The recent Supreme Court ruling on the Masterpiece Cakeshop will be billed by Evangelicals as a victory for “religious liberty.”
It isn’t—at least not for these people. For them it’s license to be a jerk in Jesus’ name.
It’s about people professing to follow Jesus, who don’t have the slightest concern about emulating him.
It’s about people who wouldn’t know Jesus if he showed up as the least of these, across the counter from them looking for their kindness during one of the most important moments of their lives.
A telling story is recorded by all four of the New Testament biographers of Jesus. It goes like this:
Jesus has been teaching in a remote spot and the place is packed. As with many preachers, he’s gone long and his disciples realize the logistical challenge developing.
They essentially say, “Jesus it’s getting late, it’s Sunday and Chick-fil-A is closed anyway, and people are getting hungry.”
Jesus, feeling compassion, says to his students, “Okay, you feed them.”
They begin to stammer and look around and shrug their shoulders—and the story goes that Jesus asks them to collect what they can, which turns out to be some bread and fish. He gives thanks for the food, blesses it, and multiplies it, feeding thousands gathered.
We can see the heart of God here through a radical act of generosity, and we see the reality that these Christians would rather ignore:
Jesus feeds hungry people.
That’s what he does.
He sees need and he fills it.
And as striking as what Jesus does here, equally revelatory is what he doesn’t do here.
There’s no moral screening attempted, no sanctimonious religious stands taken, no litmus tests given to verify everyone’s theology and ratify their politics, no review of their dating histories or sexual activity to identify those worthy enough to earn a seat at the table or to be fed.
Their hunger and Jesus’ compassion for them, makes them worthy.
This is why the Christians at the Masterpiece Bakery, and all the pastors and politicians and pews sitters celebrating today are frauds of the worst kind—because they don’t give a damn about Jesus. Their actions are in direct conflict with his. As they argue to exclude someone else based on their religion, they argue against their very namesake. They’re passing the buck of bigotry to a Messiah who will not accept it.
This isn’t about religion or liberty:
Muslims aren’t doing this crap en masse.
Jewish people aren’t either.
Neither are Sikhs, Buddhists, Pagans, Humanists, Wiccans, or Atheists.
That’s the point here. The people most commonly claiming faith or worldview while being jerks—are Evangelical Christians.
And the saddest irony about it all, is that this is what the Bible these folks claim to love so much, warns against.
Jesus’ life and ministry pissed off the hypocritical religious phonies who feigned outrage while he dined with prostitutes, tax collectors, and the detested street people.
The supposed sanctified resented him because he expanded the table, welcoming women and Roman soldiers and non-Jews.
It was precisely his hospitality and his refusal to deny people affection, proximity, dignity, or respect that made him so hated by his own.
Nothing new under the sun here.
Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer.
He healed on the Sabbath.
He touched the hand of a leper.
He dined with the disregarded.
He spoke in public with women on spirituality.
He made a despised Samaritan the hero in his story.
He embraced the outcasts.
He fed a disparate, sprawling multitude stretched out before him.
He’d have made the damn cake.
He’d be making cakes and providing refugees sanctuary and welcoming immigrants and giving people healthcare.
If Jesus were at the Masterpiece Cakeshop when a same-sex couple walked in, he’d be kind at the sales counter, effusive in his generosity, and joyful while making the most delicious cake he could muster—because he knew that ultimately love and compassion, not hatred and exclusion are what faith should liberate us to.
Based on the evidence in the Gospels, he’d gladly let LGBTQ couples eat cake, no matter how vehemently Christians carry on otherwise. He’d do that no because or in spite of who they were. He’d do it because they needed a cake and because making that cake would (like every other act Jesus performed) would let them know of their beauty and belovedness.
This case and ones like it, are simply about Evangelicals who claim to love Jesus, wanting another excuse not to simply be kind and decent to people.
Congratulations, you’ve won that.
The rest of us who see the audacious heart of Jesus, and think he meant what he said and how he lived—will keep feeding people with cakes and compassion.