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Is Selling a Cake Sinful?

We recently had a commenter post on the above video this question:

“Can someone explain how making a neutral good (like a cake) for a price is a sin? It doesn’t show support unless it’s a gift, right? I can’t get a straight Catholic answer for this. Thanks. “

My response:

I do not think, objectively speaking, selling a cake is a sin. The cake is baked and sold for the purpose of commercial transaction. The baker has no control over the use of the cake once the sale is made.

Nevertheless, many Christians claim: My business is not just my occupation but my vocation. All I do is for the glory of God. So, “Can I, in good conscience, permit my vocation to be compromised by baking a cake for a homosexual wedding? I want all of my labor to serve God’s purposes.”  I would ask if the baker would also deny service to a couple each of whom are on their fourth marriage and there have been no annullments? Would a Catholic refuse to sell a wedding cake to a couple that defines marriage as a temporary arrangement? I doubt it. If these situations don’t violate one’s conscience then why refuse to sell a cake for another irregular ‘marriage’, i.e., to the homosexual couple?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act or a similar state law has never been used to deny service to anyone. The state regards retail businesses as public accommodations. This means they must act in ways compatible with the state’s definition of a public accommodation.

The state also believes it has a compelling interest in ending discrimination in public accommodations and that this supercedes an individual’s religious liberty. This is especially so when the conscientious objector’s religious community has no clear teaching that selling a cake is such a circumstance is morally forbidden. In other words, if the Catholic Church doesn’t declare baking such a cake is a sin, a Catholic will probably have a difficult time telling the state that he is morally obligated by his religion to refuse service to a homosexual couple.

Unfortunately, this controversy has been generated for the purpose of discrediting Christians whose consciences bother them about selling a product or rendering a service that will be used for sinful purposes. Most communities have multiple florists, bakers, photographers, etc.  It is usually not burdensome for the homosexual couple to find another florist or photographer or baker. Why a homosexual couple would want to hire a wedding photographer or cake baker who finds gay marriage morally repugnant, is beyond me. Unless, of course, this is simply a contrived conflict to enhance the victim status of homosexuals.

In my estimation, forcing a baker to provide a cake is simply a propaganda move to try and draw parallels between segregated lunch counters and Kresge’s or Woolworth’s unwillingness to serve blacks along with whites in the Jim Crow south. These are not parallel situations.  Through most of human history, skin pigmentation has carried no moral significance. America’s history of racial slavery makes skin pigmentation socially explosive and inter-racial marriages were once objected to by some Protestant Christians because of a misreading of Genesis and the destiny of Noah’s sons. Association with blacks may have been socially repugnant to some whites but there is no serious claim that such association violates a moral principle.

Homosexuality, however, has always been laden with moral implications. There is no moral category called, “acting black”. Acting out of a homosexual orientation is morally significant in a way acting black is not. There is not even a common understanding of what “acting black” means. There is clear consensus on what it means to act out homosexually.  

 I hope this helps.

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