An Indiana pizzeria was at the center of a ‘religious freedom’ debate this week.

I don’t know whether to file this with “News of the Weird” or “Current Events.” I’ll go with both. As a Christian, I would like to address the conservative Christian community. I am decidedly apolitical and this is an excellent case in point for why we need to understand the line between testimony and opinion.

Formerly, I was a card-carrying member of the religious right. As a once-insider, I’m particularly sensitive to the fact that the Kingdom to which I am subject is not of this world. It’s not that I don’t have political leanings; I do. I believe; I think; I vote. I am very thankful for the freedoms afforded by the United States, particularly the freedom of speech and religion. However, everything I do and say, particularly to a journalist, needs to be in the context of the Gospel of Jesus.

A worldwide uproar occurred because the owners of a pizzeria in Walkerton, Indiana stated that they would refuse to cater a same-sex wedding, should they be asked. First of all, as one bystander pointed out, I have to question why anyone would serve pizza at a wedding, gay or straight. Secondly, I have to ask why the owners felt compelled to answer a hypothetical question from a “journalist” that was looking for a sound bite that would make the five o’clock broadcast. No matter, it’s done now.

What followed the answer to the hypothetical question was a ridiculously hateful tweet-storm for and against the opinion. Fervent tweeters threatened physical harm to the owners and their establishment; an impassioned fund-raising campaign raised well over $800,000 in support of the owners.

I’d like to answer an unasked, hypothetical question…

Is it? “Does a business have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason?” Not my question… That’s a question to be decided by the Constitution and the courts.

Is it? “Is homosexuality a sin, a lifestyle choice or a matter of nature?” That’s not a question, that’s an invitation for a fight. I don’t do litmus tests.

OK, here’s my question… If you refuse business because you sincerely believe Christ is instructing you to avoid “sin,” for whom would you cater a wedding?

  • Men who have looked at a woman with lust in their hearts?
  • Couples who have lived together, (fornication)?
  • Children that have disobeyed their parents?

All of these are scriptural, New Testament sins. The Scripture teaches, “All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). By that standard, it looks like you won’t be doing much business at all.

Let’s come to the altar for a moment and get really honest…
It has nothing to do with sin, does it?
It’s all about discomfort.

Thank God we have a right to an opinion and can share it anywhere we like. Thank God we live in the United States of America. However, if the question is whether to cater a wedding for a gay couple, (real or hypothetical), then denying service is simply not a matter that can be supported by Scripture. It is a personal choice. If you’re uncomfortable, just say so; that’s fair.  But don’t hide behind Jesus when you do. I am your brother in Christ; please leave Jesus out of this.

Jesus felt very comfortable with regular people. In fact, the religious leaders accused him of being a “friend of sinners.” I can think of no better place to gently demonstrate our faith than with regular folks. We dare not live a life of avoidance. The life of Christ is not lived apart from the world. To go where Jesus goes means to loosen up and learn to love everyone God sends your way. Think about it; the only people to whom Jesus spoke harshly or judgmentally were the self-righteous religious folk of his day. God loved this world so much that He sent His only Son to redeem it. Doing the work of redemption with a pointing finger isn’t very effective. Believe me; I’ve tried it.

The hallmark of grace is humility. Humility begets service and produces an ongoing conduit of God’s grace. How might the pizza story read differently if the response to the reporter was, “We’re pleased to serve anyone in Jesus’ name”?

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses;
grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17)

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