Quite often I tell myself I was remiss in conducting due diligence on this whole Christian business. G&J snuck into my heart whilst my head was playing catch-up, kind of like some divine Navy SEAL team rappelling through my soul, dragging me out the bunker, ripping off a blindfold and shoving me into the light before I’d even had a chance to catch a breath. And once they’re in your heart? It’s incredible difficult to evict them. Holy squatters rights. No matter how often my head wants to explode.
Who knew cake could be so divisive? Marie-Antoinette started it all, and now we’ve got The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights in on the act. In the American state of Oregon, a case is underway after a bakery declined to provide a cake for a lesbian wedding.
On the one hand, homosexual people are entitled to be free from discrimination. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights provides that all people, including people who identify as homosexual, are entitled to non-discrimination and equality before the law.
On the other hand, Christians and other religious people are entitled to the free exercise of their religion. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights provides that: Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
For many people, religious beliefs are part of their everyday life. This includes operating a business and providing commercial services to others. Which is how ‘Cakegate’ has occurred. Based on their religious beliefs, a bakery-owning, Christian-couple declined to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding. They were sued, ended up closing their retail store due to public backlash, and face damages up to $120k.
Now, given that Jesus flouted the religious law of the time and hung out with lepers, tax-collectors, and adulterous women, I have to ponder how little ‘Cakegate’ has to do with Jesus, and rather too much to do with religion and legalism? I recently read an excellent ‘Cakegate’ article over on the blog Ten Thousand Places referencing Jesus’ sermon on the mount and his response to the (unpopular) Roman law of the time:
One of the Roman laws stated that any man could be required to drop what he was doing and carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for him for up to a mile. In the sermon on the mount, with his followers gathered around him, Jesus referenced that law and told his followers what they should do in that case: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” ~Matthew 5:41
Applying this in the present day, under the law of non-discrimination and equality, perhaps those Christian bakers should have baked not only one cake, but two?
These bakers were standing by their personal Christian belief that marriage is a God-sanctified union between man and woman. But Jesus walked around breaking the scriptural laws of the time in the name of God’s love. Like when he healed on the Sabbath and the Pharisees confronted him.
“What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!” Matthew 12:11
Jesus is holding up his love, God’s love, against the limiting scriptural laws of the day. And as Christians, blessed with the Holy Spirit, that sort of love needs to be acted out over and over and over. No matter how hard.
In Australia, Christian Youth Camps refused to take a booking from a group wanting to run a suicide-prevention camp for same-sex-attracted young people. The case ended when Christian Youth Camps lost their appeal against a finding that they had breached equal opportunity laws.
Surely in a group feeling so marginalised it leads to suicide is the EXACT PLACE a Christian should be. In the mess and the mire. No matter how it rubs up awkwardly against any scriptural passages. Showing love and compassion. Loving your neighbour as yourself.
Jesus was the antithesis of everything everyone expected at the time. Instead of being a victorious leader overthrowing Roman rule, he hung out with the weak, the marginalised and the oppressed.
On days when I read about ‘Cakegate’ and try to stop my head exploding, I often wonder what Jesus would be like if he popped in to check up on us today. Probably what we least expect, designed exactly to hold a mirror up to our beliefs, just as he did before. So a same-sex attracted, celibate, person of colour, wedding cake baker, perhaps?