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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Eats with Sinners: Bake the Cake; Go to the Wedding; Stand Firm on the Word.

By now it's an old question, but people are ready for a Christianity that does not fit the script.

During my "youth group years", I adamantly argued for why I could never attend a same-sex wedding ceremony, lest I give "tacit approval" to that which God condemned had.

I still sympathize this view and respect those who hold it.

This is not my view any longer.

So what changed?

For one, arguing for "tacit approval" ignores that people attend weddings and wedding receptions for all sorts of reasons, even if they don't totally agree with what's happening on stage or the beliefs and lifestyles of the bride or groom.

At bottom, we go because we love the person, we value our relationship, and because they invited us.

Second, I met godly people who believed marriage was the exclusive union of man and woman, as I do and as Jesus taught in Matthew 19, but who had different views on the subject.

These brothers and sisters were unwilling to put the slippery standard of "tacit approval" before real people and relationships, and the right they had earned to speak Christ into the lives of their gay friends.

Indeed, we all know Jesus ate and fellowshipped with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. We also know Jesus was not soft on sin. This combination was difficult for the religious class of Jesus' day to swallow, but as disciples of Christ, we ought to embrace the paradox.

Third, I expanded my friend group and met gay people.

It's easy to hypothesize in the abstract what you would do before such an occasion is even a remote possibility.

However, once you make the leap from possibility to actuality, you realize relationships are messier than our hypotheses that fill the silence of Scripture with what we "know" is true based on our theological mathematics.

This leads to the wedding cake question. 

You're a Christian baker and someone asks you to make a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage ceremony, do you or don't you?

Again, I respect those who say no and understand why they do so.  

However, if I make a nondescript wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, does that really mean I support that wedding?

How about instead of seeing the cake as affirming the wedding, we view it as affirming Christ's call to love and serve even those with whom we disagree?

It's just a proposal (oh, the puns).

Or perhaps this is one way we can creatively fulfill the Bible's commands to, "when your enemy is hungry", "give him something to eat" (Romans 12:20; Proverbs 25:21-22)?

This is not to say we should go to every wedding or bake every cake, but that since God has not given us explicit commands here, we should allow room for Christians to decide what in the world they are going to do with that invitation in their mailbox or that order form on their desk. 

That said, where Scripture has spoken clearly and directly on an issue, we need to stand firm on what God has revealed in His Word.

The Bible is clear that God's intent and purpose in creation was to bring together the two halves of the sexual spectrum, male and female, into a life-long, life-giving, and loving union.

This precludes same-sex sexual relationships as part of God's plan for human beings.

While this is a hard teaching for many to accept and to hold as good and right, if we are followers of Jesus, we must do so.

In Christ's teaching on marriage we see a portrait of the Bride of Christ and the Bride-groom

We see a picture of complementarity in difference.

We see male and female, mother and father, which alone create new life, a picture of God's desire in Eden.

This is a good teaching and we must not shrink back from it.

So bake the wedding cake and go the same-sex wedding ceremony and preach beauty of marriage as God designed it because since when does following Jesus fit well between the margins, anyway?

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