20 February 2014

Would Jesus Bake the Cake?

photo: Jamie Anderson via photopin cc
Just because a reporter professes faith in Christ and sweeps the Christian blogosphere with her testimony of conversion does not mean that she will deliver sound biblical opinions or have her theological ducks in a row. Reporter Kirsten Powers demonstrated this in a recent article at USA Today addressing the defeat of a Kansas religious freedom bill in the state's Senate. Serving as an illustration for the issue is the well-known controversy over a Christian-owned bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for homosexual nuptials.

Whether one agrees with the Kansas legislation or not, if one is going to appeal to the Bible in opposition to it, one ought to at least handle the Bible rightly. Writes Powers:
What's the matter with Kansas? A bill protecting the religious freedom of businesses and individuals to refuse services to same-sex couples passed the state House of Representatives last week. It was blessedly killed in the state Senate on Tuesday.

It's probably news to most married people that their florist and caterer were celebrating their wedding union. Most people think they just hired a vendor to provide a service. It's not clear why some Christian vendors are so confused about their role here.

Whether Christians have the legal right to discriminate should be a moot point because Christianity doesn't prohibit serving a gay couple getting married. Jesus calls his followers to be servants to all. Nor does the Bible call service to another an affirmation.

(Source)
Powers has taken a fair amount of heat for her article, and has taken to responding with comments like the following tweet issued on 20 February 2014:
Source
This reveals the motivation behind Powers' article, as well as her lack of understanding regarding sin and salvation. It may behoove Ms. Powers to glance at these thoughts on the issue of same-sex attraction, and to consider from the Bible whether or not it is sin to even experience same-sex attraction. But all of this is a tangent not originally intended for this post.

Adequate responses to Powers' article have already been issued. Among these are Andrew Walker's article "Of Consciences and Cakes" at First Things and Denny Burk's post, "Are Conscientious Christians the New Jim Crow?" Walker sums up the issue well when he writes:
What’s at stake in this context is when individuals who provide material and artistic craft for weddings are then forced to take their talents and their creative abilities and use them for purposes that go against their consciences.

The mistake is this: The idea that forcing persons to participate in activities they consider sinful is the equivalent of Good Samaritan mercy ministries.

Jesus was a friend of sinners, the argument goes, so Christians should sacrifice their “rights” for the sake of loving and serving their neighbor, the dispossessed, the marginalized.

Jesus was a friend of sinners, indeed, but Jesus wasn’t a friend of sin. His infectious holiness led him to love and befriend sinners, but all of this was aimed toward a particular end.

And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32)

Jesus has in mind, notice here, repentance unto salvation.

There’s no place in the Scriptures where Jesus mandates his followers to forsake their consciences or either celebrate or be complicit in sin. Jesus says to love all and serve all. He doesn’t say to love and serve by ignoring sin. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures expressly forbid this.

(Source, emphasis added)
It seems Powers would disagree with Walker, though, as she concludes her article with this statement:
Maybe they should just ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?" I think he'd bake the cake. (Source)
Burk responds rightly to this in his post:
But for many Christians, this conclusion is a far cry from the Jesus that is revealed in the Bible. Yes, Jesus often ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” (Luke 15:1). No, Jesus never did anything that was promoting or participating in their sin! Jesus was a carpenter. What if he were still around today to offer his services? Indeed, what would he do if a gay couple asked him to design a platform upon which to conduct their gay wedding ceremony? Powers would have us believe that Jesus would employ himself as the set designer for sinful unions. I am guessing I’m not the only one who finds this portrait of Jesus to be inconsistent with scripture (e.g., Matt. 5:13-19; Rom. 1:32).
(Source)
To support her opinion, Kirsten Powers turned to "evangelical pastor" Andy Stanley.
Evangelical pastor Andy Stanley leads North Point Ministries, the second largest church in the U.S. He told me he finds it "offensive that Christians would leverage faith to support the Kansas law." He said, "Serving people we don't see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity. Jesus died for a world with which he didn't see eye to eye. If a bakery doesn't want to sell its products to a gay couple, it's their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it."

(Source)
Again, Andrew Walker addresses this well in his response:
This is a distortion. Again, the debate here is not about denying gay persons access to public goods or services. It’s about weddings.

The problem Stanley and Powers overlook, though, is that objections to lending one’s creative talents for practices the Bible condemns is about obedience to Jesus. We “can’t leave Jesus out of it” in how we live out the fullness of our Christian faith. Moreover, because Jesus affirms the creational structure of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6), for Christians, weddings aren’t just a service, but a profoundly significant symbol for the Christ-Church union (Ephesians 5). Getting marriage right means also getting wedding ceremonies right.

(Source)
Many will not be surprised by Stanley's opinion on this matter, though. It was in May 2012 that Andy Stanley introduced his North Point Community Church congregation to his "microcosm of the church" in a sermon entitled, "When Gracie Met Truthy." In this sermon, Stanley gave an account of a family torn apart by the husband's homosexual adultery. Said Dr. Al Mohler of this sermon,
The most puzzling and shocking part of the message was the illustration and the account of the homosexual couple, however. The inescapable impression left by the account was that the sin of concern was adultery, but not homosexuality. Stanley clearly and repeatedly stressed the sin of adultery, but then left the reality of the homosexual relationship between the two men unaddressed as sin. To the contrary, he seemed to normalize their relationship. They would be allowed to serve on the host team if both were divorced. The moral status of their relationship seemed to be questioned only in terms of adultery, with no moral judgment on their homosexuality. 
Was this intended as a salvo of sorts? The story was so well told and the message so well constructed that there can be little doubt of its meaning. Does this signal the normalization of homosexuality at North Point Community Church? This hardly seems possible, but it appeared to be the implication of the message. Given the volatility of this issue, ambiguity will be replaced by clarity one way or the other, and likely sooner than later.
(Source
Andy Stanley's "microcosm of the church"
During the sermon, Stanley displayed a graphic that he said represented a "microcosm of the church." In this particular anecdote that "microcosm" included a woman, her boyfriend, her boyfriend's daughter, her own daughter, her ex-husband, and her ex-husband's homosexual partner. As Mohler noted, Stanley appeared to normalize the unrepentant sin of homosexuality, while simultaneously condemning the adultery in which the men were engaged.

When controversy surrounding this message erupted, Stanley urged critics to listen to his sermon series in its entirety. The Christian Post reported that in his last message, Stanley preached:
Jesus' movement was all about "how you love," but over time it became "what you believe," he said. "If we would simply do what Jesus did … instead of arguing about what he said, the world would change, the reputation of Christ's followers would change, the influence of the church would change. This is easy. This requires nothing … just a brand new worldview."
(Source)
A "brand new worldview" that ignores truth in order to make men more comfortable in their sin? No thanks.

Regardless of how one feels about the uproar over religious freedom in this country, one must never turn to an apparent condoning of sin, be it homosexuality or any other form of licentiousness. Christians cannot ignore truth in the name of man's fallen, distorted, emotionally-driven notion of "love." To do so would be to commit treason against the Lord Jesus Christ and against the gospel of salvation found in Him alone. Such a position is not a popular one to take, however, and it will not keep the many seats of a megachurch warm and the offering plates full.

Ultimately, the informed Christian surely is aware that even here in America his religious freedom is waning. There are two ways to respond to this. One can either spend his time decrying and complaining about the unfairness of it all, thereby keeping his eyes firmly fixed upon this world and how he can work to remain comfortable here, or one can keep his eyes fixed firmly upon Christ, His Word and His gospel. The latter allows the Christian to pursue righteousness as Jesus commands (Matthew 6:33), whether or not the world or the government thinks that he should. The latter will keep the Christian's eyes looking heavenward, longing for that world which is his true home (Phil 3:20). The latter may find the Christian's freedoms disappearing, it may mean persecution and discomfort (2 Tim 3:12; John 15:18–19), but it will inevitably keep him adamant about proclaiming the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ alone. And that, dear Christian, is precisely what you are called to do (Luke 24:47).

Additional Resources
The Christian Perspective on Government
Adam and Eve and Andy Stanley
Asked and Answered: Is It Sin to Experience Same-Sex Attraction?

4 comments:

  1. The bullying of biblical Christians just seems to increase, particularly by those who claim to be Christians themselves. The hypocrisy of judging them for judging isn't lost on me.

    These so-called "Christians" though, who slam Christians trying to honor Christ in our society by not participating in something so heinous as a sodomite union which mocks God, His Word, and His creative order, merely shows that they are unaware of the absolute holiness of God. Their "Jesus" is more like them, who ignores--yea even accepts---such perversion in the name of "love" and tolerance. What they don't know is that true biblical agape love hates wickedness. It hates that which perverts truth, purity, and justice---all defined by God, however, not by our society.

    The darker the days become, the more I see "Christians" being conformed to the world, particularly about sodomy and also about the thrice holy God of Israel. That tells me they are not spending time in Scripture at the feet of the Master, submitting in humility before Him. In doing so, they embrace that which God hates.

    Let's never forget how much God hates sodomy. This is a sin for which He destroyed entire cities. We should indeed hate sodomy too and give no no room of acceptance in any way.

    And to see the hypocrisy of these same "Christians" or even non-Christians, instead of using "homosexuality" in the argument, put in "pedophilia" and just see how accepting they actually are of that sin. Suddenly things become more black and white...or they reveal very dark, dead hearts.

    Scripture is clear about how we live in the world but we are not of it. Therefore we are to "come out from among them" and "be ye separate", for what does light have to do with darkness? To support sodomite unions is to stand against God's command. In a word, it's treason against the King of kings.

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  2. Lest we easily forget: the current gay juggernaut running rampart and virtually unchecked in America is because it is the judgment of God upon us for our sins. When we turned our back on God many decades ago with "God is dead" movement, which quickly gave way to "free-love" and the hippies of the '60's we sealed our own fate. Instead of worshipping God for Who He is, our wisdom directed us to all sorts of idols with the end result being that God gave us over to what we see now, the gay agenda gaining on all fronts, Christians persecuted for daring to stand against it, with only more of the same in our future---Romans 1:18-32.

    Will our Lord abate His judgment on America? Possibly, but doubtful. There does not seem to be any Daniels on the horizon, who will own this sin before God though they have never committed such a thing. Rather, we are "blessed" with whimps and charlatans who find it more important to be seen as "loving" instead of a faithful witness to Christ (enter Kristen Powers).

    May the Lord Jesus grant His strength and faithfulness to all who dare to stand for Him and His Word in this evil day and future in America.

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  3. Based on reading her "conversion" story I have my doubts about her. She didn't say that she sat under sound preaching and was grieved about her sins to the point where she called out to Jesus to save her and she repented of her sins. She attended a church/lecture and was convinced that there's more support for Christianity then for atheism, which is a head knowledge (even satan believes in Christianity). The preaching didn't seem to convict or offend her as she was annoyed that the preacher threw in Jesus at the end of the...sermon, thereby ruining the rest of the speech he gave.
    Then Jesus came to her in a dream/vision and told her there he was and she made up her mind to become a Christian after that.
    Dreams/visions are an iffy topic as even satan transforms into an angel of light. I'm not convinced that she saw the real Jesus, especially that the Jesus she talks about would bake a cake for a gay couple instead of calling them to repentance and to go & sin no more.
    It seems she is still hostile towards real Christians & the real Jesus, even persecuting the Christian baker who stood up for what was right.
    I'm going to go ahead and put a question mark on her conversion unless she starts producing good fruit in keeping with true salvation. That's yet to be seen.

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  4. does this mean we shouldn't make cakes for those who are adulterers, blasphemers, gossipers, disobedient to parents... in this case they may only be making cakes for one or two couples a year.

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