The hippopotamus’s day
Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
God works in a mysterious way-
The Church can sleep and feed at once.
T.S.Eliot, The Hippopotamus
The Lord works in mysterious ways and that explains the actions of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner and baker, Jack Phillips.
One of the things Jack loves to do is bake cakes. He does it in the shop in which his cakes are also sold and as he will be the first to modestly tell you, God is his chef. He and God work hand in hand producing Jack’s wonderful creations. (Creating things is, of course, God’s strong suit and in God Jack has an able assistant.) Although God through Jesus has instructed Jack to love his neighbor as himself, and, presumably, treat his neighbor as he would be treated, that Commandment that Jesus described as being one of the two most important commandments ever pronounced (the other having to do with loving God) it was promulgated, as it were, before the United States Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution (which is in the same category of really important pronouncements as the commandments announced by Jesus) had said gay people had a right to marry. Jack is sure that when the “love thy neighbor as thyself” was announced Jesus was not suggesting that Jack had to love gay people the same way he loved people who were not gay. Since God forgot to say anything about loving gay people as you love yourself, Jack considers himself a self-deputized spokesmen for God.
What Jack has said that God has told him to do, is to save his baking skills for the heterosexual. That is not quite how God put it. The way God put it, using Jack as his spokesman, is that Jack should not make cakes for gay people to use at their weddings because it violates Jack’s Christian beliefs and Jack’s Christian beliefs are, of course, derived from God. There is, no indication that God has any objection to Jack selling cakes to people who are gay nor, apparently, does God object to a gay person eating one of Jack’s cakes. God’s only objection to cakes and gay people is if Jack makes a cake that is specifically baked to be served at a wedding of gay people. As Jack has said, that kind of baking would upset God and, naturally, violate Jack’s Christian beliefs.
To some it might seem curious that when considering for whom Jack may bake, God has focused on weddings of people who are gay. Acting as God’s spokesperson, Jack has not said God would object if he elects to bake a cake for a wedding of an heterosexual couple each of whom was previously married and who, while married, committed adultery. God, speaking through Jack, would say that Jack has no objection to baking a cake for that occasion, even though one of the Ten commandments (which are almost on a par with the two commandments described above) specifically prohibits committing adultery and to bake a cake for those who commit adultery would seem to be as bad as, if not worse than, baking a cake for gays since adultery is expressly forbidden by God.
There is a reason God has made himself known in Jack’s kitchen. It is because of what could be called a “Godly oversight”. Jack is addressing an issue that God had overlooked because it never occurred to him that men would want to marry men or women would want to marry women. From God’s perspective, men marrying women and women marrying men made perfectly good sense since that way people would reproduce. As an added bonus, the process of insuring that there would always be people on the earth was fun for the participants in the process. Had God thought of the now common alternative and wanted to ban it, He could have come up with an 11th Commandment. It would have read something like this: “Thou shall not bake cakes for weddings for homosexual men, women nor any of their issue.” (In my recommended 11th Commandment I have included “issue” since many homosexual couples are now discovering ways to procreate that could not have been accomplished when the Ten Commandments were first promulgated and God would not approve of those creative ways of procreation. Since the “issue” are humans and part of the abortion debate about which God has strong feelings, the only effect this commandment would have on the “issue” is that a baker would not have to bake a cake for the “issue” when they get married, even though they are not to blame for the fact that they have a mother and father who are of the same sex, even if the issue are heterosexual.
One thing is absolutely clear. God is indebted to Jack for letting people know how God would have felt about gay marriage had God thought of it when having Jesus make the announcement about loving one’s neighbors as oneself. And God is no doubt especially pleased that rather than having his feelings about gay marriage explained by some prelate in fancy dress in a magnificent church or cathedral, he has imparted his message through a simple and humble baker in a place called Lakewood Colorado.
Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. For political commentary see his web page here.
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