Why I Think Jesus Would Bake a Cake for a Same-Sex Marriage

Cake For A Same Sex Marriage
“Jesus appeared to ‘condone’ what his community considered sinful all the time.”

Aaron Klein, a Baker in Oregon, may face up to $50,000 in fines, for refusing to bake a cake for the wedding of two women, depending on the outcome of a complaint filed January 28 with the Oregon Department of Justice. Klein cites his Christian religious beliefs for his refusal to deliver the wedding cake. The 2007 Oregon Equality Act, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things, suggests the cake-less couple does have a legitimate legal claim to be served.

I like this Aaron Klein. He and his family appear to be exactly the sort with which I’d chat at a soccer game or sing songs next to in worship. He’s married, with three kiddos whose age/gender lineup seems to match mine. Klein’s earnest insistence—“I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset, [it’s] just something I believe in very strongly”— rings true to my ear. And as I wrestle to make sense of how this guy—who’s so much like me—ends up in this sticky situation, I can’t overlook the church’s complicity in creating the powder keg culture that breeds this type of blast.

Related: Steve Chalke Drops the Bomb in Support of Committed, Faithful Same-sex Relationships by Tony Campolo

Specifically, modern American evangelicals—who I truly believe really want to love our neighbors who are different than we are—have been given two conflicting messages about how to behave toward those we deem to be “other.”

On one hand, we’ve been warned to keep our distance from the world. And for the most part, we’ve done it. We’ve both steered clear of situations and people who might trigger our own sin temptations and we’ve also avoided situations which could give the appearance that we’re condoning the behavior of others which we deem sinful. While it seems clear to me that Klein does not have a hateful agenda to condemn, it’s also evident that he’s not wanting to appear to condone what his convictions tell him is sin.

But the other message we’ve received, as evangelicals, is the prime directive, from Jesus, to love God and love our neighbors. When we’re honest, we can admit that we do it pretty well with those who are a lot like us and we struggle to find ways to love with integrity folks who aren’t like us. The overwhelming majority of us want, desperately, to love our neighbors whose religion or gender or race or social class or orientation or occupation do not match our own. And, because “love” is such a fluid concept, I’m sure for all those who insist that the most loving thing Klein could do would be to not bake the cake, many others would find cake-baking the more loving alternative.

These two directives—to keep unstained by the world and to love our neighbors—are, by no accident, in constant holy tension. They were for Jesus and they are for us. When we look at the way Jesus engaged with those his community considered sinful, he embraced—and even seemed to go looking for!—this holy tension. He was derided by the Religious specifically because, by lending his presence places like sinner parties, he accepted an “other” exactly as they were.

This week I can’t help but contrast the current Oregon wedding cake debacle to the gracious witness of one Tony Campolo who celebrated the birthday of a Hawaiian prostitute named Agnes, surrounded by her friends, in a greasy diner at 3:30 in the morning. Overwhelmed by the gesture, Agnes asked sheepishly if they could wait to eat the cake awhile. She wanted to savor it. In fact, with the permission of Harry-the-cake-maker, she disappeared into the night carrying it carefully back to her apartment.

Brave New Films

That weird unlikely scenario required holy imagination.

Also by Margot: “That’s the Kingdom. I Want In!”

Today the church’s lack of such creativity in engaging with those we designate as “other”—whether it’s street-walking Agnes or the same-sex marrying couple, Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter—is a failure to pattern our lives after the person of Jesus. So though we’ve made declarations about what we believe, the safe distance we’ve kept from the world has kept us from loving the ones God loves.

To love—in the offensive way that Jesus loves—I think, would have been to bake the cake.

In fact, I’m of the mind that another Christian sharing Klein’s moral convictions could have, with every ounce of integrity, baked the cake the same way that a Baptist preacher from Philly served one up in the Hawaiian islands. I’m convinced by the gospel witness that whether Jesus-the-baker would have been in favor of or opposed to same-sex marriage would not have determined whether or not he baked the cake.

A number of years back, those who’d gathered at a greasy Hawaiian diner, to celebrate the triumph of God’s great love in Jesus, went home, satisfied, cakeless. However, if Oregon wedding guests go home cakeless in 2013, it is because the church has failed to flesh out the radical offensive love of Jesus.

Margot Starbuck is a speaker, volunteer and author of The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail and Small Things With Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor. Her next book, Permission Granted: And Other Thoughts on Living Graciously Among Sinners and Saints releases in March 2013.

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About the Author

Margot Starbuck

Margot StarbuckMargot Starbuck, is allowed to say our faces and voices are more important than books we write because last year she wrote a book about loving those who are other than we are,  Permission Granted, and she just released one about reflecting the gracious Face which is true— Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God. More @ MargotStarbuck.comView all posts by Margot Starbuck →

  • Margie Hearron

    I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. I don’t believe homosexual sex is a sin. With that said, if homosexuality was a sin, why is there NO MENTION in the OLD TESTAMENT about lesbians?? None. What if what we think in the OLD TESTAMENT is only talking about idolatry…temple and shrine male prostitutes that worshiped fertility gods/godesses. And since almost no homosexual today worships at fertility temples, no homosexuals are participating in that type of idolatry that was mentioned in Leviticus. Also some translate the verse in Leviticus to say that a man should not lay with a man that acts or pretends to be a woman… trannies?? Regardless of all that, Jesus never mentions homosexuality as a sin. I go with Jesus. I will love homosexuals and fight for their civil rights in the USA. We straight people should take more time to research all sides of the issue of Bible and homosexuality and sexuality and idolatry.

    • bluecenterlight


    • Jon

      Jesus never mentions bestiality either…does that make it ok? The main reason for bestiality and homosexuality being sins is that they go against what God intended. They are man’s way of saying “I know best” when we clearly do not. The ultimate sin is rejecting God and His ways, anything that goes against His plan (ie. nature) does just that.

    • 22044

      Margie, is any kind of sex wrong? Where is the line drawn? We should love people, but not at the expense of truth.

  • Margie Hearron

    Before someone talks about Sodom and Gomorrah: please read Ezekiel 16:49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” Now if you read in the next verse, you see the word “abomination” or “detestable things”… that could mean anything. Since there is no exact lists of sins except for what is listed in verse 49, we should not assume that Sodom was destroyed for homosexual sins. If that was the case, it would have been mentioned and it wasn’t. :-)

    • 21st C Episcopalian

      Jude 1:7 proves you wrong. The sin of Somon and Gomorrah WAS sexual immorality; anal intercourse.

      • 22044

        On this, I could certainly be wrong. I think the answer is both in Genesis and Ezekiel.

      • Jude never says anal intercourse. He says “sexual immorality and unnatural lust.” Unnatural lust is a vague term that can mean any of a great number of things. The Greek literally says “went after strange flesh.” In order to interpret Jude as condemning homosexuality, one must bring to the Scripture the presupposition that homosexuality was the sin of Sodom – which makes using Jude to prove that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality an exercise in circular logic.

    • Isaiah and Jeremiah also provide a list of the sins of Sodom. They include pride, greed, and a failure to care for the poor. Homosexuality is not mentioned by either of these prophets.

  • Idontfeellikecreatingausername

    Can a gay person still expect to be cared for by our Father. Does he not give them their “daily bread” as well? If not bread why not cake?

    • 22044

      A wedding cake is not daily bread.

  • Carl Palmer

    Jesus- baking? I find that hard to believe.

  • Carl Palmer

    Jesus – baking?! I find that hard to believe.

    • Jonathan Starkey

      God the Father is a baker. He provided eternal bread. Manna in the desert. This is what makes Him so approachable. Jesus the showbread. The bread of presence. These are all amazing pictures of our relateable God.

      The sacrifices on the alter were to be smelled all across the city. Then they at it. It’s as if God were at home. God the BBQ pit master.

      If you find it hard to believe, it needs to be revealed to you.

      • Jonathan Starkey

        The showbread freshed baked, the presence of God is like a home. And in that home someone just cooked a loaf of fresh bread, and the smell permeates the house. There is a sense of warm and comfort. mmmm the Presence.

        • Jonathan Starkey

          Also, what about the picture of Jesus making everyone fish dinners on the beach. Oh, and providing 5000 and 7000 people with a meal in the wilderness.

          I could go on and on.

  • Christian Critical Thinker

    A number of you have missed the point here. Sure in each instance there was a cake involved. however, the circumstances are very different. I’m surprised that the author and others have missed the important differences between the two events. The birthday cake for the prostitute wasn’t some extreme example of love. Every Christian would acknowledge everyone’s right to celebrate a birthday. The cake for the same sex wedding was something different. The Bible defines marriage as that between a man and a woman. The Bible also describes the homosexual act as an “abomination”. No Christian could assist in a same-sex wedding in good conscience. That would be aiding and abetting “an abomination”. Fellow Christians, some of you may not like what I’m saying. Perhaps you need to question whether your beliefs are based on the Word or what seems reasonable to post-modern man.

    • bluecenterlight

      Our purpose here is to reconcile the world to God. I have to believe there is a way to stand for what you believe without treating people as the dirty, untouchable class.

  • jsboegl

    New question: In as much as gay advocacy supports human rights issues for gay, lesbian, transgender and bi-sexual (GLBT) persons, someone explain the scriptural justification for so-called “bisexual orientation”?

    • 22044

      Maybe your question is rhetorical?
      If it’s OK, I’ll try to answer like it’s a straight question.
      I wouldn’t take issue if someone says that they’re bisexual. Like other sexual orientations, it is intended to become less identified with someone who wants to follow Jesus as he discovers and trusts his new identity in Christ. (I’m sure I didn’t say anything there you didn’t already know). God bless.

    • bluecenterlight

      There is none. There is also no scriptural justification for heterosexual male lust. But that’s not really a sin, is it? No one really talks about it, so I’m assuming God is not that concerned. Porn would not be a multi billion dollar a year business without Christian dollars. I have been in enough men’s groups over the years to know this is a huge issue. So I guess the question is, if the church is full of guys who sneak off in the middle of the night to their basement to “check for testicular cancer” 😉 who has the moral high ground to judge? The point of Romans 1 is Romans 2, you bring condemnation on yourself to harshly judge others sins because you have forgotten your own, and God’s loving kindness in forgiving you. Masturbation has made us excellent stone throwers, as they say, practice makes perfect :)

      • jsboegl

        Yup. You got it right there brother. None of us have the moral high ground to condemn another. We all stand guilty. Porn addicts, adulterers, bigots, homosexuals and those whose hearts are filled with hatred. We all need to heed Jesus’ Words: “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
        I bless you, the baker, the gay couple “and” I as we yield to His order, and zealously live into His vibrant righteousness.

        • daithi duly

          Thanks for your replies jsboegl your comments have been refreshing!

  • bluecenterlight

    The idea that God has appointed us to approve or disapprove of anyone’s sin is ridiculous. Roman 1 lays out a list of sin, from homosexuality to being disobedient to your parents, then Romans 2 says you should never condemn anyone for these sins because we are all guilty. So Christians line up in one of two camps, Romans 1 Christians or a Romans 2, and neither the twain shall meet. Is it possible that both are true? Is it possible that when the bible speaks of sin it is talking to you and not your neighbor? If Isaiah stood before the Lord and felt torn to shreds by the guilt of his own sin, the condemnation of others sin should burn as it leaves our lips. If those of us who God has rescued from the mire of this world have become so righteous that it is impossible for us to reach back and rescue others, then something has gone horribly wrong. I would tell him where he could put his cake, but it would detract from my point :)

    • 22044

      I agree with your general points, but there may be other factors that weren’t presented in the story, that were involved in the bakers’ decision.
      And how can others be rescued, if there’s no assessment that there’s a “fire” that they need to be rescued from?

      • bluecenterlight

        We are called to love our neighbor. I can’t imagine that couple walked away feeling loved. I have to believe that it is possible to disagree and show the love of Christ at the same time, I just don’t see that here. It smacks of taking a political stance. I came to Christ because He loved me first, because He went to great lengths to express that love for me. He offered me compassion when I didn’t deserve it. Even now, when I make the same stupid mistakes, He is gracious and kind, and yet challenges me to never settle for my lesser self. Our message should always be the worlds need for Him. But, if moral perfection were the criteria for my acceptance I would have quit a long time ago, or possibly never started. The broken see their need for Christ, their sanctification however is between them and God.

  • Jonathan Starkey

    Grace isn’t condoning someones behavior. It’s extending the same grace that you’ve been given. Heard that today. Yeah, I don’t agree with you, but I’m going to love you.

    • Jonathan Starkey

      When you receive love on the basis of the things you’ve done that that’s called “merit.” When you receive love when you don’t deserve it that’s called grace.

      • Jonathan Starkey

        And when you are loving and serving those who least deserve it then your looking like Jesus.

  • Jose Gonzales

    I don’t think Jesus baked cakes. That’s not what carpenters do.

  • Jose Gonzales

    If I were a baker, I would bake a cake for a homosexual, or anyone else, because I want their money. But I would not put dirty words on a cake for anyone, nor blasphemous words, and therefore I would also not make a cake for a homosexual “wedding.” I would make a birthday cake for a homosexual, as I would for a Muslim, but I would never make a Jihad cake and I would never make a homo-“wedding” cake, just as I would not make a cake saying F U or celebrating a rape.

    • Jose Gonzales

      If you want a gay “wedding” cake, just buy a normal cake without the names on it, and buy two sets of those little cake people. Then take the two women or two men figures and put them on the cake. How simple is that? Or go find yourself a gay baker who specializes in pervert cakes.

  • Jose Gonzales

    Our society is over-sexualized. Homosexuality is a side-effect over-sexualization. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of sex a person has, nor in the abundance or partner’s a person has it with. If only the churches would preach that, the problem would be solved. Instead the churches participate in the brainwashing of our youth into over-sexualization by pushing the “beauty” of sex, and denying the dignity of living a celibate life (something Paul teaches in Romans 7 I think it is). The churches need to stop pushing sex, and then homosexuality will naturally go away. Stop pressuring everyone to get married. I don’t mean allow sex outside of marriage, I mean stop pushing sex as important. Christianity is not sex and sex is not required to be a Christian. Quit acting like getting married is required to be a Christian. Quit acting like single people who live celibate lives (i.e. who are virgins) are somehow sinners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT and THAT ALONE will solve the homosexual crisis.

    • Jose Gonzales

      It could be 1 Cor 7 instead of Romans 7.

  • Jose Gonzales

    Church, Quit acting like single people who live celibate lives (i.e. who are virgins) are somehow sinners. Then homosexuality will go away.

  • bluecenterlight

    Many times in scripture, when God does something significant in someones life it starts with a journey. Just like with Abraham, leaving everything behind to a place that God leads. I have felt that pull on my life the last couple of years and my journey starts this spring, leaving Columbus Ohio for Oregon, what God has in store I do not know. I had hoped to meet Richard, and I feel tremendous loss for myself because that is no longer possible in this life. But I feel great joy that He is with the Lord. The world needs more men like him, I pray many will follow his example. As it says in Hebrews 11 ” the world was not worthy of them”, we are blessed to have you as long as we did. God bless you Richard.

  • Ford1968

    Hmmmm…I wonder if this baker would refuse to bake a cake for a Bar Mitzvah. After all, wouldn’t that be condoning Judeism? Surely the sin of rejecting Jesus as the messiah is at least as grave as the sin of pledging oneself for life to the person that they love (who is the same sex).

    No? Is it just gay events we don’t want to condone? I wonder why that is? Could it be that homosexuality has taken on a worst-of-all-sins status in the church? Homosexuality has become a proxy for all things that are contrary to the conservative worldview.

  • SamHamilton

    I agree with Margot’s overall point…the point being made by recounting the oft-told story about Agnes. We shouldn’t fear being “stained” by spending too much time with “sinners.”

    But that’s not the situation with the wedding cake. It doesn’t sound like the baker was concerned about being “stained.” He was concerned about the impression it would leave that he was assisting in celebrating something he finds immoral and against God’s teaching. He might be wrong about God’s teaching, but let’s be clear about what his motivation is. There is always a tension regarding how far we go to associate with certain ways of the world. I think good Christians can disagree in each specific instance.

    Going back to the story of Agnes, the equivalent action in regards to the Oregon baker would have been for Tony to celebrate Agnes’ line of work. He was not. He was celebrating Agnes’ dignity as a human being. The baker was being asked to celebrate the gay marriage, not the two individuals inherent dignity. I can respect him for his choice, particularly considering the legal sanctions.

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