A Slice of Equality for All
Photo Credit: Ashley Buttle
Written by Michael Coren
Let them eat cake but don’t, whatever you do, actually bake it for them. In May, a Belfast court ruled that a young couple who owned a bakery and refused to make a cake decorated with a pro-gay marriage slogan had broken the law.A token fine was issued which the couple intends to appeal. The couple has become a hero to social conservatives.
The ruling was wrong because the people ordering the cake had asked for a directly political statement to be placed on it and surely we have a right to object to such a request whatever our politics. The ruling was also inevitable because Northern Ireland has legislation protecting members of any community in the profoundly divided region from being refused service.That was actually what enabled the whole case to happen.
But one wonders if the bakers in question would have had a different response if the cake in question were not political and merely for the marriage of two people of the same gender. It’s a delicate issue – rather like a cake really – because as much as businesses should not discriminate there should be some sort of protection for freedom of conscience. Yet there is also a palpable nonsense in all of this. Most of the similar cases internationally have involved refusal of hotel rooms for gay couples, rejecting gay women wanting wedding dresses for their special day, denial of photographic services and so on.
Yet while those refusing to serve gay customers have so far all been Christian, Jesus never even speaks of homosexuality but does strongly condemn divorce, in a culture where divorce was common and easy. But these devout bakers, hoteliers, dressmakers and photographers never refuse service to heterosexual couples who are divorced or who are living together.
Of the 200,000 words in The New Testament a mere 40 refer to same- sex attraction and many question the genuine meaning of the references. So this is about something other than faith. We would be incredulous if a bakery refused service to an inter-racial couple, for example, and while the parallel is not exact, it certainly feels that way if you’re gay.
If people genuinely follow Christ, they will try to imagine how they feel and have felt after centuries of discrimination and abuse. Many Christians claim that they act only out of love but if that is so, it seems to take on a bewildering shape.Where there is love there is God, where there is God there is love. Spend time with gay couples or, as I did recently, in a church that caters principally to gay people, and you will experience God and love in abundance.
There is even more hypocrisy if we search a little deeper. The issue of withholding service to gay people and gay couples has suddenly become to some people a cause of freedom and free speech. But many of these new zealots said nothing up to now when their opponents were silenced and certainly did not speak up for gay men and women who in the past were denied basic liberties.The truth is that for generations and even now to a very large extent conservative Christians, Catholic as well as evangelical, refuse to recognize and deal with their intolerance. The time to do so is long overdue.
To its great credit, this country has developed a new, liberal and loving response to these issues and Canada has grown, matured and prospered as a result. Christianity and Christians should be opening the door to such change, not be dragged through it screaming and protesting. As for what Jesus would do, the answer is simple: He’d bake the cake and then proceed with preaching the Gospel of love, charity, forgiveness and joy. The icing on this story is that history is on the side of the good guys and that genuine equality is only a matter of time.