Doug Wilson - A Theology of Resistance for Florists

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Steve Newman's picture

Thank you, Doug!

TylerR's picture

Editor

Wilson wrote:

This is why we see so many of the evangelical intelligentsia (sic) doing what intelligentsioids do best — which is to flake. In the meantime, even though it feels like the Alamo redux, the task of upholding the moral order of Scripture and Christendom falls to bakers, photographers, and arrangers of flowers. This is a true occasion for having mixed emotions — being deeply proud of our ordinary foot soldiers and profoundly ashamed of our leadership.

I wish I could do more, but here are just a few practical theological observations for the ordinary Christian, still at his beleaguered post, wondering why headquarters won’t respond to repeated pleas for air support. Ordinary Christians would be justified in feeling the same way that ordinary Ukrainians do when they pleaded for aid against the Russian invasion, and Obama sent them extra socks to help get them through the winter. Winter wasn’t the problem.

Ouch . . . !

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

If I were a baker, or plumber, or electrician, or any business that was open to the public; I would serve all who would pay my going rate without asking questions. 

There was (and maybe still is) a trailer hitch company (might have been Reese) that had a gospel tract in every box. 

As an aside .... CakeWrecks is a funny site,

Wayne Wilson's picture

Jim wrote:

If I were a baker, or plumber, or electrician, or any business that was open to the public; I would serve all who would pay my going rate without asking questions. 

That's fine, Jim. Do you think someone whose conscience and understanding of the bible is different from yours should be punished by the state? The woman in question didn't ask questions, and served the homosexual man happily before. It was this ceremony, when presented to her, she didn't believe before God she could be a part of. I think she should have that right to refuse under law.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Good point. I've often wondered about this myself. On the other hand, if a Muslim cakemaker refused to make a wedding cake for a Christian wedding because he thought it would be blasphemy to write Bible verses on the cake, then I wouldn't sue the guy. I'd understand and just . . . find another cake guy. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

Do you think someone whose conscience and understanding of the bible is different from yours should be punished by the state? 

  • Would the state concern itself with the electrician who refused to serve someone? (for whatever reason?)

I think the state would call that discrimination. 

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

If you're a Baptist, then you (ought to) believe the NT teaches that people ought to be left alone to worship as they see fit, with no oversight or coercion from the government. Baptists believe this because each person is personally responsible to God for himself. Therefore, certain New England colonies were terribly wrong to punish Baptists who weren't part of the Congregational Church. Baptists just wanted to be left alone to worship God as they believed the NT taught; instead they were harassed and persecuted by the authorities. Now, today, we have the issue of gay "marriage"

  • What practical implications does this have for Christians who are against gay "marriage"? Should we just retreat because morality can't be legislated? Is this a Biblical model, or pathetic fatalism? 
  • On the other hand, what does this show about the totalitarianism of the gay "marriage" movement? 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

I do believe in a separation of church and state. I also believe in submission to the governing authorities. 

Back to my hypothetical electrician (since I am not one): Would it be discrimination for the electrician to have a "gay-test" before doing electrical work? I think so. I think it would be wrong. And I'm also certain it would be illegal. 

Consider this example: Two men arrive at the hardware store. They need some electrical extension cords. The clerk asks what the application is and the men say they are planning an outdoor wedding by a lake and need some specialized (grounded, outdoor specific) electrical cords and outlets for the wedding

What makes the baker (or florist) different than the electrician ? 

 

Jim's picture

Tyler asked:

  • What practical implications does this have for Christians who are against gay "marriage"? Should we just retreat because morality can't be legislated? Is this a Biblical model, or pathetic fatalism?
  • On the other hand, what does this show about the totalitarianism of the gay "marriage" movement?
  • There is literally no such thing as gay marriage! The state can call it whatever they want. Marriage is ONLY between a man and a woman. This is clear to me.
  • What can I do personally? For starters, endeavor to have an A+ marriage that follows the Biblical model.
  • Is selling a cake, flowers, electrical or plumbing work; toleration of gay marriage. NOT at all! It's selling a product or service to all who are legally protected.
  • How do I feel about the baker who refuses to sell a cake to gays? It's their business. It's their consequences. If the don't want to sell cakes to gays ... either don't make cakes at all or specialized in non-wedding cakes. As an aside, I would not stock gay wedding toppers (like below). If someone wanted a gay wedding topper I would let them buy one online and put it on themselves. I would just say .. "I don't stock that item ... but it is freely available from other sources" (like Amazon)
Jim's picture

How is baking a cake "be[ing] a part of" so-called gay-marriage? 

Take some other vendor issues: 

  • The Christian landlord (and frankly I would not be a landlord). Housing laws require non-discrimination for all kinds of issues including sexual preference
  • Same with a Christian couple who owns and rents cabins or motel rooms (again I wouldn't be in this business)
  • I previously mentioned the electrician and  the plumber and the guy in the hardware store
  • What about the small businessman who sells computers. I can only imagine the nefarious things  that people use an Internet browser for. One must ask and confirm: "you will not use this computer for viewing pornography, right?!"

 

 

Jim's picture

Does any pastor of a church of any size really think that there are not gays who attend your worship services. There is no test for them at the door. 

I would suggest that at some services in a church of 300 or 400 +, there are very probably  adulterers, fornicators, onetime pedifiles and other perverts in the very same room. 

Jude says that in his day, there were "[such] people [as] blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm" (Jude 1:12). They might even be eating cake in the fellowship hall! 

Wayne Wilson's picture

Jim wrote:

How is baking a cake "be[ing] a part of" so-called gay-marriage? 

Take some other vendor issues: 

  • The Christian landlord (and frankly I would not be a landlord). Housing laws require non-discrimination for all kinds of issues including sexual preference
  • Same with a Christian couple who owns and rents cabins or motel rooms (again I wouldn't be in this business)
  • I previously mentioned the electrician and  the plumber and the guy in the hardware store
  • What about the small businessman who sells computers. I can only imagine the nefarious things  that people use an Internet browser for. One must ask and confirm: "you will not use this computer for viewing pornography, right?!"

I asked: "Do you think someone whose conscience and understanding of the bible is different from yours should be punished by the state?"   You are simply responding with what the law is (in some states). I'm asking you if you think the law should make no room for individual conscience. It appears that you think it's just fine for the state to disregard conscience in the face of the homosexual agenda.  

As to the other matter, for some people, their work, especially creative work (photography, baking, flower arranging), is something they do feel is part of the ceremony that are working for. That's part of the joy of their job.  Flower arrangers are using their craft to enhance a wedding.  You don't feel any connection to the ceremony. They do.  It is a matter of conscience.  (Obviously this doesn't apply to an employee for Target. We're talking about a business owner. It's up to Target to accommodate or not accommodate their employees religious concerns).  

Most of your examples do not apply in any way to the case at hand. The woman whose life is being destroyed did not refuse to serve homosexuals. She loved them, and regards them as friends. Her conscience would not go so far as the ceremony. Shouldn't she have that right? Shouldn't a decent society protect her at least as much as the homosexual couple?

 

Jim's picture

I may not be clear on the facts of the case so clear this up for me. 

You said: " Her conscience would not go so far as the ceremony."

I ask: How was she to be involved in the ceremony. It's been along time (40 years) but when I was married, the baker baked the cake. I'm not even sure it was delivered ... I think my sister-in-law picked it up at the grocery.

Was the baker required to go to the ceremony? Cut the cake?

See I don't see this group as special: "As to the other matter, for some people, their work, especially creative work (photography, baking, flower arranging), is something they do feel is part of the ceremony that are working for. "

(By the way .. while I have never cooked or baked cakes ... I have put my hand to floral arranging. I worked for a wholesale florist for 1+ years. Frankly it's not as much creative work as one might think!) 

 

Jim's picture

  • Does  the typical florist, baker, or photographer ask any real tough moral questions associated with their creative work. Like

    • Have you been living together prior to marriage ... I mean I will only do weddings for virgins
    • Are both members of the party truly saved?
    • Is this a second marriage? Well wait a minute, I'm not so sure your divorce met the Biblical standard for divorce. 
  • Frankly I doubt it

What makes their creative work more special than my creative work in Information Technology. (You should have seen some of my code ... only I understood it!)

 

 

Jim's picture

Do you think someone whose conscience and understanding of the bible is different from yours should be punished by the state?" You are simply responding with what the law is (in some states). I'm asking you if you think the law should make no room for individual conscience. It appears that you think it's just fine for the state to disregard conscience in the face of the homosexual agenda.

  • Like it or not the state is very much involved in our lives. (Ever filled out a FAFSA?)
  • Sometimes the involvement is a plus for us: the pastor's housing allowance, tax deductions for donations, property tax exemptions for buildings used for worship, et cetera. (Student financial aid ... see above link)
  • Sometimes the involvement is a perceived negative (I just paid my taxes ... )
  • Gays are legally protected (I mentioned rent and housing above). Like it or not it's a reality.
  • I know how I would handle it (were I a baker): No gay toppers available at my store. You want one ... you buy one (the Amazon link I mentioned). I only install toppers from my own inventory. You can install whatever topper you want. You may pick up your cake at my location. For a fee I would deliver it .. but not stay for the ceremony. I'm a baker not a priest or pastor. Bake a cake? Sure. Attend a ceremony? Not!
  • A nice gospel tract with every order. 
J. Baillet's picture

Doug Wilson appears to have struck a nerve.

JSB

dmicah's picture

I'm with Jim on this. What jumps to mind is common grace. Wouldn't the world have fallen apart if God refused to serve up the sun, atmosphere, air, etc. at the first glimpse of sin? 

The point about other forms of immorality being used as a filter is pertinent. Why is one particular ceremony such an egregious offense to this woman's conscience? Jim's right, she's not participating in the wedding any more than the electric company supplying power to the location of the ceremony.

Having said that, it does seem as if the government is looking for ways to normalize aberrant behavior and enforce tolerance. It's a foreshadowing.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Jim wrote:

  • Does  the typical florist, baker, or photographer ask any real tough moral questions associated with their creative work. Like

    • Have you been living together prior to marriage ... I mean I will only do weddings for virgins
    • Are both members of the party truly saved?
    • Is this a second marriage? Well wait a minute, I'm not so sure your divorce met the Biblical standard for divorce. 
  • Frankly I doubt it

What makes their creative work more special than my creative work in Information Technology. (You should have seen some of my code ... only I understood it!)

Well, back in the day, when two non-virgins married, they called it "doing the right thing." I trust you are not extending that to homosexual unions.  

All of your little examples are meaningless for this discussion, because you are making judgments about another person's conscience based on your own.  "Well, I would do it. To me it's jut like plumbing. What's the big deal? You're just being silly. O, but toppings, yes, that you should refuse because I would."  That's not how I understand the Scriptures regarding the respect we should show for another's conscience. Frankly, yes, if a photographer wanted to draw the line at your comical places, they should be allowed to do so.

And florists are often very much involved in the wedding, and expected to be onsite and active.  The lady in questions is a florist...and a great and noble lady, in my opinion.

Jim's picture

Found this:

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2015/02/02/oregon-bakery-same...

This argument is laughable: "Anna Harmon of Canby, one of three attorneys representing the Kleins, said the judge was wrong to decide that neither the state nor the federal constitution protects their right "not to design and create a work of art celebrating an event which violates the tenets of their religion."

I mean it is a cake

To Wayne Wilson: I respect their right to bake or not bake a cake! It's their business. And now they are out of business. 

I told  you how I would handle it ... I would do my best to make the best cakes possible for all of my customers. That's my conscience. 

 

Jim's picture

Again to Wayne Wilson: " I trust you are not extending that to homosexual unions.  "

I have officiated at wedding ceremonies - many of them. Would I officiate at a gay-union? Nope! No question about it.

J. Baillet's picture

I attended a conference a year and a half ago where the panelists were Doug Wilson and David VanDrunen.  (Peter Lillback was to be the third panelist but had been summoned to attend a hearing in the Hobby Lobby case, which is not unrelated to the point at hand).  Consistent with Jim's position, Doug Wilson stated that he would sell a hammer to all comers if he owned a hardware store, even to one who notoriously engaged in homosexual behavior.  The homosexuality would not be pertinent to the transaction.  This would be the same for the provision of electrical services, plumbing, computer vending, etc. Where he would draw the line would be where he was requested not merely to tolerate but to approve of homosexual behavior.  In the linked blog, Doug Wilson states that the "issue is not the sale of goods to sinners, but rather the celebration of sin with sinners ... homosexual activists are demanding, not our co-participation in the same economy, but rather our approval.  They will not stop until they have approval, and we should rather die than give it."  One can argue about where that line is in any particular set of circumstances but, if Doug Wilson is right, then they will not stop until Jim either officiates a "gay marriage" or officiates no marriage at all.

JSB

Joel Shaffer's picture

Part of my problem with Doug Wilson is how he portrays his fellow believers (Moore and Keller) because they are not "taking a stand" the same way that he is with this culture war/religious liberty issue.  Calling out Moore's view as a "surrender option" is really a caricature of what Moore really believes.  Actually I find Moore's view much more in line with I Peter 2 and 3 than Wilson's.   

Also, Wilson has much to lose in his theological worldview if Christians lose cultural battles such as this because Wilson embraces certain aspects of Christian Reconstructionism as well as a full embrace of Post-Millennialism.   

Furthermore, he was quoted in Christianity Today back in 2009 saying,

“But when I asked what he thought of the death penalty for homosexual acts suggested in Leviticus 20:13, he did not shy away from the theonomic hard line that disturbs many Christians. "You can't apply Scripture woodenly," he says. "You might exile some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim. There are circumstances where I'd be in favor of execution for adultery. … I'm not proposing legislation. All I'm doing is refusing to apologize for certain parts of the Bible."  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/april/24.42.html?start=1

  I realize that many here who are Baptists sympathize with Wilson's arguments because of our commitment to religious liberty but I think we would have different ideas in what that looks like than Wilson.   

Gerry Carlson's picture

Could it be that the backstory of Barronelle Stutzman is more significant than Evangelical Celebrity wars?

These links give some interesting information, and maybe a different perspective, for those who care to look beyond the personalities and rhetoric discussed in this thread. 

http://www.dennyburk.com/breaking-update-florist-rejects-ags-offer-stands-courageously-on-principle-and-risks-everything-alliancedefends/

http://www.dennyburk.com/christian-florist-barronelle-stutzman-gives-first-interview/

https://alliancedefendingfreedom.org/arlene-flowers?referral=I0215ARLF3

Gerry Carlson

Jay's picture

Albert Mohler weighed in on this in one of his "Briefing" podcasts a few days ago (and touched on it again yesterday), and he has the same take that Wilson does - that the state will not rest until Christians are forced to bend the knee to the prevailing wisdom that there is no problem with performing the wedding rites for same sex couples.  Furthermore, and what is far more troubling to me, is that the 'freedom of religion' is increasingly treated as 'you can believe what you want as long as it doesn't actually affect anyone else'.

Of course, the hypocrisy between how the secularists/humanists treat Christians and how they continue to defer to everything Islamic (especially in light of ISIS's continues calls to global conquest via jihad) is stark and inescapable. 

As for the offer to settle with the Washington state AG:

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered the 70-year-old Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's flowers, a settlement on Thursday that would have spared Stutzman the high, bankrupting legal costs that she could incur as a result of the summary judgement.

The settlement offer would have required Stutzman to pay just $2,001 in fines and legal costs. However, the settlement also would have required Stutzman go against her religious beliefs and agree [sic] service gay wedding requests.

"I am prepared to settle this matter for:

  • a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act,
  • a $1 payment for costs and fees,
  • an agreement not to discriminate in the future 
  • and an end to further litigation," 

Ferguson said in a statement.

Without studying this, I would consider accepting the agreement, but I want to find out exactly what they mean by 'an agreement not to discriminate in the future'.  As a hypothetical florist, I might have to travel to a site to set up the arrangements and such for a same sex ceremony.  If that is the case, then I would shut my business down instead of 'settling' with the AG.

The words of Daniel 3 keep going through my mind:

Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so,our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

  • Our problem is not threats to freedom of religion but our (a collective "our") failure to enjoy and leverage it to the maximum! 
  • Re: Mohler and Southern Seminary. Think of their large campus ... pays no property tax (which is good). I mention this because it, in my view, to decry threats to religious liberty while enjoying so much freedom is hypocritical. I've detailed this before and it is commonly known:
    • Property tax exemption
    • Tax deductions for donations
    • Ministers' housing allowance
    • And more
  • The gospel is NOT about withholding cakes from gays
  • In the history of the church, can you think of one country where we (a collective "we") have enjoyed so much freedom
Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jim,

Everything you say is true. At the same time, freedoms are rarely destroyed carte blanche. Instead, they are slowly chipped away piecemeal. If we do not fight fight for the freedoms being stripped away today because there are still so many left to us, at what point do you take a stand? I just keep looking at the gay marriage debate. No one would have seriously thought we would be where we are today just 20 years ago. One step at a time, the liberal agenda moves forward.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Greg Long's picture

Jim, I just wonder if you read Wilson's article? As others have pointed out, he addresses exactly your argument in the following paragraph.

2. The issue is not the sale of goods to sinners, but rather the celebration of sin with sinners. If you were a graphics design guy, and a homosexual came in and asked for an ad for his new restaurant, you should have no problem designing his ad for him. If he wanted you to design the ad for his new bathhouse, you would have a problem. You would have the same issues designing an ad for a heterosexual whorehouse. You do not want your expertise in making things look attractive and winsome to be used in making iniquity look attractive and winsome. The reason these particular professions have become the battleground is that homosexual activists are demanding, not our co-participation in the same economy, but rather our approval. They will not stop until they have that approval, and we should rather die than give it.

I agree with others that the things you are saying are all well and good but don't really strike at the heart of the matter. Ok, you disagree with how the baker handled this. That's not the issue. The issue is, do you believe she should be punished (fined, license revoked, etc.) for refusing to bake the cake? Do you deny her that liberty of conscience?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Joel Shaffer's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Jim,

Everything you say is true. At the same time, freedoms are rarely destroyed carte blanche. Instead, they are slowly chipped away piecemeal. If we do not fight fight for the freedoms being stripped away today because there are still so many left to us, at what point do you take a stand? I just keep looking at the gay marriage debate. No one would have seriously thought we would be where we are today just 20 years ago. One step at a time, the liberal agenda moves forward.

how does fighting for the freedoms that you are talking about square with I Peter 2:11-17?  Honestly, it seems as if we American Christians don't know how to deal with society unless we are in control.   

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