I recently read an article called Bake for Them Two which claimed that Jesus’ commands concerning Christians in pagan Rome applies to our current situation concerning homosexual marriage:
One of the Roman laws stated that any man could be required to drop what he was doing and carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for him for up to a mile. In the sermon on the mount, with his followers gathered around him, Jesus referenced that law and told his followers what they should do in that case:
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Jesus said, not only should you follow the law of the land — the law which in America for the most part prohibits discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation — not only should you do the minimum you have to do, you should go the extra mile. (Yes, that’s where that expression comes from!) Do *twice* what the law requires.
If someone forces you to bake a cake for a gay wedding, bake for them two.
There are three main threads of idea that need to be unpacked in order to understand the manipulations and flaws in this argument: the permissibility of civil disobedience, the difference between subjects and citizens, and the limitations of human government.
First, the bake for them two argument (aside from being titled with the bad pun of a straight-to-DVD sequel) assumes that Christians are duty-bound to obey the law of the land, no matter the law. This is false.
In the case of carrying a Roman soldier’s equipment, this was humiliating and inconvenient, not immoral. There is nothing immoral about carrying another person’s stuff. There is nothing immoral (on the victim’s part) about being slapped in the face. Christians should suffer the insults of non-Christians with equanimity. We should serve non-Christians in any way we conscionably can.
But there are many cases of civil disobedience in the Bible. Whenever the State commands a believer to do something immoral, the believer is duty-bound to refuse. There are countless examples throughout the Scriptures, but they are all summed up in this quote from the Apostles: “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).
Civil disobedience is permissible when the State tells you to do something you believe is immoral. Christians think homosexual marriage is immoral. They don’t want to be integrally involved in a homosexual wedding service. In fact, they think it would be immoral to facilitate a homosexual wedding with a cake.
The author of the bake for them two article states plainly that she does not believe homosexual marriage is immoral. So, in her mind, baking a cake for a homosexual wedding is, at worst, a distasteful inconvenience. An offense. But she is projecting her own feelings concerning homosexual marriage on the Christians she “exhorts.”
And this brings me to the second point: the difference between subjects and citizens. The Roman civil government was obviously tyrannical. They had conquered Israel militarily. Jews who resisted the Roman will, even in the most trivial ways, were beaten or killed. To say that the Jewish response to Rome is parallel to the American citizens’ response to Washington is oddly horrifying. You’re telling me that American Christians should act like a conquered people in the face of a brutal and God-hating military occupation? Interesting. It might actually be the truest and most honest implication of her whole article.
But, for the short time being, Americans, even American Christians, are citizens, not subjects. We have some say in the law-making process. And despite what the author implies, the laws concerning homosexual marriage and “discrimination” are not set in stone, and citizens, in contrast to subjects, have the right to reshape their laws to match their higher convictions. Even if those convictions are distasteful to you.
And this leads me to the third point: the limitations of human government. Have you noticed that both of the elements I have discussed up to this point relate to one another? They both evidence a prostrate attitude toward the laws of the State. As if the civil government’s law is the highest law. German Christians had a similar perspective on Hitler’s laws, as evidenced by an interesting anecdote from the Nuremberg trials:
During the Nuremberg trials, the attorneys for the Nazi war criminals attempted to use the defense that their clients were only following the direct orders of the government and therefore could not be held responsible for their actions. However, one of the judges dismissed their argument with the simple question: “But gentlemen, is there not a law above our laws?”
Precisely. And I would ask the author of bake for them two the same question. Is there not a law that trumps the laws of human governments? If this were phrased correctly, no one would deny it. What about when slavery was legal? If the State required Christians to return runaway slaves, should they return two runaway slaves to obey Jesus’ command? This is absurd.
So the whole argument really boils down to whether or not homosexual marriage is actually, biblically speaking, immoral. The bake for them two article doesn’t even attempt to address this. The author assumes that homosexual marriage is moral, and then acts like that assertion doesn’t enter into the question-begging that ensues.
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