Why no one mentioned Jesus in the Asher’s Case.

When there is any debate engaged in the public sphere on the role of religion or conscience or rights there is a lot of talk of belief. How beliefs shape the way we live and act, what we think is right or wrong and how that manifests itself in how we treat each other. Yet, in the midst of all the media reporting and blogging and tweeting about the Asher’s case there has been one voice that has not been mentioned by Christians in all the furor.

Jesus.

Now before I lose you, and maybe I’ve already lost some of you, this is not an attempt to get you to believe one side over an other. This is not an attempt to bring you round to one understanding or to lay out an array of Bible verses to support or reject gay marriage. It is simply my attempt at bringing the central Christian message that Jesus came to share of Peace, understanding, Grace and Love for all people, back into focus in this conversation.

Stay with me, you may just be surprised.

Let me explain.

As a Christian my primary goal has to be to live in a way that not necessarily directly mimics the way Jesus lived but to mimic the principles that he exhibited in His interactions with normal people on His journeys prior to and also after his death. To copy a life that sought to show people what truly being alive feels like; to show how we can creatively live in ways that allow everyone to be part of something that includes but is so much bigger than themselves.

If we were to study Jesus life, we’d see that He rarely took concrete stances on issues like many of us feel is our Christian duty today. He didn’t protest, He didn’t refuse to speak with certain people, He didn’t gloat. What He did was to see what was going on above and beyond any issue and dig deep into the root of what it means to be a human with all our flaws, especially our flaws. He questioned His own religion, He remained calm when dealing with those who thought He was a threat, He got angry only with the religious. He was never defensive.

Yet why do many of us who claim to be followers of His teachings insist on maintaining such a posture?

One reason is I believe is, that Christians have allowed our beliefs to become more important than the reason for the belief. (Tweet This)

Where you stand on gay marriage determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.

Take for instance, the time when Jesus was found by the Pharisees, the religious fundamentalists of the day, to be picking grain on the Sabbath. A seemingly innocent enough activity, but one which was forbidden by the Law. The very Law that Jesus was brought up on and was the central teaching of His Jewish faith. (Yeah that’s right, Jesus wasn’t a Christian, He was Jewish). Like Jesus put to the Pharisees, what good does is it do for anyone to leave their ox stuck in a well on the Sabbath (least of all the ox, poor thing), just because you’re forbidden to do any work.

When questioned on it, Jesus made the point that the Jewish Law was made for man, not man for the Law. Simply put, these ancient rules were to bless and give life, rather than for us to blindly remain loyal and obedient to the Law.

For Jesus, beliefs were fine until they got in the way of sharing life with others. Or got an ox killed.

This means that when it comes to the Laws and ideals for us to live by as Christians, we are not called to follow them blindly if it means others are oppressed or hurt.

Put another way, Christians don’t need to protect themselves because that leaves us unable to be loving and compassionate.

Sometimes we behave as if loving others and being vulnerable is going to end up with the end of Christianity. (Sidenote, we’ve done a pretty good job at self destruction over the years and we’re still doing alright)

But what does this have to do with the Asher’s case, the broader issue of religious conscience and especially how Christians should approach these types of situations?

To answer this we must first answer a question that I was posed on Twitter several weeks ago.

Would Jesus have baked the cake? Jesus cake

Well, I’m not sure. But I do know that his reaction would have shocked and surprised us. To understand a little about how Jesus would have responded, let’s consider other instances in which Jesus used examples to show us how we are to react to those that we may fundamentally disagree with and the fears that underlie them.

An argument that I have heard throughout the Asher’s trial is that if we’re forced as Christians to support ideals and beliefs that we fundamentally disagree with, then somehow our Christian voices will be completely removed from the public sphere.

Whilst I can understand how one may come to that conclusion, like Jesus demonstrated this is a simplistic and closed view of how we are able to influence our communities for Him.

In one famous illustration, Jesus commanded his listeners to not just carry a Roman soldier’s bags one mile, which was well in the right of the Roman soldier to demand, but to walk a further mile. Something that would have made the soldier a very naughty boy (Well done if you get this reference).

What Jesus was doing here was showing another way of reacting to someone rather than being defensive. We could very easily read this as Jesus demonstrating total and complete agreement with the way the Romans ruled the country since He was willing to go further than He was required. Yet, Jesus suggestion of walking the extra mile did not mean that He was asking His listeners to simply bow down and lay down their beliefs and morals, but like we have already seen, as a way of showing that we don’t need to fight for our beliefs.

Our beliefs aren’t what change the world, it’s our actions that do the talking. (Tweet This).

Unfortunately because of the Asher’s case, many outside the church, LGBT or otherwise will know exactly where many Christians stand on homosexuality but will not have witnessed very much of the love we’re called to show to the world.

Jesus example of the Roman soldier shows us that even if we are forced to work and serve (or bake a cake) for those who we completely disagree with, there is a more imaginative and creative way of reacting.

In this case I think that Asher’s had a wonderful opportunity to do just that. But I don’t blame them for not taking it. We’re just not used to this type of thinking in the church. We are afraid of thinking outside the box, or loving others in surprising ways.

We’re so consumed with what we believe about something and making sure that that isn’t compromised that we fail to see that all that demanding our rights to be heard and obeyed leads to, is our love for others being compromised.

Another fear is that a defeat for Asher’s will open up a whole can of worms which would allow those who are intent on causing trouble to demand services from others, simply to cause them pain. Even if this would be true, there is one example from Jesus life that shows what a wonderful opportunity this would be to bring healing.

Along with the previous example of carrying a Roman Soldier’s bags two miles instead of one, Jesus, shockingly and puzzlingly suggested allowing someone to hit you twice. You know, because there’s nothing worse than having just one side of your face in pain.

This has often been taken to mean that as Christians we are to let people walk over us in this world as if God is biding His time and in the end will smite our enemies for being a dick towards us. But this isn’t the Old Testament we’re living in.

What Jesus is doing here, is cleverly showing us that by allowing someone to hit us twice we can ultimately alter perceptions of hate into Peace. One slap to the face, using the outside of the hand signified a stance of control over you. Effectively showing the person being hit who exactly is in charge. But rather than offering the other side of your face as a way of cementing that control, it would be essentially forcing your oppressor to punch you. A significant move, only when we understand that for Jesus listeners, they knew this meant that you were equals. As you only reserved using the inside of your hand to hit someone on a par with you.

So what does this have to do with Asher’s. If we have a cream pie jammed into the side of our face, turn your cheek for a banoffee?

Like carrying bags for a Roman soldier, it means there are more imaginative ways to deal with those who we feel, whether it’s true or not, are persecuting us.

Jesus had so many opportunities to turn down his Love for those that stood fundamentally against the faith He grew up with. He had dinner with Zacchaeus, a tax collector which was the worst type of job for a Jew, as it meant cheating your own people out of money for “the man.” He gave a woman caught in adultery, something that demanded by Law for her life to be taken, freedom and hope. He promised a Samaritan (big enemies of the religious establishment) woman, everlasting life. He healed the daughter of a soldier of the oppressive Roman government.

What religious stance He was “supposed” to take in regards to Samaritans or people who slept with others spouses or Israel’s enemies, wasn’t Jesus chief motivation for His actions towards them. That’s why He was such a threat to the religious; He didn’t act the way He was “supposed” to. He saw the bigger picture.

The way he acted towards these people went against everything He was supposed to believe in. But ultimately the most important belief for him was Love.

And Jesus saw something else equally important. He saw that we’re all really the same. Jewish, Roman, Protestant, Catholic, straight, gay, not sure, male, female, baker, candlestick maker.

Whatever the final verdict from the Asher’s case, there is no winner. The lines are wonderfully and fantastically blurred. We’ve had quite enough of that in Northern Ireland. This is not an Us V Them case.

And this is exactly what ties all the examples from Jesus life that I have used together. Jesus, time and time again with subtle, creative, beautiful ways, broke down this decisive and dangerous idea of Us and Them. He blew open the expectations of what it means to be His follower. And what it meant to be for someone to be your “enemy”.

God is not on the side of Ashers. God is not on the side of the LGBTQ community. God is on the side of all. (Tweet This).

He doesn’t operate in the ways in which we have regularly and aimlessly fought to protect.

It is time for Christians to really stand up for what we believe in.

But that is not what we believe about homosexuality. But Love and Hope and acceptance.

For all.

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116 thoughts on “Why no one mentioned Jesus in the Asher’s Case.

  1. I am an atheist and a straight LGBT supporter and I think this is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Christianity needs more public voices like yours to counteract the often poisonous views of certain “Christians”. The Jesus of the bible was a rebel, a revolutionary, a socialist and a man of compassion and what you have said sums up my understanding of how the Jesus depicted in the Bible wanted his followers to reason and think. Far too many modern Christians have a strong whiff of the Pharisees about them. I was brought up within the Northern Irish Protestant community and am increasingly becoming ashamed and angered by the actions and beliefs of “my” people.

    • Great to hear from you Clare. It can definitely be tough environment to grow up in. You’re right, we’re so used to hearing the same voices over and over in NI when it comes to Christianity and unfortunately the ones often shouting the loudest are the ones who get their voices heard. But I’m confident and know that there is a change in the air when it comes to faith in Northern Ireland. We might need to just be patient.

    • Clare, you clearly have misunderstood the bible as well as this blogger.

      The Bible is very clear about how a Christian ought to think and act in love on this topic. Speaking to a young person, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Mar 12:29-31)
      We are to love and protect all others as we do our own selves, and that includes people from the LGBT communities. However, the Saviour was emphatic that this was secondary to our love for God Himself – it is primary that we love God, His Word and His things first and foremost. Now an indispensible part of loving God is obeying His Word – the Lord Jesus Christ underlined by saying, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (Joh 14:15) When we deliberately go against the Word of God we are not acting in love towards God, but rather in sin – plain and simple.
      What did the Lord Jesus Christ say about same-sex marriage? Firstly He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Mat 5:17) Jesus Christ very clearly endorses the morality behind the Old Testament Law which prohibits homosexuality. Again He said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications…” (Mat 15:19), showing that all sexual events outside of marriage are indeed evil.
      Jesus then outlines His view on what a true marriage is with these words, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mat 19:4-6) Nowhere does our Lord give any permission to change this basic definition of marriage – to do so is to put asunder what God has created.
      If I am to love God, I must endeavour to obey these commands, regardless of my own thoughts wishes or natural tendencies – and loving God is primary according to Jesus Christ. To love our neighbour cannot mean that we set all this aside – that would be nonsense. It is NOT loving to stand by piously watching someone acting in a way that will bring upon them the judgement of God, while saying nothing to stop them: this is the very opposite of the active agape love of Christ.
      Christians who have the light of God must warn society and endeavor to steer it in the right direction. I have two children whom I love dearly, and it would certainly not be loving for me to watch them put their little fingers into the electrical sockets, just so that I could indulge their desire to do whatever they want! That would not be love!
      Let us love all those we come into contact with, including those of the LGBT communities; but let us do it in a Biblical way, and not just in a way that we “think” might be right. Let us love them in the way that John the Baptist did: by directing them to repent from their sins (and not continue to indulge them), and trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to obtain pardon for that sin. ML

      I’m from norn iron too, but attend a bible believing church.

      • I agree with you JT. The Lord never compromised the truth, indeed he was full of both grace and truth. Many who support the LGBT position assume that truth and love are mutually exclusive so that when somebody refuses to validate their position, and instead adhere to the truth, they are immediately characterised as lacking in love, full of hatred and therefore Homophobic; this is where the believer can exercise the opportunity to turn the other cheek by not casting insults back to the accuser. We can also go the extra mile by continuing to witness to the individuals we are concerned about and indeed pray their eyes would be opened in spite of their opposition. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, as soon as the light of the truth of the eternal Word is shone into men’s souls, in many cases, it repulses most people because they love their sin more than God; thankfully there are also many who understand the truth and find in Christ a greater attraction than the sins of this world which are only for a season and so they come and cast themseleves upon his mercy. Besides the sins of homosexuality the LGBT community also are no different than the rest of us in terms of other failings such as lies, thefts, blasphemies etc. and thus they need the Saviour as much as any of the rest of us. No biblically sound fellowship of the beleivers in Christ could ever admit men or women to fellowship who wish to hang on to their sin. Believers in the Lord Jesus all fail on a daily basis but no christian will ever make an allowance for sin in their lives. We name it, repudiate it and repent of it and never excuse it while by God’s grace we are forgiven of it. This article seems to suggest that Christ would turn a blind eye to sin, which has never happened. Even in John 8:11, which was mentioned, the Lord told the woman to go and sin no more. If this lady had been (as the analogy sugested) a member of the LGBT community, are we to believe that the Lord would have been so ‘subtle and creative’ as to have just patted her on the back and said dont worry about it, I love you and that is all that matters? That is no love at all but only words. If you want to see love in action you only have to check youtube for many examples of believers literally turning the other cheek to members of the LGBT community and their supporters for daring to share the truth, having been attacked physically and verbally. I think believers should be encouraged rather than discouraged around these issues as they are signs of the times which should cause us to ‘look up for your redemption draweth nigh’. I pray the Lord will grant repentance to many in the LGBT community and many more outside of the LGBT community who are lost and on their way to hell. The Saviour has shed his precious blood on the cross for all to enter in to his kingdom and receive his forgiveness by grace alone through faith alone.

    • Hi Clare, I too was brought up in N. Ireland, (Co Armagh) and have the same feelings as you about this article, which I think is so very well written. Lets hope many read this. God bless you. (Pastor Barry)

  2. Great article! So refreshing to see a fellow disciple speak sensiblity! My take on the whole case was that, as Christians, we’ve been going against the word of Jesus by supporting Ashers bakery. We’ve blatantly ignored the simple messages that Jesus taught us in our reaction to this case and verdict. I’ve written it all here, but it’s awesome to read about another Christian who has a clear view on this! Amen bro! 🙌🏼

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sm9b01

  3. “Where you stand on gay marriage determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.”

    Jesus is God, therefore God’s law is Jesus’s law. Now, explain to me what God’s stance on homosexuality means about him? What does it say about is welcoming or apprehensiveness towards himself? Was he being evil by having the homosexual stoned?

      • My argument is that God hates homosexuality– then and now. To him, it was a table 1 offense, where it was a sin against him, with the penalty being death. That is Jesus’s law.

        Israel stoned homosexuals because they were told to by God. God demanded this.

        The question is: Does God condone the death penalty for gay people?

        I cannot arbitrarily determine laws and punishments. I am no law-giver.

        Was God just in his punishment?

      • I’m unsure why you are asking this question. I wasn’t asking you to determine a law demanding the death penalty, I was asking if you would condone it if it was law. You say you can’t determine the law and neither can I.

      • Paul,

        Did God demand that homosexuals, with the witness of 2 or 3 persons, be stoned? Was this not just?

        I just want an honest answer.

      • Our understanding of homosexuality is very different from the OT understanding. I can’t do this discussion justice here but two great books that have helped me are “God and The Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines and also “The Bible Tells Me So” which gives a great explanation of those difficult passages that we find in the OT of God’s wrath. I’d highly recommend them.

      • Paul,

        “Our understanding of homosexuality is very different from the OT understanding”

        No, no it’s not and you are being dishonest. You are calling good what is evil. It might be best for you to refrain from this subject, as you are no doubt confused and confusing others. I am not sure you know God’s law– or even care.

        Matthew Vines has been thoroughly refuted by James White. Vines does not speak the languages, does not have the scholarship, and will not debate the issue. You are putting your eggs into the basket?

        I am encouraging you to study this issue more. It seems fairly simple: God said homosexuality is a sin. Who would you rather be faithful to–men or God? I know it’s not popular to be against homosexuality, but our calling isn’t to be politically correct.

      • You may want to take issue with Jesus for why he didn’t allow the stoning of the women caught in adultery. That seems to be clearly commanded and carried out in the OT too.

        But regardless, Thanks for taking the time to chat Whitman. I appreciate your thoughts.

        Peace brother.

      • You have no idea. It isn’t about the sin– it’s about the lawlessness they “tested” him with.

        Is it okay for someone to commit adultery?

      • I do not think so no. I think we’ll need to end it here Whitman. I’m sorry my answers haven’t been satisfactory. I don’t think either of us will find life by continuing this conversation. I wish you well truly. Peace be with you.

    • My opinion is that the bible states homosexuality is a sin and like any other sin such as lying, coveting or adultery, it separates us from God. However the point of Jesus’s death on the cross was to fulfil the requirements of the law as laid out in the old testament through being a perfect sacrifice – the sinless man receiving the full punishment of sin through death. The resurrection showed that the curse of death as a punishment for sin had been broken and that while the law brings death, through Christ we are no longer under that curse if we trust in him. Therefore, while any sin demands death, we no longer have to approach God with trepidation if Christ acts as our intercessor.

  4. Hi Paul, why are you not over here!! That has really made me think and realise how right you are, it’s all about love and respect for each other as Jesus taught. Keep up the good writing. Xx

  5. Paul,
    I’m pretty sure that Daniel McArthur just mentioned Jesus today in his statement to the press, videos are on the news websites.
    And I know that he also mentioned him at the Waterfront hall when he said that everyone should be praying for the people within the equality commission and the LGBT community.
    The media seemed to gloss over this though but thought it might be worth noting considering you heading!

  6. That is excellent. My own thinking wasn’t nearly as well thought out . Just a queasy unease about how the ‘right thing’ didn’t seem very right. Thanks.

  7. “God is not on the side of Ashers. God is not on the side of the LGBTQ community. God is on the side of all.” This seems like a really glib meaningless comment. Are you seriously suggesting that God is on the side of everyone even people like ISIS terrorists or Nazis?

  8. Thanks Paul for putting into words how I have been feeling about this case. Another Christian bakery owner was on the radio this morning and I liked what he said – he would have baked the guy the best cake possible.

  9. Everything you said is nothing more than poetic rhetoric ! And your point is the same point made by so many that makes me sick “not all christians are the same” we know that,and we also know that there are those of you that are kind hearted and fair. But no matter what explanation you give poetic or otherwise,if a gay man wants to enter heaven as he or she is,by the teachings of the bible that can not nor would not happen ! Now if you can prove me wrong on that one very Specific point then I would dawn my hat to thee.

    • I used to think that until I looked into all the arguments. The translations are anything but solid. In fact Martin Luther’s translation uses some different wording. But whichever view you have on any subject, the way to never change is to never consider new information, new perspectives or the story of another.
      A difficulty with a change of belief on some things is that it can get us into trouble with the rules of the group, club or brand we belong to!

  10. ‘Where you stand on gay marriage determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.’

    I liked this article other that this one line which just doesn’t seem to fit.. To explain, let’s change it to..

    ‘Where you stand on determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.’

    Is that what you mean? That we can only truly accept people who are not sinning, not sinners and whose views we agree with? Because that would seem to contradict what I thought was your point. (And where would any of us find such people??)

    Your article is great if it is challenging those of us who follow Christ to find unexpected and gracious ways of loving other sinners and people whose views we fundamentally disagree with. But if you don’t actually believe that gay marriage is wrong, then you are really not having to grapple with those issues at all..

  11. A key part of my earlier post got lost – I’ve changed the formatting and hope it’s retained in this version:

    ‘Where you stand on gay marriage determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.’

    I liked this article other that this one line which just doesn’t seem to fit.. To explain, let’s change it to..

    ‘Where you stand on any sin (watching porn for example, as you’ve mentioned in another blog) determines how welcoming or how apprehensive we are towards each other.’

    Is that what you mean? That we can only truly accept people who are not sinning, not sinners and whose views we agree with? Because that would seem to contradict what I thought was your point. (And where would any of us find such people??)

    Your article is great if it is challenging those of us who follow Christ to find unexpected and gracious ways of loving other sinners and people whose views we fundamentally disagree with. But if you don’t actually believe that gay marriage is wrong, then you are really not having to grapple with those issues at all..

    • Marcus, this is an error on my part. I’m afraid it wasn’t well worded. What I was doing was demonstrating how a lot of people react to each other. That is if we agree with someone we are more likely to engage civilly but if we don’t we can get judgemental or angry.

      And so yes, I believe we should accept people despite any sin. That is Grace.

      Thanks for highlighting this and I will correct it once I get back on a computer.

  12. This article was a useful exegesis on the topic. It’s sometimes hard for believers who run for-profit businesses to accept that selling goods and services isn’t an expression of faith. It’s for financial gain, making a living, and if you choose to do business with the public, it must be the entire public. The only exceptions are customers who misbehave, or refuse to pay. We had this legal fight already over who could be refused sitting at a lunch counter! I was a child in the 50s, but I remember the exact same justifications being offered then. Non-discrimination laws have been fought for in every civilized nation. To me, reaching for more and more radical inclusiveness is the goal for believers in Jesus.

    I’m a medical imaging tech and medical assistant. I’ve been paid to help dig bullets out of gang members, to assist in cleaning their wounds to help save their lives. I KNOW those were people “living an evil lifestyle”. I wasn’t given an option to refuse service on religious grounds, or to treat them in any way less respectfully than other patients. I have little sympathy for people with uncircumcised hearts whinging about cakes and flower arrangements, but I pray for them. I’m given no choice in that either 😀

    • No matter what your view is on the Ashers case it seems you are completely ignoring 1 Corinthians 8 about the weaker brother. Some believers thought it a sin to buy meat offered to idols. Others did not and according to Paul it was not a sin. Yet he told the other believers to make sure that they did not eat this meat in front of a brother who thought it was sin. The guy from Ashers gave evidence that they thought it would involve them in sin in making the cake. You seem to be saying that we should force them to sin, whereas Paul says the opposite.
      Paul did not call them whingers. He called them brothers.

      • Personally speaking, Paul isn’t Jesus, and I do not accept the Pauline letters, important as they are, as having equal weight to the Gospels. But again, the problem is in confusing making money, an inherently spiritually risky activity, with expressing faith. If you want to actively avoid sin, you will have to choose not to be a Capitalist at all, and engage in true service occupations (ministry of some kind) instead. Running profit-based retail businesses does require accepting a level of unavoidable sinful activity, unless you can guarantee that everything you provide for customers is only what they NEED, rather than what they will trade money out of a desire to obtain.

  13. Hi Paul.
    I do not agree that the voice of Jesus has not been mentioned in this case and I feel this article is very unfair on the McArthur family. I think they have been very dignified and respectful throughout their ordeal and very open and honest about why they have taken this stand – they are trying to live out their faith and represent Jesus as best they can. They have not ‘protested’, they have not’ refused to speak with certain people’, they have not ‘gloated’. They have simply tried to live their lives and carry out their business in a way they believe honours Jesus.

    They have held to their beliefs because of the importance of the One who is the reason for their beliefs. Not because their beliefs are more important than Jesus, but because He is so important to them.

    The illustrations of going the extra mile or allowing someone to slap you twice do not seem relevant to this case – I’m sure they would have a baked a message-free cake for the person who brought the complaint against them, two even if needed, as they do not ask the sexual orientation of everyone who comes into their shops. They simply did not want to be involved or connected with the promotion of a campaign they disagreed with.

    The issue was not the sexual orientation of the customer, it was the connection with the promotion of a campaign they believed to be contrary to the teaching of Jesus and therefore contrary to their beliefs.

    I agree with you when you say our beliefs won’t change the world, but they influence our actions so cannot be separated from them. What we believe affects what we do.

    And yes, Jesus acted with love to all He met – the tax collectors, the adulteres and so on- but He still did not compromise His beliefs. We too must act with love to all, but neither must we compromise what we believe. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we do not love. Just because someone says they cannot bake a cake with a certain message doesn’t mean they hate the supporter of that meassage. The issue is not the absence of love or peace, because I think the McArthur family have displayed both. Those who encountered Jesus, changed. He did not. God is not on the side of all, He is not on any side, He does not do the ‘choosing ‘of sides. It is us who do the choosing. We choose to be on God’s side, or not.

    I know which side I want to be on. 🙂

    • I agree wholeheartedly with you Shirley. They have upheld themselves in an amazingly brave and graceful way.

      I actually do think that the example of walking the extra mile is extremely important here. The Roman soldiers who were able to lawfully demand anyone to carry their bags 1 mile did so under the rule of Ceaser. A man who believed he was god.

      Jesus response to follow the rules set out by Ceaser is shocking. But to ask his listeners to walk a further mile is simply scandalous. But the beauty of these ideas is that Jesus was able to turn the situation around to where the “enemy” was actually able to be invited in to Grace and Peace.

      Now I’m not comparing the LGBTQ community to an oppressive Roman ruler but when we respond to those we view as ‘enemies’ in this way it levels the playing field, removing the Us V Them mentality.

      Thanks for your thoughts Shirley and I appreciate your well thought out reponse.

      • Paul

        The extra mile analogy relates to the followers of Jesus response to being the victims of an arguably unjust law which is not necessarily contrary to God’s law (like the Pharisee’s Sabbath Regulations).

        This case has the added dimension of observance of the arguably unjust law potentially being seen as endorsing or encouraging sin. Jesus never endorsed or encouraged sin – in fact He never failed to confront sin or indeed the sinner (without condemning).

        Are the situations really the same and haven’t Ashers (in contrast with other “Christians” who have been all too quick to judge and condemn some sins) done exactly what Jesus would have done?

    • Shirley has put this beautifully and your response in relation the the McArthur family is good to see. They have behaved with love, grace and dignity. I don’t think the same can be said of the other side. I also think that in taking the case, if the Equality Commission was to live up to its title, it should have supported both sides and taken it as a test case, allowing the courts to make a judgement rather than pre-supposing the rights and wrongs themselves.

      Part of the difficulty for those who are attacking the stance of Asher’s is the misunderstanding of their motivation in their stance in relation to gay marriage. The bible teaches us that the most important relationship that we will ever have is the one we have with God. He must be the first thing over everything else in our lives. The McArthur family and many other Christians (not the tut-tutters who preach hell and damnation, but the often silent minority who don’t force their views on others) are motivated not by disgust, judgement or ignorance. They believe that by placing a sexual relationship ahead of a relationship with God, you are missing out on the blessings of all God has for you. By baking the cake with that slogan, they would have been endorsing a separation from God and, in love, they could not do that.

      I also saw that the judge stated that the McArthurs were running a business, not a church. This shows a complete lack of understanding about what it means to be a Christian. If you love Christ and live by God’s word, you don’t just follow Him on a Sunday, His spirit lives with you and must be evident in everything you do.

      As a Christian, I believe that every person regardless of race creed, gender, political or religious belief or sexual orientation should be allowed to enjoy the same legal rights. I would never try to force someone who is gay to denounce their sexuality to adhere to what the bible sets out as the best way to love in communion with God. Equally I think that the judgement in this case does deprive the McArthur family of their basic human right to practice their religion in every aspect of their lives. They have always been open and honest about their beliefs and indeed named their bakery after a biblical character. When he ordered the cake, the customer knew about the McArthur’s beliefs. I have seen him interviewed claiming that he is also a Christian. As a Christian, I would have assumed that he might have taken his business elsewhere and prayed a blessing on the McArthurs and their business rather than taking legal action which appeared to be motivated by a desire for publicity and revenge. Recently my mother was told she could not hire a stall at a farmers’ market because she disclosed that the money raised was for repairs to her church. She wasn’t evangelising or handing out leaflets. There was to be no church branding on the stall or any reference to her faith anywhere yet the market refused her in a blatantly discriminatory way. I’m pretty sure if she had said she was donating the money to gay rights, she would not have been refused. She could have taken a case against the market but, in line with her beliefs, has chosen to ‘turn the other cheek.’ I think the saddest thing about this case is that a person who claims to represent the LGBT community has come across as militant and lacking in compassion and understanding and Christian people quietly going about their businesses have been represented as intolerant extremists. Neither side has won a victory here.

      • Thanks for the comment Sheelagh.

        One thing I want to pick up on is the idea of being Christian meaning that we are called to live out our faith in all parts of our life. But not everyone is a Christian and so I don’t think they should be affected by our faith. I am Christian and I believe in God and I believe he is good but that doesn’t mean that I think everyone should has to fall in line with my beliefs.

        I don’t need to believe exactly the same as you to consider you a sister so I don’t feel like others have to act according to my faith if they don’t share it, no matter how true I believe it to be.

        But rather than that meaning we can’t express our faith it means we learn to do so in a way where no one is rejected. I think Jesus did that with the types of people he hung out with.

      • Absolutely. I don’t think people should be forced to fall into line with my beliefs but the McArthurs were not trying to convert their customer or force their views on him. This judgement does however mean that thecArthurs have essentially been forced into accepting the opposing view. My difficulty is that those taking the case are supposedly campaigning for equality and the recognition of their beliefs but the judgement is contradictory as the McArthurs’ beliefs and their right to express them, whether this is in the way you, I or even Christ would have chosen to express them, has been denied.

    • But they Did protest Shirley. And also participated in a protest at the Waterfront Hall. Correct me if I am wrong. Was not Daniel McArthur on the platform as one of the speakers. Were not the homophobes of the DUP not standing outside the Waterfront Hall in support? All done of course to try bring pressure on the Legal system, which has now in A British Court of Her Majestys Realm. Given a legal ruling on this case.

      • I have read and reread Shirley’s post and she never even mentions a Ashers not protesting Martin – what is your point?

  14. You are the biggest hairatic I’ve have ever seen wht you just write is biggest pill crap .the things youve write are so far what the bible teaches I could write a full sermon on how bad this blog is

  15. Hey Paul,
    I can understand what you’re trying to say in this post to an extent, but at the same time I feel like I must argue due to what I’ve gathered the general point of this article to be.
    Yes, Jesus showed immense love to the people of that time, whether it was socially acceptable or not, accepting them, eating with them, preventing their punishments (the stonings etc). However the general point I’m getting here (correct me if i’m wrong) is that you think the McArthur family should have shown the love of Jesus by making the cake. (Or…I am intrigued to know what creative measures you were referring to?).
    However, from what I have seen with the McArthur family is that they have openly shown love. They had still agreed to make the cake without printing it, which I would consider walking atleast an extra half mile considering their belief behind the issue. Also, contrary to what many are saying, they have not actually been discriminatory towards the gay man who ordered the cake. They gladly served him, and I’ve personally seen them serve other members of the LGBT community also (before the “scandal” understandably). Within a difficult situation they remained calm, civilised, kind, quiet (which is a very hard thing to do in such situations) and still maintained their Biblical based stances on the issue with what I can only describe as wisdom.
    Therefore I do feel like this post is slightly unfair. Although you make some very valid points, you have failed to draw attention to the fact that Jesus not only accepted sinners as his friends and ultimately died for them, but He openly challenged them on their sins. He never praised their sinful lifestyles or actions but rather lovingly pointed them in the way of righteousness.
    Now I understand that in this “row” there have been arguments all over the place, many names called etc, all of which does not praise God. However, there have also been many people who openly disagree with the verdict in a loving way.
    I am personally of the opinion that they were right to refuse the printing of the logo. Just as they should refuse a logo that supports theft, adultery, slander or any other action that the Bible states as sinful. But I don’t think that that makes me judgemental and unaccepting. I have gay friends, in fact I live with one of them, I treat them exactly as I would treat my straight friends. But I don’t believe that to love someone you must agree with everything they say and do.
    Jesus has always been the centre of my viewpoint on these matters, and I’ve seen Jesus through the McArthur families actions many times also.
    Aimee

    • Hi Aimeeliz1,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and give a considered response. My aim is that we can have civil dialogue like this more often than we’ve seen. So thank you for your part in that.

      I actually didn’t mention the McArthur family very often in the blog which is because this is something that is bigger than anyone person. I was highlighting all the ways in which in general Christians have struggled to deal with people who are different than ourselves relating to the LGBTQ community and more generally.

      The McArthur family have responded with more grace and humility than I could ever imagine portraying if I was in their situation. My major point is that they are not the enemy and neither are the LGBTQ community. There are no winners here. What we need is a moving away from being afraid of people who think differently to us.

      I am thankful for people like you who are able to love their gay neighbors.

      Peace be with you Aimee.

  16. Great article! As a Christian myself.. it was exactly how Christianity should be seen and interpreted. For years I’ve been thrown the “God is Love” phrase.. it’s always been a battle believing what that meant. I think Whitman needs a taste of God’s love before replying to your article however.. there’s an argument/discussion.. and then there’s being just plain rude and arrogant. Extremely poor behaviour, especially coming from a former Christian (I assume). Great read!

    Peace buddy! 🙂

  17. Paul

    Without repeating what has been said both for and against your position and in support of Ashers have you not left out the most important thing Jesus said in relation to the examples you yourself have given?

    He told the women caught in adultery depending on which translation of the Bible you use to sin no more or to leave her life of sin. In none of the examples given does He forget to hate / condemn the sin while loving the sinner to use the modern paraphrase and baking this cake would therefore have been at odds with what Jesus actually said and more importantly did?

    • Well said Peter, I was wondering if anyone would take the story of the woman caught in Adultery to it’s conclusion before I made a comment. Interestingly Paul has not replied to your post. I wonder why?

      • Peter Mackie, I’m afraid my unresponsiveness to Peters comment was less suspicious as I think you assume lol

        Work and life and lots of other comments to reply to means a couple go missed.

        But I’m here now so here’s my take on that story.

        What I love about this story is that the first thing Jesus does is tell the woman who she is. He tells her that she is loved, accepted, redeemed and most of all not condemned.

        It’s only then that he gives the command to not sin. Which is beautiful because when you tell someone that they are loved and accepted, watch how they live into that truth and live a life that is fully present, selfless and at peace.

        She didn’t have to search for that identity anymore because Jesus just gave it to her. All in the act of being caught sinning I might add.

        Jesus command to not sin is expected because He knows that she is finally free to live fully!

        Wonderful!

      • Peter in fairness there is a response to my third attempt to raise this point further down the thread, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it deals with my position or not.

        To my mind no-one on this thread or any or the re-postings of it on Facebook I have posted on has been able to overcome the fact that although it is not referred to in the original blog Jesus implores the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning and baking the cake as ordered without comment would therefore not have been what Jesus would have done.

        To my mind (which remains open on this point to anyone who wants to take up the challenge of trying to persuade me otherwise) Ashers did would Jesus would have done and what He in fact did which is refuse to ignore or even condone the sin but draw the sinner’s attention to it and call for repentance without condemnation. To argue otherwise requires the omission, deliberate or accidental, of His final words to the woman and to therefore accidentally or deliberately represent what He actually did….anyone prepared to disagree?

      • No disagreement from me at least.

        Jesus didn’t ignore her sin but his primary aim was to release her from the bondage she was in.

        No one can be free to not sin unless they understand that they are loved no matter what. That’s why he started there.

        I love this story and I love talking about it but it’s important that I am clear about my use of this story in my blog. I did not use it as an example of how Ashers should have responded but as an example of how for Jesus the most important thing was to declare people loved and to have enough confidence that can change someone’s life on its own.

        Jesus was being vulnerable in offering her his love because for all we know she may have just carried on.

        Jesus didn’t need to know how she would respond.

  18. Paul, you took the words right out of my mouth. Well said and amen. A lot of people seem to miss the concept of Christianity and as my dad used to say “it boils down to love” and throughout the bible love stands out more times than I can count. If we all practised love, we wouldn’t break a single commandment let alone refuse to make people cakes. Well done!

  19. Pingback: Thoughts on the cake | Time for Thought
  20. Hey Paul
    I just wanted to take the time to say I loved your article. I myself am not a christain and struggle to know what I believe in. I want to believe in god and the bible but find it hard when a lot of Christians use them to persecute those such as the LGBT community. I find your views refreshing and truly believe if there is a God etc he would be a lot more accepting of those that differ from him than a lot of the people that claim to follow his word.

    • Nice to meet you Liz,

      I am sorry that the views you’ve seen have been so unloving. I hope that I’ve given you a little bit of hope that there is a better way of being a Christian and just because your beliefs may not fit into what many might consider Christian, you are still welcome and accepted.

  21. A very wishy-washy, non-offensive, dangerously deconstructionist and universalist type article which will probably allure or appeal to naïve, non-confrontational, professing Christians as well as garner plaudits from those who are not spiritually appraised.

    From your writings in general, which are carefully crafted, deliberately provocative and very ambiguous, you clearly have an axe to grind against, what you perceive to be, “religious fundamentalists”. And those who have helped influence or shape your ‘Christian thinking’ have been thoroughly debunked and shown to be heretical at worst, or seriously misguided at least.

    As someone previously said: may God grant you repentance and show you the truth.

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the comments. You seem to have made a lot of big assumptions about the people who have read my blog and liked it.

      And about my attitude to what you call religious fundamentalists. I have no axe to grind or hatred towards anyone who thinks differently than me. Many of the comments here from people who disagree with me have really challenged me and helped me grow a lot. I am open to you or anyone else who wants to discuss anything but I don’t feel threatened by differences. They are beautiful.

      That’s what I love about the church.

      And thank you for your prayer of repentance for me. I need it everyday.
      Peace and Love to you Steve.

      • Greetings Paul.

        You’re right I have made a few readership assumptions: however I do think these assumptions are more likely to be true than not true. There’s always Christians out there who hate to be perceived as being “combative” or “hateful” by being very vocal on, or taking a strong stance against, such important moral issues as homosexuality, so called same-sex “marriage” and abortion which are culturally prominent in western civilisation. And so to avoid being called “nasty” and “divisive” and “unloving” by the world, there are voices in Christendom who want to advocate a different way which is much more accommodating or palatable or inclusive of the world; just to show and say that …”hey! …us Christians are really not that bad, or stubborn, or old-fashioned, backward people!… in fact we can be really nice, agreeable people and progressive in our thinking too on these matters!” Cue the likes of Matthew Vine and his book: ‘God and the Gay Christian’ whereby he attempts to radically revise the churches understanding of the bible, sexuality and meaning of marriage.

        Unfortunately this “different way” is a way which plays down the reality of our sinful nature and inherent rebellion against a holy God and instead rather likes to elevate God’s attribute of love. Now don’t get me wrong: God is love…but God is also light and in Him is no darkness… and God is also holy, separate from sinners, and undefiled.

        And you know what makes the gospel of Jesus Christ really good news? The fact that the bad news (about us) was really bad!

        I’m glad you’re being challenged by those who sincerely disagree with you Paul – that’s a good step. Some comments have really countered your thoughts so well on the subject matter above, that I couldn’t really add much more. I do hope you embrace correction and that it puts you on the path to finding the loving-truth in Christ.

        Peace.

  22. Really enjoying reading your words. This is really brilliantly put and loved reading it. Great to see a Norn Irish guy still writing about his homeland despite living a few miles across the ocean! Cheers.

  23. What would Jesus do?

    Matthew 5, 17-19: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
    For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
    Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    So what laws was he talking about? Stuff like this:
    Leviticus 18, 22: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

    Also:
    Matthew 10, 34-35: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”

    Arguably, Paul was the one who emphasised grace, Jesus (in the gospels) emphasised law and prophecy. I’m not a Christian, but even I can see the “be nice to everyone, because that’s what Jesus said to do” argument is facile.

  24. Paul,

    Your response is a blinkered interpretation of the Bible. It wants to focus only on the love of God and the perfection of Christ closing your eyes and ears to both the writing of Paul and the importance of the Old Testament. This approach is easier to take, it avoids conflict and asserts that ‘God loves everyone’. Yet this intrepretation would have led Shradrach, Meshach and Abednego to just bow down in case they offended the King for not worshipping his statute. It would have had Daniel stopping to pray, as God probably loved the King, and we don’t want to make a seen after all. Most importantly why was Jesus so confrontational telling the Jews they were wrong just as he did the Samaritan woman at the well for her immorality. Your article justifies a peace of mind, your mindset says that Christians don’t have to feel awkward about making a stand, in fact let’s all be the same as it apart from a few don’ts.
    I mean I could go on all day about your picking and choosing of scripture. What do you think of 2 Timothy 3:16 “all scripture is God breathed”, not just the parts which are easy or comforting. Rather accepting that we are all sinful, that sin needs punished by a Holy God rather than some all-loving weak God, (who frankly we don’t see in the Bible!) And surely you’d concede that there have been people who you would deem sinful, or are you expecting to bump into Hitler and Mao in Heaven? My point is you have completely missed the point of Christ coming to the earth to die. He came to show that we are sinful, something which no one wants to hear and which isn’t easy to say. Crucially Asher’s stance echoes that stance, being prepared to say in a loving mindset what the Bible makes clear, homosexuality is a sin just as adultery or sleeping around is. Paul says we are to be lights in a dark world, shining brilliant whether or not the message is received. Not conforming to the world, by picking and choosing Scripture and avoiding the tough parts before we are afraid to take a stand.

      • But you think he is all-loving?

        So would you assume therefore that all people go to Heaven; Hitler, Mao, Saville? How do you justify that intrepretation with Paul, Old Testament and Revelation? More importantly could you explain to me why Jesus had to come to earth, if all people are just going to Heaven?

      • I think He is much better than we could ever imagine. What a joyous place to live in.

        Also, I have no idea where those people are. Nobody can. You can’t. I can’t.
        I’m not saying they are in Heaven, but I refuse to declare wholeheartedly that I know exactly how this all works.

  25. “This is not an Us V Them case”
    This is the part of your article I can really agree with. It’s not a gay vs christian matter, rather it’s a question of “should we utilise the law to bin long cherished civil liberties (in the name of supposed tolerance) or are those liberties more important to EVERYONE, so should be very carefully and seldom trodden on”.

    No one stopped those guys buying a cake from anywhere else in Belfast, no one even stopped them buying a cake in Ashers – they were turned away on the basis of asking for a political message that the proprietors did not support. This ruling has unwittingly thrown out everyone’s right to refuse to promote or give voice to a political cause they do not agree with: a very important liberty in a free society. If we do not safeguard that then we are all at the mercy of whatever the current regime chooses to endorse and may one day fall foul of the authorities based solely on our opinions or beliefs. Where then will tolerance or love be?

  26. Paul,
    You started by saying that Jesus hasn’t been mentioned throughout this all. I feel this is a really unfair comment as Daniel and his family have made the most of every opportunity to speak of Jesus and their faith. Each and every video I’ve watched, article I’ve read etc, Daniel has constantly acknowledged God and His Grace and how they are trying to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. I think it’s completely admirable how him and his family have conducted themselves- they have never appeared angry or hateful towards Gareth Lee and the LGBT community- hasn’t that been a great witness in itself? Aside from all the public statements, I believe we will never know the impact that conversations due to this could have had and it may have presented great opportunities for Christians to share their faith in Jesus.

    I recently read this quote:
    “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

    Although Jesus loved and accepted everyone He did not agree and approve of their sin. The McArthur family have disagreed with something but have still shown love towards the people. I think they are an absolute credit and I have utmost respect for the stand they have taken.

    • They deserve the highest respect for how they have dealt with all of this. The media, the court case itself.

      But as you said, I can feel this way about them and still feel like there was a better option.

  27. Jesus’ lessons about turning the cheek in the face of persecution and carrying the oppressor’s load perhaps could be applied to (a) what Ashers may have done when the litigious challenge was filed against them (e.g., plead no contest instead of defending themselves in court), or (b) what they may do now (e.g., not seek appeal); but attempting to apply Jesus’ lessons here to what Ashers should have done originally regarding the request to partake in the propaganda . . . I’m afraid renders your whole essay absurd.

    Even if you yourself think (1) Jesus and (2) the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem and (3) Paul are all wrong about pansex sex being something that leads us further away from God rather than closer to God, I assume we can at least abide by the New Testament’s lessons about being true to one’s conscience. If, for example, we can agree that God is not into forced conversions which violate a pagan person’s conscience, then why should a Christian who believes that pansex sex is a mortal sin be forced/expected to participate in the promotion of that pansex sex? Such coercion violates that person’s conscience and forces them to do the opposite of their Christian vocation to lead people closer to God. Even secular wisdom knows that it would be wrong, for example, to ask a Muslim baker to ice a cake: “F*** Mohammed”.

  28. Dear Paul,

    I feel your heart may be in the right place, seeing that you are trying to emphasize LOVE. Well done with that! I would also like to point out that, without the complete understanding of who God is, you have run the risk of misleading a lot of people to thinking that God is just some guy that doesnt care about His standards and ideals. There are things that He doesnt condone and loving a sinner in this case would be to forgive them of the sin and ask them to go and sin no more.

    In this light, homosexuality is a sin. God loves the sinner and there is nothing he could ever have done to earn it anyway. He has forgiven the sin and He would require the sinner to go and sin no more. No homosexual as he is would make it to heaven, this is true Once he gives his heart to God, he is to begin to work out his salvation all through his life, with fear and trembling even! Be careful that you do not forget to share this about God.

    Also, on the Ashers case, they have every right to not do anything against their beliefs, simple! This isnt a new thing, all through history, Christians have been required to affirm stuff against their faith. Even Jesus Himself!!! The devil came to tempt Him 3 times, He didnt budge! I would ask, why didnt Jesus offer the devil service? I mean the devil asked Him to do all those things just to prove that he is Lord…but Jesus said NO! See?

    So even if the Name Jesus (according to you) hasnt been mentioned in all of this, all He stands for has been expressed. and yes, THIS IS WHAT JESUS WOULD DO!

    You should look into loving God more than the people you claim to love, since you are so big on love (which is great, i must commend). This is, (un)fortunately, the first and the most important commandment of God.

    Much love brother,

    Chiwi

    • Thanks Chiwi,

      The question isn’t whether people have to go against their beliefs but that we can think creatively and outside the box.

      So to use Jesus as an example, when he told his listeners that they should obey the rule about carrying a Roman Soldiers bag a mile, and even take it another mile, this was scandalous.

      The Roman Empire in which Jesus was part of was ruled by Ceaser who called himself God. So to ask his followers to follow this person rules is incredibly confusing and exciting to me.

      So we don’t need to defend our beliefs. They aren’t at threat. We’re called as I can see it from Jesus, to think creatively and wonderfully about how we treat others.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

      • Paul

        This point has been answered a number of times on this thread and you either are not seeing it or choosing to ignore it – its not about defending beliefs its about doing what Jesus actually did in all the situations you referred to – expressly or impliedly pointing out sin and calling for and in many of the cases receiving repentance and doing so in love (which is where some so called Christians today re falling short of his standard). Why are you ignoring His call to the woman to stop sinning?

      • Hi Peter,

        I’m not sure that Jesus called any sin out when he told his listeners to turn the other cheek or walk the extra mile. They were examples He used, not real interactions with people.

        And when you refer to the woman, I assume you are referring to the story of the woman caught in adultery?

        I completely agree that Jesus asked her to stop sinning. I’m not sure why you think I have doubted or denied that any point.

        What’s wonderful about this interaction with Jesus is that the first thing he says to her is not a command to stop sinning but an affirmation of who she is. Loved, blessed and accepted. He is turning not just her world upside down but that of those who were oppressing her. Often we tell people to stop sinning without addressing perhaps the pain they carry that is causing them to live in ways that are destructive to them. But Jesus changes everything and tells the woman that no one condemns her. She’s just been caught committing adultery and she is not condemned.

        Beautiful.

        I see it less as a command to stop sinning and more as an invitation to live life fully, wholly and with purpose.

        Thanks for your questions Peter,
        Peace.

        I’ve

      • I’m not sure what if anything you were about to add but in terms of turning the other cheek and going the extra mile I see the distinction that as you say these actions did not specifically endorse the sin against His followers and were intended to as you imply persuade the perpetrator to leave their sinful life behind adopt the same lifestyle, a form of witness as it were. Baking the cake here would not have done that as it would only have been going the first mile and indeed would have involved an implied endorsement of the sin itself – I might compromise on baking the cake without the slogan but I suspect that there would still have been a court case. I think this was a no win situation for Ashers – not baking the cake I still feel is more biblical but resulted in perceived offence but sometimes even Jesus caused sinners offence.

        In relation to the woman caught in adultery I can’t see where in baking the cake there is an opportunity to do what Jesus did and tell the sinner to stop sinning for Ashers if they baked the cake – even if they had confronted the sin when placing or delivering the order (you’re from Northern Ireland so you’ll be familiar with a scenario of say a tract inside the cake box!) I suspect the customer would have contacted the Equality Commission and we’d have ended up where we are now.

        We are not far apart my brother – you are not “the biggest hairatic I’ve have ever seen” (although perhaps that is a reference to what back home here in Norn Iron you might have referred to as your barnet and is actually a compliment!) but I really think that if Ashers asked themselves WWJD (and they said in court they prayed about it) they didn’t go far wrong. They could have done this in a very different more confrontational and less biblical / Christ-like way and I think it is unfair to imply there is any evidence to support an assertion that the cake Jesus would have baked the cake as ordered without comment.

      • “I see it less as a command to stop sinning and more as an invitation to live life fully, wholly and with purpose.”

        …and this, friends, is the problem with modern Christianity!

        A Jesus Christ that does not call you to stop sinning and instead invites you to live a “full” life of “purpose” would not have died for you, and therefore is no Jesus Christ at all!

        To everyone who is reading and who would read this…Christianity is being threatened/seriously attacked and in no time would mean nothing on this earth at this rate. It is already spineless as it is, seeing that the number of people out there to deceive God’s children are more than the ones who are willing to DIE for what is right (their faith). Sadly, people want the crown but not the cross, forgetting that without the cross, we wont be enjoying this gracious light. So much light now, it is being taken for granted. God forbid that sin will abound because of grace!

        What Jesus Christ did was not cheap… and if He did it, we (you and I) can do it too. He suffered death (very painful and shameful death on the cross), we should be willing to suffer death (any kind: social, political and yes even physical) for Him. That is the love He deserves.

        I pray God grants each one of us the required understanding. God bless you all!

      • You keep saying about being creative, thinking outside of the box etc and I do not understand that. In relation to the Ashers’ case, if they were to think outside the box, what could they have done?
        They either make the cake or don’t. Even if they made the cake but didn’t write the slogan, it would still have been an unpopular decision so I can’t see how they could have got around this by being ‘creative’?

        Making the cake and writing the slogan on it is just an easy way out of standing up for your faith. Christian life was never promised to be easy, we were never told to promote or encourage sin and by writing that on the cake, they’re definitely not opposing the sin!

  29. I enjoyed your article that was posted on a friends FB wall. I agree we need to demonstrate love and live out our Christian faith. Jesus gave us many examples but there is one in particular you left out that might fit here. The story of the woman caught in adultery. In this case Jesus did not condemn her, He loved her. But He also called her out of the sin. “Go and sin no more”….
    That’s not acceptance of her sinful ways Paul – its acknowledging her sin, not accepting it and calling her out of that sin in the most loving of ways. Acceptance and tolerance are slowly being merged into one word but they are very different.
    I’m sure God is shaking His head at us all right now and muttering under His breath what a mess of things we continue to make… but there is always an AND. He is shaking His head AND there is no end to His love and mercy.
    Peace

  30. Pingback: On cake and privilege and speaking up and shutting up. | gemmaruthwilson{dot}com
  31. So God said “Homosexuality is a sin”, when did He say that and to whom?We are told we are all God’s children, it would be a very poor Father indeed that would reject even one of His children because they were born different. “Children are gifts from God”, He gifts some very seriously disabled children with either physical or mental problems, sometimes both. These children are accepted by all, “it’s God’s will” they say, “This child is just as precious as the rest” they say. If God has seen fit to send children who are ‘different’ into the World, who should sit in judgement of His decision?……No-one should dare!

  32. This is a really wonderful post, thank you for it. I’ve never considered myself a Christian, but ever since I was small I really saw something in Jesus. You bring it out so well, the part that calls to me, to love those who would hate you, to live by compassion and understanding.
    Not being a practising Christian my general experience is with interpreters of doctrine rather than this kind of idea that to be loving doesn’t have to incur benefit, that even when it really hurts to love and it feels like you are being weak or feeling trodden upon by others that your love for them counts for more than personal sadness.
    I’m always brought back to feel the simplicity of what life is beyond the complications of mass opinion and experience.
    I thank you for being inspiring and caring for all, because when I feel I understand life in this way, I do feel the spirit and it is overwhelmingly powerful in how it calls for us to be.

    • Amy,

      I feel the need to thank you instead. When I hear how you’ve been moved and experienced the Spirit because of something I wrote this is why I do this. Continue to follow that voice because I believe that voice is often so much more important than much of what we’re told to believe. You’ll find truth there. And I believe you’ll find God there. Whatever they look like.

      Peace Amy.

  33. This is really refreshing. Jesus is the focus not us. I’m not sure what I would have done which is really challenging my thoughts at the moment, but I love cake and I love Jesus. We need to get out of the habit of doing what our Christian tradition has taught us but rather look at the source of our faith and get to know our saviour. However Asher’s may already be of this mindset. I don’t know.

  34. I enjoyed reading your article and found it thought provoking. I believe that in general we far, far under estimate the love that God has for ALL of us. God loves the sinner but not the sin. I totally get that we need to Love, really love, those around us but by doing that it doesn’t mean we condone or judge their lifestyle choice- whatever that may be. Thank you for writing the article. There are no winners in this. I believe the McArthur family have conducted themselves with grace and dignity but also believe that the decision made by the judge has opened a whole scary can of worms that could allow a whole load of serious silliness. Thanks again for your article Paul.

  35. Pingback: A Response to Paul Robinson regarding the Ashers Bakery case. | Letters Unfettered
  36. Have you raised any kids? I was inspired last night from our parish’s parenting course to realize that Ashers order refusal is not much more than telling our kids “No” when they’re about to do something that we think will hurt them. What’s more loving: for a parent to passively let their kid stick a screwdriver in an electric socket, or for the parent to not go along with that.

    And from morning prayer this morning, I was inspired to realize we don’t need to speculate on WWJD — because the gospels already show us a multitude of examples of what Jesus did when others wanted him to go along with their agenda:
    Satan’s temptation in the desert? Check.
    Religious leaders? Check.
    Samaritan woman at the well? Check.
    Governor Pilate? Check.
    King Herod Antipas? Check.

    So, yes indeed, let’s focus on Jesus — the Jesus who never once went along with other persons’ agendas in order to prove his love.

  37. How refreshing to read this!! Such examples from the Sermon on the Mount that you mention are so misunderstood by Christians because their religious leaders don’t teach it!! The power of nonviolent love was what Jesus taught and lived…you have definitely hit the nail on the head as regards how Christians should act with love in situations where they are faced with choices over Christian principles…the books of Walter Wink are an excellent place to start for Christians who want to explore more about the real Jesus and not some pious, meek version that some Churches proclaim!

  38. Thank you Paul for sharing your thoughts. I think for some Christians there is a lot of confusion and fear to know how to correctly respond. Sin is sin – it’s all the same to God but sometimes we are so quick to judge different kinds of sin and rank it. I love Jesus very much but know that I sin despite this and am grateful He forgives my sin. The verses I turn to are ‘judge not, that you be not judged -Matt 7:1 and John 8:7 -‘ Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ I don’t understand why some people are gay. I don’t know if its a life-choice, something you’re born with (I have friends who are gay who say they would never have chosen it). Because I don’t know enough about it, I’m not going to judge it. I know what the bible says about the act of homosexuality. I also know what the bible says about divorce yet Christians have become very tolerant on that subject. (For the record I’m not about to judge anyone who is divorced either). All I know is that Jesus commanded me to love Him first and then to love others. I feel so much for the Archers – what an extremely difficult situation to find themselves in. I believe that God will honour their actions because they acted out of their love and obedience for God. I can’t say what I would have done in the same position but I believe God rewards even the smallest act of faith – thats what nustard seeds are all about. We know we are anserable to Him one day for every thought and action. I can’t afford to worry about what anyone else will be anserable for.

    On a personal level your blog also helped me with a difficulty I’ve been having over an issue. You reminded me that God calls me to love my enemy and to do good to those who persecute me. Thank you

  39. Paul,

    Picking the grain on the Sabbath was not forbidden by the Law… It was forbidden by the Pharisee’s, as were many other things … It was a good example of how they misunderstood and added to the Law of God which is termed ‘legalism’.. There is another danger though… Taking away from the Word of God, often termed ‘liberalism’… I fear you’re headed down that path.. We certainly are to love all people but we are not to overlook their sins or determine for ourselves what is or is not sin… That would be Gods job and He has made his position clear on this subject, please don’t try to fit in with the world if you’re proclaiming to be Christian… 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world 1 John 2 v15-16.

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