Do citizens of our country who earn their living as a commercial photographers have the right to turn down the job if the wedding ceremony to be photographed is for a lesbian or gay couple?
Not in New Mexico, according to the ruling of the state’s Supreme Court. (Read the Reuters news story here).
Ok, so change a few details of the story and the location … and ask the question again.
Does a commercial baker in the free-market economy of the United States have the right to refuse to bake a cake intended for the celebration of a homosexual wedding ceremony?
Not in Oregon. Well, at this point in time they could make the refusal. But if they serve up a “it goes against my Christian convictions” explanation to the couple, they could face an official investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor — to say nothing of the barrage of economic boycotts they, and all who work with them on a wedding, will face. (Read here for news about the discrimination case, see here for news about the bakery’s closure).
Some Christians have argued that these businesses should have served the LGBT community — that it was wrong not to. Indeed, they argue that the Gospel could best be shown and heard if Christians would get off their religious high horse and live joyfully alongside (i.e. take the jobs offered to them) by LGBT patrons.
Two thoughts …
First, taking such a job could bring about a situation which offends the conscience of a Christian. I use the word “could” deliberately because I realize that not all Christians would have the same conscience about such actions. However, Romans 14:23 says, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” As R.C. Sproul reminds us, the issue of one’s conscience is a “dilemma of the double-jeopardy sort.” That being said, if a Christian said they truly felt it to be a sin and shame on Christ for them to take part in celebrating a LGBT ceremony by supplying items (cake, photos) essential to the celebration, then the pastoral caution I would give would be: “Let your Christ-led conscience be your guide.”
Second, even if your conscience did not bother you for taking part, when you bake a cake or photograph a ceremony, there is indeed an implied acceptance of the morality and joy of the event. So, if you actually possess a religious conviction against the truth-claim of the ceremony, you would not want to support it. Why not? Because you would be bearing false witness by your participation. Your “Smile everyone” countenance as you snapped a lesbian couple kissing at the conclusion of the ceremony would communicate moral acceptance of an action you actually believe to be immoral and a characteristic of Genesis 3 (the Fall) not Genesis 1-2 (the original created order). By Biblical conviction you would find yourself under the condemnation described in Romans 1:32 giving approval to those whose practice is knowingly contrary to God’s revealed will.
So, what should a Christian do in such circumstances? I will not attempt to answer that question today in the confines of this blog post.
But I will end on this note. If you commercially photograph weddings in New Mexico or bake wedding cakes in Oregon…don’t worry about how you will decide what course of action to take. These matters are being settled for you by government officials. No free exercise of religion for you and no participation in the formerly free-market economy.
Apparently, you can’t have your same-sex cake and religious freedom too.