It’s almost two years since I’ve written anything at length around the subject of marriage. Back in June 2013 I was compelled to put something together by way of a response to the (at that time) proposed redefinition of marriage. Since then, March 29th 2014 has come and gone, with relatively little upset in or out of the UK church, and ‘marriage’ as we now know it has been ‘redefined’. You can read my fairly comprehensive piece on marriage here, outlining the biblical perspective explained clearly from Scripture here. I am yet to see any biblical foundation explained that supports a progressive conviction that homosexual marriage is pleasing to and blessed by God.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve re-read my piece from June 2013 several times because I’ve wanted to ensure that my tone wasn’t unnecessarily or unkindly inflammatory and to make sure that I have expressed, as best I can, what I am convinced of.
Though hugely unpopular, including within some pockets of the church herself, the Bible is consistently clear about what it says to be true about marriage (and, therefore, not true). In our 21st Century culture, I fully expect the Bible’s stark offensiveness, sharply felt by our equality-obsessed society, to increase as it is faithfully proclaimed.
As we go on, it’s helpful to remember that, pervasively and at its absolute core, the gospel of Jesus Christ is an offense to all of us, believers and unbelievers, (1 Cor. 1:18, 23; 2 Cor. 2:16; Gal. 5:11). Despite our seeker sensitive packaging and style, it never ever tries to pander to our felt need for equality or inclusion. Rather, it heralds something far more radical and transformative – namely, holiness and progressive sanctification in submission to our Creator and Friend.
It’s also vitally important to recognise that it’s also very wrong to conclude that ‘offensive truth’ (or better: truth that is offensive) is unloving or unkind truth purely on the grounds of it being offensive: Jesus’ good message (the gospel) that you and I are inherently sinful and need to bow the knee to King Jesus, receive His forgiveness and to instead receive eternal life and adoption as His child, is both offensive to the core of all of us but also the most outrageously loving and expansively kind truth that can possibly be communicated. Not communicating this well is cowardly, unloving and unkind.
Ashers Baking Co
Daniel and Amy McArthur have been at the forefront of the ‘gay cake debate’ which, for now, has concluded that they were discriminatory and in breach of the equality act of 2010 by refusing to bake a cake on which was a message promoting and advertising ‘homosexual marriage’.
A redefinition of marriage such as this is a serious violation and attack of their deeply felt Christian faith which is that marriage, defined only by God in the Bible, is only ever ordained to be between one man and one woman and that any deviation from this is dishonouring to Him. It is quite right and biblical that Daniel and Amy’s allegiance to this biblical truth supersedes societal values when they directly conflict with each other (see Acts 4:18-20).
More specifically, the McArthurs’ position is that they are unwilling to ‘bake the cake’, irrespective of the customer’s sexual orientation, because of the anti-biblical message that it communicates. In good conscience they could not bake the cake because they would have been cooperating with an evangelistic, anti-Christian campaign.
This was and is a matter of their freedom of conscience as Jesus-prioritising Christians, not because they want to discriminate against people who are homosexual. The point that Daniel McArthur underlined again yesterday is that the customer’s sexual orientation was irrelevant in this debate – had it been a heterosexual customer requesting the same cake, their response would have been exactly the same.
This whole debate highlights again that this growing tension between UK equality law and freedom of conscience is intensifying, but that it is also inconsistent….or discriminatory, one might say:
Because not only has a sacred biblical definition, (in theory), been redefined by UK law, it is now possible for a Court of Justice in the UK to rule that members of society have to behave in a way that is absolutely contrary to their religious beliefs and consciences and that, if they refuse to, they are guilty of discrimination and liable to prosecution. ‘Equality’ trumps freedom of conscience.
Because this same legal stance, applied to other members of society from religions other than Christianity, would not be tolerated for the same reasons. For example, would an Islamic Baker be prosecuted for discrimination if they refused to bake a cake with the prophet Mohammed etched on its front or of another slogan that was at odds with Islamic faith? Freedom of conscience would be significantly more likely to trump ‘equality’.
What do you think of the recent legal decision to hold Ashers Baking Company responsible for discrimination?
What do you think this might mean for the future of UK discrimination law as a whole?
Do you think that the Bible has anything to say about all of this, specifically to do with law and ‘religious’ conscience?
Do you think this is a big deal? Why/why not?