Ryan Anderson’s How Now Shall We Bake? is the best commentary so far on how Christians might respond to the hubbub surrounding the impending clash of Christian wedding service providers, gay couples, and government action. Anderson is most recently responding to Kristen Powers and Jonathan Merritt’s new article in opposition to conservative Christianity and selective reading of the Bible.
Anderson is concise, deeply consistent in logic, and practically helpful. I commend his writing to any Christian looking for a way to process through the newspaper clippings.
Anderson’s conclusive paragraph is most illuminating on one helpful way to view the conflict:
Were a gay baker to object to providing a cake for a church-sponsored event celebrating biblical marriage, I’d defer to a gay baker’s right to refuse, and respectfully seek out business elsewhere. He should be willing to serve Christians generally. He should not be coerced into providing food and drink for celebrating what his conscience forbids. That’s what it means to live in a free society. The state shouldn’t force the baker to provide a cake for a perspective that he or she vehemently disagrees with. In the same way, an African American who owns a t-shirt company shouldn’t be forced to make a t-shirt for a KKK rally. Imagine the stifling harm done to a society where a sign company owned by a gay man would be forced to print the heinously offensive, gospel-denying neon placards of the Westboro Baptist Church. That is no longer a free society. When companies are free to contract according to their conscience, the products of a free society—decency, respect, and civic pluralism—are cultivated.
Bottom Line: If the government should ultimately decide that they can force service providers to do business despite their conscious objections, this will be a huge score for any nerdy middle schooler who has ever asked a pretty girl on a date (and who has been rejected) [1. Disclosure: I was that middle school band nerd. But I am over it and harbor no current resentment — I swear]. If the government rules in such a way, then they would communicate (unfortunately) that the only likely reason that any beautiful girl would object to any nerdy boy’s advances is because she is intolerant. And intolerance is now the worst possible thing in the world.
Get ready band nerds. Your time is coming.