Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 6

These activists aren’t after a “live-and-let-live” policy. They’re on a march to force all Americans to celebrate and affirm what they do under the penalty of law.
Tony Perkins

Key point: Same-sex marriage never was the ultimate goal of LGBT activists. Rather, “marriage equality” is a means to even more destructive ends. In the process, advocates of man-woman marriage are being punished severely for their views. Yet, even those who stay silent cannot remain unaffected by the societal upheaval that is taking place.

You can view brief summaries of all the articles in this series here.
You can see a list of the myths we have dealt with here.

Myth #14: Same-sex marriage has implications for the same-sex couple only, and not for others. “If don’t agree with same-sex marriage,” we were told, “don’t worry. “Changing the definition of marriage won’t affect you!”

Fact: Same-sex marriage affects everyone because it influences the culture with regard to everything from perceptions about what marriage is to attitudes about how to deal with those who dare to express support for the natural family. Those who dissent, even politely, are severely punished—under the banners of “diversity” and “tolerance.” These ideals are misleading, because genuine diversity isn’t pursued, nor is tolerance practiced.

Barronelle Stutzman

Let’s begin by highlighting briefly how advocates of man-woman marriage often are treated. Here we see some of the clearest evidence that same-sex marriage adversely affects people who oppose it and act on their convictions. We aren’t talking here about people who treat homosexuals rudely, but individuals who, based on their deeply held religious beliefs, politely turn down opportunities use their talent and their goods and services in same-sex weddings.

Jack Phillips

On December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner and operator Jack Phillips has been told by the state of Colorado that he must provide custom-made wedding cakes for same-sex couples. Keep in mind he gladly does business with homosexuals in all other contexts—but believing that marriage is between one man and one woman, he could not, in good conscience, participate in a same-sex wedding. He was sued, and his case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

In commenting on Jack’s case and where we as a nation now have arrived in the debate over what rights flow from government recognition of same-sex marriage, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families observes that years ago,

Gary Bauer

the left and the radical gay rights movement made a version of a libertarian, live-and-let-live argument: You can marry who you want, I just want to marry who I want. And a lot of Christians, particularly young Christians, bought that argument. It was, we were told, a matter of love to accept it.

But as is almost always the case with radical social change, what started out as a libertarian appeal inevitably turned into a movement to use of the full power of the federal government to threaten and browbeat everyone into kneeling in submission to the new normal.

It’s a variation of what has happened in the abortion debate. The pro-abortion movement started out arguing that women should have “the right to choose” to control their own bodies, but recently has focused its efforts on forcing nuns to subsidize abortions.

Jack Phillips isn’t the only wedding service provider who believes in natural, man-woman marriage (also go here). Yet these attempt to coerce those who do not wish to celebrate same-sex weddings into actively participating in them isn’t the only way the new definition of marriage is affecting more than just gay and lesbian couples.

A Means to Many Different Radical Ends

It is now clear that “marriage equality” has not been the only goal of militant homosexual activists—and probably this has not even been the primary goal. Now that the government recognizes same-sex unions as marriage, activists can use that very fact as a crowbar to pry open a great many other “opportunities,”—legal and otherwise—for themselves and for other LGBT individuals. In other words, as important as marriage is, we are wise to see the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling as about a great deal more than marriage alone. It is about marriage—but it’s also about everything else! If you don’t realize this, you have been hibernating during the last two-and-a-half years as marriage debate has given way to debates over whether biological males can use women’s restrooms and whether children who express discontent with their biological sex should be given puberty-blocking drugs or other hormone therapy.

The Supreme Court ruling redefining marriage is about marriage—but it also is about everything else!

Dr. James Dobson made some dire predictions just weeks before the Supreme Court issued its decision about marriageHe wrote of a torrent of lawsuits that would be coming against Christians and others who believe in man-woman marriage. He also said,

Pastors may have to officiate at same-sex marriages, and they could be prohibited from preaching certain passages of Scripture. Those who refuse to comply will not only be threatened legally, but many will be protested and picketed by activists. Perhaps this is a worst-case scenario, but maybe not. Prison is also a possibility.

Moreover, it isn’t far-fetched at all, Dobson contended, to envision that Christian wedding service providers will have to choose between serving at same-sex weddings and going out of business. And Christian colleges, especially those that receive federal money through any avenue at all—even individual student grants and loans—could be prohibited by law from teaching the biblical view of marriage. Dobson went on to cite a then-recent piece from liberal newspaper columnist Frank Bruni, who had written that church leaders ought to be forced to remove homosexuality from their list of sins.

In the same opinion piece, Bruni also said that the

debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.

Professional counselors, added Dr. Dobson, would become yet another target of the state, which would issue regulations mandating their practices adhere to the government’s definitions of marriage and morality. School textbooks, too, would be rewritten to advance the gay agenda even further. After all, if marriage is not just for a man and a woman but also for two men or two women, then homosexuality is on par with heterosexuality—and all government entities, including schools, should treat them the same way.

Right Before Our Eyes

Do any of Dr. Dobson’s warnings sound extreme today, nearly three years after same-sex marriage was made legal nationwide by judicial fiat? There is no question that the push for everything LGBT activists want has accelerated—and a great deal of what Dr. Dobson predicted is happening right before our eyes! Mark it down! If Jack Phillips loses his case before the Supreme Court, the dam will burst and a flood of litigation will come crashing down on those who believe in man-woman marriage. These lawsuits will relate to every context in which dissent can be expressed. Current trends portend that this is precisely what will happen.

If Jack Phillips loses his case before the Supreme Court, the dam will burst and a flood of litigation will come crashing down on those who believe in man-woman marriage. These lawsuits will relate to every context in which dissent can be expressed.

The assault on counseling and counselors currently is ongoing. Keep in mind that with regard to counseling and therapy, gay activists’ goal is to prohibit clients from getting help to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction and help to grapple with other related issues. Not surprisingly, part of the strategy is to misrepresent and demonize this type of professional help. You can watch one professional counselor set the record straight here. If anyone is struggling with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues and wants help, shouldn’t he or she be able to get it? Not if militant gay activists have their way!

If anyone is struggling with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues and wants help, shouldn’t he or she be able to get it?

The push to promote the LGBT agenda in schools started long before the Obergefell decision was released (go here, here,  hereherehere, and here.). This article shows how the marriage ruling makes the problem much, much worse—and harder to fight.

A Total Makeover of Society

So, why can’t two people who love each other marry? This was the question we repeatedly were asked. It sounds innocent enough, but homosexuals have not been singled out for mistreatment at this point. For millennia, there have been a good many loving relationships that governments have not recognized as marriages or potential marriages. A father cannot marry his daughter; nor can an individual marry his or her pet cat or dog; and two men or two women couldn’t marry because their relationship also did not and cannot qualify as a marriage. Now, however, the government says it does.

Quite tellingly, a lesbian activist admitted five years ago that the real goal of her movement is destroying marriage altogether. Masha Gessen said,

It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.

(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
—Masha Gessen, lesbian journalist and activist—

Tim Huelskamp

Tim Huelskamp, a three-term congressman from Kansas’s first district, understood this. CNSnews reporter Lauretta Brown summarized Huelskamp’s statements at the 2014 March for Marriage this way.

Congressional Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said he agreed that the ultimate goal of homosexual “marriage” is to destroy the institution of marriage altogether by diminishing it to whatever type of contract people sign on to and, at the same time, denying the natural right of children to be raised by a mother and a father.

Author and political science professor Paul Kengor also sees the goal as the total destruction of marriage and the family. The radical left, he says, has been trying to obliterate the family for two hundred years. Now, in and through same-sex marriage, militant LGBT activists have found the perfect means by which they can fulfill their cherished dream.

Societal Chaos

Just how radical will it get? Fasten your seatbelt! Among other things, LBGT activists are “now encouraging society to view children as ‘genderless.'” Canada issued the first gender-neutral government ID card for an infant in April of last year, and not long after that, the state of Oregon began issuing state ID cards and driver’s licenses that also are “gender-neutral.” The designation for the individual’s sex can be M, F, or X. Ponder this for a moment: What would it be like to grow up from infancy in a setting where the adults taking care of you refuse to acknowledge that you are a boy or a girl?

What would it be like to grow up from infancy in a setting where the adults taking care of you refuse to acknowledge that you are a boy or a girl?

Leftists, including LGBT activists, will continue to advocate this type of approach to reality, even as they also attack everyone who dares to publicly make the case for a biology-based gender identity framework and the traditional family. If allowed to continue unchecked, activists’ efforts will lead to societal chaos. Note carefully that radicals wouldn’t be able to accomplish all this, certainly not nearly as effectively, without same-sex marriage.

Ben Shapiro

Within a few days after the Supreme Court released its decision redefining marriage, Ben Shapiro expressed concerns similar to those of Dr. Dobson. He wrote,

Leftists have already moved to ban nonprofit status for religious institutions that refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages; leftists have already sued into oblivion religious business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. It will not stop there. Religious schools will be targeted. Then, so will homeschooling programs. The secular religion of the left has been set free to pursue its own crusade against the infidel.

And who is “the infidel” in this case? Anyone who does not share, and yes, celebrate, everything about LGBT agendas and lifestyles. Or it might just be someone who wants a semblance of order in society.

The Grieving Don’t Even Get a Break!

In Cincinnati, Ohio on March 7, 2018, a male employee at a funeral home won the legal right to dress as a woman when he performs his duties for his employer. It was a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that ruled in the employee’s favor. Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Michigan funeral home and its majority owner in this case. ADF’s report on the ruling read in part,

The company’s sole corporate officer and majority owner, Thomas Rost, is a devout Christian whose faith informs the way he serves customers with compassion during one of life’s most challenging moments.

The male employee served as a funeral director, regularly interacting with the public and grieving family members and friends. After informing the funeral home of his intention to begin dressing as a female at work, the employee was dismissed for refusing to comply with the same company dress code that all other men are required to follow while on the job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the matter to court on behalf of the dismissed worker. Note that the EEOC, a government entity, contended for the LGBT position. On the first round, a lower court ruled in favor of the funeral home. In its ruling, the federal district court cited the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and stated that it protected a business owner’s right to enforce a dress code rooted in genuine religious convictions. The EEOC appealed that decision and won.

Gary McCaleb, ADF Senior Counsel, had this to say after the 6th Circuit panel overturned the lower court’s ruling:

American business owners, especially those serving the grieving and the vulnerable, should be free to live and work consistently with their faith. The funeral home’s dress code is tailored to serve those mourning the loss of a loved one. Today’s decision misreads court precedents that have long protected businesses which properly differentiate between men and women in their dress and grooming code policies.

The multi-location funeral home has won more than one award for the services it has rendered in the three communities where it is located in and near Detroit. Now, according to the court, it must allow a man in women’s clothing  to serve as a funeral director. This means he must be allowed to wear women’s clothing while he performs his work with grieving families! Would you want a man in women’s clothing to coordinate the arrangements for the memorial service and burial of one of your loved ones? Might this court ruling set the stage for the eventual closure of the funeral home? One doesn’t have to have a wild imagination to envision this scenario.

Yes, it is a myth that same-sex marriage affects only same-sex couples. There are even more incidents to highlight as we seek to expose this important myth. Tune in next time to read about at least two more events.

You will see evidence, not only of the marriage ruling’s severity, but also of its pervasiveness.

And you’ll understand even more thoroughly why we must contend for natural marriage in robust and compelling ways.


Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

image credit, top image: rainbow flag flying in the Castro District of San Francisco, California

image credit: Gary Bauer at the 2007 Washington DC Values Voters conference

image credit: Ben Shapiro at the University of Missouri in 2015




Behold the Irony, Part 3

Observations Highlighting the Ironies and the Blindness of the “Progressive” Left

Those indoctrinated by leftist thinking become largely incapable of making accurate moral judgments.
Dennis Prager

Key point: Liberty and license cannot coexist indefinitely, but leftists pretend they can. Their version of liberty actually is a cruel form of tyranny, and this is why they must be stopped. Thankfully, Alliance Defending Freedom is challenging the tyranny of the left by defending authentic liberty in court.

Part 2 is available here.
View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

M. C. Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch artist who became well-known for depicting impossible objects and situations. The lithograph titled Relativity (pictured above) is one of his well-known works. He also created Waterfall

and Drawing Hands

Go here to see several more images by Escher that both fascinate and boggle the mind.

While it’s interesting and even fun to imagine a world in which these and other impossible constructions exist, we must remember they exist only in our imaginations. The various impossible images created by Escher violate specific physical laws that cannot be overruled in the real world. As long as we understand this, no harm is done.

Reality Is an Irresistible Force

The faulty imaginings of the “progressive” left, however, aren’t leaving the world unscathed. Rather, they are harming millions of people and a great many foundational institutions. It is time to expose these ideas as foolish, unrealistic, and—yes—extremely harmful. This is one of the goals of this series of posts.

Last time we reviewed two cases in which Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is directly involved—Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Country Mill Farms v. City of East Lansing. In these cases, ADF rightly contends that Jack Phillips and Steve Tennes, a cake artist and a farmer, respectively, should be free to run their businesses according to their deeply held beliefs without being penalized by the government.

Let’s draw some conclusions from these cases about the perspectives of those working against Jack’s and Steve’s religious freedom and liberty. As we consider these legal battles, we will see the inconsistencies of the political left’s thinking. We will see that in the name of tolerance, leftists are notoriously intolerant of Christians and others with traditional beliefs about marriage and the family. Please read part 2 for summaries of Jack’s and Steve’s cases.

First, Jack Phillips serves all customers who come into his shop. As we noted last time, he told Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the same-sex couple who asked him to bake them a wedding cake, “I’ll make you a birthday cake, shower cake, I’ll sell you cookies and brownies. I just don’t do cakes for same-sex weddings.” The issue, therefore, isn’t one of discrimination against homosexuals, but one of not wanting to lend one’s talent to support a specific event deemed morally wrong. This is a nuance that the progressive left refuses to see.

Second, Jack named his bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop for a reason. He’s an artist, and his work involves artistic expression. See for yourself in the first few moments of this ADF video.

Jack’s creative work is rightly considered a form of expression protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. As ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh) affirms,

Jack’s ability to make a living and run his family business shouldn’t be threatened simply because he exercised his artistic freedom. Artists speak through their art, and when Jack designs custom wedding cakes, he is promoting and celebrating the couple’s wedding. Jack will gladly allow anyone to purchase any product he sells, but he simply can’t put his artistic talents to use on a custom cake for an event so at odds with his faith convictions.

Tedesco adds,

The ACLU…would rather use the strong-arm of government to eradicate from the public square people whose views differ from the government’s. We hope the Supreme Court will affirm how illegitimate that is.”

Third, note that in 2015 the Colorado Civil Rights Commission reviewed cases for three other bakers who declined to make cakes that expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. The commission found that all three had a right to act according to the dictates of their consciences. If they have that right, why doesn’t Jack Phillips? ADF is spot on when it says, “The commission’s inconsistent rulings mean that the owners of these three cake shops may run them according to their beliefs, while Jack cannot.  He risks losing his life-long business altogether if he continues to run it consistent with his faith. Such blatant religious discrimination has no place in our society.”

The inconsistent rulings of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission “mean that the owners of…three cake shops [who turned down requests for cakes opposing same-sex marriage] may run them according to their beliefs, while Jack cannot.”
—Jeremy Tedesco, Senior Legal Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom—

So, the demand from the left is that to stay in business, Jack Phillips must serve all customers. Actually, he does—but the left goes further. Leftists insist he must serve all customers in every situation. Jack draws the line at the point of the meaning of marriage—the very same place where the three other cake artists reviewed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission drew the line. Equality is the watchword of the gay rights movement—but refusing to acknowledge that Jack Phillips has the same rights other cake artists enjoy isn’t equality. Not even close. It’s bigotry.

Contrast that to Jack’s position, which is an authentic two-way street. Jack has said,

Regardless of your viewpoint about same-sex marriage, shouldn’t we all agree that the government shouldn’t force us to speak or act in a way that violates our deepest convictions?

Laws like the one in Colorado will result in kindhearted Americans being dragged before state commissions and courts and punished by the government for peacefully seeking to live and work consistent with their belief about marriage.

The couple who came into my shop that day five years ago are free to hold their beliefs about marriage; all I ask is that I be allowed the equal opportunity to keep mine.

The couple who came into my shop that day five years ago are free to hold their beliefs about marriage; all I ask is that I be allowed the equal opportunity to keep mine.
—Jack Phillips—

Fourth, in the case involving Steve Tennes and Country Mill Farms, East Lansing passed an ordinance that prevents Tennes from selling his produce to any and all who would choose to do business with him, in every situation that would arise at the East Lansing Farmers Market. Kate Anderson, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, put it this way: “All Steve wants to do is sell his food to anyone who wants to buy it, but the city isn’t letting him.” Isn’t this the kind of business activity progressives are demanding of Jack Phillips? Yet Steve is being excluded.

All Steve wants to do is sell his food to anyone who wants to buy it, but the city isn’t letting him.
—Kate Anderson, Legal Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom—

Fifth, the tactics of East Lansing officials indicate they’re all too willing to send this message: “People can believe whatever they want, but unless they agree with us about sexuality and marriage, they will not be allowed to do business in our city.” The new policy says farmers market merchants must be in agreement and in compliance with the city’s “Human Relations Ordinance and its public policy against discrimination…while at the market and as a general business practice.” Mark it down. Steve Tennes has no problem selling to whomever wishes to buy from him—in fact, that is why he wants to participate in the first place! He does have a problem being told what he has to believe in order to be a vendor!

Kate Anderson explains,

What (Tennes) did [with regard to his beliefs about marriage] was not illegal. [See part 2 of this series of posts.] They [Steve and his family] are running their farm according to their beliefs, which is the right of every American. What is wrong here is the city of East Lansing targeting them and trying to discriminate against them for acting upon their beliefs and for believing.

What could be more un-American than being told what you have to believe to business in a particular public location? This isn’t just un-American. It’s tyrannical.

Sixth, the left has lectured Christians for decades about morality. Believers and other traditionalists have been told, “You can’t legislate morality” and “Don’t cram your values and religion down our throats!”

Far too few Americans understand that liberty and freedom are rarities in the world. Liberty in a nation is possible only when religion and morality restrain the population from using their freedoms to exploit and oppress others. Our Founders and early leaders understood this, and truthfully, it’s something both conservatives and liberals often fail to grasp. In his last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis Schaeffer explained the delicate balance between freedom, including individual liberty, and the societal order necessary for freedom to exist.

In our own country we have enjoyed enormous human freedom. But at the same time this freedom has been founded upon forms of government, law, culture, and social morality which have given stability to individual and social life, and have kept our freedoms from leading to chaos. There is a balance here between form and freedom which we have come to take as natural in the world. But it is not natural. And we are utterly foolish if we do not recognize that this unique balance which we have inherited from the Reformation thought-forms is not automatic in a fallen world. This is clear when we look at the long span of history. But it is equally clear when we read the daily newspaper and see half the world locked in totalitarian oppression.1,2

As we said, both conservatives and liberals have difficulty seeing this—but my point here is that leftist radicals are  inconsistent, hypocritical, and unrealistic. They tell us tells us we are cramming our values down their throats, but they then turn around and tell people who believe in natural marriage they must abandon their beliefs to participate in society’s routine activities. Who’s really doing the cramming?

The left is inconsistent and hypocritical. “Progressives” tell us we are shoving our values down their throats, but then they turn around and tell people who believe in natural marriage they must abandon their beliefs to participate in society’s routine activities. Who’s really doing the cramming? 

Speaking of the left’s bigotry and of history’s testimony, Dennis Prager astutely observes,

Society may no longer define marriage in the only way marriage has ever been defined in the annals of recorded history. Many societies allowed polygamy, many allowed child marriages, some allowed marriage within families; but none, in thousands of years, defined marriage as the union of people of the same sex.

Seventh, one of the tactics the left has perfected is that of using words in judgmental and manipulative ways. Writing about Steve’s case for the Gay Star News, Joe Morgan declares, “An apple farmer in Michigan is claiming he is banned from selling his fruit at a farmer’s market because of this homophobic religious views.”

You can’t have an honest and fair debate with leftists, because they don’t respect you as an equal player in the marketplace of ideas. Instead, you’re a bad person—get this!—to hold to the millennia-old definition of marriage! Amazing! This is not the American way! It’s not equality. It’s not fairness. It’s not tolerance. Rather, it is unequal, unfair, and intolerant.

Behold the irony!


Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.


1Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 21-22.

2See this article for more from Francis Schaeffer.





Behold the Irony, Part 2

Tolerance once referred to mutual respect among parties who disagreed; but today it’s a one-way street that permits movement in a direction Christians cannot travel without violating their deeply held beliefs.

If the government can shut down a family farmer just because of the religious views he expresses on Facebook—by denying him a license to do business and serve fresh produce to all people—then no American is free.
—ADF Legal Counsel Kate Anderson (pictured above), referring to her client, Steve Tennes—

Part 1 is available here.
Read summaries of all the articles in this series here.


Key point: Do you believe marriage is between one man and one woman? Do you seek to run your business according to biblical principles? If so, you shouldn’t be surprised when leftists threaten your business and livelihood. They will try to use government force against you—to coerce you or to exclude you from doing business altogether.

Last time we pointed out that the “progressive” left holds positions that, when fairly and objectively examined, don’t pass muster. Consider: leftist’s versions of tolerance and equality essentially are one-way streets; they actually are intolerant and unequal. In a society like ours that cherishes individual freedom, moral restraints are essential to true liberty. Leftists will have none of this. In fact, they want to coerce everyone, not just to allow moral license, but also to celebrate it. We see this clearly in many places, including two legal battles in which Alliance Defending Freedom is directly involved.

Jack Phillips Is a Cake Artist

We’ll first consider Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Jack Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. Jack celebrated a landmark anniversary in 2014—40 years in business.

Two years earlier—on July 19, 2012—Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple who claimed they already had been married in Massachusetts, wanted to celebrate the occasion with a reception in Colorado. They visited Jack’s bakery and asked him to bake them a wedding cake. Jack politely turned them down. “Sorry, guys,” he said, “I don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.” He also sought to assure them, “I’ll make you a birthday cake, shower cake, I’ll sell you cookies and brownies. I just don’t do cakes for same-sex weddings.” Keep in mind that at the time, same-sex marriage was not recognized in the state of Colorado.

Writing for Breitbart News, legal expert Ken Klukowski observed, “Phillips is an Evangelical Christian who holds to the belief that marriage is between a man and woman. When Phillips bakes a wedding cake, he interprets it as participating in the wedding celebration.…”

In other words, Jack is a “cake artist.” He lends his artistic talent to enhance and affirm the wedding. Since he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, it makes sense, therefore, that his conscience would not allow him to participate in an event celebrating a same-sex union.

Mullins complained on social media about having been turned down by Jack, and soon he and his partner were filing charges against Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Colorado law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, but Phillips argues that this is a religious liberty case involving his right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, the “supreme law of the land.”

Jack has received death threats and hateful comments. Even his family members have been targets of hate. Yet he also has received an outpouring of support, even from some who identify as gay.

Of the threats, Jack has said,

They cannot do anything to me that [God] doesn’t allow. So I just get up in the morning. I’ve been doing this for 40 years and there’s not one day that I’ve gotten up and thought, ‘Oh, man, I don’t want to go to work today.’ I love going to work. Always have. That doesn’t change it.

I’ve been doing this for 40 years and there’s not one day that I’ve gotten up and thought, ‘Oh, man, I don’t want to go to work today.’ I love going to work. Always have.
—Jack Phillips—

In December of 2013, May of 2014, and August of 2015, a judge, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and the Colorado Court of Appeals, respectively, all ruled against Phillips. Eight months later, in April of 2016, The Colorado Supreme Court turned down Phillips’s request for an appeal. In July, Phillips’s attorneys asked the US Supreme Court hear the case, and on Monday, June 26, 2017, the Court agreed. Here is a timeline of events in Jack’s case.

Significantly, a summary of the relevant facts in the case by Alliance Defending Freedom notes,

In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission found in 2015 that three other Denver cake artists were not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined a Christian customer’s request for a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

Steve Tennes Is an Apple Grower and Owner of Country Mill Farms

One of the attractions in the small town of Charlotte, Michigan, is Country Mill Farms. The house where its owner, Steve Tennes, grew up now is 150 years old—and in that same house today, Steve and his wife, Bridget, are bringing up five children of their own.

Steve and his family used to book weddings on their property. They would host about 45 annually, but in 2016 they stepped away completely from booking weddings. A same-sex couple asked Tennes to host their wedding, but because of his and his family’s deeply held beliefs about marriage, he declined. One of the women, Caitlin Ortis, took to Facebook to complain about having been turned down. She first shared her frustrations on social media in October of 2014 and subsequently published two additional posts carrying the same message. Her August, 2016 statements were heavily shared and gained a great deal of traction, prompting Steve and his family to change their policy. Steve did not hesitate to explain on Facebook his reason for the policy change.

Another income-producing venture in which the Tennes family has been involved is the East Lansing Farmers Market. Country Mill Farms made its first appearance there in 2010. After posting his convictions about marriage on Facebook, however, Tennes found himself and his business under pressure to back out of the farmers market. Writing for The Daily Signal, Fred Lucas reports that last year, Steve’s Facebook post on marriage drew a warning from an official more than 20 miles away in East Lansing, Michigan. If Tennes tried to sell his fruit at the city’s farmers market, he was told, it could incite protests.

No one showed up to protest that August day last summer, though, and Tennes continued selling organic apples, peaches, cherries, and pumpkins at the seasonal market until October, as he had done the six previous years.

That wasn’t the end of it, however. “Ultimately,” Steve explains, “The city developed a new policy to target and block our farm from further participation in their city-run farmers market.”

In March, Steve received a letter from East Lansing officials that stated,

It was brought to our attention that the Country Mill’s general business practices do not comply with East Lansing’s civil rights ordinances and public policy against discrimination as set forth in Chapter 22 of the City Code and outlined in the 2017 market vendor guidelines.

The letter went on to say, “As such, Country Mill’s presence as a vendor is prohibited.”

Again, Charlotte is approximately 22 miles away from East Lansing; it is “well outside the city’s boundaries and beyond its jurisdiction.” Steve rightly asserts, “Our faith and beliefs on marriage and hosting weddings at our home and in our backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing.”

Our faith and beliefs on marriage and hosting weddings at our home and in our backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing.
—Steve Tennes, owner of Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, Michigan—


Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Tennes in court, challenging East Lansing’s policy that excluded him from doing business at the farmers market, simply because of his beliefs about marriage. Hear him in his own words, from an interview Alliance Defending Freedom conducted with Steve and his wife on the July 20 edition of ADF’s weekly podcast, “Freedom Matters.” The following is a 3-minute, 40-second clip, but you can hear the entire program on this page. The first voice you’ll hear in the clip is that of podcast host Bob Trent.

What can we learn from these legal and cultural battles? Next time, we’ll draw some important conclusions from these cases and the events surrounding them.

You haven’t read anything yet!

Part 3 is available here.


Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Modern Heroes: The Clients of Alliance Defending Freedom

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 16

When God looks for someone to accomplish His purposes on earth, what kind of man or woman is He looking for?…To begin with, we see that God uses ordinary people.…Who else does He use? He uses truly spiritual people. I’m not speaking here of some pompous “holier-than-thou” type, but the real thing. The most spiritual people I have met have been very down to earth.…[Moreover, w]hen God looks for people He wants to use, He also looks for faithful people.
Greg Laurie

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

A young couple on their way home from church wanted to make sure their young son understood at least something about what the pastor had said in his sermon. “Eric,” asked the dad, “do you remember what Pastor Jack preached about today?”

Eric beamed. “Uh-huh. He preached on the Bible verse that says, “Many are cold, and a few are frozen.”1

Unfortunately, this description applies to a great many churchgoers today. Even so, you won’t find any frozen—or even cold—folks among the clients being served by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Senior legal counsel Jim Campbell has emphasized that ADF’s clients aren’t “super Christians.” Rather, God calls ordinary people who love Him, and He enables them to take courageous stands for truth and religious liberty. Moreover, Campbell says, the call to protect religious freedom is a call to everyone.

Here’s an illustration that helps us understand. When artist paints a beautiful picture, no one says, “Wow! What a great brush that artist used!” In a similar way, God gets the credit when He uses His people to contend for His truth before a watching world. Even so, ADF clients still have a lot to teach us through the examples they offer and the faithfulness they demonstrate.

The call to protect religious freedom is a call to everyone.
—Jim Campbell—

How is the faithfulness of Alliance Defending Freedom’s clients manifested? I’ll name five specific ways. These overlap, but each is worthy of mentioning as a distinctive trait. Even though I’ll draw from a variety of sources, all of the characteristics I’ll highlight here are evident in these three ADF videos that tell the stories of clients Blaine Adamson, Jack Phillips, and Barronelle Stutzman. You also can hear each of them in that order in this three-minute audio clip, compiled from four different ADF videos.2

The Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with Adamson on May 12 (also go here), but its ruling may not be the end of the story.

Blaine Adamson of Hands-On Originals in Lexington, Kentucky

Phillips and Stutzman thus far have lost their legal battles. Phillips currently is waiting to hear if the US Supreme Court will hear his case, and Stutzman has said she will ask the Supreme Court to consider hers, as well.

Neither Frozen nor Even Cold

Just what are ADF clients like? First, they have passion about their work and about serving others in it. They love people, and they find great satisfaction in serving them. They also do excellent work in their respective professions. It’s common for ADF clients to be accused of being hateful, but Jack Phillips has said, “You don’t get into the birthday business and the party business if you’re a hater, if you don’t like people. I love people.”

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado

Second, ADF clients have a right sense of purpose. They live their lives to glorify God, and an important part of honoring Him is serving people. When The Daily Signal asked Barronelle Stutzman what is the best part of her job as a florist, she said, “My customers and being creative.” She didn’t arrange flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime friend, she said, “because my faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington

Isaiah 41:10 is her favorite Bible verse, and she has no regrets. You won’t see any evidence of animosity, either. Barronelle says if the homosexual man who is suing her walked through the door of her business today, she would hug him, catch up on what’s happening in his life, and continue to serve him. You can tell she really means it!

Blaine says, “I want God to find joy in what we do and how we work, how we treat our employees, and the messages we print. So if someone walks in and says, ‘Hey, I want you to help promote something,’ I can’t promote something that I know goes against what pleases Him.”

Jack says baking a cake for a same-sex wedding would send a statement that says “we don’t want God to be part of our lives except for on Sunday. No, we want Him to run our lives…every day in any way that He wants.”

Third, ADF clients have the right perspective. Taking the long view, they refuse to walk the path of least resistance today.

ADF clients remind us of the heroes of the faith named in Hebrews 11, who, by the way, also were very ordinary and imperfect people. Consider Moses, who initially offered a wide range of excuses when God called Him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Yet the inspired writer of Hebrews says of Moses, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). We can say something very similar about Blaine, Jack, and Barronelle.

Jack has declared, “God does everything according to his plan. And so nothing is a coincidence.… I’ve come to the realization that God does what he wants to do and uses who he wants to use, however he wants.” Is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop judgmental? Not at all! He really doesn’t have a holier-than-thou attitude. One Bible passage that encourages him is Titus 3:3-7, which “says that at one time we too were foolish and disobedient, deceived, enslaved to all kinds of passions and pleasures. I was in that boat too,” he adds, but God “redeemed me through his son.”

And take note! This is important! ADF clients don’t just have the right perspective about their own situations, but also the right point of view about the world, life, people, relationships, and the rest of reality. They see life through the clear lens of biblical teaching. C. S. Lewis expressed this well when he said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
—C. S. Lewis—

Fourth, the men, women, and young people ADF serves have the right priorities. What are some biblical priorities that should guide our lives? Dr. Mark Corts recommends these four—and we see all of them in Blaine, Jack, Barronelle, and others.

  • The unseen over the seen. When Abram and Lot, Abram’s nephew, had to separate, Lot chose what he saw—the well-watered plain of Jordan. Enticed by what he saw, Lot missed the importance of what he didn’t see—the moral depravity of nearby Sodom and Gomorrah (see 13:1-13). Later he would pay a heavy price for his choice.
  • The eternal over the temporal. As he led God’s people out of Egypt, Moses invested his life in doing God’s will and shunned sin’s fleeting, temporary pleasures (see 11:24-25).
  • Quality over quantity. In Judges 7:1-7, God cut Gideon’s army down from 32,000 men to 300 and then used that small number to win an important battle over the Midianties.
  • The difficult over the easy. In recommending that God’s people take Canaan, Joshua and Caleb gave a minority report and countered the fearful advice of the ten other spies. It isn’t easy to go against the crowd, but because they did, of those 20 or more years of age, Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the promised land, even as everyone else died (see 13; 14:1-10,26-30).

Fifth and finally (even though this isn’t by any means an exhaustive list), in one ADF client after another, we see men and women who affirm and live by the right principles. For much of this year, through a series of articles, we’ve been “Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes.” This post stands as a part of that series.

You see, ADF clients are showing us and the rest of the world how to embrace absolute truth without being absolutists, people who want to shove their views down everyone else’s throats. These champions of liberty are taking the stands they are taking because they see the world clearly from a biblical perspective and have resolved to follow the God of the Bible. They recognize that right and wrong are part of the real world, and they simply want to be able to do what they believe is right. Put another way, they, like everyone else, just want the freedom to live their lives according to their beliefs. They therefore are taking appropriate steps to resist having the views of secularism and relativism shoved down their own throats!

ADF clients are showing us and the rest of the world how to embrace absolute truth without being absolutists, people who want to shove their views down everyone else’s throats. They simply don’t want to have the views of secularism rammed down their own throats!

An important question arises at this point. When a Christian business owner refuses, even politely, to perform a service at a same-sex wedding or to do a job that would affirm homosexuality or something else directly in conflict with biblical teaching—how does such a refusal reflect Christ’s love? Here’s the answer. It never is

loving to participate in a lie, which is exactly what Stutzman…and many others are now being told they must do. Pray for an increasing number of pastors to have courage to publicly stand with these believers and to explain to their people the importance of biblical marriage.

Actually, performing any service that directly or officially affirms a falsehood demonstrates a lack of love—and dishonors Christ. Of course, it never is fun to take an unpopular stand on behalf of the truth. It’s tough to be misunderstood. Yet, contrary to conventional wisdom, such stands can have a long-range positive effect on people and the culture. In a previous discussion of Barronelle’s case, we cited an important lesson from history.

The first Christians were accused of many things, including cannibalism, atheism, and a lack of patriotism—and that’s just three of the items on a ten-item list. If any people ever were misunderstood, the early Christians were! Yet, according to Pastor Greg Laurie, “they came to be known as those who turned their world upside down.” He must have been thinking of Acts 17:6.

Examples to Follow

With this post, I commend to you the examples of ADF clients Blane Adamson, Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, and others. Let’s cultivate in our own lives the traits we’ve seen in them. They encourage us to

  • have passion about our work and about serving others through it,
  • maintain a right sense of purpose in our everyday lives and seek to glorify God in all we do,
  • maintain the right perspective by becoming and remaining worldview Christians,
  • cultivate and live according to biblical priorities, and
  • uphold the principles of absolute truth and contend for the recognition of absolutes in the public square.

We don’t have to become ADF clients to do these things—but if we do them, I guarantee we will avoid becoming frozen churchgoers.

We’ll even avoid growing cold.

A Helpful Resource for Creative Professionals
Alliance Defending Freedom offers a helpful resource to all creative professionals. Get your free copy of Create Freely from this page.

Part 15 is available here.

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.


1In Matthew 22:14 Jesus declared, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

2The videos used in the audio clip can be seen here, here, here, and here.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.