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I Was Denied Service By A Christian Photographer

I never dreamed that I would be denied service when I began planning our wedding 13 years ago.

A local photographer was highly recommended and I had seen his work when a few friends from high school used him for their senior pictures. Being the organized person I am I researched what questions to ask a photographer, pricing guides and more before calling to discuss our special day.

You’ll imagine my surprise when, upon answering a few of his questions he promptly denied me service on his religious conviction and hung up when I honestly answered the question that no, this was not a first marriage for my husband.

I was denied service from a Christian photographer

I wasn’t yet strong in my faith so I murmured a few choice words under my breath. Then I grabbed the phone book and found another photographer. Better prices and I got the rights to the negatives; I could have prints developed any time I wanted!

I found it rather ironic that he was okay taking pictures of high school students that were having premarital sex, doing drugs and going for abortions but couldn’t take our wedding pictures because my husband’s first wife cheated on him.  The intake process for high school seniors was not near as rigorous as that for newly engaged couples.

How do I know this? Because one of high school senior shoots was with my ex-boyfriend, who lived with me, and did drugs. Later, he put his hands on me in anger, twice. He was not an all American good boy.

I found this guy’s “morals” to be a bit skewed but, whatever. I moved on.

Why Denying Service is Wrong

Jesus came to earth to do four things:

  • Share the Gospel
  • Make disciples
  • Heal the sick
  • Cast out demons

The first two apply here.

As I watch the news and social media light up with posts and stories and memes about the Christian bakers who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple I’m saddened and sickened. The lack of respect and decency from Christians is appalling and nothing that Christ or their mothers would be proud of them saying.

As Christians, Christ’s ambassadors, our lives aren’t merely to be examples of the most upright, holiness one can achieve. The pharisees did that job, and they are still doing it very well. Our lives are meant to bring to people the very thing Christ died for:  

Freedom that comes when you share the gospel make disciples,
heal the sick and cast out demons.

I believe homosexual behavior is wrong. I agree that the Bible is clear about homosexual behavior but what I don’t get is how we can minister to people, freeing them from whatever bondage they are in if we don’t associate with them?

I hear those in strong opposition saying, “But we are not to associate with those doing wrong, sinful things against God! We are to be set apart!”  

The Bible is clear, we are not to associate with people who behave certain ways. We’re not to be unequally yolked. But what does this mean?

Strangely, Jesus seems to have missed this principle. Was this an abuse of authority or are we missing something?

I think many Christians are missing something, something big.

Do you think that when Jesus was walking and talking with the castaways of His time that there was any doubt He was different even though he was in their company? Do you think that He thought he’d catch something or be wrongly accused of be okay with their sins because He was in their presence.

Jesus stood in the presence of Satan himself and was tempted multiple times and yet He did not question His identity nor did he “catch” sin, nor did it weaken His authority or His impact on people.

The man who refused to take our wedding pictures did nothing to bring us closer to Christ. His refusal made me feel less than, as if somehow we weren’t good enough.

While his personal conviction might be that divorce and remarriage are wrong. His witness was sorely tarnished in his handling of the situation. When I read the Gospels I don’t see Jesus behaving in this way. He didn’t refuse the women at the well. Yes, Jesus basically read her mail right there at the local watering hole but the powerful way in which he handled it changed her forever.

Often Paul’s words of not being unequally yolked is used to justify why we can’t do business with, patronize or deal with those who do not believe or are living a sinful, ungodly lifestyle. But what was Paul really talking about when he wrote his letter to the Corinthians?

He, like Jesus, drew crowds of believers and non-believers. We aren’t to live in isolation, we’re told, in the same letter by Paul to eat the meat!

If God wanted us to live in isolation from “the world” He’d call us out as soon as we are saved. Quite the contrary happens and has happened for centuries. We’re called to come into contact with, deal with and face those who aren’t living for God every day.

Being unequally yoked doesn’t mean we live under a rock. It doesn’t mean we divorce our unsaved spouse, it does’t mean we refuse to serve. It means we don’t get so involved in the culture and lives of unbelievers that it leaves one to question where we stand in our faith.

Here’s an excellent breakdown of what Paul’s words meant. I encourage you to read or listen.

Legality Doesn’t Mean Morality

We’re hearing much about how legality doesn’t mean morality. Most Christian would not argue that abortion is wrong even though it is legal.

What about freedom of association? By law we are free to choose who we associate with. But does that mean it is biblically and morally right for us as Christians to not associate with people who are not believers.

The religious nit-wits of Jesus’ day accused Jesus of…wait for it…..befriending sinners! Jesus was the living example of what Paul was talking about in his letters. Jesus was with these unscrupulous people for the sake of bringing them into the Kingdom but at no time did His “witness” become tarnished because of what He did.

Jesus’ entire life and death was about setting captives free and seeing people turn to their Father. How on earth do we love people and turn them to their Father if we thumb our nose at them or stand on moral high-ground.

Don’t use an Apple product, don’t use your Visa (or a Mastercard), don’t fly American Airline and Heaven forbid you are using a Proctor and Gamble product. You’ll be associating with people who have a different set of values than you do.

Don’t take the pictures, you’ll feel better but you won’t get to build a relationship that could lead someone to Christ.

Don’t bake the cake, you’ll be exercising your freedom to associate but you’ll never get the opportunity to pray over that cake and speak truth into their lives.

You’ll miss a chance to be like Jesus.

Church, we need to get this right! People are searching and seeking and longing to find meaning in this messed up world. You lane of grace, your gifting of photography, baking, words of knowledge, sewing or healing aren’t doing any good if you are only using them with like-minded fellow believers. Jesus didn’t wait to heal or extend forgiveness until the one before Him got his life in order. He loved them and ministered to them where they were.

Jesus would have taken the pictures.

 

 

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Comments

  1. I love the heart of your post, and am sorry the photographer didn’t handle himself more professionally, or with any grace. I’m currently in my own second marriage and also had trouble finding various needs of the wedding met within the Christian community. I often struggled with what the bible has to say about divorce, and wrestled with whether or not after being abandoned and served divorced papers years later was a sin on my part. If not, was remarriage a sin? Not everyone agrees that I should have the right to remarry, and though it broke my heart to hear their convictions, I respected their right to them non the less. In fact, I was thankful! It was my wedding day, and I was ready to celebrate! I didn’t want anyone “forced” to participate, offering half hearted work or bringing any sort of negativity to our joyous occasion.
    I love the point you made about Christ being set apart and clearly different despite his surroundings. The thing about it is, He was always able to offer 100% truth with 100% love. He had no problem telling the truth of His convictions, BECAUSE He loved people. We need to be careful, wise and kind with how we deliver the truth, but that doesn’t mean we should celebrate sin. That’s what this issue boils down to. The bakers in question had previously served the couple for other occasions, and they were not denied because they were homosexuals…..the bakers simply did not want to have a hand in a celebration they considered sin. I think they have that right, to not accept a particular commission for a cake, as did some of wedding professionals in my own case. The key is to “offer grace unto the hearers” as we speak the truth. But I must disagree with your title, if Christ turned over the tables rather than purchasing from the vendors at the temple, I doubt he would have made a cake to celebrate sin. I 100% agree that as believers we need to get to know our brothers and sisters, so that we can speak love into their lives, and pray for them as you mentioned….but again, Christ did not make the bed of adulteress woman, he told her to rise and sin no more.

    • I echo what Cookie says. I agree we need to “love” each other, and we all live in/with sin. But the difference is that we try to ‘rise & sin no more.’ Those entering into a homosexual marriage are celebrating their sin. I’m certainly not going to pat someone on the back for committing adultery, or robbing a bank. I think as Christians we do need to stand a little firmer in a few of our convictions. But can we do it with more kindness? Sure. I hate the clique, but ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ may apply here. I hear too many sermons that don’t make things more black & white. We are too worried about not “offending” other than standing firm in our beliefs.

  2. Heather says:

    I don’t usually comment on posts, even those I disagree with, but this one caused me great concern, especially as I’ve read several other items from you, and know that you desire to pursue God’s truth.

    The two previous comments have done a good job stating the underlying problem with the “Jesus would bake the cake” statement: Jesus loves and invests in sinners, but he also calls them to repentance. We should do the same, as we follow Christ.

  3. Catherine says:

    I see your point but agree somewhat with the other comments. However I’m not sure that baking the wedding cake would have been celebrating the union. I’m guessing that there would be many occasions that the cake makers would not necessarily celebrate themselves, though they are baking the cakes. It is a business. Jesus was not in business. I also have one addition: Jesus came to earth to do ONE thing: the die on the cross for our sins and by doing so give us the opportunity for eternal life. All the rest was gravy (awesome in its own right but not the reason he was sent to earth).

  4. How do you feel that Christian ministers should respond if they are asked to marry a same-sex couple?

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks for asking.

      Preforming a marriage, in a church/Christian setting is affirming God’s blessing over the union. God is not going to bless a union He did not create. I think many pastor’s will either willingly or by force (loss of tax-exempt status, etc) preform services for same-sex couples but I don’t think it is a union God would bless and I think pastors have the authority to say they cannot stand under God and bless the union.

      • Actually, baking the cake is affirming God’s blessing over the union. The bakers who did not want to bake the cake were not at ALL refusing service to a person because he was homosexual. They were refusing to participate in a ceremony they believed celebrated sin. There is a HUGE difference. I do not believe that Jesus would have baked the cake. I think He would have sat down with the men in question and explained to them, in love and for THEIR own good, God’s design for marriage.

        • Danielle says:

          Hi Sandi,
          Thanks for commenting. The wedding cake has nothing to do with blessing the union. The tradition dates back to Ancient Rome and/or Medieval England. It was a symbol of good luck for guests and the couple and perhaps fertility for the bride. It was actually an un-iced cake broken ove the bride’s head. Sure, there is Christian symbolism in the cutting of the cake (cutting of the covenant) but the cake itself is not a blessing of the union, not strictly Christian and not a biblical mandate for a wedding. Also, to clarify, it was a lesbian couple.

  5. Linda Stanhope says:

    You have no idea how much I enjoyed reading this blog post. I loved the firm but loving way you also responded to the comments that asked you a question. I have recently been involved in a thread on a page on Facebook and am definitely among the minority as a christian believer. The comments and statements have been varied, but most interestingly, I was thanked both by christians and non christians for the way I spoke about my christian belief and was able to show love along the way. It really did surprise me in fact. Everyone wants to be loved and respected, even if they share a differing view than ours. This is what will draw the unbeliever to us. I ask myself, just how did I leave that person I last spoke with, encouraged, lifted up and thinking about something or did I offend them and push them even further from our creator, the One who loves them the most. Thanks Danielle, wonderful piece of writing. Linda

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