There’s a moral dilemma playing out right now for Christian conservatives. With a single incident, it appears we must choose between the rights we fight to defend and a righteous message being attacked by people invoking those rights. Thankfully, a quick examination and consistency of thought make this dilemma more of a teaching moment than a contradiction.
The incident happened a week ago when activists from Abolish Human Abortion were ejected from a coffee shop in Seattle. The owner of the shop is gay and was offended by the actions of the activists, though they claim they were just there for the coffee and were not promoting their agenda while on the premises. Whether they were or not isn’t important. What IS important is that the owner has the right to eject them. Many Christian conservatives were offended by this. We shouldn’t be.
There’s a false dichotomy at play here. We don’t need to look at this as two opposing allegiances – one to the Constitution and one to the Bible. Instead, we need to look at this through a consistent lens and address the underlying issues. First, if we are to defend bakers who don’t want to bake cakes for gay weddings, then we must also defend coffee shop owners who do not want to serve coffee to activists with opposing views. If we hold up the Constitution for one incident and tuck it in our pockets for the other, we’re going to lose this battle long-term.
As for the Biblical belief that we should be spreading the Gospel and opposing aspects of society that are contrary to it, then we still shouldn’t fret over this incident. Jesus sent forth his disciples to spread the Good Word. He didn’t tell them to force the Word upon anyone who wouldn’t listen. In fact, in Matthew 10:14, he made it clear that we needn’t waste our time with those who won’t receive the message.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Based upon the words of the coffee shop’s owner (found in the reference article below), it’s clear that he was not ready to hear anything these people had to say, whether it was Biblical doctrine or perspectives on abortion. Just as they needed to dust off their feet and move on, so too should we simply avoid this coffee shop and spend our time reaching those who can be reached.
The worst thing we can do is to become inconsistent with when and where we defend a particular right. It behooves us to heed the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
A Lesson In Free-Market Economics: Gay Shop Owner Kicks Christians Out Of His Business Because Their Beliefs ‘Offend’ Him
Conservatives have rightly been disturbed by the instances of Christian business owners being sued for their refusal to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. Florists, bakers, chapel owners – all varieties of wedding-related businesses have seen the legal axe come down on them simply because they politely declined involvement in same-sex weddings.
It would be easy to turn the tables, and condemn the coffee shop owner for his actions. However, as conservatives, we should be looking at this case in a different light. This was the free-market at work.