What do you say to a homosexual couple who asks you to bake a cake for their wedding a month from now?
That was the question that Joel Belz posed in his WORLD magazine column a few years back. A little over a month later, he revealed the difficulty that both he and over 200 readers (including five in prison!) had in answering it – by the end of this second column, Belz was no closer to an answer.
What made Belz’s challenge tougher were two of his conditions: it had to be a brief reply, and, like Christ himself was prone to do, the couple’s request had to be answered with a question.
What further complicates the situation is the fact that we don’t know the couple’s motivations. Are they simply unaware of our Christian moral convictions? Or are they trying to cause trouble? That’s why any answer to the question needed to challenge the couple to make their intentions clear, so that we need not cast pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6) if they hate the gospel and those who bring it.
And our response needs to honor “Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
So if this stymied Belz and his readers, how can we answer it? Well, we can start with what we’ve been given in the first question of our Heidelberg Catechism. Here is my response to, as Belz calls it, “the baker’s challenge”:
“I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, and I believe that I belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to my faithful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Do you want me to disobey my Savior?”
The couple (one or both of them) have three possible responses:
- “Yes, we do!” in which case, you may still face a human rights tribunal, but you have made the issue clear and exposed their hostility to Christ and Christianity;
- “No, we don’t, so we withdraw our request!” which may keep you out of legal trouble and still give you a chance to explain your moral stance as an working out of your hope in Christ, rather than as simply an individual issue of conscience;
- “We don’t understand the problem” which may be the answer we should most hope for since it allows us, with gentleness and respect, explain how our hope in Christ compels us to honor the commands of God.
There seems to be an increasing number of situations in which we might be pressed to do something that compromises our Christian convictions: Sunday work, using certain pronouns, shading the truth on a tax return, celebrating a homosexual wedding, etc. What is most important in any response is to love Christ more than even our conscience (because it’s about Him, not us), and to confess, as it says in Lord’s Day 1:
“Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”