Three quick, off the top of the head, questions that, I recognise, need to be thought through in more detail.
1. This picture promotes ‘Gay marriage’. The important word is ‘promotes’. While, legally, we are obliged to recognise that the UK accepts gay marriage, are we under obligation to promote it? We accept the right of Muslims to worship without being oppressed but we are not obliged to promote Islam. We accept that people should not be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin but we are not obliged to promote any particular organisation that supports racial equality. We accept the existence of a wide range of political parties but we are not obliged to promote any. Is it important to maintain the distinction between acceptance and promotion?
2. If I understand the situation correctly, Ashers did not refuse to fulfil the order because the customer was homosexual, indeed, I don’t know if he or she was. They refused to assist in promoting a cause; they did not refuse to serve a customer because of his or her sexual orientation. Is it not reasonable to refuse to promote a cause with which one is not in sympathy?
3. If it transpires that refusal to bake this particular cake is actually illegal, have we come to a defining moment at which the Church must decide whether to follow the demands of UK law or to act in a way that, we believe, promotes human flourishing? If the choice is to be made, its consequences will have to be accepted. The end of Christendom is not to be mourned but this, and similar recent events, indicate what the future may hold for the Church. Are Christians in the UK willing to listen to, and learn from, brothers and sisters in other parts of the world where being socially unacceptable and seriously legally constrained have always been the norm.
And a final tangentially related thought: In the discussions surrounding Orange parades, a number of folk have said that protests must be peaceful. I fully agree. They have also said that there is no room for civil disobedience – I’m not so sure about that. Civil disobedience has a long and honoured place in Christian history, but it has to be done peacefully and lovingly. Perhaps Christians supporting a bakery might show others how it should be done.
As with all of my posts, this comes as my personal opinion, not that of UTC.