A cake shop owner in Colorado finds himself in legal trouble after refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding. Although participating in a gay wedding goes against his Christian beliefs, he says that he has no problem serving gay people otherwise. The Colorado attorney general filed the complaint against him on behalf of the gay couple that ordered the cake. According to an Associated Press report:
The complaint seeks to force Masterpiece Cakeshop to “cease and desist” the practice of refusing wedding cakes for gay couples, and to tell the public that their business is open to everyone.
If Phillips loses the case and refuses to comply with the order, he would face fines of $500 per case and up to a year in jail, his attorney said.
“It would force him to choose between his conscience and a paycheck. I just think that’s an intolerable choice,” Martin said.
Here we have another instance that puts on full display how religious liberty is being threatened by the legal redefinition of marriage and by treating homosexuals as a protected class. If this complaint stands, this cake-shop owner will have to choose between being faithful to his conscience and going out of business.
I have already noted several other stories like this one, and I expect we will see many more in the future. Christians are going to have to navigate some tough ethical questions in the coming days. I believe that many Christian business owners will be able serve homosexuals and do so with a good conscience. For many owners, relationships with such customers may very well be the context for their ongoing Christian witness to them. For a Christian selling hamburgers, providing goods and services is a no-brainer. But for the Christian wedding planner, there will likely be a different moral calculus. And there’s the rub.
The key issue that will weigh on the Christian conscience is whether providing a good or a service might be construed as approving homosexuality or the sinful fiction known as gay “marriage.” That’s why the cake shop owner in this case is happy to serve gay people but not to participate in their wedding celebration. His conscience dictates a course of action that may very well run him afoul of the legal authorities. These are exactly the kinds of cases that are going to test the limits of religious liberty in coming days. Get ready.