Why Indiana Loves Christians and Hates Gays

You have to be living under a rock not to know anything about Indiana passing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) this week. Indiana RFRA

Depending on which media outlet is your favorite you will have heard a couple different slants on the thing. MSNBC has labeled the legislation as an “anti-gay law” and even a “right-to-discriminate” law.

Saturday Night Live was even taking shots at Indiana.

Here’s the thing: the title of this post reflects the belief many seem to have about this law. But it’s not the case. The Gospel Coalition has put together an excellent look at the RFRA. The highlights:

– The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a federal law introduced by a democrat and signed into law by President Clinton (so it’s not about the religious right and conservative Christians)
– The RFRA gives religious objectors a statutory presumptive entitlement to exemption from generally applicable laws (subject to strict scrutiny).
– 19 states already have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act and 10 other states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar (strict scrutiny) level of protection.
– It does not give anyone a “license to discriminate,” [and] it would not undermine our important civil-rights commitments.

The law protects ALL religious people from behaving in ways that conflicts with their religious beliefs as long as there is not a greater compelling need to comply. So it covers Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. Of course that’s not how it’s playing out in the media. Liberals are proclaiming this as an attack against gay marriage and Conservatives are heralding this as a moral victory for Christian businesses (and a sign of a Christian nation).

Regardless of how you view the law, I think the controversy has sparked needed conversation about how Christians Christian Businessbusinesses interact with a secular clientele. Never one to miss the bandwagon, here are my two cents on the subject.

Jesus interacted with sinful people without condoning their sin.

Some people act as though any dealing with sinners is going to taint us – especially when it comes to business dealings. We also act as though providing goods for behavior with which we disagree is an act that condones the behavior. I’m not one who holds that view. I think that selling goods to people is about providing stuff for a cost. Candles, flowers, cakes, tuxedos, thank-you cards; these are all things that are associated with weddings. Do we really think that selling a gay couple any of these things is an act that condones gay marriage?

It’s just STUFF!

And let’s be honest – we don’t run background checks on other customers to see if selling them our stuff would violate our notion of sinful behavior. That means we’re cherry-picking homosexuals and ignoring other sinful behavior. We’ll sell to adulterers, fornicators, idolaters, drunkards, gluttons, and on and on, but HEAVENS forbid we sell to a gay couple. I can just see Ebay listings:

Collectable Star Wars Action Figures (will not sell to homosexuals).

We’re masterful hypocrites, aren’t we?

Of course the question I’m always asked is, “Well, would you marry a gay couple?!?”

And my answer is, “No.”

I believe there is a difference selling stuff to people and the act of participating in & officiating the ceremony. Officiating the ceremony WOULD be condoning the marriage. Selling my stuff doesn’t condone anything the buyer does. Stuff is stuff. Refusing to sell people stuff because we disagree with their behavior IS discrimination.

When we think about the Bible’s call to act in loving ways towards people, and when we examine the way Jesus interacted with sinners he didn’t condone, I think it is safe to say that conservative Christian attitudes toward selling stuff to gays is deplorable.

Our stuff is not holy. And since there are no sin-free people, you’re always going to be selling to sinners.

It’s time to get off this train and treat people decently. Don’t discriminate – sell your goods to any buyer regardless of sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter if you’re a baker, dress-maker, or anything else.

Stuff is stuff, and stuff can’t be holy or Christian.

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I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

18 Replies to “Why Indiana Loves Christians and Hates Gays”

  1. “You overestimate the scruples of the average Christian vendor.”

    I think this is a bit of a denial of the issue don’t you? Many cake bakers, florists, and what have you consider themselves artists and after sitting down with a couple to hear their wants and needs set upon creating specifically for them. Often with much care. If a christian vendor feels what they do represents Jesus in their creation it’s not just ‘stuff’ regardless of whether our/your/mine personal convictions are different.

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  2. Chris,

    Just stumbled onto your blog. I appreciate your view. I don’t think we can split hairs on how involved you are as a vendor providing services for a gay wedding. Take a photographer. A photographer is intimately involved in capturing the essence of a wedding. I don’t know how I could do that for a gay couple and honestly open my Bible the next day. Not unless my conscience was seared with a hot iron. Many Christians would feel that same feeling. Shouldn’t they be able to protect themselves from that. Perhaps if they aren’t afforded that protection , the best way a Christian can interact with the gay community is by being honest and telling them they do not agree with their lifestyle and I will be actively vocal about this during my time providing services and I will probly try to convert your guests . Do you still want to hire me?

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  3. You know it’s all fine and dandy until the Christians are discriminated against .
    My belief is . Speaking in tongues is of the devil .
    So no service or catering to Pentecostal believers.
    Imagine the outcry when service is refused because of a Christian intolerance .
    Enjoyed your perspective Chris .

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  4. What I don’t understand is whatever happened to
    1) the 1st amendment?
    2) all businesses’ right to refuse service regardless of reason?
    3) why it is necessary to pass needless laws to cover laws which already exist?

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  5. “Stuff” at weddings is written down. The cake. The invitations. All that jazz. You are saying that you would write “Jim and Bob invite you to share their love as they join in Holy matrimony?”
    That isn’t stuff… that is participation and at the bare minimum tacit approval.
    Also, would you just sell “stuff” if it were a suction machine for an abortion clinic? That isn’t “stuff.” that is a tool for murder.

    Even attending a pagan mockery of marriage is tacit approval, and here is the saddest thing: It doesn’t help them heal. It seals them in their sin, locked legally. No, don’t bake the cake or make the invitations. It is sinful.

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    1. Michael, your analogy isn’t comparable. I think it’s safe to assume that the person selling medical equipment knows what the suction machine is used for. He can choose not to sell that item. Bakers can choose not to sell cakes. If they DO, then they cannot pick and choose whom they will ignore. It’s similar to white shop owners being disallowed to kick out minority customers.

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  6. I disagree with what the author said in the point about business owners being selective in which sinful lifestyles they dont want to support with their “stuff”. I believe there is a distinct difference between homosexual “weddings” and other sinful choices potential customers might be making. The distinction is that the customers in these cases are the ones making it a public issue. If they were asking for a cake without describing the nature of the event, it is unlikely the business owners would ask “this isn’t for a gay wedding is it?”

    This begs the argument that the customers shouldn’t have to hide their “love”. And that is true, in this free nation, they have a right to believe what they want about their sexuality. But the nature of the event itself is what causes the problem, not the cake maker or phtographer. What I mean by that is if a person came into the store and said they wanted a cake to celebrate their polygamist wedding, or a divorce party, or wanted to purchase “stuff” in support of a pro-abortion rally, the business owner would likely have the same reaction and desire to refuse. Taking it to an extreme, a man may come into a jewelry store and buy a bracelet for his mistress. He probably won’t admit that’s who it’s for. If he did, the same Christian business owner would probably say, “I can’t support that. I won’t sell it to you”. And he likely wouldn’t sue the store.

    It is the customer wanting to publicize their life choices that forces the business owner to make the decision to not participate. And I believe a consistent believer would do the same with any situation where they were asked to contribute to a sinful event.

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  7. There are multiple areas involved in this topic.

    First, how much control does a business owner forfeit over his personal property when he purchases a business license? I do not support forcing any person to associate with any other person with whom he does not desire to associate. It is morally wrong to force a business to take customers that he does not want. Period. That’s called communism, where the State has ultimate control over the goods, services and interactions of industry.

    Second, what exactly does meet the standard of “participation”? The cases that have made headlines have all been about individuals that would be intimately involved with the ceremony. Let’s be honest. The baker doesn’t just make the wedding cake. They create a culinary artwork based upon the desires of the participants in the ceremony, using their artistic skills. Additionally, they almost always deliver and set up the cakes AT the ceremony, as well as other aspects.

    Thirdly, how exactly should Christians interact with a fallen, sinful world? I would no more attend a ceremony for a homosexual couple than I would for a friend who wants to celebrate his divorce. I can and do love all of the parties involved, but I will not participate or condone their sin.

    Finally, this entire fiasco assumes that people are too stupid to find ways around any law, existing or proposed. IF I were a baker, I’d simply stop selling “wedding cakes”. If a couple, any couple, came in to buy a wedding cake, I’d tell them that we don’t do those any more. We WILL happily make them a “white tiered cake” that will be ready for them on whatever date that they choose. We will not variate from our standard cake, no customization is possible. Also, we do not deliver, nor set up the cakes at any event, that is not a paid service that we provide. (I can and will still do that for my friends)

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    1. Mike, I appreciate your thoughts. Please allow me to respond.

      First, I don’t have a problem with business owners being told they have to serve people. You call it Communism, but it protects all people. Otherwise we’re back in an era where blacks are denied service by white shop owners. Do we allow this kind of behavior or do we say, “We’ll allow a bit of government oversight in the name of fairness?”

      Second, let’s be honest, baking a cake isn’t exactly participating in the wedding. The baker does not attend the wedding but the reception. Even then, the baker doesn’t hang around. He/she sets up the cake and then takes off. And a cake is a cake – it’s not a work of art that celebrates the couple.

      Third, while we talk about not participating or condoning other sin, we don’t have a litmus test for how we will provide goods for other sinners. We merely sell our goods. Why single out LGBTQ couples? Because it’s easy.

      I think we can do better.

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    2. Your words are so judgmental, so hate-filled. “Love the sinner, not the sin” — I get this, but by identifying those around you as sinner, you are passing judgment against them. Isn’t that also a sin, my friend?

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      1. Let’s be honest – there was nothing “hate-filled” there. Disagreement is not hate. And the Bible identifies all of humanity as “sinner” – it’s not a matter of us labeling people that way or not. The issue is whether or not we let that label affect how we handle selling products.

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  8. I agree and disagree. The important distinction that’s not being made is whether the service is artistic and celebratory. If, for instance, I owned a venue where wedding venues are held – I probably would rent it to whoever. If I was being asked as the owner to officiate- that’s another story. Similarly , if I were a photographer, cake decorator or similar artist being asked to use my artistic abilities to celebrate something to which I was opposed- I’d have a problem with that.
    I’m totally against discriminating as a store or restaurant owner, but I draw the line when we are talking about forcing people to celebrate what scripture condemns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I buy a cake from you for my same-sex wedding, I am not forcing you to celebrate anything. I am simply purchasing a good/service from you in exchange for money. You don’t have to be there.

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