In a column called “Conservative Christians Selectively Apply Biblical Teachings in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate,” Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Merritt accuse Christians who refuse to provide goods and services for gay weddings of being hypocritical cherry pickers. According to their argument, consistency dictates that vendors who refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings should also boycott “unbiblical” heterosexual weddings. These would include the remarriage of anyone who did not have biblical grounds for divorce as well as a marriage between a believer and unbeliever (prohibited by 2 Cor. 6:14). Since such consistency would be, in their words, “an exercise in futility,” Christian bakers should bake wedding cakes indiscriminately.
I would like to propose a couple of analogous situations to that of the Christian wedding vendor. In both of these fictional scenarios, business owners are asked to provide a good or service to a company whose core purpose violates the business-owner’s ethical beliefs.
- A Muslim man who owns a janitorial business is offered a contract with a mortgage lending company. He declines to take the contract because Islam prohibits moneylending. While he would not actually be loaning money at interest, by providing a contracted service to the mortgage company, he would be profiting from moneylending. This same man has no qualms about cleaning the offices of other companies whose employees engage in behaviors prohibited by Islam (such as a doctor’s practice where the receptionist wears a low-cut blouse or a law firm where the partners drink alcohol). The difference is that moneylending is intrinsic to the existence of the mortgage company; there is no other reason for its existence. Would you call this Muslim a hypocrite?
- A Mennonite who owns an aluminum manufacturing plant receives a bid request from the Pentagon to supply the aluminum for a newly developed missile. Because of his commitment to pacifism, the Mennonite declines to submit a bid. He does not feel the need to investigate all of his clients to make sure they are using aluminum for good ends. However, because missiles are weapons of warfare, their purpose is essentially violent. To profit from the sale of metal to build missiles would violate the conscience of a pacifist. Would you call this Mennonite a hypocrite?
A same-sex wedding is the ceremonial blessing of behavior the Bible condemns. Affirmation of homosexual practice is intrinsic to gay nuptials. There is no need to ask the history of the couple or their reasons for marrying in order to figure out whether or not the marriage is one that God would approve. In contrast, while two heterosexuals wishing to marry may or may not be obeying God’s commands, the institution itself is one that God has affirmed.
Hypocritical Christians are those who forget that they are sinners in need of a savior. Apart from God’s grace we would be damned, and we are hypocrites if we refuse to call others from their sin to experience that same grace. To profit by helping others celebrate their sin, thereby perpetuating the illusion that homosexual behavior is not sin, would be hypocritical for any Christian, be he butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.