The Kansas legislature just recently considered a bill (it passed the Kansas House but failed in the Senate) which would have protected the free exercise of religion for faith-driven businessmen in the public square, as well as their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association.
The bill would have protected Christian businessmen from the bullying and bigotry that bakers, florists and photographers have experienced at the hands of Big Gay in states such as Oregon, Washington and New Mexico.
A Christian photographer in New Mexico, for example, was fined $6,700 for politely declining to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony, despite the fact that such a union had precisely no legal recognition at the time in New Mexico whatsoever.
The baker in Oregon has been found to be in civil and even criminal violation of state law for politely declining to bake a cake for a same-sex “marriage” celebration, again despite the fact that such “marriages” are flatly illegal in Oregon and contrary to its state constitution.
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In something that is difficult even to believe, Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Ministries, the second largest church in America, said in USA Today that laws that offer legal protection to such Christian businessmen are actually “offensive.” Wow.
He is offended that Christians “would leverage faith to support the Kansas law,” a law designed to protect the very first unalienable right the Founders enshrined in the Constitution, a law designed to protect his brothers in the faith from being fined or thrown in jail for running their businesses according to Christian conviction. Double wow.
Stanley went on to say, “Serving people we don’t see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity.” I agree. The question for Stanley then is simple: if there is anyone Christ did not see “eye to eye with” it was the Pharisees. How exactly did he “serve” them? By telling them the truth and by refusing to retreat or capitulate in the face of their withering and eventually lethal criticism. He served them by standing without compromise for the abiding standards of the word of God.
It’s worth noting that the baker had done business with the gay couple that wanted the cake numerous times. He did not “refuse to do business with gays and lesbians,” as an ill-informed Stanley accuses him of doing . What this baker’s conscience and faith would not permit him to do was to bake a cake which communicated a message of endorsement for counterfeit “marriages” which are condemned in Scripture.
Stanley at this point gets dangerously confusing. “If a bakery doesn’t want to sell its products to a gay couple, it’s their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it.”
On the one hand, Stanley here seems to be saying that a Christian can refuse to bake a homosexual wedding cake if he wants to. But if he does, Stanley adds ominously, he must not bring Jesus into the discussion or the decision. So much for Christian businessmen being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. According to Stanley, when it comes to homosexuality, they must hide their light under a bushel. I think Jesus had something to say about that.
Simply put, Stanley is advising men of faith who are also business owners to leave Christ out of their businesses. This is astonishing advice coming from one of America’s leading evangelical pastors. Triple wow.
One question remains for Stanley: would he himself perform a homosexual wedding ceremony? If he would not participate in a gay wedding because of the moral standards of Scripture, how in the world can he condemn a Christian businessman for doing the same thing?
I have to believe that Andy Stanley has simply not thought this issue through. His analysis here is perilously shallow and superficial. He would have been far better to refer Kirsten Powers to pro-family organizations or legal groups which deal every day with the expression of Christianity in the public square.
It’s too late for that, but it’s not too late for Stanley to issue an apology for his alarmingly misguided pastoral advice.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.