One of the beating hearts of material philosophy is the strain to derive universals from particulars: i.e., what could we derive about phenomena, a posteriori from experiencing instances of observed phenomena? This goal might be a good fit for science but in ethical philosophy its application can get dicey. “How ought we to live?” is a question that presumes there’s a universal answer waiting to be discovered.
What if the answer isn’t so certain? It feels wrong to reduce Jesus to mere situational ethics, but it helps to consider we might be asking the wrong question—or rather, we may be thinking of the question incorrectly. There’s ample material to show that Jesus’ response to rather precise questions were answered in kind, with equal precision, tailored to the man posing the question; literally ad hominem. To Him, context isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. His answers, when He gave them (is silence an answer?), were dangerous Machiavellian dodges. “Dangerous” because people from a wide range of pedigrees were posing these questions to Him, and many of them were people in power waiting for Him to say the wrong thing. Sparking confusion in the minds of those who wanted to entrap Him may have led to His demise more so than charges of blasphemy.
Would Jesus be down with baking a gay cake? The only answer I can give is the maddening return question of: “Who’s asking for it?”
Thought experiment time. Here’s how it might go down if He slung flour instead of fir*.
The gay couple they came to Him, requesting a cake to be made for their wedding. He agreed to it and took their order.
When the day came to pick up the cake, the couple found Him at the bakery’s counter, eating leftover scraps of their cake.
“Is that our cake?” they asked Him. “Have you eaten it all?”
He put down his fork and spoke. “Why are you surprised? Just I am eating these rejected scraps of cake, and have thrown your actual cake away in the garbage, so my Father selects from the most humble and repentant among us, and condemns the self-righteous from His presence. Here, you may have the scraps.”
* As in, the tree. There probably weren’t fir trees in 1st (“fir”st?) century Galilee, but despite being the son of a 20th century woodworker, no other carpentry “f” terms come to me.