Recently there was a news story about a bakery owned by Christians taken to court because they would not provide service for a wedding cake to a gay couple getting married. While every situation might be different, I was curious if that is how a Christian should behave. Didn't they miss out on an opportunity to show Christian love and speak truth while still providing a service? You wouldn't know someone is gay when it's a birthday cake. Aren't we supposed to love our neighbor? What is the correct biblical approach to social issues like these?
Christians do want to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) on all occasions. The truth Christians speak might contain a message of law. The truth Christians speak might contain a message of gospel. When it comes to marriage, Christians lovingly share the biblical truth that God designed marriage to be the union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:22-24; Matthew 19:5-6; Romans 7:2).
When Christians operate businesses, they interact with and provide services for many different people. Their transactions with non-Christian churches are not endorsements of those churches’ doctrines. When they sell their products to individuals who self-identify with unscriptural practices or ways of living, they are not approving or sanctioning the actions of those individuals. If that were the case, then Christian bakers would need potential customers to fill out an application form so they would not be guilty of sanctioning heterosexual couples living together before marriage or unscriptural divorces by making cakes for weddings involving those people.
Certainly a Christian will want to consider the role of conscience in this regard. If a Christian’s conscience says that it would be sinful to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, the Christian will want to refrain from sinning against his or her conscience (Romans 14:23). At the same time, that Christian will want to be aware of the potential legal liabilities that may result from withholding services from a customer.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is helpful in providing direction for Christians’ interactions with unbelievers: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” Those words come in the context of the apostle Paul directing the Christians in Corinth to take action with a church member who was impenitent over an incestuous relationship. The apostle instructed the Corinthians to do what Jesus said in Matthew 18: “If your brother or sister sins…” Church discipline involves those who profess to be within the church. We have no specific instructions from God on addressing personal sins in the lives of those outside the church.
Certainly, those words from 1 Corinthians 5 do not mean that we close our eyes and ears to what is going on in the world. What those words do mean is that the church does not have the responsibility or divine mandate to discipline people who are not part of the church.
So, where does this leave us? Yes, we want to love our neighbor, but because there is no manual that spells out in detail how best to live a life of neighborly love, Christians will wrestle with decisions in the questions you asked. They will seek to arrive at decisions that agree with biblical principles and that do not violate consciences. They will also seek to refrain from judging the motives of fellow Christians who arrive at different decisions.