There is an unwritten rule that one should refrain from discussing religion or politics. I have never been much on rules, written or otherwise. The bolstered political push in support of business owners’ rights to refuse service to same-sex couples has made headlines in the media recently and has me flirting with crossing that proverbial line drawn in the sand. I will be the first to tell you that my spiritual walk has been wrought with potholes, detours, and occasional meanderings in the wrong direction. The person reflected in my mirror each morning is one plagued with imperfections and always thankful she has another day to try to be better than she was yesterday. This isn’t written from the perspective of a scholarly theologian, to say the very least. It is just my attempt at sorting out what I have learned from Jesus about serving others. If a same-sex couple moved in next door to Jesus, would he bake them a cake and welcome them to the neighborhood?
Being raised in the Christian faith, I have struggled immensely with reconciling the life and teachings of Jesus with the actions and attitudes of a good number of his followers. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention in Sunday School, because I must have missed something. I remember the story of Jesus teaching to a crowd of 5000 people and he managed to feed them all with five loaves of bread and two fish. I must have completely missed a big part of the story; the part where Jesus instructed his disciples, “Hey, guys, make sure not to give any to the homosexuals. This miracle is only for the straight followers.” Jesus fed everyone, folks.
Jesus knows that we are all human. A woman who was being charged with adultery was brought before Jesus. This was an open and shut case. She was literally caught with her pants down (or her robe off, or whatever the case was back then) and was to be stoned to death. Jesus agreed with the conviction of the woman, but he added, “I want the person here who is without any sin to throw the first stone.” NOTE: I am not comparing homosexuality to adultery or classifying it as a sin, I am just illustrating how Jesus teaches us to examine our own humanness, before we go chucking stones at someone else.
It is so easy to point fingers at others who may act, look, or live differently, but even as a very young child, I perceived that this is directly opposite of what Jesus wants me to do. Jesus was always asking the hard questions and they were usually loaded with implications on how people screw things up. Jesus wasn’t one to beat around the bush or sugar coat things either. He posed the question, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Matthew 5:43-48- Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …
Matthew 12:28-31, Jesus answered, “The most important is this… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This is what I know Jesus has taught me about loving people. I would like to clarify that he specifically emphasizes ALL people, even my enemies. (Just so you know, I have a super hard time loving my enemies and sometimes I fantasize about shoving my enemy down a set of bleachers or stabbing him in the eye with a fork. God is aware of this and He knows I am working on it). I am flawed. All the perfect people can officially scratch me off your ‘approved patron’ list. Jesus said I should even love people who hate and persecute me and to love my neighbor as I love myself. He did NOT say to only love my HETEROSEXUAL neighbors. If Jesus expects me to pray for people who hate me, I am quite certain he would want me to bake a cake for my neighbor regardless of sexual orientation.
So, I have to ask myself, are these business owners going to examine ALL their patrons with the same vigor they are imposing on the gay and lesbian community? Are they going to refuse service to all members of society who sin or live a life in which they consider ‘wrong’? Will patrons have to complete an in-depth questionnaire to ensure they are worthy of goods or services?
Please answer the following questions to ensure we are not providing services to anyone whom is not completely aligned with our beliefs. Have you ever:
- Told a lie (any lie, big or small)
- Taken the Lord’s name in vain
- Had sexual relations outside of being married
- Been divorced
- Stolen anything that did not belong to you (if you are wondering if those cool pens at work count…they do)
- Gossiped about someone
- Coveted anything belonging to your neighbor
- Ignored the Sabbath
- Dishonored your parents
- Had impure thoughts
- Murdered someone (1st or 2nd degree, if manslaughter, please provide more information in the space provided)
It is without question or judgment that I respect private business owners’ rights to refuse services to anyone of their choosing. It is my right to choose a different path entirely. My life is too scarred, my sins are too plentiful, and I am too flawed to do anything other than strive to serve others, love others, and accept others. Jesus knows I am a mess and most of the time I am a poor example of what a Christian is supposed to be. However, the Jesus I know wouldn’t turn his back if he walked in my kitchen and found me making a cake for a same sex couple. My Jesus would put on an apron, mix up the batter, and I am pretty sure he would let this unworthy soul lick the spoon.