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Why I didn’t “Just Bake the Cake”

The following is excerpted and adapted from The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court, released this week. Jack is the owner and artist of Masterpiece Cakeshop who was sued for acting on his convictions—and for not baking a cake for a same-sex couple. 

My decision in the cake shop that summer afternoon in July 2012—and my continuing decision to stand by it ever since—has cost me at least tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and eight years and counting of physical threats to my family, insults to my character, and untold hours tied up in legal action of one form or another. Given this, I’m sure there’s an excellent chance that you’re wondering, “What on earth is this guy’s thing about marriage? Is it really that big a deal? Is it really worth all of this pain and aggravation?” Or, as many people have put it, “Why not just bake the cake?” 

My hesitation was not with the men making the request. My objection is never to the person, the customer, asking me to create a cake with a particular message. My objection—in this case—is to the message itself. I can and cheerfully will serve anyone. I cannot and won’t communicate every message. 

I have demurred from creating a lot of non-wedding cakes. I don’t do Halloween cakes, for instance. I personally cannot see Jesus celebrating that day, or encouraging me to do so, especially if the motivation is to glorify things the Bible so explicitly condemns. 

Early on in my cake design career, someone close to me came in asking for a cake with a specific design. Flipping through a reference book for a picture to base the design on, I found out the symbol was occultic. Across the page from the requested emblem was a drawing of an elephant. I’d rather do anything else—even the elephant on that page—than the occult design on this one, I thought. Soon after, the person requesting the cake dropped by, and I gently explained why I couldn’t create anything with the symbol she’d asked for. She shrugged, said she certainly understood, and then thought for a second. 

“Well—how ’bout an elephant?” she said. Another time that God proved to me that he was in control of every aspect of my life. 

So from the beginning, the message has been important to me. I think that’s true of any artist. No one who takes craftsmanship seriously does his work on the assumption that no one else will really notice or pay any attention to it. Why work and discipline yourself to become the best you can possibly be at a skill or talent if no one cares about the result? 

Read more at First Things

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