Thank you for this opportunity. I really enjoy listening to you. I am hoping you can give your perspective on the Masterpiece Cakeshop and Arlene’s Flower shop cases/decisions.
Dear Deahn, great to have you here and thanks for asking about this.
I can’t speak to the specifics of those two cases as I don’t know enough of the details, but I’m happy to offer my own perspective in general on these sorts of issues. I’m sure different Christians will land in slightly different places on some of this, but these are my thoughts. I’d love to hear what others think:
I don’t think it is right for Christians to withhold custom or services based simply on someone’s orientation (by which I mean their general pattern of sexual attraction). In other words, simply because someone is attracted to someone of the same sex shouldn’t mean they don’t get served.
Orientation (in this context) can be distinguished from behaviour. There may be some reasons in certain contexts why someone’s behaviour disqualifies them. One example would be a church not wanting to employ someone who is in a same-sex relationship in a role where Christian obedience to Scripture is a requirement. In this instance, the person is not disqualified because of their orientation, but because of how they respond to that.
There is a difference between free speech and compelled speech. This seems to be determinative to the sorts of cases you have cited. Baking a cake is one thing; being asked to create a specific message is another. I don’t believe it is just for anyone to be compelled to compose a message that goes against their conscience. Strictly speaking, a Christian baker is not ‘refusing to bake a cake’ for a gay wedding –– they would be happy to bake a cake –– they are refusing to create a particular message that offends their sensibilities and (I believe) should be allowed to by law.
There is a difference between providing services for a wedding (say) that are morally neutral and services that are not. Providing chairs for a gay wedding would (I think) belong to the former; arranging the flowers or decorating the cake would belong to the latter. The difference is that the latter are creative acts specifically intended to glorify the wedding in a way that the former is not. So I can well understand Christians feeling in conscience that they would not want to do this kind of act.
I hope that is a help. As I say, different Christians may land in different places on this. These are controversial matters. I am no expert. But those are some of my thoughts.
Thanks for engaging with RZIM, and God bless,