(This post is written only and exclusively to Christ-following business people about the new same-sex marriage ruling.
The reason I clarify the audience for this post is because context matters.
Someone who is not a follower of Christ could read this post or watch the accompanying video and come away with all kinds of misunderstandings.
That’s because they are not the intended audience. They don’t have the background or experience with Jesus to help them understand what I’m about to say.
And I’m also likely going to say things in ways that apply only to Christian people.
I’m not writing to cut people down or disparage anyone.
I’m writing to exhort a certain group of people to a certain way of thinking and acting.
So for what it’s worth… that’s who I’m talking to and where I’m coming from.)
Gay marriage and Christian business people.
We recently had a Supreme Court decision that a business that was a bakery and was asked to make a cake for a gay wedding refused because they were Christians and they believed that of good conscience they couldn’t make the cake because it would be part of celebrating the wedding, and they didn’t have a conviction—and that’s a key word; let’s think about that in just a minute—they didn’t have a conviction that it would be okay for them to do that.
In fact, their conviction was the opposite: that they could not do it in good conscience.
Now, how should we Christians who are business people think about issues like this? I think it’s a very confusing subject to many of us, and it’s a very difficult subject, honestly, because of quite a few things.
The first thing is: I want us to think about two passages in Scripture that really deal with the same issue. There is Romans, chapter 14, and then there’s First Corinthians, chapter 8.
Now, in those passages, Paul the Apostle is writing to believers (to Christians) about the issue of whether or not they should eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Now, in the Christian mind of that time, participating in a meal that included meat that had been sacrificed to idols could be construed as an act of worship, could be construed as taking part in that pagan practice of sacrificing to an idol or worshipping an idol; which to Christians would be a bad thing to worship an idol because it’s a false god.
Now, I think those passages have similar—not identical, please understand that—but similar considerations as does this issue with the bakery that didn’t want to make the cake.
You see, in that passage, Paul teaches that each person must be convinced in their own mind, okay. And that has partly to do with the Scriptures, what the Holy Spirit has taught you through the Scriptures, and with what you believe the Holy Spirit is guiding you personally to do.
Now in this issue with the bakery and the cake, I’ve heard a couple of different opinions from believers. Some are just very strong, “No way! That business should stand their ground. They shouldn’t be baking that cake because that is taking part in a gay marriage and it’s celebrating the union of these two people which shouldn’t be unified at all.”
And that’s all from a Christian standpoint.
There are others, who are believers, who are saying, “Hey, I would bake the cake if it were me. Out of love for the couple, to show them love, to demonstrate that I am not any more judgmental of them than I am of an alcoholic or a drug addict or something like that. And I don’t see this as perpetuating or taking part in the celebration; I see this as more as an act of love towards an individual or individuals.”
Okay, now, I can see both sides of the argument. I really can. And I can understand how that issue could be a matter of conviction for a person on either side.
Now, you may be on one side or the other; and you may look at it and kind of cast doubt at the people on the other side of that argument—and I would encourage you to slow down if that’s where you’re at because Paul’s argument in both of these passages is that we need to, out of love for our brothers, let them work through the issue according to their own convictions.
And really the emphasis is on trusting God to give those people direction as to what He wants them to do.
This is a very gray issue. There’s not a black and a white in an issue like this, even though we may want to press it and make it into an issue that has a black and a white to it. You see, we’ve got to be very careful that love, for our brother first of all, our Christian brother or sister, is overriding our opinion and our impressions of what should be done.
I think it’s important in this case of the bakery—hey, I support the bakery, that they’re standing on their conviction that is based on their Christian faith; I support them in that. I don’t know that I would have done the same thing. If I were in those shoes, I may have done the same thing, I might not have. I don’t know.
It’s hard to say until you actually get there.
Now, there’s another issue in this that I think is important for us to think through, and that is that we as Christians in business are going to face these kinds of issues sooner or later. Now, it depends really on what your business is. It depends on the kind of services you provide, the kinds of products that you have, as to whether or not you’re going to run into this in a real obvious way or not.
But I guarantee you this is an issue where our culture is becoming more and more accepting of the gay lifestyle. We can see that in the way that the Supreme Court ruled, and we can see that in the reactions in all the people who are having the little rainbow coloring on their profile image on the social media and things.
There are a lot of people who support this. And our culture is progressively becoming more and more attuned to those issues—and actually sympathetic toward them.
So you, as a Christian in business, you need to start thinking that through. Don’t wait until it’s at your doorstep.
Start thinking it through in light of the Scriptures, in light of conviction, in light of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and most of all in light of love.
We have to be careful that we don’t come off as pharisaical hypocrites, where we’re kind of winking at one thing, but where actually we’re strongly condemning another, when both are clearly Biblical sins and both are clearly outside the realm of what a Christian would expect to do.
Now, there’s some guidelines in this, some things I’d like for us to think about as believers.
Number one is: we should not be expecting non-believers (people who don’t know Christ) to adhere to morals that are Christian and are things Christians should be doing, okay. There’s no reason for us to think that should be the case!
So non-believers, being homosexual, being alcoholic, being murderers, whatever, we should not be surprised at that.
Now, I’m not saying that in a condescending way. We all have our own sins. Even as believers in Christ, we struggle with the power of sin that still resides in our mortal body.
But we’re struggling with the Holy Spirit’s help to overcome those things; we don’t want them; we don’t appreciate them in our lives; we want to push them out, in time, with the Spirit’s help.
And that struggle should make us sympathetic with those who are outside the family of Christ.
It should make us eager to pray for them, eager to love them, eager to encourage them toward Christ in ways that are winsome and appealing, ways that appeal to them on the basis of God’s love for them.
If you read the Scriptures carefully—especially the New Testament—you’ll see that all references to people outside the family of Christ are references that are exhorting us as believers to approach them in love.
We are not to be condemning toward them.
So keep that in mind. You should not expect non-believers to act as believers. You should be praying for them; you should be loving them; you should be serving them… in whatever ways you feel in your conscience, in the leadership of the Holy Spirit, you are able to do so that they can be drawn toward Christ through the love that you’re giving.
And the second thing that I think we need to consider is that the way that we communicate our standards as a Christian business person needs to be done in a way that clearly identifies our stance while at the same time expressing love for the people involved. It’s a corollary to this first one that I mentioned, but it’s a little different.
We’ve got to be able to be clear in what we believe.
If we believe—and we should if we’re believers in Christ, and if we hold to the veracity of the Scriptures—we should believe that homosexuality is wrong just like any other sin is wrong.
But we need to communicate that to people in a way that does not condemn them as an individual, but rather expresses love and compassion.
That’s a hard balance to strike sometimes. You and I have to admit that.
And that’s why I want to encourage you to start thinking this through now.
I want you to just start considering: how would you do this?
Write out some ideas; think through some scripts; journal about it. Get under your belt these ideas and start considering: how would you respond in a way that would express both love, but also express a clear standard?
And then the third thing we as Christian businesspeople need to consider—and I want you to really consider this and think about this—is that we have got to be bold, and we’ve got to be courageous maybe more than bold.
- We’ve got to be willing to say where we stand on these issues when it comes up.
- We need to not shrink back because there’s a threat of legal action.
- We need to not shrink back because we may be called a bigot or a hate-monger or things like that.
- We need to prove them wrong by our actions.
As Paul said in another place, we should live lives among the pagans, such that they will give glory to God because of the purity of our lives. So we’ve got to live that kind of life and we’ve got to speak about why we live that kind of life when the time comes—and that may mean we have to become very clear about what we believe about issues like this gay marriage thing.
We can’t cave in because of some threat or some sense of fear, because our God is in control over all these things. We’ve got to keep Him in the center.
We’ve got to keep moving forward in our faith no matter what the difficulty is that may be facing us at the time.
These are not easy issues, and I’m speaking—please hear this, too—I’m speaking to Christians. I’m speaking to people who are Christ’s followers. If you’re committed to living your life and running your business in a way that honors and glorifies Christ, these are issues you have got to take seriously.
I don’t have easy answers. I don’t think there are easy answers.
We have to walk by the Spirit, taking His lead, and not gratifying the desires of our own flesh—which may be to run from the issue, to ignore the issue, to cave in when the pressure comes.
We’ve got to ignore those things, and we’ve got to submit to the power of the Spirit and let Him lead us so that we can be light in these dark times, when evil is being called good and good is being called evil.
I’d love to interact with you about this, so feel free to do that in the comments below the video or hit me up at Carey@CareyGreen.com so that we can interact about this. I don’t think there are easy answers. I don’t want to get into any hot and heavy debates about it, either.
But at the same time, as believers, this is an in-house debate. We’ve got to work this through and have grace toward our brothers who don’t have the exact same perspective on it that we do, but at the same time have boldness in our stance—in love, with compassion, but at the same time being clear.