Your ‘Deeply Held Religious Belief’ Isn’t Biblical

From seattlegayscene.com

Most of us know the story. Last year, a Colorado baker was taken to court because he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing that such an act would violate his “religious beliefs” against gay marriage.

You’d think that nearly a year after the ruling (in which the baker was found guilty of discrimination), that most people would have forgotten about it. But no. I still see articles and hear comments pop up on ‘deeply held religious beliefs’ and how it’s such a shame that our government doesn’t seem to care about protecting them these days. (Protecting them meaning that they can be exercised whenever, however, and with whatever consequences that result.) The phrase took center stage in the Hobby Lobby birth control case, and again when a photographer in New Mexico refused to photograph a gay wedding.

However, the more I hear the words ‘deeply held religious belief’ bandied about, the more uneasy I feel. I wasn’t sure why at first, until I had read through the umpteenth article on the subject. And that’s when I realized that the so-called “beliefs” being defended weren’t actually rooted in scripture.

I believe that if someone is going to make a case for a ‘deeply held religious belief,’ then said belief should be backed up with a clear biblical mandate. And those saying it is against their religion to sell wedding favors to gay couples don’t have a scriptural basis for that position.

I can prove it.

The scripture that all of these people cite in support of their behavior is Romans 1:32 – that God not only judges people who sin, but also those who simply approve of sin. First off, there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that indicates that selling someone a product in the course of legal business implies tacit approval of the buyer’s lifestyle or behavior. Nothing. Second, that’s not what the scripture even says. Here it is, quoted in context:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:28-32 NKJV

So all the way through, the scripture is talking about the same group of people: Those who commit the sin are also the ones approving of the sin. I’ve looked up this scripture in the original King James and the NIV. It reads the same way in all versions. Here’s how it reads in The Message:

Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

In this particular passage, Paul is describing how early humans degenerated into paganism. They saw that God existed (vs 21) but decided to worship idols instead (vs 23). They forgot morality and began indulging the lusts of their flesh. God’s response was to let them have their way (vs 24, 26, 28). They eventually began outdoing each other in evil, even abusing and exploiting their own flesh and blood and congratulating each other for it.

Even though the chapter ends with verse 32, that is not the end of the passage. Paul’s point continues through Romans 2:

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds.” ~ Romans 2:1-6

I looked up some commentary on these passages, and here’s the deal: In these passages, Paul is addressing Jews in Rome. These Jews were claiming that their salvation was assured because they were Jews and had the revelation of the Law. As a result, they were passing judgment on their Gentile brothers, turning up their noses every time they stumbled. But Paul calls the Jews out, stating that their knowledge of the Law and their self-righteous attitude won’t save them since they are engaging in the exact same depravity that condemns the Gentiles. He shatters their preconceived notion of safety, revealing that God, though long-suffering, will eventually judge every person according to their deeds – without partiality (vs 11).

So these scriptures have to do with hypocritical judgment, not ‘passive approval.’

For those still inclined to argue, I point to Matthew 5, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. This is the same passage wherein Christ mandates love for enemies. But it’s the few preceding verses that really demand attention:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. ~ Matthew 5:38-42. 

So, if giving someone something that they ask for shows approval for their sin, then Jesus just commanded his followers to approve of theft, abuse and kidnapping.

Yes, huh.

And this scripture goes much further than just selling someone a product for profit. Jesus is talking about giving freely to people whose actions we wouldn’t approve of – above and beyond what they ask for! Paul echoes Jesus’ sentiment:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” ~ Romans 12:20

But don’t take his picture or sell him a wedding cake. That’s a step too far. Said no Bible ever.

And where does it end? Can a furniture store refuse to sell a gay couple a bed because they might sleep together in it? Can a banker deny a gay couple a home loan because they’ll live together in the same house? Not to mention this kind of ‘religion’-based discrimination is hypocritical to the max. Tell me that baker never made a wedding cake for an adulterer who abandoned his or her spouse to marry an extra-marital lover.

Yes, it’s a shame that your twisted view of scripture prevents you from practicing the Christian faith.

My deeply held religious belief is that Jesus meant what he said. And if it’s not in the Bible, I don’t have to believe it.

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17 responses to “Your ‘Deeply Held Religious Belief’ Isn’t Biblical

      • I see your point of view, but it appears to me that someone’s rights are trampled regardless of the position taken. Homosexuals are discriminated against if someone chooses to exercise their religious beliefs, or the one who has a particular religious conviction is discriminated against to protect the homosexual.

        Which “right” is more acceptable to trample?

        • As I pointed out in my post, discriminating against gays in business matters is not a true religious conviction – at least, not a Christian one, anyway. I personally believe that any ‘right’ that allows some to rob others of their humanity and equality under the law shouldn’t exist.

        • But if someone holds deep convictions of faith, regardless of its rightness or wrongness, if we determine that those beliefs hold less value than one’s sexuality, then aren’t they discriminated against?

          I try to live my life in accordance to my faith. I have read your biblical argument and I disagree. As for me, if I was in a cake maker, I simply would not sell cake for any wedding. Problem solved. It’s not out of hatred, but I’m not going to violate my convictions. My faith is more important than any amount of money.

          I agree that everyone has a right to live their life however they please, but not at the expense of my convictions. If that means that I have to modify my business practices to keep from offending any party and whatever laws are on the books at the time, I can live with that.

  1. Great Ted. My paper boy wears red socks. Red socks offend me. Therefore, I should call up the Managing Editor of the newspaper and demand a special paper boy to deliver my paper? If I do not believe in divorce, maybe I should not allow divorced people to eat in my restaurant?

    I’ll tell you what your problem is Ted. Your problem is that within your soul you conflate “freedom” and “conviction,” and you define this “freedom/conviction” as the right to do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want, and however you want—no matter who gets hurt by it. I have been observing this same thing in all sorts of writings by right wingnut religionists and right wingnut Republican politicians. It always distills down to this one thing—a massively libertine attitude cleverly dressed up in a religious tuxedo in an attempt to make it look normal, culturally acceptable, and holy.

    I work in the environmental protection field. People of your ilk say, “Well, my granddaddy dumped hazardous waste in this here creek for 50 years. I should be able to do it too, and I would if the government would just get out of my way with all these regulations. If I could dump that waste in the creek, my profits would go up, and I could finally have me some kind of real life. Translation: I don’t give a flying shit if 100 children downstream get cancer and die at age 30 as long as I get to make more money and get a good quality of life out of my business. Or, put another way, I should have the right to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, and however I want—no matter who gets hurt by it.

    This is not the way of Jesus Christ. Period.

  2. Very good post! God gave us all the freedom to do as we please, an of course God has attached circumstances, so why do so many worry and bash others it’s unreal the things done in the name of Religion!

  3. Dover1952, the Christian is commanded to set himself apart from the world. We should not even have the appearance of condoning sin.

    Drunkenness is a sin. Am I going to sell alcohol? Am I going to consume it myself? Nope. Then why should I participate in a wedding ceremony that is an abomination in God’s eyes? I have gay friends, but I would not attend their wedding as that would be an affirmation of a sinful lifestyle.

    Is divorce a sin? Definitely, but it is a different kind of sin. Consider an alcoholic. If he gets drunk and repents, but he continually gets drunk afterward, has he really repented? Does he even feel that drunkenness is sinful? He is living a lifestyle of sin.

    Can a divorced person be forgiven? Sure. Are they in the habit of divorcing people, or is this an isolated incident? The real question lies if they are living in a lifestyle of sin.

    Consider the sin of homosexuality. Can the homosexual be forgiven? Definitely. As for all sin, one must repent. Is the homosexual living a lifestyle of sin? If they are “married” they certainly are. This sin is being committed in perpetuity.

    Are you repentant of any sin if you actively seek out that sin?

    Romans 7:15 clarifies this nicely. We all fall into sin, but are those sins we commit things we hate to do? If that is the case, I would say that is an indication of true repentance.

  4. Tricky space. Do you have any idea how many people ( women and men) who are not gay have had their lives seriously impacted because of discriminatory practices against gays? I can think of at least 12 right away, and know there are many more. When your father or mother is gay and living a lie, it teaches the children to either be abusive or to be abused. You love your parents, so the position is untenable. People are born, grow up wanting to be loved, and if society makes them go underground then many, many more people get harmed than if they were allowed to simply be themselves. If you are against gay marriage, then don’t have one. But my 30 years of being lied to because gay people were not accepted, hurt my children, their spouses, and perhaps my grandchildren…where as if their father had been “out” he would have never married a female and caused so much pain, confusion and damage. He would have found a partner (as he did after we were married and has been in relationship with him for almost 18 years) and maybe even adopted some of the countless children who need loving homes. Who knows?
    I know we are not supposed to judge…but I have been through enough pain and sorrow in my life, that I judge with God, covered by grace, that his creation is good. If you insist on going back and forth between the old and New Testament, then I would go to the beginning where he looked at his creation and called it good. That’s enough for me. A group of people who hate so much that they judge everyone and anyone that’s different as evil makes me so sad…and very glad to leave the “Christian” space behind when I found out I was Jewish…like Jesus. Everything after his death seems to just be a power grab, missing the love…but that’s just my experience of what I was shown in a Penecostal upbringing. Love, love is the answer, being in constant prayer to guide my steps…

  5. “Tell me that baker never made a wedding cake for an adulterer who abandoned his or her spouse to marry an extra-marital lover.”

    My feelings exactly. However I think both parties were in the wrong here. The baker for all the above reasons you mentioned, and the gay couple who sued him. As if legally compelling him to make them a cake is going to change his convictions. They could have easily found another bakery for their cake. And technically it’s not illegal for a private business owner to deny service. Unfair, yes, but legal.

  6. I just read an article about a couple in Idaho that performs weddings faces jail time for refusing to perform gay weddings. What are your views on that? Should they be required to perform gay weddings because they are a for-profit business? How can someone separate their faith from their daily lives (which includes career lives)? I’m not trying to be contrary, I’m just intrigued by your post.

    • This is a tough question, and I doubt that any answer is going to be completely satisfactory. I think what may help is to examine this issue from different sides and see where it leads.

      1. The couple is performing (what some would consider) a religious ceremony for a fee. If marriage is a God-ordained institution, should people be profiting as officiants to that? One could argue that pastoring is a religious calling, yet many pastors earn a salary. And the Apostle Paul indicated that was acceptable.

      2. However, for-profit businesses must be registered with the government and agree to abide by service laws. The current law states that business owners cannot discriminate on the basis of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. If there are people who disagree with that mandate, perhaps they shouldn’t have this kind of business. Surely there are other things they could do.

      3. People once thought it immoral to allow mixed-race couples to marry and proof-texted scriptures to back up their claims. What changed? Was it the Bible? Or our understanding of it?

      4. Here is perhaps the most pertinent question: What does this kind of discrimination achieve? As I questioned before, are these business owners checking with all of their divorced customers to ensure they’re not “endorsing” Christ’s definition of adultery through their services? If their concern is that their actions would somehow show approval of sin and, thereby, invite God’s judgment, then why do they only draw the line at homosexuality? Does God make an exception for adultery? Is a marriage ceremony that involves a spousal cheater and his/her lover any less of an abomination? Are the souls of the people who perform such a ceremony in any less peril?

      Also, does this kind of discrimination draw people closer to Christ? Does it exemplify the gospel or the grace that Christ has show to us? Does it get people to stop engaging in homosexual sex? Does it make gay people think, “Gosh, I’m really doing the wrong thing, here. I should get saved and start living differently”? If not, what does it accomplish?

      5. Sin is destructive. So who is being hurt by the cake or the ceremony? Is it the people providing it, or the people receiving it?

      I think the question “How can someone separate their faith from their daily lives” is worth pondering. I think in most cases, we don’t have to separate our faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. And what is our faith in? My faith is in the divinity of Christ who died and rose again, whose sacrifice cleanses me of all sin and grants me eternal life. It seems other people’s faith is in the idea that God is going to smack them over the head if they put one little toe out of line. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be concerned about holiness. They should. But should their concern about avoiding the appearance of evil trump their love and concern for the lost?

      After all, Jesus came to us eating, drinking and violating the Sabbath. 😉 Was he approving of sin when he ate with tax collectors and prostitutes? The Pharisees said yes. He didn’t think so. I don’t either.

      • Quite a lot to think about. I think we are in agreement that people should be paid for services rendered. Even the Levites received the tithe as they did not have any right to the land.

        Another thing I find interesting is that I don’t see where you are trying to normalize homosexuality. Because it is being tied to adultery (which we can agree is a sin), you appear to be saying that homosexuality is a sin. Afterall, I have yet to see any place in the Bible where homosexuality or adultery are spoken of favorably.

        I don’t know where you are going with mixed race couples. God wanted the Jews to remain set apart from other people so that their faith would not become tainted. In the ESV, Deuteronomy 7:3-5 makes this clear, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.” God takes sin seriously and He wants His people to flee from sin. The issue was never about race, it was about keeping spiritually pure.

        I have had a similar conversation with a chef friend. His response was that he would gladly bake the cake for the gay wedding as long as he was able to do what he would do at any wedding he provided for: share the Gospel. If he was going to preach against homosexuality, he is not abandoning his conviction, yet he is following the letter of the law. Or would I be mistaken?

        I think my earlier suggestion was perfectly acceptable. Because we must operate under the law, when the demand includes participating in immoral practices, then is it not wise to refuse to perform all weddings?

        Let me try to be clear. The issue is not that the person is gay. The issue is that there is a celebration of immorality in the eyes of God. If I was a baker, I would sell cakes to gays, straights, atheists, Muslims, etc. for birthdays, graduations, Arbor Day, whatever. Just not weddings. It is a win-win. Nobody’s sensibilities are offended and I do not offend my God. That also relieves me of any potential responsibility in participating in weddings of adulterers. If someone wanted me to bake a “I cheated on my wife cake,” then I would flatly refuse. That person is clearly celebrating wickedness.

        The point is that my faith shapes everything about me, privately and publicly. I’m not one of those guys that goes to church once in awhile and claims to be a Christian.

        The Pharisees didn’t need Jesus because they believed that they were righteous. They forgot that no one is righteous. The tax collector and the prostitute knew that they were broken and needed a savior. What was the response of Zacchaeus to Jesus? Luke 19:8 says, “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” He was transformed. His heart changed from stone into flesh. Though tax collectors were operating under the law, typically they were crooked. This man said he will restore everyone he has cheated four fold. Jesus then tells him that “salvation has come to this house.”

        Jesus calls for belief and repentance of our sins. Matthew 3:8, 4:17, 21:32, Luke 5:31-32, 17:3, 24:46-48, etc. Repentance is spoken of in Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Revelation. I’m sure there are more.

        I love people and I want them to go to heaven. This life is merely a vapor and those of us that are ensnared in sin already stand condemned. If that makes me intolerant, then I’m in good company because Jesus was and is intolerant of sin. He loves the sinner and wants to draw them to repentance. For those who refuse to repent, they face the Wrath of the Lamb.

  7. Since it’s election time your logic can also be applied to politics. I have concluded that politics also isn’t a “deeply held Christian belief”. Neither party completely encapsulates the gospel. So no Christian should be judged by what party or candidate they support.

  8. Ted is just another run-of-the-mill fundie who was indoctrinated (brainwashed) into a particular viewpoint about the Bible that crystallized in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I doubt seriously that he has ever met the real Jesus.

    We have our own Taliban here in the United States, and I would lay you 10-1 odds that people like Ted will one day be executing United Methodists and Episcopalians in front of stadium crowds. Anyone who does not believe exactly as Ted believes is an enemy of God, and the enemies of God must be destroyed. It is time to watch the videos Ted:

  9. April. Ted is not here because he likes you or just wants to talk about faith. He is here for one purpose and one purpose only. He believes your words indicate that you are not a Christian. He believes you are a false teacher who is in league with Satan. He views himself as some sort of web crusader whose purpose in the world is to identify false teachers on the Internet, confront them publicly with his view of the Bible, and route them in the name of the Lord so they will no longer threaten his “right doctrine” or lead people astray. He also wants to “dipstick” his own perceived “internal Jesus power” to see whether it is powerful enough in “mojo” to truly save and turnaround a hopelessly lost disbeliever like April. In short, his purpose here is to destroy your ministry.

    Jesus taught all Christians how to deal with people like Ted in Matthew 23. People like Ted have existed in all times in human history and in all religions. Jesus had to cope with them in his own time, and they nailed him to a cross for it. If this were the 1st century A.D., I have no doubt in my own mind that Ted would be nailing you to a cross.

    • You are completely correct in what you say. I think it takes a complete misunderstanding of the events of Jesus’ life to come out and say that you know exactly what God wants. I would say that if anyone knew exactly what God wanted it would have been the Pharisees, but look how that turned out. It is never a good thing to trust what you think you know because the real truth is that you may only think you know it. I will admit that this leaves us in a somewhat murky pplication of dogma, but that is where grace and faith come in.