Same-sex Marriage, Cakes, and the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon determine whether an artist, in this case a cake decorator, has the right to determine for whom he will use his talents based on religious beliefs. I think the issue is more basic. The question is whether a business should be required to participate in any activity that is against the owner’s religious beliefs.

In July, 2012, Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, was asked by Charlie Craig and David Mullins to custom decorate a cake for their same-sex wedding reception. Jack graciously explained to them his religious opposition to same-sex marriage and that he could not offer his services to them. He offered them an already baked cake and suggested other conveniently located bakeries that would accommodate them. They sued, and the case was appealed all the way to the highest court in the land. Religious freedom vs. public accommodation was being put to the test. Meanwhile Jack’s cake sales are down 40%, and he has gone from 10 to 4 employees.

The same Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples could marry. This decision was a grave disappointment and an offense to us Bible-believing Christians. We were told at the time to be tolerant and that such law would not impact our way of life. But, as we know, this attack on traditional marriage has affected many people’s lives. The wedding cake case was already making its way through the courts when same-sex marriage became legal nationwide. Other businesses have suffered or closed due to refusal to participate in weddings or other activities of same-sex couples.

This landmark Supreme Court decision will signal further how Christians will be treated for their biblical belief in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. If the court sides with Masterpiece, Christian business owners will at least have some protection against being forced to support the celebrations and activities that the Bible clearly calls an “abomination to the Lord.” Sadly, if it sides with the gay couple, business owners will be forced to participate in such celebrations and activities, close their business, or commit a crime. This ruling against religious freedom would also have implications for many other types of businesses and organizations, even churches.

A main reference by the plaintiff is the 1968 case of Newman vs. Piggy Park Enterprises, Inc. This case involved the owner of a drive-in who refused to serve black customers because of a so-called religious belief against integration. The Supreme Court found in favor of the black customer in an 8-0 decision. I hope the court rightly sees this case as having no bearing on the cake issue. Certainly, a public business shouldn’t discriminate in sales on the basis of ethnicity, a handicap, or any other natural difference. But, to refuse to apply one’s talents to something that is against a strongly held religious belief is a basic religious freedom.

The plaintiffs say it is not about a cake; it is about equal rights. I suggest it is neither. It is another assault on the Christian faith. The couple could have walked a couple of blocks and ordered a cake from another bakery without a problem. If a Muslim meat processor refused to butcher a farmer’s hog because it was against his religion, no court would even hear the farmer’s case. Yet, America’s courts have increasingly pushed Christians to tolerate behaviors that dishonor God and to accept them as lawful. Issues like abortion, gender identity, and same-sex marriage are becoming legally off-limits for debate in the public domain.

The odds of this case are in favor of the same-sex couple. The Supreme Court, when almost evenly divided, will usually tip in the direction of the lower courts. Court watchers are already reporting that this case is equally divided between the conservative and liberal judges with Justice Anthony Kennedy having the determining vote. Kennedy generally supports LGBT issues and wrote the majority opinion for same-sex marriage. One bright spot is that, of many equally divided legal briefs, one was from the Trump Administration Department of Justice supporting Masterpiece. The result most American Christians hope to see will be a long shot. I encourage you to pray that the Supreme Court sides with Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop–and God–in their ruling in a few months.

 

Jerusalem: Why It’s Important to America

President Trump has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since Congressional law declared it the capital in 1995, Trump has been the only president with the courage to endorse the law. This White House declaration is more than a political move. It is an act that acknowledges and honors God and His eternal plan for the holy city.

The Arab-Israeli war of 1947 that reestablished the State of Israel left the Palestinians controlling the east half of Israel’s regained capital, Jerusalem. The subsequent war of 1967 ended with Israel in control of all of the city. However, the Palestinians still claim the east half as rightly theirs. The U.S. opened their embassy in 1966 in Tel Aviv, since control of the capital was an international controversy. To this day, no nation has located their embassy in Jerusalem. On Wednesday, our president began the history-making process of relocating our embassy to became the first ever in the legitimate capital. I am excited about this well-overdue decision and strongly believe it is right politically, but most importantly right spiritually.

Politically, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital is a bold statement that America is an unwavering ally of Israel. Although many say the move will jeopardize peace initiatives in the region, I believe it will give us better opportunity to negotiate with the Palestinians from a position of strength and resolve. One of the primary reasons peace in Israel has been elusive is because, for decades, we have been perceived as waffling in our support for their government. Our reluctance has been rewarded with violence against Israelis and Americans as well as very little effort toward peace.

From a spiritual perspective, the relatively small city of Jerusalem is the most important city in the world. Three thousand years ago, God led King David to conquer Jerusalem and establish his palace there. Later, the first Jewish temple was constructed on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. Succeeding kings and governors of God’s people led from this national capital. In AD 70, the city came under the total control of Rome scattering the Jews throughout the world. From then to 1947, when Israel became a nation again, the land never had a recognized government. During these centuries, a remnant of Jews lived there among foreign occupiers and always claimed Jerusalem as their seat of government. In addition to Romans, the foreign occupiers included Byzantines, Arabs, and Brits. Therefore, Jerusalem has never in history been a capital of any nation or people groups other than the Jewish people. For years before the repatriation of massive numbers of Jews began in 1947, the land of Israel was called Palestine, and its majority population was termed Palestinian. However, Palestinians do not comprise a nation. They never have. They are a conglomeration of mostly Arab people who have filled a long-time vacuum left by native Jews. They don’t have a capital city–they don’t have a country. The capital of the Jewish people, Israel, has been Jerusalem for over 3,000 years, and America finally officially recognized that this week.

But, what makes Jerusalem even important to America and the rest of theĀ  world is that it will be the capital of the universe when Christ comes again as both He and the prophets before Him have prophesied for thousands of years. According to the Bible, He will reign from Jerusalem on the throne of David for eternity. I am already a citizen of that Kingdom, but I also want to be a citizen of the nation that recognizes Jerusalem as not only the capital of Israel, but also the capital of Heaven on earth one day soon.

Referring to the future nation of Israel, God told the father of His people, Abraham, “…I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you, I will curse.” I believe recognizing Jerusalem for what it is and moving our embassy there is America’s way of blessing Israel in spite of the possible repercussions. Now, sit back and watch those who will oppose our president’s decision and will try to block the embassy move. It’s called political naivete and spiritual blindness.

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