07 May Disappointing Editorial in World Magazine
By Gary Hendrix
– The May 16th issue of World magazine opens with an editorial by Joel Belz entitled “Taking the bakers challenge“. The subtitle reads “How would you go the extra mile in this day and age?” Mr. Belz wonders if perhaps the Christian pizza owners in Indiana who declared their refusal to cater a homosexual wedding might have done better by following Christ’s “tunic plus cloak” principle (his phrase). That is to say that perhaps they should have granted the request and even more.
By the phrase “tunic plus cloak” Mr. Belz was referring to this statement from the Sermon on the Mount:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
— Matthew 5:38-42 ESV
It is disappointing that an influential Christian editor would apply a principle of personal mercifulness to a matter of Divinely forbidden immorality. If someone asks you to make a personal sacrifice, even an unfair sacrifice, mercy and peace make it wise to comply. However, if someone asks you to support them in committing an immoral act, you become an accomplice if you do so. Someone asking for your coat on a bitterly cold day is far different than asking you to hold their coat while they rob a bank. Even so, a lesbian couple ordering a pizza in your restaurant is far different morally than the same couple asking you to provide pizzas for their “wedding” reception. You ought to do the former and refuse the latter.
The Biblical and moral confusion in Mr. Belz editorial is the very thing Christian thinkers and leaders ought to be equipping God’s people to avoid. The counsel of Dr. Albert Mohler in a recent “Briefing” was a much better application of Biblical principle. Dr. Mohler said that for a believer even to attend a homosexual wedding would be a compromise of moral absolutes.
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
— Romans 1:32 ESV
Joining the celebration of a homosexual wedding or facilitating the reception at such a wedding is precariously close to “giving approval to those who practice them”. It is so close that we should avoid it, even at the risk of offending.
Beloved, we are facing some very difficult decisions personally and corporately. May God gave us grace to act righteously and mercifully.
(I take no pleasure in “calling out” a brother in Christ. However, Mr. Belz is a public person who has communicated his counsel publicly and therefore may be answered publicly. I have emailed him in response to the challenge he issued in his editorial.)