The cake was never gay

Earlier this week we eventually had a verdict in the long drawn out “gay cake” court case that has dominated the media in Northern Ireland (and indeed around the world) ever since that fateful day almost a year ago when Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland declined to make a cake for the gay rights organisation QueerSpace with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” iced over a picture of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie. It has become known as the “Gay cake case” in the media, and after a long time spent considering the case the judge has determined that Ashers discriminated against the gentleman placing the order on the basis of his sexuality, for which they have been fined £500.

Before giving some thoughts on this I must make a disclaimer. As I write this I am eating a lemon meringue cupcake from Ashers.

First and foremost, it is poor journalism to refer to this as the gay cake case. The cake was never gay. Cakes cannot have a sexuality for they are inanimate objects. People have a sexuality, and yes the customer placing the order was a homosexual. But the cake was never gay. This was not a case about should a business be forced to make a ‘gay cake’. This was a case about should a local, family run business, be forced to print a slogan that went against their deeply held religious beliefs. Not fringe, fundamentalist religious beliefs, but religious beliefs that are held by a significant proportion of the population of the country this family business operates in.

Ashers are run by the McArthur family, who hold to the commonly accepted Christian view that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. This is a belief that comes from Genesis 2:24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This view is the one advocated by all mainstream (and most non-mainstream) churches, and indeed is the view held by most countries around the world – in only 19 countries is gay marriage legal.

Northern Ireland is not one of those 19 countries. Northern Ireland is a country with a strong Christian heritage, and while the issue has been debated several times at local government level on each occasion a vote to legalise gay marriage has failed. Instead gay couples are entitled to have a civil partnership which is a compromise that allows them to affirm their love for each other and receive the same legal benefits that marriage brings such as inheritance tax benefits.

So by producing a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” not only would Ashers have had to compromise their faith, they also would have been producing a cake with a political slogan that was in rebellion with the law of the land – they would have been guilty of promoting rebellion against the state. Not to mention the copyright infringement they would have been committing in using the image of Bert and Ernie without the consent of Sesame Street.

However, because they did not conform to the will of the liberal left elite, who speak of equality for all yet take every opportunity to deny that equality to Christians, they found themselves in court, sued by the Equality Commission for the audacity of holding to a viewpoint that the Rainbow Project disagrees with. And in a shocking miscarriage of justice they were found guilty of discriminating based on the sexuality of the customer. This was a horrifying judgement as that was not happened. The customer was not denied custom because of his sexuality. If that had been the case then Ashers should rightly have been fined. It is unacceptable to deny service to anyone on the basis of sexuality, race, faith or gender. But had a heterosexual tried to order the same cake they would have been denied too. So this gay customer was in fact treated equally. The issue was with the design, and the result of this court case is that any artist is subject to having to produce artwork that conveys a message that they disagree with, or even in cases completely goes against everything they stand for. This is a dangerous position to be in, for it forces Muslim bakers to be prepared to make cakes with cartoons of Mohammed on them. It forces Catholic bakers to make cakes with the slogan “Support the Orange Order”. And interestingly, it forces gay bakers to make cakes with the slogan “I support biblical marriage” on them.

This judgement leaves it very clear that if a Christian is going to cling to Biblical views in the modern day UK society they are going to come under attack and legal constriction. It makes it clear that the rights of a Christian to have a viewpoint are trumped by the rights of those with opposing views. It makes it clear that Jesus was right when He warned that people would hate us because of our allegiance to Him, and it makes it clear that we have to choose if we will be a friend of the world or a follower of Jesus.

I must add that while I support Ashers in turning down this order, I do still feel the way they handled things was not perfect. They initially accepted the order, then cancelled it later. They should not have taken the order given that they knew as they took it they would be unable to fulfil it. In addition, this was never about gays v Christians despite some (on both sides) trying to turn it into that. As Christians we are called to love our neighbour as ourselves, and that includes our straight neighbours along with our gay neighbours. But we are also called to cling to our faith in God and to live by His Word, so that means not doing things that go against what He commands, and not supporting what He prohibits. Sometimes loving your neighbour means saying ‘I love you as a person, but I am not prepared to compromise my faith and integrity to support the choices you have made’. That is the joy of living in a democracy – differing viewpoints are allowed to co-exist and no-one is forced into doing what they believe is wrong – something those with a left-wing agenda who were clamouring for Ashers to be forced into baking a cake would do well to remember. And as Christians we must be mindful that all sin is rebellion against God and we must be careful not to highlight out one specific sin to make our flagship issue while staying quite on many other more ‘acceptable’ sins happening around us, for that is what leaves us open to accusations of being homophobic or intolerant.

There are lessons to be learnt for us from the ordeal Ashers has been through, and they have set an excellent example of standing firm for our faith even when the world brings all sorts of legal action against us and tries to tell us what we can and can’t believe. The Bible is what gives us our ethics and beliefs, not society. Throughout the proceedings they had many opportunities to speak to the media and share their faith which they boldly and uncompromisingly took. And by all accounts the public have not been put off buying from them but instead sales are soaring, proving again the truth that Joseph spoke to his brothers (including the Asher the bakery is named after) after they had sold him into slavery “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

And for the record – their cupcakes are very tasty. But their cake is not, and never was, gay.

ashers

Learn more the author of this post:

Pete McM
The original founder of All4God, Pete is 26, lives in Northern Ireland, is a junior doctor, Ulster fan and is passionate about Jesus
  • https://www.facebook.com/etseq97 etseq

    I suggest you read the actual written opinion by the judge rather than relying on the Christian Institute and the right wing media spin coming out of the Torygraph and the Mail. Christians aren’t the victims here – take responsibility for your homophobia. Just because you think God demands your bigotry doesn’t excuse it from the reach of secular law.

    • Edna Parkes

      The Judge’s opinion is just that, an opinion, nothing more and doesn’t make the ruling right! You obviously haven’t read this article properly ‘etseq’ and are yet just one more anti-Christian person, a ‘christiphobic’ if you like (see what I did there? I labelled you and put you in a little box! Not nice, is it?), to jump on the ever proverbial bandwagon and accuse anyone who doesn’t share your opinion, of being bigots and homophobes. Why is it that the Gay community and their supporters just can’t seem to accept that not everyone shares your point of view? It doesn’t make anyone a bigot or a homophobe, it just means they have a different opinion, that’s all. It’s as simple as that. Why make such a big deal out of it? Is it any small wonder then, that there is such a huge gulf between the Christian community and the Gay community?!

    • Carrie Mack

      Your attitude is wrong on every point and shows hostility, the very thing heterosexuals are called ‘homophobic’ for, whenever they say something and anything that LGBT members disagree with.
      Regardless of the judgement, and no judge is infallible hence appeals which are often won, overturning the original judgement, the judge was wrong. It was about the slogan on the cake the message that slogan sent. Also, all people should understand that it is not only Christians or other religions who disapprove of homosexuality, many non-religious do also (as I am sure some of the 735000 who voted against the Marriage Referendum. Furthermore, disagreeing with homosexuality is NOT synonymous with ANY kind of phobia.

  • Anita Estes

    This is not a case of homophobia or bigotry. It is a case in which a family run business stood on their faith and values. We are called to love the sinner, but we don’t have to love or accept the sin.If others don’t believe its a sin, they can believe how they like, but Christians have a right to believe as their faith dictates and to run their family business according to their values.

  • http://www.tempworks.com greggdourgarian

    This is great writing Pete. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

  • DisparityNI

    Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19

    Ye shall not round the corners of your heads. Leviticus 19:27

    Prayer (not doctors) if You’re Sick: James 5:14 NASB

    Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same. Luke 3:11 NIV

    Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place. Ephesians 5:4 NIV

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Ephesians 6:5 NLT

    You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT

    I could list a whole array of crazy verses from the bible which most Christians choose to ignore. Why do you suppose that Christians ignore these and yet are so passionately into other parts of the bible? It seems they pick and choose parts of the bible depending on whatever suits their agenda at the time.

    • SeptemberSong

      The quotes from the Old Testament applied to the children of Israel under the Law God gave them through Moses. The Christian church started from the time of Jesus. That is the first sort-though to determine what applies to Christians nowadays. James, Luke, and Ephesians come from the time of Jesus’ becoming flesh and living among us, and shortly after. We still pray for the sick and share with people who have little. God gave us a brain to use to apply what we know about how to treat sickness, doctors being one option; for Luke was said to be a physician. Slaves — there are many slaves in the world still, I think; they are still to obey and respect their masters, for not all masters act mean and horrid. I often think that people who work for other people for a living have a situation similar in several ways to slavery. Wage-slaves! They may be paid poorly or well, be treated poorly or well. Ephesians chapter 6:9 says this (as I think you probably know): “Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.” I like your choice of the NLT. I like to use it, too, for everyday reading, for seeing things in ordinary language, surprising insights sometimes come! All the best to you.

  • Steven

    Not sure I’ve ever read a blog that misses the point so much.