When Business and Religious Convictions Cross Paths

12 Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.

~ 1Co 8:12 (HCSB)

9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

~ 1Ti 3:9 (HCSB)

5 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion.

~ 1Ti 1:5-6 (HCSB)

If you didn’t know it already, the above passages should make it clear.

Our consciences are not infallible.   They need to be informed by God’s Word.  That partly explains why one person can do something and not feel any qualms, but another who does the same thing feels terribly guilty.  Paul had to address a couple of these issues during his ministry.  In particular, he gave instructions about meat offered to idols.  We weren’t to go around asking about it, but if someone offers it and straight-out tells you its been offered to an idol, then we are to refuse it, if for no other reason than we don’t want to appear to approve of idol worship.

Part of the reason was that Paul’s audience was so steeped in idolatry that it was very difficult to shop for meat that had not been offered to an idol.  It honestly would have meant nothing to the culture around them.  However, if you ingest meat that had been offered but didn’t know it, then you weren’t participating in the act, either.

We are commanded many times to use discernment.  We are commanded to be not deceived.  It will get tougher.  Have you considered what you believe, why you believe it, and what the limits of what you’ll actually do are?  I’m going to ask you some questions, and I don’t intend to give a lot of answers.  I’m not even sure there is a one size fits all answer in the first place.  However, if you haven’t considered these things, you likely will be forced to.

Life is full of decisions about conscience, and it is only going to get tougher.  Some will willingly violate conscience and take the mark, name or number of the Beast in order to buy and sell.  However, between now and that time will still be tough.

“Gay marriage” will continue to become an increasingly antagonistic issue as some decide to make a stand for traditional marriage.  There already have been legal threats against clergy, and some very real concerns in the military in particular, for those who refuse to “marry” two people of the same sex.

Now, we see a baker refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, and the baker is now being investigated by the State of Oregon for law violations.

GRESHAM, Ore. — A Gresham baker is the subject of a state investigation after he refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Did Sweet Cakes owner Aaron Klein violate the law when he told the couple that he couldn’t sell them a cake because “they were abominations to the Lord?”

That’s what Oregon Attorney General’s civil enforcement officers are looking into after one of the brides-to-be filed a complaint on Jan. 28.

The woman who filed the complaint said she had previously bought a cake from Sweet Cakes for her mother’s wedding. It was fine. But when her partner went back for their wedding cake on Jan. 17, the owner refused.
Klein on Friday denied making the harsh statement, but admitted to a KATU reporter on camera that he did deny her service.

“I apologized for wasting their time and said we don’t do same-sex marriages,” he said. I “honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset, (it’s) just something I believe in very strongly.”

Frankly, given the militancy of many of today’s gays on the same-sex “marriage” issue, I am skeptical of the claim that the baker used such language with this customer.  I sincerely doubt any business owner would call any potential customer an “abomination” in this economy.  I mean, I could be wrong, but any business owner who wants to keep customers would not be likely to treat even non-customers like this.  It does not pass the sniff test.

With that out of the way, this certainly brings up the more important question: Where do you draw the line?

  • Clergy are operating in a religious capacity.  Of course, that doesn’t matter to some knuckleheads, but in some cases, asking them to perform same-sex anything is a violation of the core of what they claim believe.
  • This baker was asked to bake a wedding cake.  The argument could be made that by creating a wedding cake for the lesbian couple was being part of the process, and thus perhaps a legitimate violation of conscience.
  • In the UK, a Christian Bed and Breakfast owner was ordered to pay £3,600 in damages for refusing to a homosexual couple.  It should be noted that she only accepts married couples.  It should also be noted that she runs this business out of her own home.

Again, where do you draw the line?

To be fair, I doubt that very many of us will have to make these types of choices.  For most of the work I do, it wouldn’t be a requirement of mine to know or care who is married to whom, when or why, but there are other things that may cross the line.  A waitress in a restaurant saying she will not serve a gay couple may be over the top.  However, I would hope most of us could see the problem with a Christian waitress working in a gay club.

So, where do you draw the line?  What are you responsible for, and what are you not responsible for?

Because, Sodom and Gomorrah will be here tomorrow.  The clock is ticking.  Lot certainly had to make some decisions while he lived in Sodom, and it honestly looks like some of it rubbed off on him.  However, some of us have limited choices about where we can live.

We may be faced with certain choices.  Will we be prepared to do the right thing in the right way?  I doubt that ranting and raving will make any situation better.  I doubt shouting “Thou shalt not” will get anyone to listen or be a good witness.  In fact, if the baker did call the couple an abomination, then he got himself into trouble.  Otherwise, I fail to see where he really did anything wrong.

28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

32 Remember Lot’s wife.

~ Lk 17:28-32

It won’t get any easier.  Where will you draw the line?  How will you draw it?  Will you be a good witness for Christ?  Or, will you turn people off with tactics like the Westboro Baptist Church does?

How would Jesus draw the line?