California megachurch pastor and author John MacArthur has weighed in on the question of whether or not it's sinful for a Christian baker or florist to provide services for a same-sex wedding.
MacArthur, the pastor of the evangelical Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and president of The Master's University in Newhall and The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles, participated in a panel discussion during Ligonier Ministries 2017 regional conference in Los Angeles on June 9.
During a question-and-answer session, MacArthur answered two theological questions pertaining to homosexuality.
One of the questions posed to the panelists asked if it's "truly sinful" for a Christian business person to make a product for a same-sex wedding.
Although panelists were initially hesitant to answer, MacArthur responded by saying that providing products to same-sex weddings is not a sin.
"No, it's not sinful for a cake maker to make a cake for a gay wedding anymore than its sinful for a guy who runs a restaurant to serve dinner to somebody who is gay, sits in a booth and eats the food, or goes to the market and buys a loaf of bread and you own the market," he argued. "What the issue is, is not whether that's sinful. It's whether the federal government can demand that people do certain things, which goes against their Christian conscience."
MacArthur argued that this is "more of a political governmental issue."
"I actually think that we need to show love to everyone and particularly, we need to do good to all those that are outside the kingdom, as well as inside the kingdom, as much as possible — a gesture of kindness toward some unregenerate person is in itself not a sin," he added.
However, MacArthur suggested it is plausible for Christians to feel that serving a gay wedding violates their "conscience in some way" and argued that they should have the right to act in accordance with their conscience.
"You don't want to train yourself to ignore your conscience," he said. "I think it's a personal issue. The issue becomes when people are basically fined or imprisoned for doing things that are religious-conscience matters. And, that speaks to the issue of how much authority the government has to make you do that."
In 2015, a Christian couple who owned an Oregon bakery were fined over $135,000 for their refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Those bakers have since gone out of business.
Months after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was arrested and jailed in September 2015 after she violated a court order to provide marriage certificates to same-sex couples that had her name and title on them because doing so would have violated her Christian convictions. Kentucky later passed a law that granted Davis and other clerks the religious accommodation she was looking for.
MacArthur also answered earlier in the discussion when the question was posed about whether or not a Christian who identifies as gay will get into Heaven. MacArthur answered by arguing that "no one is gay."
"If you mean by that, 'That's some hardwiring,' no one is gay," he said. "People commit adultery, they commit sins of homosexuality, they lie, they steal, they cheat. That's like saying, 'You know, I keep robbing banks, but I'm a robber. I'm a bank robber. What am I gonna do? I'm a bank robber.' That is not an excuse for what you do."
"Are there certain kind of impulses that lead people in that direction? Yes. But I think one of the really deadly aspects of this is to let people define themselves as gay," he continued. "They are not gay any more than an adulterer is hardwired to be forced by his own nature to commit adultery. Those are all behavioral sins that are condemned in scripture. God didn't hardwire anybody in such a way that they are not responsible for certain behaviors."
MacArthur concluded his answer by saying that it is a disservice to people who struggle with homosexuality by "letting them define themselves by that sin."