setback could spell defeat. Except in this competition, nearly every single person in our country is on one side or the other. And it’s far, far more important than any football game could ever be, because each side feels that if they lose, basic rights are at stake.

But it doesn’t mean we have to hate each other. People are still people, and, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” And, really, no matter how strong your argument is, if you have hate in your voice when you say it, no one listens, anyway.

That’s not to say that there’s no right and wrong–or that we shouldn’t have strong opinions. Of course, I’m Catholic (which is why my blog’s not called the Kitchen Table Seventh Day Adventist or the Kitchen Table Hindu–you get the idea :-)…), and I do believe that marriage is a sacrament that God intended to unite one man and one woman in free, total, faithful, and life-giving love. I believe He designed each of our bodies, out of His love, with a meaning and a purpose, and that each person’s outward body is a reflection of that purpose, even when his or her inner feelings might conflict with that outward reality. So I’m on the anti- gay marriage side…BUT I don’t hate anybody. Honestly. I can’t think of a single person in this whole world that I hate. (I’m grateful for that.) And, if a member of my family, or one of my close friends, “came out” to me, I would see that as a sign that they needed more love and support, more care, and more encouragement, because it would mean that he or she had a very heavy cross to carry and a very hard road to walk.

So I thought I’d try saying what I think about all of this–with love. I thought I’d try saying it the way I would explain it if a really close friend “came out” and asked me what I thought…and I wanted to start with the discrimination argument about Christian businesses who refuse to serve gay weddings.

Now, this might sound weird, but, the way I see it, that’s not necessarily discrimination. See, discrimination is when you 1) treat someone differently from others AND 2) do it because of who they are. So, if a Chinese man came into my bakery and asked for a birthday cake, and I said, “No, sir–I can’t sell you a birthday cake because you’re Chinese,” that would definitely be discrimination, because both elements are true–I treated him differently, and I did it because of who he was. That’s discrimination.

BUT, if you’re a gay couple who comes into my bakery and asks for a wedding cake, and I refuse, it’s not the same. See, the REASON I’m not providing the service is actually not because you’re gay. (Stay with me here…)

If you’re a gay man, and I know you’re gay, and you come in and order a cake for your daughter’s birthday, I’ll bake you the most beautiful birthday cake you’ve ever seen.

If you’re a lesbian woman, and I’m a Christian florist, and you come into my shop and order a Mother’s Day bouquet for your mom, I’ll put everything I have into making her something she’ll love. I’ll serve you gladly and gratefully. You’re not asking for anything I can’t do, and my job is to serve you. I’d do my very best and say, “Thank you for your business. I hope she likes it! Come back soon!” and mean it with all my heart.

But if I’m a Christian baker, and you’re a gay man, and you come in to order a wedding cake for yourself and the man you plan to marry, you’ve just asked me not to try to please God. See, my faith teaches that homosexual intimacy is a mortal sin (a sin which can keep a person out of Heaven and cut off ALL of God’s grace in his or her soul, which can lead one even deeper into sin), just as it teaches that heterosexual intimacy with anyone other than a person’s Church-married husband or wife is a mortal sin. Not only that, but knowingly cooperating with or supporting mortal sin (such as by baking a cake or doing flowers for a gay wedding)…is also a mortal sin.

So, really, what you’re asking is for me to commit a mortal sin.

That’s why I can’t bake the cake. That’s why, I’m sorry, but I can’t put your flowers together. It’s not because you’re gay. If a heterosexual man walked in and asked me to bake a cake and tried to pay me with money I knew he’d stolen, I couldn’t do that, either. I’d treat him the very same way I’d treat a homosexual couple asking me to bake their wedding cake. I’d tell him no. Not because he’s heterosexual, but just because my faith teaches me it would displease God. That’s all.

So, see, really, it’s not necessarily discrimination. I’m not treating you differently than I would treat anyone else asking me to commit a mortal sin, and I’m not telling you no because of who you are. I’m not asking you to live by my faith, but I would really, really appreciate it if you would allow me to, without taking me to court for trying. There are plenty of bakers. There are plenty of florists. Why choose a Christian one if they believe your marriage is wrong?

There’s so much more to say, but I think that would be best left for another post. Until then, many blessings to you all–no matter how you “identify”!

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