Flowers, Cake and a Confession

I don’t usually jump into controversial conversations like this; my style is not necessarily what you’d call ‘provocative’. However, this topic has been burning in my heart, so I’m following the Holy Spirit’s nudge. Allow me, if you will.
~~~~~~~~
I have a friend named Tony who rubs me the wrong way.  In a good way.  Tony is a writer and story teller (actually, I think he’s an anointed modern-day prophet, but you’ll have to decide that for yourself.)

He also likes to challenge peoples’ notions about Christianity. (Although he uses the term from the Gospels–“The Way.”  Are you walking in The Way?  You know, like that.)

We had a conversation recently about the issue of homosexuality and the church’s response to it.  In particular, a Christian business owner’s response to a gay couple that wanted a wedding cake.

You know, The Cake.

I sort of sided with them, originally. Thought it was the Christian stance and all. The arguments from the ‘other’ people who called themselves Christian really bothered me. Shouldn’t we stand up for what’s right? Why are they so accepting of people who are homosexuals?  (I can’t believe I just typed that. But this is a confession.)

As I said, even though the topic made me uncomfortable, like the picture of globe thistles above, it was a good thing.  Jesus was constantly doing that–saying things that made people feel uncomfortable.

I feel messy about my thoughts and feelings surrounding the issue. I can’t wrap them up in a nice brown Scripture-covered paper and tie a bow on the package to make it presentable. The thoughts don’t fit in the box.

But isn’t all sin messy? (Yes, homosexuality is a sin. no question there…Scripture is pretty clear. This discussion is not about that, okay?)

But gluttony is a sin.
So is jealousy.
And greed.
Pride.
Selfishness.
(Lying is called an abomination, too. Did you know that?)

All of these the broken bits of our attempts to shortcut humanity’s need for satisfaction that only comes from God.

MY need.  MY humanity.

And Jesus died for all of it.

Discomfort is good when it shatters our closely held beliefs–in particular, MY beliefs about who Jesus might associate with. The words from my previous conversation with Tony began to simmer.

Maybe I’d been too quick to agree with those who won’t bake a cake or arrange flowers for the gay weddings. I wasn’t vocal about it, just an inside head-nodding, ‘yes! that’s right!’ like that.

Then I read my friend Lisa’s blog post about an event where a homosexual had been invited to speak at a church no less–to talk about his book. 

Well, that put the icing on the cake. (pun intended). No more inside feelings–I thought I should say something.

What is up with these welcome-armed Christians? Where is the standard?

As God so often does (with a 2 x 4) I just happened to notice in my Bible reading Jesus’ words in Matthew Chapter 9. It was like I’d never seen them before, paid attention to what He had to say to the people who followed him.

“I didn’t come to call the righteous” (read–saved, religious Christian people). No, He came to call the sinners to repentance. He hung out with the prostitutes and the tax collectors. The big ‘S’ sinners. Ate dinner with them.

When Jesus got around His followers and the religious people, He modeled over and over again how to reach out and welcome everyone who would listen.

He was the picture of inclusiveness.  I’d never really read it like that before. Which is why the conversations about building bridges to the gay, bisexual, transgender communities is making more sense to me these days. 

(It shocks me to say that, but this is a confession, yes? So I’ll start right here and repent of my own sin–judgment, shortsightedness, religiosity…)

How are those Jesus is calling even going to know His voice 
unless we’re building a bridge for them 
to get to Him?

That bridge might look like a dinner invite or a coffee meet up or a church invitation, even. Imagine.

Maybe we should open that door.
Maybe we should build that bridge.
(or, as Tony said to me…)
Maybe we should bake the d@*! cake and make it the loveliest cake ever….

I think that’s what Jesus would do.
~~~~~~~~~
Endnote: Dear Readers, I am riddled through with humanity (see above) and as my dear Portland friend Elizabeth pointed out in the Comments (see below) I did not have all the facts on the cake baking issue.  It sounds like the woman did exactly what Jesus would do–prayed about it then made a decision which she lovingly shared with her customer.
That I agree with. 
What I MEANT by  ‘bake the d— cake’ was its representation to me to think again about my responses to homosexuals and gay people, not to judge first. They don’t need more ammunition to not like Christians, for sure. I think opening doors and conversations might be a start. 
THAT’S what I meant….

7 thoughts on “Flowers, Cake and a Confession

  1. I loved reading your thoughts on this issue, and I agree. Jesus was all about building bridges. Your words go so well with something else I just read yesterday. There's a chapter in Philip Yancey's book, What's so Amazing about Grace?, that addresses this same topic. He has a good friend who came out as gay, and though he doesn't agree with what he's doing, he loves his friend and he still supports him as a friend. It opened my eyes in a new way, and your writing just reinforced what God seemed to already be telling me. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I wrote a reply to you and then it went pouf into cyberspace! We both agree that we need to look past labels and really see the person, their brokenness, their heart. The other day my hubs and I went to buy his suit for our daughter's wedding. An obviously gay, flamboyant looking homosexual was the person who helped us. My husband and I both commented afterwards that we sensed his brokenness and insecurity and our hearts were moved with compassion. I've heard this called the “divine flow”, when you sense God's love flowing through you to someone. We should always be willing to be an instrument of God's divine flow. All of us can look in judgement on the florist or the cake shop owner and say what they should have done. We really have no idea of what actually took place without being there. Judgements can fly willy nilly online, pro and con, for and against. What we have to decide for ourselves is, in keeping with the plumb line of God's Word, what is my moral stance re. homosexuality/gay marriage. Now, based on that, how do I uncompromisingly walk that plumb line while also obeying God's Word and heart in the areas of love and compassion. I think that is something we will have to decide encounter by encounter, person by person, circumstance by circumstance. We can become pharisitical towards sinners, but also towards other Christians, when we insist we would have responded differently without really knowing all the ins and outs of what took place. It just makes me so sad that we are biting and devouring one another when the world is judging us by how we love one another. One another, not those who don't know Christ. As a person in ministry for almost 4 decades, I wish more people understood how precarious the situation we are facing with potential Supreme Court decisions that would force churches, ministries, private colleges and schools to either violate what they feel are Biblical absolutes or to chose civil disobedience and possible incarceration. My heart is heavy with all of this.

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  3. When Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, he was indeed showing compassion as well as speaking the truth to them. The story of the woman caught in adultery is another good example of showing compassion (by not stoning her, as the law of Moses said and the scribal authorities wanted) while also saying “go and sin no more.”

    It sounds like the flower store owner was already doing both of those things with the gay person, a regular in her store. It seems rather than refusing flowers for the wedding, she could have spoken what she saw as Jesus' truth about gay marriage (and thus the flowers would not have meant she condoned such weddings). Probably she also sold lots of flowers to families or friends of deceased persons; but those flowers didn't mean she condoned what those deceased persons had done in their lives. When Jesus fed or healed the multitudes, he was not approving their way of life; he was showing compassion and speaking the truth to them at the same time.

    (Also, I would say while homosexual sexual acts are sinful, simply having a homosexual orientation is not sinful.)

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  4. Elizabeth, clearly there is a LOT more to this cake story than I was aware of. Thank you for all that. It sounds like she handled the situation in a very godly way, I'll agree. As to the florist, I believe they are in Richland WA. My husband and I actually sent her a card to tell her we were praying for her and supporting her.
    I know what you mean about the lawsuit frenzy, and yes, I think it will get worse. The other side of this coin is that very few people are talking about the valid issue of CHRISTIANS be persecuted. And it is valid. So I'd say we agree on the premises for sure.
    In this particular case, the whole issue brought about in me a change of heart. A change that is allowing me to listen first and be more like Jesus, rather than judge right from the start. Making room for all the broken people to tell their stories and meet someone who represents Christ in a way that will draw them to Him, rather than make them run away.
    That's where I was going….
    I so appreciate you–always speaking the truth in love.

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  5. Hey friend! In our dealings with anyone involved in any sinful actions, we should be loving and and walk in God's power couple of grace and truth. In the case of the florist, I recently read her side of the story. The gay man was actually a regular customer that she LIKED and had a great relationship with. He knew she was a Christian and she knew he was gay. When he decided to marry his partner, he asked her to do the flowers for the wedding. She actually prayed for some time about her decision, but felt convicted to not do it based on her beliefs about marriage. She LOVINGLY told him no and why, and gave him a list of other recommended florists. They left on what she felt was good terms…but then some political agenda group caught wind of the story and suddenly it was all over the news and she was being sued. Now if she refused service to someone based on their race, age or gender, I understand how wrong that is. But if she refused service based on personal religious conviction on what is sin and on the belief that redefining marriage is spiritually and societally dangerous, then she should be free to practice her religious beliefs per the constitution. I'm not sure of the backstory about the cake, though that is actually not far from here. I do know they've been put out of business due to the lawsuit. Again, there are deep pockets funding these lawsuits. Soon it will be churches and private schools and colleges, etc. etc. Should Christians be compassionate and kind, absolutely! Should they be forced by law to support gay marriage if it is completely against their religious conviction, I don't think so. So, that's my two cents, friend. I guess we lovingly will agree to disagree on this one.

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  6. You be brave, Jody. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this. I think it's good for all of us to step out of our comfort zones and reevaluate what we think and believe and then change when necessary. (I do need to clarify it wasn't my church that did the inviting for the book talk; it was another church, but still. :))

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