Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lightweight theologians weigh in

I'm going to comment on this post:

It's a pity we have to waste so much time on this issue, but we don't always have the luxury of choosing our battles. 

David Garland is professor of Christian Scriptures and dean at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary and author of the Baker Exegetical commentary on 1 Corinthians. He said that he thought using this passage 1 Corinthians to justify refusing service for a same-sex marriage is difficult to square with the text, especially when you consider the entire context of the passage: 
Paul’s argument actually goes from chapter 8 through ten. In chapter 9, the emphasis is on how to ultimately win unbelievers. The argument here is actually about giving up one’s right out of love for others and the sake of the faith. The goal in 8 and 9 is answering the question, ‘How do you win people over?’

Is it loving to celebrate a physically and psychologically self-destructive lifestyle, not to mention a hellbound lifestyle? How does participation in a homosexual wedding win people over? 

When asked what he thought Paul would say to the Christian church on these issues, Garland replied, “I think Paul would say, ‘How can you witness to someone to whom you will not serve?’ That doesn’t mean you condone, but you can serve without condoning.”
i) To begin with, what does Christian service mean? If you refuse to give your teenager money to buy cocaine, is that a disservice? Isn't Christian service about helping others rather than hurting others?
ii) This isn't about "service" in general. A wedding cake is specifically designed to celebrate the marriage. So, yes, that does condone the marriage. 
iii) Finally, there's an elementary distinction between what people should do and what they should be made to do. Every time you pass a new law, you take more power away from the people and give more power to the state. Do we want to live in (or under) a totalitarian police state? 
The question isn't in the first instance what Christians should do, in the sense of a moral or spiritual obligation, but what they should be required to do by law. 
Also, this isn't just about Christians. 
When I asked him [Richard B. Hays] about whether or not he thinks it’s okay for a Christian to refuse to bake a cake for a gay or lesbian person who was getting married, he responded: 
“Jesus was condemned by the scribes and Pharisees for associating with people of whose conduct they disapproved. The charge of eating and drinking with them tells us that Jesus’ enemies did regard him as complicit in their behavior. But he did it anyway,” Hays said. “I worry that the people who can’t bake a cake for people are putting themselves inside the bubble of Pharisaism. I just can’t go there.”
i) Once again, this isn't about "associating" with sinners. Rather, this is about participation in activities specifically intended to validate sin. 
ii) Furthermore, this is about compelling participation by force of law. 
And what of those vendors who refuse services to same-sex couples but turn a blind eye to other kinds of unbiblical weddings? Should we be concerned about the apparent double standards of our brothers and sisters? 
Craig Blomberg thinks so. 
“Do the people involved regularly inquire about such things? If not, why would you change things just because someone happened to volunteer the information that they are gay and this is for a wedding,” he said. “I try to look for consistency of application no matter what principle you’re following. Whatever principle you’re applying for heterosexuals who you may not approve of, you should do the same.”
What if a Muslim was placing an order for a wedding cake with a Jewish baker. What if the Muslim volunteered that this was for a child marriage, viz. a wedding between an adult male and a prepubescent girl? Does Blomberg think the Jewish baker should be required by law to bake a cake celebrating pederasty? 
McKnight agrees.  He said, “There is a fair charge of hypocrisy since it concerns itself with only one kind of sin.”
What's hypocritical is for the liberal establishment to celebrate and elevate only one kind of sin to the moral issue of our time, then accuse Christians of hypocrisy when they respond to the fact that the liberal establishment is singling out homosexuals for special treatment, as a protected class with super rights. 


  1. "Do the people involved regularly inquire about such things? If not, why would you change things just because someone happened to volunteer the information that they are gay and this is for a wedding?"

    Presumably for the same reason you wouldn't eat meat if someone declared to you that it had been sacrificed to an idol.

    Moreover, if they didn't volunteer the information that they were gay, and the Christian baker didn't know, then I doubt he would inquire. However, in most cases the information is unavoidably volunteered, either by the couple ordering the cake together or by the requirement for same-sex figurines on top, or two masculine or two feminine names. In that case, the Christian has been informed whether they wanted to be or not.

  2. I'm all for Christian bakers refusing to make "gay cakes". However, I wonder if it's necessarily sinful to make such cakes for gay "couples." Technically, the bakers aren't endorsing the "marriage" (at least it seems to me). What Naaman asked Elijah seems to be much worse. Yet, Elijah didn't specifically permit or deny Naaman from doing it.

    2 Kings 5:18-19 says,

    In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter."19 He said to him, "Go in peace."

    What do you all think?

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