Flower Shop Scene: A florist’s shop somewhere in America, 2013

The Gentleman walks into shop and greets the owner familiarly. The Florist returns the greetings as she steps behind the counter.

Gentleman: I need something really special, Florist, and you know I love your work!

Florist: And you know I’m happy to do my best for you! What can I help you with today?

Gentleman: Actually, a really happy event, and I’m so excited! Now that the state allows it, my boyfriend and I have decided to get married! We’ve waited so long and we want you to do the flowers”

Florist: [ Interrupts while grabbing his hand ] I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Gentleman: [ Stunned ] W-whaa?

Florist: Really, I’m very sorry. I can make a suitable recommendation for you , but my conscience won’t let”

Gentleman: [ Clearly hurt ] A ‘ suitable recommendation ‘? That sounds so cold, what am I, a stranger? You’ve done flowers for us for years. You know us.

Florist: [ Also discomfited ] And if I could do flowers for you under these circumstances, I would, but”

Gentleman: But suddenly, you can’t? I don’t understand. If I came in here looking for a bouquet, or a plant, you’d help me out.

Florist: I would. Of course I would; I always have. You know me!

Gentleman: I thought I knew you. This is unreal . . . I’m shocked. I had no idea that all this time, while you were taking my business, you were hating me for being gay.

Florist: I wasn’t! This has nothing to do with that! I’ve had the privilege of working with some very talented people that happen to be gay. This isn’t about hate. It’s about”

Gentleman: [ Seriously hurt ] Oh, right, and some of your best friends are gay! And this is all about love, love, love, isn’t it? You love Jesus, so you have to hate me! Your religion requires it.

Florist: No, please understand”

Gentleman: That’s some religion you’ve got there. Really? Jesus doesn’t want you to do flowers for my wedding? I don’t think Jesus could get behind this, because he would never be this hurtful! You’re betraying all the years we’ve known each other, and really hurting another person”two people; no, really a whole group of people”and then hiding behind Jesus; you’re letting Jesus take the blame for your hate. You have to hate me, because Jesus!

Florist: [ Quietly ] I don’t hate you.

Gentleman: Oh, this is what you call love? That’s some crazy kind of love; here, kid, have some cotton candy because I love you; oh, and don’t mind that razor blade I put inside! You’re rejecting me, you’re rejecting my marriage”it’s like you think I’m a second-class person.

Florist: Well, I don’t think that! I never could, and I wish you did not feel that way, because the last thing I want to do is to hurt you; that’s not what I want. Don’t you think that if I could make you happy, I would? It would be a lot easier for me to just set up your order and take your check, than to say “no” to you. In truth, I don’t especially want to say “no” to you. I want everyone to be happy and have just what they like; it’s why I’m so good at my job! But I can’t say “yes” to you, not if I’m being true to myself, and to what I believe God wants from me.

Gentleman: So, this is what you think God wants of you? He wants you to hurt people and tell them that their love and their families don’t matter? Well that’s news. I thought Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

Florist: I don’t think God wants us to hurt each other. I think he wants us to live in truth, though. Jesus did tell us to love others as we love ourselves, but he said first and foremost to love God with all of our hearts and minds and souls. I know that’s hard to understand, because you don’t believe what I believe, which is that marriage is ordained by God, and meant to be between a man and a woman. That’s the truth.

Gentleman: That was truth a million years ago!

Florist: It was truth two years ago . . .

Gentleman: Times have changed, honey, you need to get with them. Whatever you think the Truth is, it’s not truer than love. God is love, right?

Florist: Yes. God is love.

Gentleman: And we’re in love, and we just want to celebrate that and build our lives together. God is in all of that.

Florist: God is everywhere and in each of us, but that doesn’t mean we are always right with God. You’re saying God is love; I agree. What is love, though? Does love only say “yes”? Do I not love my son when I tell him not to touch a hot stove?

Gentleman: Oh, here we go! Now you’re going to tell me I’m going to hell! Cue the cloven hooves!

Florist: I’m not telling you that. Jesus said we’d be surprised by who gets into heaven and who doesn’t, and I’m not privy to what God thinks of your soul, or mine. I’m just trying to live my life as I understand Jesus wanting me to live it.

Gentleman: And I’m just trying to live my life, too!

Florist: You are. We’re both trying to “just live our lives” the way we think and believe and in a way that keeps us true to ourselves.

Gentleman: Except I’m not the one refusing to let you live your life. I’m not the one saying “think what I think, or go away.”

Florist: [ Thoughtfully ] Well, not yet. But look, I’m not refusing to let you live your life. That’s why I offered to make you a recommendation for another florist; because I think you should have flowers, if you want them. [ Reaches out for his hand ] I’m not rejecting you. I’m just not able to join you.

Gentleman: [ Allows her to take it, after a beat ] Do you know, Florist, that still feels an awful lot like rejection?

Florist: I’m sorry if it does; it is not meant to. I know you feel hurt and pushed aside. I’m not happy to know you feel that way, or that I’m the cause. But let’s say an abortion clinic was opening and you wanted to send flowers to it, would you really expect me to fill that order?

Gentleman: [ Snatches hand away in disbelief and anger ] My marriage is the equivalent of an abortion to you?

Florist: No, no . . . I’m just . . .

Gentleman: That’s disgusting! You’re a freaking lunatic!

Florist: No, honey, I’m just asking you, knowing me as you do, would you really expect me to do such a thing, knowing I am against abortion, even though you’re for it?

Gentleman: Well, I’m not “for” abortion. Abortion is ugly and terrible, but people have their rights!

Florist: It’s killing another human being.

Gentleman: But people should be able to make their own choices in their lives. I might not like abortion, but I have no right to impose my values on someone else.

Florist: You mean, people should be entitled to their consciences, even if you don’t happen to agree with where it leads?

Gentleman: I see what you’re doing. It’s not the same.

Florist: Not in particulars, anyway, but in practice . . .

Gentleman: In practice we’re all jockeying for a place where we can stand in the sun and be most fully ourselves. Should we heighten one person’s beliefs over and above another person’s life?

Florist: Jockeying is the word, and you tell me. We’re like stamping cattle who’ve gotten into the habit of thinking that there’s only so much sun, and we have to take turns standing on each other, crushing each other, to get a share of it. That can’t be right. Is the world still a big place or has it narrowed? Isn’t there enough room for both of us to have the space to be who we are?

Gentleman: [ Thoughtful and disturbed, but honest ] I really don’t know, anymore.

Scene: A bakery, somewhere in America. A lesbian couple enters, holding hands and moving to inspect samples of wedding cake designs. The baker emerges, and casts an eye their way.

The Baker: Excuse me . . . if you need a wedding cake, I’m afraid I can’t help you ; my religion won’t allow it. But I can make suitable recommendations . . .

[Curtains]

Elizabeth Scalia is the author of Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols of Everyday Life and the managing editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos.com, where she blogs as The Anchoress . Her previous “On the Square” articles can be found here .

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