This week the Supreme Court made headlines for ruling in the case of a Colorado baker. While the ruling was 7-2, the definition of the ruling was quite narrow and unlikely to have much impact on others. However, the details of the case were so long ago that it’s interesting to take a look back at what took place. So here’s an article that I wrote in December about the issue. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the case was decided in a 7-2 decision, and was not as evenly split as expected.
Obviously, the most notable aspect of this case is the fact that it has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The exchange is interesting and rather than merely take my interpretation or anyone else’s interpretation of what transpired, I would urge everyone to simply read the transcript. With that said, there are three telling points that came out of the discussion that says much about the mindset of this case:
- Public Accommodation: First, repeatedly throughout the exchange, we see the phrase ‘public accommodation’ pop up and exclusively used to suggest that we have public accommodation laws that allow people to discriminate. The context and continued use of this phrase essentially show the justices are making a case from the bench that the law permits discrimination and that needs to be changed. Never mind the foundational principles that lie behind the freedom of speech and freedom of religion guarantees, instead, the justices are indicating that there is a need to compel certain behavior.
- Private Beliefs: The public accommodation comments brings us directly to the aspect of private beliefs. At one point Justice Sotomayor makes this comment: “We’ve always said in our public accommodations law we can’t change your private beliefs, we can’t compel you to like these people, we can’t compel you to bring them into your home, but if you want to be part of our community, of our civic community, there’s certain behavior, conduct you can’t engage in. And that includes not selling products that you sell to everyone else to people simply because of their race, religion, national origin, gender, and in this case sexual orientation. So we can’t legislate civility and rudeness, but we can and have permitted it as a compelling state interest legislating behavior.” There are two key points to this comment. First, she joins two characters and twists them to misrepresent Christianity by linking private beliefs with hospitality and kindness. I can’t speak for every group of people, but I can speak as a Christian for Christians. We disagree with homosexuality as a sin explicitly outlined in the Bible, but that disagreement is not manifested by a disregard and disrespect for people. In fact, we are compelled to love them, which we do by associating with them in a context outlined in Scripture. First off, calling sin what it is . . . sin . . . is a great act of love, we just don’t like to accept it. Second, we love them by sharing the gospel. Third, sometimes sharing the gospel in love includes being hospitable. Example: I’ve worked with a number of homosexual individuals over the years; I’ve disagreed with their lifestyle and they were aware of that, but our relationship was one not characterized by hatred for one another. In fact, you wouldn’t have seen a difference between my relationship with them versus the relationship with other unbelievers who were heterosexual.
- People of Race: Finally, the arguments from the justices attempted to relate this case with that of race. This is a false premise. One is the discussion of race-based upon skin tone in which not only does a person not have control over, but is God-given and thus no distinction can/should exist. However, the other contends to redefine gender and marriage, which is also God-ordained according to a certain function. The severity of that distinction should be quite obvious, however, if you would like to read more, I would recommend you read Trevin Wax’s response by clicking here.
If there is anything that can be learned from the last several years in the history of the United States, it’s that we’re not a nation about a majority, we’re not a nation about respect, and we are not a nation about logic. Instead, we are now a nation in which bullying is seen as a legitimate form of argument. As a result, we have become a nation in which the many must attend to the few.
- The baker previously served those in this case, and thus he never denied service to those individuals despite the claim.
- Colorado refuses to prosecute bakers who deny service to someone who wants cakes with something that expresses the sinfulness of homosexuality, thus employing a double-standard.
- This case isn’t merely about trying to explain a position, but about destroying those who disagree . . . considering that what’s at stake here and for the florist in Richland, WA is that they will lose everything they have ever worked for.
Ultimately, there is not much to say here. Regardless of what an earthly court determines, all that matters is what occurs in the court of God. There are three basic points that must be considered:
- God is Sovereign: We must recognize that God is sovereign. As God, he is in absolute control. Therefore, the events taking place today and the progression of society towards a rejection of Him is not a surprise. In fact, it’s talked about and expected (Romans 1) and yet, we trust that the Lord has orchestrated events for His greatest glory (Romans 8). Therefore, our confidence is not in a society who determines what is right and moral every 10-20 years, but in a God who never changes.
- God is Sovereign: Not only is he ultimately sovereign over everything, but Romans 13 tells us that he is in control of the government. Therefore, while disagreeing with the overall direction of our society (despite what ruling comes down in this particular case) we can have complete trust in God because His rule is just and merciful, and therefore, we trust Him and the plans He has mitigated through our government.
- God is Sovereign: Finally, God is sovereign in the ultimate judgment. 1 Thessalonians and Revelation both speak of God’s judgment in both its finality and its perfection. Regardless of what takes place in this physical life, we know that God is sovereign in his control over these events, and the events that are to come. Therefore, we look forward to his future reign with anticipation of the perfect future with the perfect reign of the perfect king.
(1) In previous arguments (Obergefell v. Hodges) I have critiqued the justices for seeing themselves as the final authority with no checks and balances (you can read that article here; you can also read a related article at glorybooks.org by clicking here). This raises great concern about the role that the Supreme Court in our nation. If these justices see themselves as the final authority, that’s 9 people making moral and religious decisions for 323 million people (or we could say that each justice for every 35,888,888 people). This is why the checks and balances system that was established is/was so important in our society.
To read the transcript of the oral arguments, you can click here.
Photo “On the Hill” courtesy of user Eric B. Walker and Flickr.