Monday, September 09, 2013

Of Cakes and Christians

Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of being a friend to sinners and to drunkards and to despised tax collectors. He made gallons of wine at a wedding. He treated women of ill-repute with respect. He made a Samaritan--a member of the neighboring race and sworn enemies of the Jews--the hero of one of his most profound parables. He praised a Gentile Roman Centurion--part of the occupying imperial force--for having great faith. He touched lepers. He spoke forgiveness and grace to those who beat and crucified him. His followers continued the trend: Philip baptized an Ethiopian eunuch who was barred from Jewish temple worship. Peter participated in a religious revival among the Samaritans and then a Holy Ghost outpouring in the home of a Roman Centurion. Paul poured out his life traveling the highways and byways of the Roman Empire with a vision of Jews and pagan Gentiles together becoming the people of God; his fellow countrymen tried repeatedly to kill him because of it.

Last week I heard about two separate instances of Christian bakers--one in Oregon and one in Colorado--refusing to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples. In both cases, the bakers had turned away gay customers more than once, citing their Christian faith as the reason (the baker in Colorado will, however, happily make a cake for a dog wedding). In both cases, the actions of the cake-bakers brought public disapproval and official anti-discrimination investigations upon them. In both cases, the bakers and their supporters responded by claiming that they were being persecuted for their faith.

Here's the thing: If your Christian faith is causing you to be unkind to people, then it is time to reevaluate your understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Some misguided and misinformed Christians have, in times past, persecuted Jews, supported slavery, denied access to facilities for non-whites and opposed mix-race marriages. They are looked back upon by most Christians today with embarrassment. Those misguided and misinformed Christians not only missed the examples of Jesus and Philip and Peter and Paul but somehow managed to become their antithesis: They became Pharisees.

Would Jesus bake a cake for a same-sex couple? Yes.


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