This guest post was written by April Kelsey.
Dear Christian Business Owner,
I don’t usually do open letters (it’s against my policy), but today I feel compelled to make an exception. I’m writing to you because I’m genuinely concerned and confused about your objections to serving LGBT folks.
See, when I was growing up in church, my leaders talked about how important it was to seek out opportunities to share the gospel with others. Jesus could return at any time, and people needed to be ready to meet him. For them, this wasn’t just some pretty idea; Christians had a scriptural obligation to win souls, and everyone took it seriously. I knew people who rejoiced when sinners entered their workplace, because it allowed them to plant and water the seeds of salvation through their service.
I don’t know what has happened in the past 25 years to change all of that, but it’s saddening. If you truly believe the LGBT community is most in need of Jesus, why on earth would you advocate for laws to keep them away?
Now, I realize that some of you provide goods and services for weddings, and you believe that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples only. You care about your reputation as a Christian within the Christian community, and you don’t want to be seen as giving approval to a union you believe to be sinful. And it’s your business, right? You started it. Theoretically, you should have the right to refuse service to anyone. I understand that.
But think for a moment about the unique opportunity your business presents. There are people who walk into your store who would never visit a church. If you are a Christian, full of the Holy Spirit, you carry with you the divine presence of our Lord and Savior. Every person who walks into your business is someone who can encounter the living Christ within you. And not just through your words, but through your service.
Personally, if I had a business making wedding cakes, I would put a sign in my window welcoming LGBT customers. And not only would I make them a wedding cake, it would be the best cake. I would take extra care on every detail, going above and beyond their expectations. I would shake their hands and learn their names and welcome them back for future purchases. I would give them such loving service, they would feel compelled to ask me why.
Because the truth is, LGBT folks have faced a lot of persecution — especially from other Christians. Many have been shunned by their parents and kicked out of their local church. You could be the only loving Christian they will ever meet. Imagine six months from now a gay person saying to his friend, “All Christians aren’t like that. That baker on the corner is the nicest guy. In fact, because of him, I’m going to back church this Sunday.”
You might say, “But what about my conscience? What about giving approval to sin?” And I would ask, what did Jesus care about most? Was it about simply avoiding sin? Or was it about people coming to know him?
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” — Matthew 9:12-13
Jesus himself once had to choose between avoiding a questionable situation and helping someone who really needed it (Mark 3:1-6). The religious leaders were present, ready to accuse him of sin. But Jesus showed them that doing good for others is never sinful.
What if that cake you bake, or picture you take, or bouquet you arrange, results in someone coming to know Jesus? Do you honestly think he would condemn that?
Or would he condemn pushing away the people you say need him most?
I urge you to think about it.
Your Christian Sister
About April Kelsey
April Kelsey is the author of the blog Revolutionary Faith. She lives in Virginia with her husband, two sons and two cats. Her life goal is to put the final nail in the coffin that is Christian fundamentalism.